Page images
PDF
EPUB

whereof 100 had been borrowed money, the rest allotted by him for the portions of two brothers and two-fifters; my eldest brother having long before received another te. pement for his portion, and discharged my father and his heirs. They having also charged me with an account of his moveables, which I then poflefled, or claimed, I took advice about it : and being convinced in my conscience, that their design was quite beside the intention of the dead ; and that, in law and justice, I had a charge upon them, more than sufficient to balance the fame; I refol. ved to estay to satisfy these my brothers and sisters, by advancing their money as soon as might be.

In pursuance of which project, I went to Barhill about the harvest ; and the child having appeared to grow beta ter at the quarter's end, took my wife along with me. There I received a part of her portion ; for which I paid interest to my mother-in-law till the year 1709, at which time she was removed by death: the remains thereof, fome time after that, I received, being in Etterick. But that journey proved a very heavy one, for our trial. By the way thither, my wife swooned at Danikin ; which feemed to be occasioned by ram's mutton afforded us there to dinner. She recovering, we accomplished our journey. And being in Inzevair [in the parish of Torryburn, Fifefhire], in her hister's house, on a morning the lying abed after I was risen, dreamed that the faw the child perfect, the natural defect being made up, and extraordinary beautiful. This making impression, as it could hardly miss to do, we returned homeward as soon as conveniently we could. Arriving at Blacks-mill, about eight or nine miles from home, in a little our hearts were pierced with an account, that our dear child was dead and buried. After which, we came home in great heavinets; and found, that that very day, and hour of the day, as near as could be judged, wherein iny wife had the dream aforesaid, the child had died. Thus it pleased the Lord, to exercite us with one affliction on the neck of another: and, as i have often experienced, the world's laying their over-load above the burden from the holy fovereign hand; so it was afterwards found, that one of our acquaintance had very unjustly spoke to the grief of us whom the Lord had wounded.

Being through the interest of Mr James Ramfuy aforefaid, and other friends, chosen by the fynod to be their clerk, I entered on that office, at their meeting in October this year; and continued therein till the close of their meeting in April 1711, at which time I did demit. That work was a matter of great weight on several accounts. When I first took the seat among them, and stood up for to read, being in great confusion, through my natural diffidence and timorousness, I blundered : but recovering myself, with much ado made it out. Upon which occafion, Mr Ramsay did seasonably express his confidence of me notwithstanding. The oath de fideli administratione I declined : and they were pleased to accept of my promise, to serve them faithfully, and keep their secrets; which I strictly obseryed. It was a work of great labour and painfulness : cven the reading of papers was a business of great toil. In time of their sederunts, I took short minutes of the substance of their actings, which in the interval of diets I extended ; the which occasioned my fitting up.great part of the night. And their meetings falling in the times of the year wherein I was weakest, I could not have endured, but that they did not last long. After the two first fynods, being always defirous to do the business to the best advantage I could reach, I did of my own proper motion ordinarily make a third copy of the minutes ; but this at home, at my leis fure. Then the synod-book was once a-year to be filled up, for the general assembly to visit it. I often sat in my seat among them, as one wandering in a wilderness, while I observed the fway of their opinions and reasonings, in order to take up the mind of the court : but, through the divine aslistance, I ordinarily took up, and expressed, their affairs, so as to please, and to facilitate their work, And I had a very honourable testimony, in that point, of my Lord Minto, who had been clerk to the council of Scotland, expressed on occasion of his being present at the synod; the which testimony raised in my heart, ad miration of the divine condescension, and thankfulness to my God. When I entered on that office, the fees were F4 d. a-fynod by each minister ; afterward they were ad, vanced to five groats : but, in the year 1703, they raised the same to half a dollar, being 29 d. And during the rime I continued in Simprin, these fees were paid very well. By an account of the gain, by that office, kept for the first five years, I find it was better than L. 100 Scots communibus annis. The fynod meeting at Jedburgh, on Tuesday April 24,

clerk,

1702, I was obliged, upon that occasion, to leave my wife, having, I think, passed her reckoning. And by the disposal of holy Providence, for our farther trial, the fy. nod continued fitting even on the Thursday afternoon. They being at length risen, I took horse that evening; and riding all night, got home about the morning-light: where, by the mercy of God, I found my wife still well, though in perplexity. On the Wednesday after, April 29. about the going down of the sun, she brought forth her first son, John, who was baptized on the ist day of May, by Mr John Pow minister at Lennel. In his appearance our hearts were comforted, after the heavy trial in the case of his fister; finding, that our God would # not chide continually, nor keep his anger for ever." And as he was always a proper child, so he is this day à very stately and pretty man ; the which I deem just to remark, to the praise of our merciful and compaflionate God, who formerly had afflicted us.

Being invited, I aslifted at the communion in Morbattle, in the month of June this year. And here began a parti. cular friendship between the worthy Mr John Simfon minister there and me; which lasted till he was removed by death in or about the year 1722. He was a ferious good man; a most pathetic, zealous, and popular preacher, and withal substantial in his fermons; having a most ready gift ; always concerned to gain souls to Jesus Christ; bleiled with a great measure of his Master's countenance; and most acceptable to the people. He had a singular easiness and sweetness of temper, which continued with him to the last. He was, in the end of his days, confined for a long time to his bed ; in which time, visiting him, in company with my two friends Meff. Wilson and Dan vidson, we found him still lovely and pleasant as before.

The first time I administered the facrament of the Lord's fupper in Simprin, was on the 2d of August that year ; and it was done yearly thereafter, while I continued in that place. At that time it was administered in the kirk, there being fermon also without : but I think that was the only time, except ia the winter, that it was not celebrated without doors. The Lord was very gracious to me in that work : and I have a favoury remembrance of my delivering of that my first action-fermon on Pfal. xl. . “ Then said I, Lo I come.” Going out in time of ferving the tables, and finding the meeting without wanting a minister, I, under the impressions of the Lord's good ness then upon me, stepped into the tent, and preached a while to them extempore, on Deut. xxxiii. 29. “ Happy « art thou, O Israel : who is like unto thee, O people “ saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is “ the sword of thy excellency!" &c. Mr Simson afore. faid was one of my assistants at that time : and we contia nued our mutual assistance thereafter for ordinary; only it was once interrupted a little, after the year 1709, as will be noticed in the proper place. And many a good day of that nature we had together, especially at Morbattle.

This was the first year of the reign of Queen Anne, the oath of allegiance to whom I took ; but did thereafter often desiderate a due impression thereof on my spirit. I endeavoured, while she lived, to keep the sense of it on my heart : but unto this day I never took another, whether of a public or private nature.

Hitherto we lived in the house where I settled when I came to the place : and while there, though I remember not the particular time, I began the evening.lecture in my family, on the chapter read in our ordinary, nightly. And that custom I have continued to this day ; lave in the Sabbath-nights, of late years at least. When at any time there seemed to be some occasion of intermitting it, I chose ra. ther to say a very little, than quite to let it alone ; fearing that one intermiflion thereof, at our ordinary times, might make way for dropping it altogether.

In the end of the year, the winter being begun, we re. moved into the new manse, built for me from the foun. dation, and by that time covered : but little of the wright's work within it was then done ; but was a-doing through the winter. The ground whereon it was built, being quite new, we were obliged at first to straw the floor of our bed.chainber with thavicgs, which was afterwards laid with deals. This bardship of entering the new house, we preferred to suffering the inconveniencies of the old. Langton's estate going then from hand to hand, it was not without considerable difficulty, and expence too, that I got that house carried on. Afterward i formed a large garden, and built the dike; the which was a work of fome time, trouble, and expence too. . And herein allo was the saying verificd, “ Onc loweth, and another reage “ cth."

In the month of March following, met the first general assembly in the reign of Q. Anne; of the which assembly I was a member. Seafield being the Queen's Commissione er, Mr George Meldrum was chosen Moderator, as the man who to him would be most acceptable. The af. serting of the intrinsic power of the church, was then the great point that some laboured for ; but in vain : it was told them by their brethren, They had it, and what they needed the waste of an act atřerting it? The allembly having fat several days, were upon an overture for prevent, ing Protestants marrying with Papists: in the time whereof, a whisper beginning about the throne, and a motion being, I think, made for recommitting the overture ; the Commisioner, rising from his feat, instantly diffolved the affembly in her Majesty's name. This having come like a thunder.clap, there were, from all corners of the house, protestations offered against it, and for the intrinsic power of the church; with which I joined. But the Moderator, otherwise a moft grave and composed man, being in as much confusion as a school boy when beaten, closed with prayer; and got away, together with the clerk, so that nothing was then got marked. This was one of the heaviest days that ever I saw, beholding a vain man trampling on the privileges of Christ's house, and others couching under the burden. And I could not but observe, how Providence rebuked their shifting the act to assert as above said, and bafiled their design in the choice of the Moderator; never a moderator since the Revolution to this day, so far as I can guess, having been so ill treated by a Commissioner. The learned and pious Mr James Brisbane, late minister of Stirling, a young man at that time as well as I, pulled me down, when offering to join the protesters : and che fame very worthy man, many years after, joined not with the representers in the affair of the Marrow; though he kad no freedom to go along with the assembly, but was obliged to declare himself in favour of truth, before they should close that affair. And I remember, that with respect to this last cafe, he, in private conversation, said in his pleasant manner, thereafter, he had so done, but knew not if he would have full satisfaction in it, when got home, and reflecting thereon in his closet. Mean while the diffolving of that affembly by Seafield, was the occafion of adjusting that matter betwixt the church and state, and settling it in the manner wherein, I suppose, it hath

all

« PreviousContinue »