« PreviousContinue »
unjustly taken away, being like a burnt child dreading
My father being fully resolved to put me to the college on his own charges, I began, on the 15th of O&tober, to expound the Greek New Testament, which, I think, I completed betwixt that and Dec. 1. ; at which time he took me to Edinburgh, where being tried in the Greek New Testament by Mr Herbert Kennedy regent, I was entered into his femi class, my father having given him four dollars, as was done yearly thereafter, paying also all other dues.
Thus "the Lord, in my setting out in the world, dealt with me, obliging me to have recourse to himself for this thing, to do it for me. He brought it through many difficulties, tried me with various dilappointments, at length carried it to the utmost point of hopelessness, seemed to be laying the grave-stone upon it at the time of my mother's death ; and yet after all he brought it to pass; and that has been the usual method of Providence with me all along in matters of the greatest weight. The wisdom appearing, in leading the blind by a way they knew not, Chined in the putting off that matter to this time, notwithstanding all endeavours to compass it sooner ; for I am perfectly convinced I was abundantly foon put to the college, being then but in the fifteenth year of my age ; and the manner of it was kindly ordered, in that I was there-by beholden to none for that my education; and it made way for some things which Providence faw needful for me.
During the whole time I was at the college, I dieted myself, being lodged in a private house, to which I was led by kind Providence, as fit for my circumstances.
1692. The first year, being somewhat childish, but knowing with what difficulty I had reached what I had obtained, I lived sparingly, and perhaps more so than was needful or reasonable. Being dejected and melancholy, I went but little out of my chamber, fave to the class ; and thus my improvement was confined in a manner to my lessons.
1693. The second year I attended the college, I had an entire comradeship with Andrew (afterwards Mr Andrew) Elliot, a minister's son, and now minister of Auchtertool in Fife, which several ways contributed to my advantage, and lasted during the rest of the time we were at the colfege, Mean while I still lived sparingly,
In the spring that year began a breach of my health, whereby I became liable to swoonings, which continued for several years after. It was, I think, in the month of April, when being on my kneęs at secret prayer, my heart began to fail, and I rose up, and fell on my back on the floor, and lay a while in a fwoon. Recovering, I call. ed the landlady : then I went to bed, but fainted a fe. cond time, in which she took care of me. Afterwards the unwarily suggested to me, that it might be the falling. fickness, which occasioned me several thoughts of heart. Wherefore, as I came home in the middle of May, I consulted it; and was delivered of these fears, which were groundless; but being at home, I was, on the 2d of June, overtaken with another fainting-fit, in which beckoning with my hand I fainted away ; and while they were lifting me into the bed, I heard my fister say, that I was gone. In a little I recovered, and my father went to prayer at my bed-side.
The first or second winter I was at the college, being in company with a dumb man, I was urged by some to ask him a question about my brother Willian. He an. fwered me in writing, as it is Deut. xxix. ult. “ Secret s things belong unto the Lord our God,” &c.; and, moreover, that there is no such thing communicated to the dumb, but that through importunity he himself had *fometimes spoke what he knew not. Thus was I reproved. And I desire that all who may read this or such like my failings, may beware of splitting on the same rocks, so heavy to me.
About December 20. I gladly went to Edinburgh again for the last year, thinking that course of difficulties near an end. I was therefore more chearful, and in point of diet managed more liberally.
1694. About the latter end of February, I came home with John Cockburn, a comrade, son to John Cockburn in Preston. I could not get him out of the town till a good part of the day was spent; and when we were come out, he expended a little money he had left, without asking questions till it was done. Then finding there was no money with us but what I had, which could scarcely procure us both a night's lodging, we resolved to hold on our way, though our journey was in all twenty-eight miles long. Night drawing on, we were twelve miles from home, and got nothing in the inn but bread and watcr;
there being no ale in it, it seems. Then under night we went on our way, in the moon-light: but on the hills we began to fail, travelling a-foot, and having had but sorry refreshment at the inn. Mean while, as we lay on the highway to reit our weary limbs a little, a farmer came up to us, who offered to lodge us with him near by; which was gladly embraced.
That youth and I had been school-fellows at Dunse, and so much resembled one another in face and stature, as if we had been twins; the which being noticed by our fellows, made a most entire friendship between us at school. It lalted for a while; but was at length, upon some childish controversy, quite blown up, and was never recovered. For at the college, being more liberally furnished, he o. verlooked me, and gave himself to diversions ; so that there was no communication, but what was general, betwixt him and me, as I remember, till the last of the three years. At what time, being once in company with him, I was like to have a plea to rid betwixt him and another; and, to the best of my knowledge, left them at length. And then again I came home with him as aforesaid. He and I both were designed for the study of divinity ; but in a little time he gave up with it, went to London, applied himself to book-keeping, and went abroad, I suppose, and died. Wherefore, when I was honoured of God to preach the gospel of Christ, I was often a moving light to his forrowful father. Whence I must needs conclude, that “it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth;" and surely it was good and necessary for me."
Being allowed only L. 16 Scots by my father for the laureation, I borrowed 20 merks from one of my brothers, and so went to Edinburgh for that end in the suma mer. But the day fignified to me not being kept, I returned without my errand. This disappointment, with other discouragements I had met with in profecuting my ftudies, furnished my evil heart, when going in a second time that seafon to the laureation, the occasion of that unbelieving thought, that I would never believe I could obtain it till I saw it. For this thought I prefently smarted, meeting suddenly on the back of it with a dispensation which threatened to lay the grave-stone upon all that I had hitherto attained; for some officers took me up by the way to be a soldier: but the Lord delivered me quick
Thus Tlius holy wife Providence ordered my education at the college ; the charges whereof amounted in all but to L. 128 : 15:8 Scots ; of the which I had 20 merks as aforesaid to pay afterwards. Out of that sum were paid the regents fecs yearly, and the college-dues, and also my maintenance was furnished out of it. By means thereof, I had a competent understanding of the logics, metaphyfics, ethics, and general physics; always taking pains of what was before me, and pleafing the regent: but I learned nothing else, save short-hand writing, which an acquaintance of mine taught me, namely, a well-inclined baker-lad. My design in acquiring it was to write fermons; but I made little use of it that way, finding it to mar the frame of my fpirit in bearing, which obliged me to quit that use of it. But kind was the design of Providence in it notwithstanding; for besides its serving me in recording things I designed to keep secret, and otherwise, it has been exceeding useful to me of late years, in making the first draughts of my writings therein. « Known unto “ God are all his works from the beginning."
From my laureation, to my being licensed to preach the gospel.
THat summer the bursary of the presbytery of Dunse
was conferred on me, as a student of theology; as was that of the presbytery of Churnside on my comrade John Cockburn. And after the laureation, some time before the harvest, I entered on the study of theology ; Mr James Ramíay, minifter then at Eymouth, now at Kelso, having put the book in my hand, viz. Pareus on Urfin's catechism; the which I read over three or four times ere I went to the school of divinity. Among the firtt books of that kind which I had a particular fondness for, was Weems's Christian fynagogue.
I went, on invitation, to F- s, and spent some weeks there, after the harvest, with his two sons, and James (after Mr James) Ridpath, students in philofophy, to whom I was there helpful in their studies. And that I nay reckon the only time of my life in which I had a taste of the youthful diversions; whereof I foon faw the vanity, and wherein I drove but heavily; the fainily being altoge.
ther carnal. But while I was there, I kept up the worship of God in the family: nevertheless I found that manner of life enfnaring.
1695. About January 20. 1695, I went to Edinburgh to the school of divinity, then taught by the great Mr George Campbell. There was then a great storm of snow on the ground. By the way, being extremely cold, I a. lighted off my borse, (I think it was betwixt Ridpath-edge and Redstone-ridge), and walked. Having walked a while, a swoon began to seize me, and I could walk no more. I took horfe, but was scarcely able to sit on it. My brother, who by good Providence was with me, put a bit of bread in my mouth; and I had scarcely as much strength left as to lift my jaws and chew it. It would have been defireable to me to have been near the meanest cottage. And I recovered. At that time I took a chamber, and dieted myself again, about the space of a month : but weary of that way, Mr Ridpath aforesaid and I tabled ourfelves, as most convenicnt. He being a finart youth, and disposed to profit in philosophy, I did good to myself, by being serviceable to him in the matter of philofophy, which was his only study at that time. Having some taste of music before, we went to a school one month, and made good proficiency; presling forward our teacher, and purfuing it in our chamber : so that by that means we had the tenors, trebles, and basses, of the common tunes, with some other tunes, and several prick-songs. My voice was good, and I had a delight in mufic.
A few of us, newly entered to the school of divinity, were taught for a time Riiffenius's compend, in the profeffor's chamber. Publicly in the hall he taught Efferius's compend. For exercises that feflion, I had a paraphrafe on If. xxxviii. 1.-9. a lecture on Prov. i. and an exegesis de certitudine subjectiva electionis ; and in a private fociety, another de jure divino presbyteratus. I was also for a while, at that time, I suppose, with Mr Alexander Rule professor of Hebrew; but remember no remarkable advantage I had thereby
About the latter end of April, I returned home, clothed with testimonials from Professor Campbell, bearing, that I had diligently attended the profeflion, dexterously acquitted myf in several essays prescribed to me, behaved inoffensively, gravely, and piously. He was a man of great learning, but exceflively modeft, undervaluing himC 2