Page images
PDF
EPUB

day, I went and inquired into the matter, and he was cauled to rise out of his bed ; and both the mother and fon went to church that day.

On the oth of June, there was a facrament at Culross, which I had no mind to go to, upon the account of a carnal reason. On the Saturday night, God reached me a reproof by one of the servant-women, which filled me with confusion, fet me to prayer, and to re-examine my reasons, which I found to be but consulting with flesh and blood. I went away therefore on the Lord's day, was deeply humbled, and had very much ado with unbelief, struggling to get my feet fastened. But at the table my foul, I thought, met with him in such measure, that ofttimes I have remembered my God from Culross and Tulliallan, when he has hid his face from me. On the Thurfday before I had kept a secret fast,

July 26. The Lord's day after the sacrament at Tulliallan, where the Lord was very kind to my soul, a godly family that had been at the faine facrament, had forgot it was the Lord's day ; so that they told me afterward, they had fallen to their work, had I not come to their house, and alked them if they would go to the church.

On the 2d of August, I was at a sacrament, where I thought myself sure of great things, from the Lord's former kind dealing with me, I think: but before I went to the table, I was deserted, tempted, perplexed with doubts whether to partake or not; yet I thought it duty to go forvard. I endeavoured to take hold of the Lord; but staggered sore, came away with that it had been better I had not gone. But there I saw how little I could do without Chrift, thought the Lord would come back again, and I had a longing to be in heaven. Betwixt formons I went to a place I will ever mind, and would have been content there to have ventured on eternity as I was ; defertion, a body of fin, &c. being very heavy, and recommending heaven to me.

On the 30th of November, having prayed with confidence to the Lord for light and direction concerning my pasting trials before the presbytery of Stirling, which they had been for fome time urging, as I have noticed above, I took up my Bible, and going to turn to my ordinary, there cast up to me Job xxii. 28. “ Thou shalt decree a “ thing, and it shall be established unto thee ; and the " light thall thing upon thy ways.” This passage was very

refreshful,

before the to keepled me out

refreshful, coming so surprisingly, while I was turning to another place.

The space of a year being near expired, without any motion of a new bargain, on January 25. 1697, I wrote to Kennet, fignifying, that I desired not to stay, being useless, and in a sort noxious, in his family. This letter I shewed to the lady before I sent it off, and she quarrel. led nothing in it ; we being both, I believe, weary. This done, finding my heart disposed to fing, I fung in secret Pfal. xxxvii. near the latter end; whereby I was much cleared, and prayed chearfully after. I was then, as it were, in light of the shore of that troublous fea.

A little after that, I found there was no hope of entering into Col. Erskine's family, and on Feb. 17. just the day before the year's expiring, I was told that Coulter had no mind to keep a pedagogue for my pupil. And thus Providence fhuffled me out of business of that kind, being entangled there, when a door was opened elsewhere; which again was shut when I was disentangled; thus working towards the leading me into business of another kind. So on Monday, Feb. 22. I took leave of my pupil, and that family. The day before, I thought it my duty to speak fome things to the servants before I left them. I prayed to God for light; but was deserted, and could get nothing. I lay down on my bed in great heaviness, and thought with myself, What folly is it for me to think of passing trials to preach the gospel, seeing I cannot buckle two sentences of good sense together in my own mind ? In this perplexity I went out to the field, and prayed earnestly; came in again, had no time longer to think ; but was helped of God to speak without confufion, and with great facility, to my own wonder. This was useful to me afterwards, and did drive the bottom out of a grand objection I had against passing my trials, taken from my unreadiness in ordinary discourse.

The time I was at Kennet, continues to be unto me a remarkable time among the days of my life. Once I fainted there, being on my knees at evening secret prayer; and coming to myself again, was eased by vomiting. Another time praying in the Ferrytown, in Thomas Brown's family, I found my heart beginning to fail ; which obliged me quickly to break off, and go to the door, where I was eased the same way as before. It was a time of much trouble to me, yet in the main a thriving time for my soul.

My My corruption sometimes prevailed over me ; but it put me to the ufing of secret fasting and prayer; whereunto I was also moved by the case of the poor, it being one of the years of dearth and scarcity that the Lord was then contending by year after year. And this I did not without some success. Then it was that on such an occafion I drew up a catalogue of fins, which, with many unknown ones, I had to charge on myself; the which hath several times been of use to me since : there I had some Bethels, where I met with God, the remembrance whereof hath many times been useful and refreshful to me, particularly a place under à tree in Kennet orchard, where, Jan. 21. 1697, I vowed the vow, and anointed the pillar. That day was a public fast-day; and the night before, the family being called together, I laid before them the causes of the fast, and thereto added the sins of the family, which I condescended on particularly, defiring them to search their own hearts for other particulars, in order to our due humiliation. After fermons, going to the Garlet to visit a fick woman, I was moved, as I passed by the orchard, to go to prayer there ; and being helped of the Lord, I did there folemnly covenant with God under a tree, with two great boughs coming from the root, a little north-west from a kind of ditch in the eastern part of the orchard.

Though it was heavy to me that I was taken from the school of divinity, and sent to Kennet; yet I am convinced God fent me to another fchool chere, in order to prepare me for the work of the gospel, for which he had defigned me : for there I learned in some measure what it was to have the charge of souls; and being naturally bashful, timorous, and much subject to the fear of man, I attained, by what I met with there, to fome boldness, and not regarding the persons of men when out of God's way. There I learned, that God will countenance one in the faithful discharge of his duty, though it be not attended with the desired success; and that plain dealing will imprefs an awe on the party's conscience, though their corruption still rages against him that so deals with them. It tas by means of conversation there that I arrived at a degree of a public spirit which I had not before ; and there I got a lesson of the need of prudent and cautious management, and abridging one's felf of one's liberty, that The weak be not stumbled, and access to edify them be

D 2

precluded; .

precluded ; a lesson I have in my ministry had a very particular and fingular occasion for

On the Friday before I left Kennet, it was proposed to me by Mefl. Turnbull and Buchanan, that I should now enter on trials; and withal, that the elders of Clackmanan being unwilling I thould go out of the country, it was defired, that I should take for myself, or allow to be taken for me, a chamber in the town of Clackmannan; and they desired me to give my anfwer on the Tuesday, and go along to the presbytery on the Wednesday thereafter. Hiving taken these things under consideration, I was that fame night almost resolved to comply with the call of that prefbytery for entering on trials before them. But just next morning I received a letter from Mr Murray, desiring me to come with all speed, and pass trials before the prebytery of Penpont; withal shewing, that if I pleased I might in the mean time keep the school of Penpont, it being then vacant. Thus Providence opened a door for muy entering into another station, and doubled the call thereto. But then I was in doubt, racked betwixt these two, whether to address myself to the presbytery of Stirling or Penpont; which I endeavoured to table before the great Counsellor for his determination. In this fufpenfe, I went, on Wednesday, Feb. 24. to the presbytery at Stirling, where I obtained their testimonial, having promised to return to them if my circumstances would permit. Having spent some days more in that country, I came to Edinburgh by sea on the 4th of March, having got an edge put on my spirit for patling my trials, by the dishonour I heard done to God on the thore of Leith, where we landed. . The case is as follows. Sailing by the shore, I heard such curiing, swearing, &c. as made me io wonder at the patience of God towards finners, and to think I would be very willing to do any thing I could for fuppresling these horrid fins or the like. This was useful to clear me in that point, which was now, and had been, my exercise for a good time.

About this time twelvemonth there came a young gentlewoman to see my pupil, with her face be pattered with patches; and drawing him to her to falute him, he endeavoured to pull oif her patches. She put back his hand, that he could not reach her face : but he pulled a paper out of his pocket, giving an account how the devil

murderer

murdered a gentlewoman for pride, and gave it her ; which did much confound her.

While I was at Kennet it was a time of much trouble to me, but a time wherein the Lord was very kind to me. I was helped of God in some measure to my duty, as has been observed, and it was that which enraged them against me. The lady was my great enemy; but professed great kindness to me when she spoke to me, or to the ministers of me. One of those profane servants whom I could not induce her to put away, she was afterwards obliged to discharge with disgrace. I have often looked on the Lord's sending me thither, as done in design to fit me for the work of the ministry, to which it contributed many ways, as I have already noticed.

At Edinburgh I received my wages, being 100 merks; wrote a letter of excuse to Mr Murray, and another letter to the place whence I had come, bearing my design to return thither shortly. And indeed, when I came to Edinburgh, I was not fully resolved to go home at all ; and having writ to my father, I fignified the fame to him, who being, unknown to me, in terms of a second marriage, gave me an answer, advising me to return to Stirling, as I had said. Howbeit I afterwards saw a necessity of going home, to procure money for my maintenance, during the time of passing my trials before the presbytery of Stirling, being unwilling to accept of the offer of the elders of Clackmannan aforesaid, and the money received not being sufficient for that and other neceffary uses. Accordingly, just upon that design, I went home to Dunse, March 13. ; but he who “ leads the blind by a « way they knew not,” led me thither on two material designs hidden to me ; namely, the diverting of the marriage, which was unknown to me, and the paffing of my trials there, which I was far from having in view.

The week after I went home, being still bent to return to the presbytery of Stirling, and there being no small hope of getting the money for which I had come, I received another letter from Mr Murray, wherein, having anfwered all my excuses, he still insisted on my coming to Penpont to pass trials. Thus I was again put upon the rack between the two ; and not knowing whither to go, I earnestly desired counsel of God, both as to the main thing, and the circumstance of place : and fhewing my Lituation to Mr Alexander Colden, then minister at

· Dune,

« PreviousContinue »