CLOUD OF WITNESSES
ROYAL PREROGATIVES OF JESUS CHRIST:
THE LAST SPEECHES AND TESTIMONIES
WHO HAVE SUFFERED FOR THE TRUTH IN SCOTLAND.
SINCE THE YEAR 1680.
DONALD CARGILL was the fourth minister, in succession from the Reformation, of the Barony parish, Glasgow; his predecessor being Zachary Boyd, the author of the quaint poem, the "Last Battle of the Soul," and a metrical version of the Psalms. He was a native of the parish of Rattray in Perthshire, and received his early education in Aberdeen. From school he went to the University of St Andrews, where he passed through the regular curriculum.
His father, a godly and religious gentleman, says Sir Robert Hamilton, in his "Relation of some Remarkable Passages in the Life of Mr. Donald Cargill" (given in the Appendix to this volume), was desirous that he should study for the ministry; but he declined, under the conviction that the responsibilities of the office were greater than he could bear. His father still continued to urge him, when he resolved to set apart a day for fasting, and prayer for Divine direction. The result was, that he yielded to his father's wishes.
Professor James Wodrow, the father of the historian, was a fellow-student, and was very intimate with him. The Professor says that he was shy and reserved, and for a time was troubled with grievous temptations, which drove him to such despair that he at length determined to put an end to his miserable life. Under the horrible fury of those fiery darts, he went out once or twice to the river Clyde, with a dreadful resolution to drown himself; but somebody or other coming by him, always stayed his purpose. The temptation still continued, and one day he was on the point of throwing himself into an old coal pit, when that word struck him in the mind, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven." It put new life into him. His fears and doubts vanished, and his faith acquired the confidence that so strikingly appears in his after life.
He became minister of the Barony parish in 1654. Little, however, is known of him during his ministry, further than the general statement of Wodrow, that he was "a pious and zealous minister," and a "successful preacher of the Gospel." In 1662 he refused to keep the anniversary day of thanksgiving for the restoration of Charles II., and to accept a presentation from the archbishop of Glasgow; and in November he was banished north of the Tay.
He was at the battle of Bothwell BridgeJune 22, 1679when he was severely wounded and taken prisoner, but was set free by his two captors when they found who he was. As soon as his wounds healed he went over to Holland; but after a short residence there he returned to Scotland, and lived in retirement at Queensferry. The escape he here made when surprised by his enemies, through Haughhead's grappling with the governor of Blackness until he got safely away, is detailed in the Appendix, in the "Brief Relation," etc., of Henry Hall. After this deliverance he preached much in company with Richard Cameron, until the fatal encounter at AirsmossJuly 22, 1680left him well-nigh alone.
In September, before a great assemblage at the Torwood, half way between Larbert and Stirling, he pronounced sentence of excommunication upon Charles II., and the Dukes of York, Monmouth, Lauderdale, Rothes, Sir G. M'Kenzie, and Dalziel of Binns. The sentence itself is in the Appendix. The Government was now stirred up more than ever against him. On November 22, he was declared to be "one of the most seditious preachers," and "a villainous and fanatical conspirator," and a reward of 5000 merks offered to any one who should bring him in, dead or alive. In December following he made a second narrow escape from the governor of Blackness. He spent the next three months in England, where, according to Patrick Walker, "the Lord blessed his labours in the ministry to the conviction and edification of many souls."
In April 1681 he came back to Scotland, and passed his few remaining weeks in almost constant preaching. His last sermon was preached, July 10th, at Dunsyre, a parish in Lanarkshire on the confines of Midlothian, and on the watershed between the east and west of Scotland. Next morning he was seized while in bed, and was immediately hurried on to Lanark, and thence to Glasgow; on the 15th he was brought before the Council in Edinburgh, and again on the 19th. His "interrogatories" and "answers" on both occasions are in Wodrow's History. During his imprisonment Professor Wodrow visited him. After some conversation, he asked how he found matters with him? Mr. Cargill answered, "as to the main point, my interest in Christ, and the pardon of my sins, I have no doubts there; neither have I been ever shaken since the Lord's condescension to me in my extremity about twenty-five years ago, which I communicated to you a little after; and no thanks to me, for the evidence was so clear that I could, never since, once doubt."
He was tried on the 26th, along with Walter Smith, James Boig, William Thomson, and William Cuthill, martyrs whose testimonies are also in this volume. According to Patrick Walker, in "Some Remarkable Passages in the Life and Death of that singular Exemplary, holy in life, zealous and faithful unto the death, Mr. Cargill," when he was first brought before the Council, "they were very fierce and furious against him, especially Chancellor Rothes." But, in the interval, Cargill's words at the examination, as well as the spectacle of Rothes, now in sore suffering upon his death-bed, [so remarkably in accordance with the martyr's answer to his threatenings: "My Lord Rothes, forbear to threaten me; for die what death I will, your eyes will not see it,"] had done much to allay their wrath; and it was proposed, that "as he was old, and had done all the ill he would do, to let him go to the Bass and be prisoner there during life." It was put to the vote, but by the casting vote of the Earl of Argyle, who said, "Let him go to the gallows and die like a traitor," it was carried that he be hanged next day.
Argyle's vote afterwards troubled him. His premature rising in 1685 against the Government with which he had been so long associated, brought him few followers. One morning, after his landing, he was walking at the waterside very sad, when he was accosted by a Thomas Urquhart. "I am sorry to see your Lordship so melancholy." "How can I be otherwise?" replied Argyle. "I see few coming to our assistance. I am persuaded I will be called Infatuate Argyle. But all does not trouble me so much as the unhappy, wicked vote I gave against that good man and minister, Mr. Cargill; and now I am persuaded I shall die a violent death in that same spot where he died," a persuasion unhappily soon verified. On the morning of his execution, it is said that Argyle again spoke of the vote to some of his friends, and declared, "That above all things in his life, it lay heaviest upon him."
The sentence passed upon Cargill and his fellow-sufferers was executed July 27th, 1681. "The hangman hashed and hagged off all their heads with an axe. Mr. Cargill's, Mr. Smith's, and Mr. Boig's heads were fixed upon the Netherbow Port; William Cuthill's and William Thomson's upon the West Port."
Donald Cargill's dying testimony, and the four letters that follow it, are all of the same characterearnest and evangelical, and written in nervous English. M'Millan's "Collection of Letters," Edinburgh, 1764, contains two by Cargill. They are of the same nature as those in this volume. John Howie of Lochgoin, in his "Collection of Lectures and Sermons," etc., has given four lectures and seven sermons, from notes taken by hearers. But they are obviously imperfect, and by no means do justice to Donald Cargill. One of them is said to be his last sermon. Patrick Walker gives the close of the same discourse, and in a form much superior to that of Howie, which indeed justifies Wodrow's commendation, as well as his own, of Donald Cargill as a preacher:
"I had the happiness to hear blest Mr. Cargill preach his last public sermons (as I had several times before, for which, while I live, I desire to bless the Lord) in Dunsyre-Common, betwixt Clydesdale and Lothian, where he lectured upon the 1st chapter of Jeremiah, and preached upon that soul-refreshing text, Isa. 26., two last verses, 'Come, my people, enter into your chambers,' etc. Wherein he was short, marrowy, and sententious, as his ordinary was in all his public sermons and prayers, with the greatest evidences of concernedness, exceeding all that ever I heard open a mouth, or saw open a Bible to preach the Gospel, with the greatest indignation at the unconcernedness of hearers. He preached from experience, and went to the experience of all that had any of the Lord's gracious dealing with their souls. It came from his heart, and went to the heart; as I have heard some of our common hearers say, that he spake as never man spake, for his words went through them.
"He insisted what kind of chambers these were of protection and safety, and exhorted us all earnestly to dwell in the clefts of the rock, to hide ourselves in the wounds of Christ, and to wrap ourselves in the believing application of the promises flowing therefrom; and to make our refuge under the shadow of His wings, until these sad calamities pass over, and the dove come back with the olive-leaf in her mouth. These were the last words of his last sermon."
The following testimony, and those of Walter Smith and James Boig, are given first, because of their importance, and the high character and influence of Donald Cargill. With David Hackston a chronological arrangement begins, which is strictly followed throughout the volume.ED.]
THE LAST SPEECH AND TESTIMONY
Rev. Mr. DONALD CARGILL,
Sometime Minister of the Gospel in the Barony Parish of Glasgow,
Delivered by him in Writing before his
Execution at the Cross of Edinburgh, July 27, 1681.
"THIS is the most joyful day that ever I saw in my pilgrimage on earth. My joy is now begun, which I see shall never be interrupted. I see both my interest and His truth, and the sureness of the one, and the preciousness of the other. It is near thirty years since He made it sure; and since that time, though there has fallen out much sin, yet I was never out of an assurance of mine interest, nor long out of sight of His presence. He has dandled me, and kept me lively, and never left me behind, though I was ofttimes turning back. Oh! He has showed the wonderful preciousness of His grace, not only in the first receiving thereof, but in renewed and multiplied pardons!
"I have been a man of great sins, but He has been a God of great mercies; and now, through His mercies, I have a conscience as sound and quiet as if I had never sinned. It is long since I could have adventured on eternity, through God's mercy and Christ's merits; but death remained somewhat terrible, and that now is taken away; and now death is no more to me, but to cast myself into my husband's arms, and to lie down with Him. And however it be with me at the last, though I should be straitened by God or interrupted by men, yet all is sure, and shall be well. I have followed holiness, I have taught truth, and I have been most in the main things; not that I thought the things concerning our times little, but that I thought none could do anything to purpose in God's great and public matters, till they were right in their conditions.
"And O that all had taken this method! for then there had been fewer apostacies. The religion of the land, and zeal for the land's engagements, are come to nothing but a supine, loathsome, and hateful formality; and there cannot be zeal, liveliness, and rightness, where people meet with persecution, and want heart-renovation. My soul trembles to think how little of regeneration there is amongst the ministers and professors of Scotland. O the ministers of Scotland, how have they betrayed Christ's interest and beguiled souls! 'They have not entered in themselves, and them that were entering in, they hindered.' They have sold the things of Christ and liberties of His Church for a short and cursed quiet to themselves, which is now near an end; and they are more one and at peace with God's enemies, after they have done all their mischiefs, nor [than] they were at first when they had but put hand to them. And I much fear, that though there were but one minister on all the earth, He will make no more use of them; but there will be a dreadful judgment upon themselves, and a long curse upon their posterity!
"As to our professors, my counsel to them is, that they would see well to their own regeneration, for the most part of them have that yet to do; and yet, let never one think that he is in the right exercise of true religion, that has not a zeal to God's public glory. There is a small remnant in Scotland that my soul has had its greatest comfort on earth from. I wish your increase in holiness, number, love, religion, and righteousness; and wait you, and cease to contend with these men that are gone from us, for there is nothing that shall convince them but judgment. Satisfy your consciences, and go forward; for the nearer you are to God, and the further from all others, whether stated [declared] enemies or lukewarm ministers and professors, it shall be the better.
"My preaching has occasioned persecution, but the want of it will, I fear, occasion worse. However, I have preached the truths of God to others, as it is written, 'I believed, and so I preached,' and I have not an ill conscience in preaching truth, whatever has followed; and this day I am to seal with my blood all the truths that ever I preached; and what is controverted of that which I have been professing, shall, ere long, be manifested by God's judgments in the consciences of men. I had a sweet calmness of spirit and great submission as to my taking, the providence of God was so eminent in it; and I could not but think that God judged it necessary for His glory to bring me to such an end, seeing He loosed me from such a work. My soul would be exceedingly troubled anent the remnant, were it not that I think the time will be short. Wherefore, hold fast, for this is the way that is now persecuted.
"As to the cause of my suffering, the main is, 'Not acknowledging the present authority, as it is established in the Supremacy and Explanatory Act.' This is the magistracy that I have rejected, that was invested with Christ's power. And seeing that this power, taken from Christ, which is His glory, made the essential of the crown, I thought it was as if I had seen one wearing my husband's garments after he had killed him; and seeing it is made the essential of the crown, there is no distinction we can make, that can free the conscience of the acknowledger from being a partaker of this sacrilegious robbing of God; and it is but to cheat our consciences to acknowledge the civil power; for it is not civil power only that is made of the essence of his crown. And seeing they are so express, we ought to be plain; for otherwise it is to deny our testimony and consent to His robbery."
AFTER Mr. Cargill was come to the scaffold, standing with his back towards the ladder, he fixed his eyes upon the multitude, and desired their attention; and after singing a part of the 118th Psalm, from the 16th verse to the close, he looked up to the windows on both sides of the scaffold with a smiling countenance, requesting the people to compose themselves and hear a few words that he had to say, which, said he, "I shall direct to three sorts of folk, and shall endeavour to be brief:"
"First, All you that are going on in persecuting the work and people of God, O beware for the Lord's sake, and refrain from such courses, as you would escape wrath eternally, which will be a torment far beyond what we are to endure by the hands of cruel and bloody murderers."
Upon this the drums were beaten, at which he smilingly said, "Now ye see we have not liberty to speak, or at least to speak what we would; but God knoweth our hearts. But, O ye that are called ministers and professors in the Church of Scotland, who are wearied in waiting upon the Lord, and are turned out of His way, and run into a course of gross defection and backsliding, truly, for my part, I tremble to think what will become of you; for either you shall be punished with sore affliction (I mean in your consciences, because of sin), or else you shall be tormented eternally without remedy, which shall be shortly, if mercy prevent it not; which I pray God may be the mercy of all these to whom He has thoughts of peace. All ye that are the poor remnant, who fear sinning more than suffering, and are begging for His returning into Scotland, to wear His own crown and reign as King in Zion, in spite of all that will oppose Him, whether devils or men, I say to you that are thus waiting, wait on, and ye shall not be disappointed; for either your eyes shall see it, or else ye shall die in the faith of it, that He shall return, and 'if you suffer with Him, you shall also reign with Him,' which reign will be glorious and eternal.
"I come now to tell you for what I am brought here to die, and to give you an account of my faith, which I shall do as in the sight of the living God before whom I am shortly to stand. First, I declare I am a Christian, a Protestant, a Presbyterian in my judgment; and whatever hath been said of me, I die testifying against Popery, Prelacy, Erastianism, and all manner of defection from the truth of God, and against all who make not the Scriptures, which are the Word of God, their rule, that so they may commend Christ and His way to strangers by a holy and Gospel conversation. The cause for which I am sentenced to die here this day, is my disowning of authority in the unlawful exercise thereof, when they, instead of ruling for God, are fighting against Him, and encroaching upon His prerogatives, by that woful supremacy which my soul abhors, and which I have testified against since I was apprehended; and now again I disown all supremacy over the consciences of men and liberties of Christ's Church."
Whereupon the drums were again beaten, and he kept silence a little, and then said: "Of this subject I shall say no more. Only I think the Lord's quarrel against this land is, because there has not been so much heart religion and soul exercise among either ministers or professors, as there seemed to be when the land owned Christ and His truth. I wish there were more true conversion, and then there would not be so much backsliding, and, for fear of suffering, living at ease, when there are so few to contend for Christ and His cause.
"Now for my own case, I bless the Lord that, for all that hath been said of me, my conscience doth not condemn me. I do not say I am free of sin, but I am at peace with God through a slain Mediator; and I believe that there is no salvation but only in Christ. And I abhor that superstitious way of worshipping of angels and saints contrary unto the Word of God; as also I abhor the leaning to self-righteousness and Popish penances. I bless the Lord that these thirty years and more I have been at peace with God, and was never shaken loose of it; and now I am as sure of my interest in Christ and peace with God as all within this Bible and the Spirit of God can make me; and I am no more terrified at death, nor afraid of hell, because of sin, than if I had never had sin; for all my sins are freely pardoned and washen thoroughly away, through the precious blood and intercession of Jesus Christ. And I am fully persuaded that this is His way for which I suffer; and that He will return gloriously to Scotland, but it will be terrifying to many; therefore I entreat you, be not discouraged at the way of Christ and the cause for which I am to lay down my life, and step into eternity, where my soul shall be as full of Him as it can desire to be.
"And now, this is the sweetest and most glorious day that ever my eyes did see. Now I entreat you, study to know and believe the Scriptures, which are the truths of God; these I have preached, and do firmly believe them. Oh! prepare for judgments, for they shall be sore and sudden. Enemies are now enraged against the way and people of God, but erelong they shall be enraged one against another to their own confusion."
At this the drums were beaten a third time, and being taken to the north side of the scaffold, he stood a little during the space that one of the rest was singing; and then being carried to the south side of the scaffold, he prayed. Thence he was brought to the east side of the scaffold, and there he said, "I entreat you prepare you presently for a stroke, for God will not sit with [disregard] all the wrongs done to Him, but will suddenly come and make inquisition for the blood that has been shed in Scotland."
Then he was commanded to go up the ladder, and as he set his foot on it, he said, "The Lord knows I go up this ladder with less fear and perturbation of mind than ever I entered the pulpit to preach."
And when he was up, he sat himself down, and said: "Now I am near to the getting of my crown, which shall be sure; for I bless the Lord, and desire all of you to bless Him that He hath brought me here, and makes me triumph over devils, and men, and sin: they shall wound me no more. I forgive all men the wrongs they have done to me, and pray the Lord may forgive all the wrongs that any of the elect have done against Him. I pray that sufferers may be kept from sin, and helped to know their duty."
Then having prayed a little within himself, he lifted up the napkin and said: "Farewell all relations and friends in Christ; farewell acquaintances and all earthly enjoyments; farewell reading and preaching, praying and believing, wanderings, reproaches, and sufferings. Welcome joy unspeakable and full of glory. Welcome Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! into Thy hands I commit my spirit."
Then he prayed a little, and the executioner turned him over praying.
BECAUSE this dying testimony and last speech are but short, which was occasioned through want of time and the persecutors' severity, who took his larger testimony from him the day before he died, paper and ink being conveyed to him secretly by a cord through the window the night before his death, it is thought proper to subjoin these following letters of his, they being all of public concern, to give a more full discovery of the testimony which he held; and particularly of his witnessing against the errors about that time broached by the infamous John Gib, as the letter written to the prisoners in the Correction House manifests.
From Mr. DONALD CARGILL
To Mr. JAMES SKENE,
Who suffered Martyrdom at Edinburgh.
"DEAREST FRIEND,There is now nothing upon earth that I am so concerned in, except the Lord's work, as in you and your fellows; that you may either be cleanly brought off, or honourably and rightly carried through. He is begun in part to answer me; though not in that which I most affected, yet in that which is best.
"My soul was refreshed to see any that had so far overcome the fear and torture of death, and were so far denied to the affections of the flesh, as to give full liberty to the exoneration of conscience in the face of these bloody tyrants and vile apostates. And yet these, by our divines, must be acknowledged as magistrates! which very heathens, endued with the light of nature, would abominate, and would think it as inconsistent with reason to admit to or continue in magistracy; such perjured, bloody, dissolute, and flagitious men, as to make a wolf the keeper and feeder of the flock. But every step of their dealing with God, with the land, and with yourself and brethren, is a confirmation of your judgment anent them, and sufficient ground of your detestation and rejection of them; and it is the sin of the land, and of every person in it, that they have not gone along with you, and these few in that action. But since they have not done that, they shall not now meet with the like honour, if ever they meet with it, till vengeance be poured out upon them; and they and their king shall either be keeped together in wrath or divided in wrath, that they may be one another's destruction.
"But go on, valiant champion; you die not as a fool, though the apostate, unfaithful, and lukewarm ministers and professors of this generation think and say so. They shall live traitors, and most part of them die fools. I say, traitors; as some men live upon the reward of treachery, for their quiet and liberty; if it may be called a liberty, as it is redeemed with the betraying of the interest of Christ, and the blood of His people. But He Himself hath sealed your sufferings, and their thus saying condemns God, and His sealing condemns them. But neither regard their voices, nor fear; for God will neither seal to folly nor iniquity. He then not only having sealed your sufferings, but your remission, go on to finish and perfect your testimony, not only against them, but against all that subject [yield] to them, side with them, or are silent at them.
"And as for these men that will be our rulers, though they have nothing of worth or virtue in them; I am persuaded of this, that none can appear before them and acknowledge them as they have now invested themselves; standing on a foundation of perjury, which is an act recissory of their admission to the government, with Christ's crown on their head, and a sceptre of iniquity and a sword of persecution in their hand; but must deny Christ. And in effect, the whole land generally hath denied Christ and desired a murderer; and as for that unsavoury salt that lately appeared, acknowledged them, and was ashamed of this testimony, and in so doing gave the first vote to your condemnation, and proclaimed a lawfulness to the rest of assizers and murderers to follow in their condemnations, God shall require this, with his other doings, at his hands; and I am somewhat afraid, if he be not suddenly made the subject of serious repentance, that he shall be made the subject of great vengeance." [The reference here is to the Rev. John Carstairs, minister of the Inner High Church, Glasgow, from 1650 to 1662. In 1662 he declined to take the oath of allegiance without giving an explanation of the sense in which he thought it might be taken, and was imprisoned for several weeks until his health gave way. After the battle of Pentland, he went over to Holland, and preached in Rotterdam with great acceptance. In 1672 he returned to Scotland, when he was almost immediately summoned before the Council, but was set free on finding security for 2000 merks, i.e., £120. When Skene was apprehended, some papers were found on him that brought Carstairs into trouble. He was summoned before the Council, says Wodrow, where "he owned the king's authority and that of his courts. With a great deal of seriousness he disclaimed the follies and principles Mr. Skene and some others now advanced, and said he could not express his abominating their extremities with vehemency enough." Carstairs seemed to have lived in retirement. He edited several of the posthumous works of his former colleague, James Durham, and the one-volumed edition of Calderwood's History. His son was the well-known counsellor of William III., Principal Carstairs.ED.]
"But forgive and forget all these private injuries, and labour to go to eternity and death with a heart destitute of private revenges, and filled with zeal to God's glory; and assign to Him the quarrel against His enemies, to be followed out by Himself in His own way against the indignities done to Him, and against the mocking perfidiousness, impieties, and lukewarmness of this generation.
"And for yourself, whatever there has been either of sin or duty, remember the one and forget the other, and betake yourself wholly to the mercy of God and the merit of Christ. Ye know in whom ye have believed, and the acceptableness of your believing, and the more fully you henceforth believe, the greater shall be His glory, and the greater your peace and safety.
"Farewell, dearest friend, never to see one another any more till at the right hand of Christ. Fear not; and the God of mercies grant a full gale and a fair entry into His kingdom, which may carry sweetly and swiftly over the bar, that you find not the rub of death. Grace, mercy, and peace be with you.
"Yours in Christ,"D.C."
A LETTERBefore Mr. Donald Cargill went Abroad.
To some Friends
"DEAR FRIENDS,I cannot but be grieved to go from my native land, and especially from that part of it for whom and with whom I desired only to live; yet the dreadful apprehensions I have of what is coming upon this land may help to make me submissive to this providence, though more bitter.
"You will have snares for a little, and then a deluge of judgments. I do not speak this to affright any, much less to rejoice over them, as if I were taken, and they left; or were studying by these thoughts to alleviate my own lot of banishment; though I am afraid that none shall bless themselves long upon the account that they are left behind; but my design is to have you making yourselves prepared for snares and judgments, that ye may have both the greatest readiness and the greatest shelters, for both shall be in one.
"Clear accompts, [accounts] and put off the old; for it is like, that what is to come will be both sudden and surprising, that it will not give you time for this. Beware of taking on new debt. I am afraid, that these things which many are looking on as favours are but come to bind men together in bundles for a fire.
"I am sure, if these things be embraced, there shall not be long time given for using of them; and this last of their favours and snares is sent to men, to show that they are that which otherwise they will not confess themselves to be. Tell all, that the shelter and benefit of this shall neither be great nor long, but the snare of it shall be great and prejudicial.
"And for myself, I think for the present He is calling me to another land; but how long shall be my abode, or what employment He has for me there, I know not, for I cannot think He is taking me there to live and lurk only.
"I rest,"DONALD CARGILL."
To JOHN MALCOLM & ARCHIBALD ALISON,
[See Note prefixed to their testimonies in a later part of the volume.ED.]
"DEAR FRIENDs,Death in Christ, and for Christ, is never much to be bemoaned, and less at this time than any other, when these that survive have nothing to live among but miseries, persecutions, snares, sorrows, and sinning; and where the only desirable sight, viz., Christ reigning in a free and flourishing Church, is wanting, and the greatly grieving and offensive object to devout souls, viz., devils and the worst of the wicked reigning and raging, is still before our eyes.
"And though we had greater things to leave and better times to live in, yet eternity does so far exceed and excel these things in their greatest perfection, that they who see and are sure (and we see, indeed, being made sure), will never let a tear fall, or a sigh go at the farewell, but would rather make a slip to get death nor [than] to shun it; if both were not equally detestable to them, upon the account of God's commandments, whom they neither dare nor are willing to offend, even to obtain Heaven itself. And there are none who are His, but they must see themselves infinitely advantaged in the exchange; and accordingly hasten, if sin, the flesh, and want of assurance did not withstand. And there is no doubt but these must be weak and poor spirits, that are bewitched or enchanted either with the fruition or hopes of the world; and as earth has nothing to hold a resolute and reconciled soul, so heaven wants nothing to draw it; and to some, to live here has been always wearisome, since their peace was made, Christ's sweetness known, and their own weakness and unusefulness experienced. But now it becomes hatefully loathsome; since devils and the worst of men are become the head, and dreadful, by their stupendous permissions, loosings, and lengthenings in their reigning; and friends are become uncomfortable; because they will neither Christianly bear and bide, nor rightly go forward to effectuate their own delivery.
But for you there is nothing at this time (if you yourselves be sure with God, which I hope either you are or will be), which can make me bewail your death; though the cause of it doth both increase my affection to you and indignation against these enemies. Yet for you, notwithstanding of the unjustness of the sentence, go not to eternity with indignation against them upon your own account, neither let the goodness of the cause ye suffer for found [i.e., be the foundation of] your confidence in God and your hope of wellbeing; for were the action never so good, and performed without the least failing (which is not incident to human infirmity), it could never be a cause of obtaining mercy, nor yet commend us to that grace from which we are to obtain it. There is nothing now which is yours, when you are pleading and petitioning for mercy, that must be remembered, but your sins, for in effect there is nothing else ours.
"Let your sins, then, be on your heart, as your sorrow; which we must bewail before we be parted with them, as the captive her father; not because she was to leave him, but because she had been so long with him; and let these mercies of God and merits of Christ be before your eyes as your hopes, and your winning to these as the only rock upon which we can be saved. If there be anything seen or looked to in ourselves but sin, we cannot expect remission and salvation allenarly [i.e., solely] through free grace, in which expectation only it can be obtained; neither can we earnestly beg, till we see ourselves destitute of all that procures favour, and full of all that merits and hastens vengeance and wrath.
"And besides, it heightens the price of that precious blood, by which only we can have redemption from sin and wrath; it being the only sufficient in itself, and only acceptable to the Father; and so it must be, being the blessed and gracious device and result of infinite wisdom, which makes the eternal God to be admired in His graciousness and holiness; having found out the way of His own payment without our hurt; and which makes all return to their own desires, and there to rest in an eternal complacency; for this way returns to God His glory, to justice its satisfaction to disquieted consciences of men, frighted and awakened with the sight of sin and wrath, ease, peace and assurance; and to the souls of men, fellowship with God, and hope of eternal salvation. Now the righteousness of Christ being made sure to us, secures all this for us, and this truth is believed and apprehended by faith; it being the hand by which we grip this rock; and if it be true, it cannot but be strong, and we saved.
"Look well, then, to your faith, that it be a faith growing out of regeneration, and the new creature, and that it have Christ for its righteousness, hope, and rejoicing, and be sealed by the Spirit of God. And what this sealing is, when it comes, it will abundantly show itself; and there can be no other full satisfaction to a soul than this. But seek till ye find, and, whatever ye find for the present, let your last act be to lay and leave yourselves on the righteousness of His Son, expecting life through His name, according to the promise of the Father.
"Dear friends, your work is great, and time short; but this is a comfort, and the only comfort in your present condition, that you have a God infinite in mercy to deal with, who is ready at all times to forgive, but especially persons in your case, who have been jeoparding your lives upon the account of the Gospel; whatever failings or infirmities in you that action hath been accompanied with; for it is the action itself which is the duty of this whole covenanted kingdom, and not the failing, for which you are brought to suffering. Seek not then the favours of men, by making your duty your sin; but confess your failings to God, and look for His mercy through Jesus Christ, who has said, 'Whosoever loseth his life for my sake, shall keep it unto eternal life.' And though it will profit a reprobate nothing to die after this manner (for nothing can be profitable without love, which only is, or can be in a believer), yet it should be no disadvantage, but in a manner the best way of dying; for it would take some from his days that he might have lived, and so prevent many sins that he would have committed, and so the sin is lessened that is the cause of eternal sufferings.
"And let not this discourage you, or lay you by [i.e., overcome you], that the work is great, and the time short; though this indeed should mind you of your sinful neglect, that you were not better provided for such a short and peremptory summons, which you should always have expected. It also shows the greatness of the sin of these enemies, who not only take away unjustly your bodily life, but also shorten your time of preparation, and so do their utmost to deprive you of eternal life. Yet, I say, let not this either discourage or lay you by, for God can perfect great works in a short time; and one of the greatest things that befall men shall be effectuate in the twinkling of an eye, which is one of the shortest. I assure you, He put the thief on the cross through all his desires; conviction, conversion, justification, sanctification, etc., in short time; and left nothing to bemoan, but that there did not remain time enough to glorify Him upon earth, who had done all these things for him.
"Go on, then, and let your intent be seriousness. The greatness of your sorrow, and the height of love, in a manner make a compensation for the shortness of time; and go on, though ye yourselves have gone short way; for where these things are, one hour will perform more than thousands where there were not either such enforcements or power; and be persuaded in this, you have Him as much and more hastening than yourselves; for you may know His motion by your own, they being both set forward by Him. And, dear friends, be not terrified at the manner of your death, which, to me, seems to be the easiest of all, where you come to it without pain, and in perfect judgment, and go through so speedily; before the pain be felt, the glory is come! But pray for a greater measure of His presence, which only can make a pass through the hardest things cheerful and pleasant.
"I bid you farewell, expecting, though our parting be sad, our gathering shall be joyful again. Only our great advantage in the case you are in is, to credit Him much; for that is His glory, and engages Him to perform whatever ye have credited Him with. No more, but avow boldly to give a full testimony for His truths, as you desire to be avowed of Him. Grace, mercy, and peace be with you.
To the Prisoners in the Correction House of Edinburgh.
[These prisoners were twenty-six women, followers of John Gib, of Borrowstounness. Cargill, when preaching at Darmead, heard that Gib and his followers were in the neighbourhood, and, sending for them, had a long conference with them as to their opinions. Its sum and substance, according to Patrick Walker, is contained in the following letter. Gib and about thirty adherents had forsaken their homes, and had taken up their abode in the moors, under the persuasion that they would thus be more free from all snares and sins. Their extravagances attracted the notice of the government, and in the spring of 1681, they were taken by a troop of dragoons, and carried to Edinburgh. Gib and three male associates were imprisoned in the Canongate Tolbooth, and the twenty-six women in the Correction House, usually filled with the loose and abandoned of the city. Gib and his male adherents gave in a statement of their opinions to the Council, which will be found in Wodrow; and Donald Cargill seems to have come to the conclusion that they were so wedded to their errors as to be irreclaimable. Of the women he entertained better hopes, and hence sent them the following affectionate appeal. It says much for his kindness of heart, and for his patient and earnest desire to reclaim them. His efforts were not without success, for the greater part of them, according to Patrick Walker, came to their right mind after they had tasted the bitter fruits of these demented delusions. Gib himself was shortly after set at liberty, but in 1684 was again apprehended, and banished to America. After a life of much misery and wretchedness, he died in 1720.ED.]
"DEAR FRIENDS,I think ye cannot but know that I am both concerned and afflicted with your condition, and I would have written sooner, and more, if I had not feared that you might have been jealous, under your distempers, that I had been seducing you to follow me, and not God and truth.
"It had been my earnest and frequent prayer to God, as He Himself knows, to be led in all truth, and I judge I have been in this graciously answered; but I desire none, if they themselves judge it not to be truth, to adhere to anything that I have either preached, written, or done, to any hazard, much more to the loss of life.
"But I have been afflicted with your condition, and could not but be more, if God's great graciousness in this begun discovery, and your sincerity and singleness, gave me not hope that God's purpose is to turn this to the great mercy of His poor Church and yours, if ye mar it not; and yet the great sin, and pillar of Satan, that is in this snare, makes me tremble. It was God's mercy to you, that gave you such convictions; that made you, at least some of you, once to part with these men. And it was undoubtedly your sin, that you continued not so; but after convictions, did cast yourselves in new temptations; for convictions ought to be tenderly guided, lest the Spirit be grieved, from whom they come; but this second discovery, though it be with a sharper rebuke, as it makes God's mercy wonderful, so it shall render your perseverance in that course sinful and utterly inexcusable; for God has broken the snare; and it will be your great sin, if you go not out with great haste, joy, and thankfulness, when God's wonderful discovery has made such a way for your delivery. For God, having now shown you the ringleaders and authors of these opinions to be persons of such abominations, calls you not only to deny credit to them, but also to make a serious search of their tenets; which will, I know, by His grace, bring you undoubtedly to see, that these things are contrary both to God's glory and truth, that they so much pretend to.
"And now, dear friends, I cannot be tender enough of you, who in your zeal and singleness have been misled. For though this did bewray a great simplicity and unwatchfulness, yet it did also betoken some zeal and tenderness; that being beguiled, it was in things that were veiled and busked [i.e., adorned] with some pretence to God's glory, and public reformation. And on the other hand, I cannot have great enough abhorrence of the persons, who, knowing themselves to be of such abominations, did give out themselves to be of such familiarity with God, and of so clear illumination, to make their delusions more passing with devout souls. Let nothing make you think this is malignity, or natural enmity against the power of Godliness, or progress in reformation, that is venting itself in me: For though I cannot win [i.e., get] forward as I ought, yet I have rejoiced to see others go forward.
"And I am sure, there lies in this bed within you, a viper and a child. Satan, transforming himself into an angel of light, has put these two together, to make it passing with some, and to be spared of others who are of tenderness. But my soul's desire is, to kill the serpent and keep the child alive; and God is calling you loudly to sever the good from the bad, that the wit of Satan's subtilty has mixed together, and to deliver yourselves speedily, as a roe from the hand of the hunter; and not only return, but bitterly mourn for your high provoking of God, in offering such foul sacrifices to His glory, and sewing your old clouts upon that new garment; in your making the enemy more to despise that cause and company who are enough despised already, and discouraging those who were following and going forward with you in that which was right; so that now, neither have they heart nor hand for the work, nor can they look out till God recover them again.
"There is much in the whole of this, that may, and does weight and overwhelm some spirits: but there is nothing in all their cogitations about it that they find comfortable; unless it be, that He is cleared in afflicting us, and continuing to afflict, because there were such persons among us. I speak this but of some of you, and beloved by us, though ignorantly; and we wish that this be the last and great stop that was to be removed, before His coming to revenge Himself, and reign. I would not say but by this also He showed His tenderness, of preserving integrity of doctrine, and sound reformation, and His purpose not to suffer errors and heresies to prosper.
"This I told you, when I met with you, that there were some things ye were owning which were highly approved of God; such as, an inward heart-love and zeal to God's glory, which I perceived to be in some of you, so far as it can be perceived; and setting up that before you, as your end, in pursuing it always as your work, and a forgetting of all other things in regard of it; excepting only these things without which we cannot glorify Him; as a workman that intends his work must mind his tools; even our own salvation, and the salvation of all others, as if they were not things wherein He is greatly glorified; for His glory is in righteousness and mercy, and in, and by these, is the salvation of man infallibly advanced, and to these it is inseparably connected.
"Next, I would advise you to set apart more, yea, much more of your time, for humiliation, fasting, and prayer, in such an exigence, when the judgments of God appear to be so near and so great; so that it be done without sin; for God cannot be glorified by sin, 'for if my lie hath more abounded to His glory, why am I judged as a sinner?' I was against such as deny nature, and others their right dues; for He that allows dues to others, allows them to be paid also. And we must be like prisoners, who are of great debt and honest hearts, who know they cannot pay every one their full sums, yet are resolved to give every one some, and to the greatest most, and to the rest accordingly. And as there cannot be a total abstinence from meat without self-murder, so there cannot be a total denying others their dues, such as the benevolence of husband to wife, and a total abstaining from work, without a transgression of God's commandments and laws; which can never be a glorifying of Him; which the more impartially they are kept, the more He is glorified.
"Next, ways are allowed of Him, that ye may make yourselves free, so much as in you lies, of all the public defections, whatever may involve you in these, or contribute to their upholding, without either an overpowering force, or an indispensable necessity; for I may buy meat and drink in necessity, whatever use the seller make of that money I give for my meat and drink.
"Next, He allows these particulars of reformation, such as change of the names of days, of weeks, of terms of the year, and such like, warranted by the word and example of the Christians in Scripture, that have been neglected before in our reformation; so that there be not too much religion placed in these things, and other things more weighty, which undoubtedly have more moral righteousness in them, made little in regard of them; but in these good things Satan will quickly (if it be not already), over-drive you in your progress, and leave you only to hug a spurious birth.
"But there are other things that ye maintained when I spoke with you (and the viper has more since appeared), as truths and parts of God's glory, that are utterly contrary to, and inconsistent with the glory of God. As first, laying aside of public preaching, some of them saying no less, nor [i.e., than that] they had no missing of it; so that ye thought, 'Ye had reigned as kings without us, and would to God ye had reigned.' Your flourishing should have delighted, though we had not been the instruments and means thereof. But, alas! this your liberty, that you so much bragged of, would have lasted but a little while, and was among your other beguiles, and was nothing else but Satan stirring you about to giddiness, and raising of fantastic fumes to the tickling of the imagination, but leaving you altogether without renovation of heart, or progress in sanctification; so that I cannot compare this your liberty to anything else, but to an enchanted fabric; where the poor guests, only placed in imagination, imagine themselves to be in a pleasant place, and at royal entertainment; but when God comes, and delusion evanisheth, they will find themselves cast in some remote wilderness, and left full of astonishment and fears.
"I told you, while I was with you, that the devil was sowing tares amongst your thin wheat; but I was not long from you, exercised in thoughts about you, but I saw clearly there was sorcery in your business; and now, I tell you, I fear sorcerers also. I know I have spoken this against my own life, if they get the power they desire; but I am in a defiance of them, and I know also in a defence by Him who hath preserved, and I know will preserve me, till my work be finished. But if your liberty that you talked of had been true, it would at least have stayed till it had brought you to other thoughts, other works, and other comforts; and it might have been easily discerned not a true liberty, but a temptation that led you from public preaching, the great ordinance of God's glory and men's good; as the apostle has that word, 'forbidding us to preach to the Gentiles;' but especially to leave public ordinances at this time, when they are the only standards standing which shows Satan's victory against Christ's kingdom in Scotland not to be complete.
"Yet, dear friends, when you hear this, let not Satan cast you as far to the other side, for it is rare to see the most devout souls altogether out from under his delusions and temptations, as to make you believe that it is impossible to attain unto anything of certitude of truth, liberty, manifestations, and communion with God, if that which seemed to be so firm be delusions. But shall Satan have such power to make men believe lies, and shall not God go infinitely beyond him, in making men to see and believe truth? There were many that thought themselves at the height of assurance, when under the greatest temptationsas Psalm 73, 'Verily I have cleansed my hands in vain;' and yet they have a greater certainty when they come to see that there is no such unquietness of spirit under this, as they found in the former. And seeing it is so, rest not till ye attain that assurance of your own interest, and of His main truths, which is both above doubt and defect, that ye may be able to say, 'Now we believe, and are sure.'
"But in the next place, ye will join with none in public worship, but those who have infallible signs of regeneration. This seems fair, but it is both false and foul. False, because of its false foundation, viz., that the certainty of one's interest in Christ may be known by another. Whereas the Scripture says, 'That none knows it, but he that has it.' Foul also, for this disdain has pride in it, and pride is always foul; and though there be a difference amongst men, and though we should have regard of repentance and brokenness of heart, yet those who have well fought and seen their own filthiness, will judge themselves the persons of any that should be thrust out of the assemblies of God's people, and that not only in regard of what they have been, but also in regard of what they daily are.
"Next, ye would have all to be prayed to eternal wrath, who have departed and made defection in this time. Alas! we need not blow them away; the great part is going fast enough that way; but this, I am sure, is not to give God His glory, but to take from Him, and limit Him in His freedom and choice in the greatness of His pardon. It is remarkable that the angels, in their glory to God, joined also with it good-will to men.
"Next, you have rejected the Psalms, with many other things, by a paper come from some of you; and I cannot see upon what account; except it be, because it is man's work, in turning the Psalms out of prose into metre. Then ye must reject all the other Scriptures, because the translation of them is of man's work; ye have not yet learned the original languages; ye must betake yourselves altogether to the Spirit, and what a spirit will that be, that is not to be tried by the Scriptures? I told some of you, when I last saw you, that ye were too little led by the Scriptures, and too much by your own thoughts and suggestions; which, indeed, opens a wide door to delusion, and alas! lays yourselves open to Satan's temptations.
"As for the rest of your denying all your former covenants and declarations, this cannot be from God, they containing nothing but lawful and necessary duties; and, suppose they did not contain and include a complete reformation, yet they did not exclude it; so that still holding them, we might have passed on to more perfection, and they might be inviolable obligations with us.
"And next, your cutting off all that were not of your mind, and delivering them up to devils, was not justice and religion; it being done neither in judgment nor righteousness, upon conviction of their crimes, but in unbridled rage and fury. But these things I cannot fully speak to now; yet there is somewhat that I cannot pass, but must tell you, that I fear there shall remain some of the leaven within, which shall not only spoil an orthodox Protestant, but also a true, tender, and humble Christian, and give us nothing instead of it but a blown bladder; for I am persuaded, if Satan should have the tutory but a while, he should bring it to this; for it has been his way with somefirst, to make them saint-like, and afterwards to settle them at atheism; like a cunning fisher, running a fish upon an angle, who at last casts it on dry ground. God is my witness, my soul loves to see holiness, tenderness, and zeal in such a generation, where there is nothing but untenderness, unconcernedness, and lukewarmness; and, by His grace, I shall ever cherish it.
"I desire you then, in the bowels of Christ, to retain your zeal; but see well to this, that it be for His glory. Indeed, the more ye are zealous, and the further ye go forward, so that the word of God direct your course, ye are the more pleasing to God, and shall be the dearer to us. And persuade yourselves, that though I cannot equal or go before, yet it is the sincere desire of my heart to follow such. And my soul wishes you well, though, it may be, I cannot here point nor lead you the way to well-being; yet this I must say, that if I could lead you the way that He has led me, I should let you see eternal life, without these things that I am desiring you to relinquish.
"Hold truth, glorify God, be zealous to have Him glorified; but think not to desire the condemnation of any man, simply on that account, that they dare not come and continue where you are; or that to put a bar by prayer between them and a return, is a glorifying of God. We glorify Him in this kind, when, as He Himself desires, we acquiesce in His sentence when it is past, though we wrestle against it before it be known to us.
"I cannot bid you go forward in all, but I desire you to go forward in that which is surer and better. And dear friends, let not the world have it to say, that when ye are become right, ye are become the less zealous; only take the right object, and let your zeal grow. O let not your sufferings be stained with such wildness; and think it not strange that ye have not such liberty in your return, as ye seemed to have before; if you take the right way, and hold on, ye shall find it, in His time, greater, and better, and surer.
"I shall only add, that there must be an express disowning of your errors and evils, and an express owning of His truths; whereof ye have been persuaded before now, but which now are either denied or doubted; otherwise you will come to nothing of religion, or worse; this will either state your sufferings right, or be a mean to obtain a cleanly liberty from God in His due time. Grace, mercy, and peace be with you. Amen!