Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

[Sermons Delivered in Times of Persecution in Scotland: Donald Cargill, Biographical Notice.]





Sermons & Lectures by Donald Cargill.


DONALD CARGILL was born about the year 1610. His native place was the Parish of Rattray, in Perthshire. His father was desirous of providing for his son a good education, and was resolved to make him a Minister of the Gospel. While not unwilling to attain a high position as a student and scholar, the young man was altogether disinclined to devote himself to the work of the ministry. Actuated by much love for Christ, his father entreated him to give the matter the most serious consideration, and pressed upon him many reasons likely to lead him to a conclusion in accordance with his wishes. Donald set apart a day for seeking, by fasting and prayer, direction from on high as to his future course. As he pondered and prayed, the words of the man upon the sapphire throne to the prophet Ezekiel made a deep impression upon Him, "Son of man, eat this roll, and go speak unto the House of Israel." He felt he could no longer forbear to comply with his father's request, and he immediately set about making special preparations to become an ambassador for Christ. These very words were the text assigned young Cargill by the Presbytery for trial before ordination. This singular fact would confirm him in the resolution to which he had come, and stimulate him to make a close acquaintance with the Scriptures that he might speak with power to the House of Israel.

Cargill was called to the Barony Church of Glasgow. In consequence of the universal religious indifference of the people, he was resolved not to accept the call. He felt that he could have little satisfaction in labouring in that vineyard. The simple but earnest reproof of a woman was the means of leading him to a change of mind. He was settled in the Barony, and there, till the Restoration of Charles in 1660, he laboured for the salvation of souls with piety, zeal, and success.

On the first Anniversary of that Restoration—the day of the week on which he always delivered a discourse—thinking that Cargill would speak in laudatory terms of that event, large numbers flocked to hear him. The preacher, immediately upon entering the pulpit, dissipated the delusion under which the people had assembled. "We are not come here," he said, "to keep this day on the account for which others keep it. We thought once to have blessed the day wherein the king came home again, but now we think we shall have reason to curse it, and if any of you come here in order to the solemnizing of this day, we desire you to remove." And in the course of the sermon, which was from the text, "Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy as other people," he spoke out still more plainly:—"The King will be the woefullest sight that ever the poor Church of Scotland saw. Woe! woe! woe! unto him, his name shall stink while the world stands, for treachery, tyranny, and lechery."

No minister who, in those times, used language like this could long discharge his pastorate without interruption. The wrath of the malignants was roused against Cargill. He had to betake himself to private places for safety, and travel only under the cover of the night. The Act of 1662 rendered it impossible for him any longer to retain his charge. A party of soldiers came to apprehend him, and went off bearing the keys of the church. He was soon thereafter declared an outlaw and banished to the North of the Tay, under the penalty of being imprisoned and prosecuted as a mover of sedition. He had many almost miraculous escapes from the enemy who was now constantly in search of him, and on two occasions was actually liberated when he had fallen into their hands. On one of these occasions he was dismissed after being examined before the Council, and on the other he was let go after being taken at the battle of Bothwell Bridge. These and others were more wonderful escapes than the Apostle's:—"The governor kept the city with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: and through a window, in a basket, was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands." Donald Cargill was immortal till his work was done.

Frequently was Cargill engaged in preaching in the fields. Many a noble testimony against public defection did he utter, and many a stirring appeal to men to take the side of the Son of Jesse did he deliver at these conventicles. His voice was as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." Cargill's was the honour to blow the first blast of the trumpet which was to proclaim the overthrow of the Stuarts. In the hours of his solitude, as he mourned over the hopeless state of his country and meditated upon means of deliverance, he prepared the document known as the Queensferry Paper, in which the authority of the king and his counsellors is rejected, "They having altered and destroyed the Lord's established religion, overturned the fundamental and established laws of the kingdom, taken away altogether Christ's Church Government, and changed the civil government of this land, which was by a king and free parliament, into tyranny." And at the close of the paper:—"We bind and oblige ourselves and one another in our worshipping of God, and in our natural, civil, and divine rights and liberties, till we shall overcome, or, at any rate send them down under debate to posterity, that they may begin where we end."

In company with Richard Cameron and others, Cargill was occupied in the preparation of the Sanquhar Declaration. Great was his sorrow to learn the fate of Cameron at the contest of Ayrsmoss. But his courage was not daunted; he was spurred to the task which lay near before him, and prepared for the sufferings he was destined to endure. In September, 1660, a few months after the publication of the Declaration of Sanquhar, at a conventicle at Torwood, near Stirling, Cargill, "being a minister of Jesus Christ, and having authority and power from Him, in His name, and by His Spirit," excommunicated, "cast out of the true Church, and delivered up to Satan" the king and several of the more prominent of his associates in the work of persecution. But with the sternness of that day's work he mingled drops of mercy, for on the evening of the same day he preached from the words, "For the Lord will not cast off for ever."

Donald Cargill cannot now be allowed to escape. Five thousand merks are offered for his apprehension. At Dunsyre Common he preached his last sermon. The text was, "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee." Thence he goes to Covington Mill, Lanarkshire, where he is fallen upon suddenly and seized by Bonshaw, who exclaimed, "Blessed Bon-shaw, and blessed day that ever I was born, that has found such a prize—5000 merks for apprehending Cargill this morning!" It was the price of blood. Bonshaw was run through with a sword some time after, and died in remorse, crying out, "Evil shall haunt the violent man."

Cargill was hurried to Glasgow, thence to Edinburgh. His indictment was prepared under the direction of the bloody M'Kenzie, and the form of punishment—death by the gallows—was decided upon by the casting vote of the infamous Chancellor, Lord Rothes. "This is a weary sound," said he, as the trumpet proclaimed his doom, "but the sound of the last trumpet will be a joyful sound to me, and to all that will be found leaning on Christ's righteousness." Come to the scaffold, the aged saint of God conducts himself right royally. He sings a few verses from the close of the 118th Psalm:—

"Thou art my God, I'll thee exalt;
My God, I will thee praise.

Give thanks to God, for he is good;
His mercy lasts always."

He addresses the motley throng that press near around him. He tells them of his own interest in the everlasting covenant and his certainty of that interest; he affirms his belief that Christ will return yet gloriously to Scotland; he entreats them not to be discouraged at the way of Christ and the cause for which he was about to lay down his life; and in words of jubilant expectation he triumphs in glory so near at hand:—"The Lord knows," as he set his foot on the ladder, "I go on this ladder with less fear and perturbation of mind than ever I entered the pulpit to preach." Lifting up the napkin, he uttered the last words:—"Farewell all relatives and friends in Christ; farewell acquaintances and earthly enjoyments; farewell reading and preaching, praying and believing, wanderings, reproach, and sufferings. Welcome, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; into Thy hands I commit my spirit."
"Servant of God, well done, rest from thy lov'd employ,
The battle's fought, the victory's won, enter thy Master's joy."
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."