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

[A Cloud of Witnesses: Mr. Donald Cargill.]
Mr. Donald Cargill.

HOWIE, in his collection of lectures and sermons, has given twenty pages of notes of the lecture and the discourse delivered by Donald Cargill before the Torwood Excommunication, and the sermon afterwards on Lam. 3.31,32, "For the Lord will not cast off for ever. But though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies."

In Wilson's manuscript sermons, already referred to, there are also notes of the whole.

Of some Remarkable Passages in the Life of

[A former notice of Mr Cargill's Life, by way of preface to his testimony, will be found at page 1 of this volume.—ED.]

These foregoing testimonies everywhere speaking so honourably of the reverend Mr. Donald Cargill as a faithful Minister of Jesus Christ: a true and full relation of his life, and more especially of his ministry, would be very necessary to a right understanding of the state of their testimony; but by reason that there are not in the hands of the publishers such well-attested narrations thereof, as might furnish them with an exact and full history thereof, let it suffice for the present to set down the following accounts collected by that worthy and religious gentleman, Sir Robert Hamilton of Preston, who ushers them in with this personal character of Mr Cargill:

"First (saith he) as he was of a most holy, strict, tender and composed practice and conversation, so he was affectionate, affable, and tender-hearted to all he judged had anything of the image of God in them: sober and temperate in his diet, saying commonly, It was well won that was won off the flesh; generous, liberal, and most charitable to the poor, a great hater of covetousness, a frequent visitor of the sick, much alone, loving to be retired; but when about his Master's public work, laying hold of every opportunity to edify; in converse still dropping what might minister grace to the hearers; his very countenance was edifying to beholders, often sighing with deep groans: preaching in season and out of season, upon all hazards, ever the same in judgment and practice."

There were several things remarkable in the manner of his calling to the ministry; for after he had perfected his philosophy course, at the University of St. Andrews, his father, a godly and religious gentleman pressed much upon him to study divinity, in order to fit him for the ministry; but he, through his great tenderness of spirit, constantly refused, telling his father, that the work of the ministry was too great a weight for his weak shoulders, and requesting him to command him to any other employment he pleased. But his father still urging, he resolved to seek the mind of the Lord therein, and for that end set apart a day of private fasting, and after long and earnest wrestling with the Lord by prayer, the third chapter of Ezekiel's prophecy, and chiefly these words in the first verse, "Son of man,… eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel," made a strong impression upon his mind, so that he durst never after refuse his father's desire, to betake himself to that study, and dedicate himself wholly to that office. And having got a call to the Barony Parish of Glasgow, Divine Providence ordered it so, that the first text upon which the Presbytery ordered him to preach was in these very words of the third of Ezekiel, which he had got clearness from before; whence he was the more confirmed, that he had God's call to that parish.

The parish had been long vacant, by reason that two ministers of the Public Resolution party—viz., Mr. George Young and Mr. Hugh Blair—had still opposed the settlement of such godly men as had been called by the people, and had practised secretly with the Council of Glasgow not to suffer any to be settled there that might be against the Public Resolutions; but in reference to Mr. Cargill's call, they were by God's good providence much bound up from their wonted opposition. Mr. Cargill perceiving the lightness of the people, and their unconcernedness under the Word, was much discouraged thereat, and resolved to return home, and not to accept the call, and when urged by the godly ministers not to do it, and his reason asked, he answered, "They are a rebellious people." The ministers solicited him much to stay, but could not prevail. At last when his horse was drawn, and he just about to take journey, being in Mr. James Durham's house, when he had saluted several of the Christian friends that came to see him take horse, as he was bidding farewell to a certain godly woman, she said to him, "Sir, you have promised to preach on Thursday, and have you appointed a meal to a poor starving people, and will ye go away and not give it? If you do, the curse of God will go with you." This so commoved him, that he durst not go away as he intended, but sitting down, desired her and others to pray for him. So he remained, and was settled in that parish, where he continued to exercise his ministry with great success, to the unspeakable satisfaction of his own parish, and of all the godly who heard and knew him, till, after the introduction of Prelacy, he was first put from the exercise thereof in public, and likewise chased and pursued for exercising it privately, by the bloody violence of persecutors.

For, upon the 29th of May, which was then consecrate to King Charles in commemoration of his happy (unhappy) restoration, he had occasion to preach in his own Church. It falling upon the ordinary week-day, wherein he used to preach, he saw an unusual throng of people come to hear him, as thinking he had preached in compliance with that solemnity. Upon his entering the pulpit he said, "We are not come here to keep this day upon 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 be come here in order to the solemnising of this day, we desire you to remove." And he enlarged upon the unlawfulness of solemnising it, with several weighty arguments.

This did extremely incense the malignant party against him; so that being hotly pursued and searched for, he was forced to abscond, remaining sometimes in private houses of his parish, sometimes lying without all night among broom near by the city, yet never omitting any proper occasion of private preaching, exercising, catechising, visiting families, and other ministerial duties. And after a while he returned to his church, and preached publicly, and gave the communion, not without great fear among the people, lest he should have been taken out of the pulpit by the persecutors.

At length, when the churches were all vacated of Presbyterians by an Act of Council, commonly known by the name of the Act of Glasgow, Middleton sent a band of soldiers to apprehend him, who, coming to the church, found him not, he having providentially just stepped out of the one door a minute before they came in at the other, whereupon they took the keys of the church door with them and departed. Meantime, the Council passed an act of confinement, banishing him to the north, but he did not regard it; and so being at length apprehended at Edinburgh, was brought before the Council and strictly examined, being signally strengthened to bear faithful testimony to his Master's honour, and His persecuted cause and truths. But by the interposition of some persons of quality, his own and his wife's relations, he was liberated. And he returned presently to Glasgow, and there performed all the ministerial duties as when he was in his own church, notwithstanding the diligence of persecutors in searching for him.

During this time, partly the great grief he conceived for the ruin of the work of God in the land, partly the toils and labours of his calling and inconveniences of his accommodation, did so break his voice, that he could not be heard by many people together, which was a sore exercise to him, and a discouragement to come to preach in the fields. But one day, Mr. Blackader coming to preach near Glasgow, he essayed to preach with him, and standing on a chair (as his ordinary was) he lectured on Isa. 44.3, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring." The people knowing that his voice was sore broken, were much discouraged lest they should not have heard, by reason of the great confluence; but it pleased the Lord so to loose his tongue and restore his voice to that distinctness and clearness, that none could readily exceed him in that respect ever after; and not only his voice, but his spirit was so enlarged, and such a door of utterance given him, that Mr. Blackader, succeeding him, said to the people, "Ye that have such preaching as this, have no need to invite strangers to preach to you. Make good use of your mercy."

After this he continued to preach within a very little of the city, a great multitude still attending upon and profiting by his ministry, being wonderfully preserved in the midst of dangers; the enemies several times sending out some to watch him, and catch something from his mouth, whereof they might accuse him. Particularly one day the archbishop of Glasgow sent one of his domestic servants to take notice what he would say concerning the prelates; he, knowing nothing thereof, was directed of the Lord to have these words in prayer, while he was bewailing the overthrow of the work of God: "What shall we say of the prelates? the good Lord make us quit of them; for we will never have a day to do well, till once the Lord remove that abominable party, that has destroyed the vineyard of the Lord:" which was all that the spy had to return to his master with.

To relate all the surprising deliverances that he met with, in escaping very narrowly from his enemies, would take much time; take only a few instances.

In the month of October 1665 they made a public search for him in the city; he being informed of it, took his horse and rode out of the town, and at a narrow pass of the way, he met a good number of musketeers, and as he passed by them, turning into another way upon the right hand, one of them asked him, "Sir, what of the clock is it?" He answered, "It is six." Another of them knowing his voice, says to his fellows, "There's the man we're seeking," which he hearing, put the spurs to the horse and escaped.

He most usually resided for the space of three years and upwards in the house of one Margaret Craig, a godly and honest woman, lecturing evening and morning to such as came to hear him, where, though they searched frequently for him, yet Divine providence so ordered it, that at all the times he was either casually or purposely absent, though they managed their searches with much closeness; but the Lord was so graciously kind to him, that He left him not without some peculiar notices of approaching hazard (our atheistical wits perhaps will call them enthusiasms; but the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him); as for instance, on a certain Sabbath, when he was going to Woodside to preach, as he was about to mount his horse, the one foot being in the stirrup, he turned about to his man, and said, "I must not go yonder to-days" and within a little, a party of horse and foot came in quest of him, and not finding the mark they aimed at, fell upon the people, apprehending and imprisoning many of them.

Another remarkable escape was, at a search purposely made for taking him in the city. They came to his chamber, and found him not, for he was providentially in another house that night; the search was so strict that several other ministers were taken [but the soldiers], were not permitted to come near the house where he was. But the following is yet more remarkable.

One day while he was preaching privately in one Mr. Callender's house, they came and beset the house; the people within put him and a friend with him out at a window, closing the window up with books, and they two stood at the outside of the window all the while of the search, which was so strict that they searched the very ceiling of the house, till one of them fell through to the lower loft. Had the searchers removed but one of the books, they had infallibly apprehended him, but the Lord so ordered it, that they did it not, for when one of the soldiers was about to take up one of them, a maid cried to the commander, that he was going to take her master's books, so he was ordered to let them alone; thus narrowly he escaped this danger.

Another not imparallel was, that, one day, hotly pursued upon the street, being obliged to flee into the first house he could come at, which happened to be a soldier's house, yet the soldier's wife was so far from discovering him, that she kept him safe till the search was over.

A little before the fight at Bothwell he was pursued from his own chamber out of the town, being forced to go through several thorn hedges, and no sooner is he out, but he sees a troop of dragoons in rank, right opposite to him; back he could not go, soldiers being everywhere posted to catch him; wherefore he went forward near by the troop, who looked to him, and he to them, till he was gone by them, but coming to the place of the water where he intended to go over, he saw another troop standing upon the opposite bank of the water, who called to him; he made them no answer; but, going a mile further up the water, escaped to Langside, and preached there next Sabbath, without interruption.

At another time, being in a house, beset with soldiers, he escaped through the throng of them, they taking him to have been the goodman [the head] of the house. So much anent his remarkable deliveries.

After Bothwell he fell into deep exercise anent his call to the ministry, but by God's grace he happily emerged out of that, and had also much light anent the duty of the day, being a faithful contender against the enemies' usurped power in granting, and ministers' and professors' lukewarmness and sinful compliance in accepting, indulgences and indemnities, oaths and bonds, and other corruptions and abominations of the time, till at length he suffered for his testimony.

Among other parts of his contendings against the enemies of truth and godliness, that which exasperated the enemies most, was the Torwood Excommunication, wherein he, moved with zeal against the indignities done to the Son of God, by overturning His work and destroying His people, delivered up to Satan some of the most scandalous and principal promoters and abettors of this conspiracy against Christ, as formally as he could in his circumstances; who, having earnestly sought the concurrence of his brethren, could not obtain it, and therefore was left to do the work his alone, or leave it undone, which he could by no means think of; considering that all other sorts of weapons had been used against them, save that of ecclesiastic censure, and the neglect of it might bring upon this Church that severe reproof given to Pergamos, Rev. 2.14,15, for having in her communion the Nicolaitans, and them that held the doctrine of Balaam; and that sore animadversion made upon the Church of Thyatira, for suffering that woman Jezebel; and lest the Lord might come and fight against His Church with the sword of His mouth, on account that such were not expressly cast out of her communion.

Wherefore in September 1680, after sermon upon Ezek. 21.25-27, "And thou profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come;" having made a short and pertinent discourse on the nature, subject, causes, and ends of excommunication, and declared his motives, leading him to it, not to be any private spirit or passion, but conscience of duty and zeal to God, he pronounced the sentence as follows:

"We have spoken of excommunication, of the causes, subject, and ends thereof. We shall now proceed to the action; being constrained by the conscience of our duty, and zeal for God, to excommunicate some of these, who have been the committers of so great crimes, and authors of the great mischiefs of Britain and Ireland, but especially these of Scotland; and in doing of this, we shall keep the names by which they are ordinarily called, that they may be the better known.

"I being a minister of Jesus Christ, and having authority and power from Him, do in His name, and by His spirit, excommunicate Charles the Second, King, etc., and that upon the account of these wickednesses:

"1. For his high mocking of God, in that after he had acknowledged his own sins, his father's sins, his mother's idolatry, and had solemnly engaged against them, in a declaration at Dunfermline, the 16th day of August 1650, he hath, notwithstanding of all this, gone on more avowedly in these sins than all that went before him.

"2. For his great perjury, after he had twice at least solemnly subscribed that Covenant, he did so presumptuously renounce, disown, and command it to be burned by the hand of the hangman.

"3. Because he hath rescinded all laws for establishing of that religion and reformation engaged to in that Covenant, and enacted laws for establishing its contrary; and is still working for the introducing of Popery into these lands.

"4. For commanding of armies to destroy the Lord's people, who were standing in their own just defence, and for their privileges and rights, against tyrannies, oppressions, and injuries of men; and for the blood he hath shed, in fields, on scaffolds, and in seas, of the people of God, upon account of religion and righteousness (they being most willing in all other things, to render him obedience, if he had reigned and ruled them according to his Covenant and oath, more than all the kings that have been before him in Scotland).

"5. That he hath been still an enemy to, a persecutor of, the true Protestants, a favourer and helper of the Papists, both at home and abroad, and hath hindered to the utmost of his power, the due execution of just laws against them.

"6. For his relaxing of the kingdom, by his frequent grant of remissions and pardons for murderers (which is in the power of no king to do, being expressly contrary to the law of God), which was the ready way to embolden men in committing of murders, to the defiling of the land with blood.

"Lastly, To pass by all other things, his great and dreadful uncleanness of adultery and incest, his drunkenness, his dissembling with God and man; and performing his promises where his engagements were sinful.

"Next, by the same authority, and in the same name, I excommunicate, cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, James Duke of York. And that for his idolatry (for I shall not speak of any other sins, but what have been perpetrated by him in Scotland), and for setting up idolatry in Scotland, to defile the Lord's land, and his enticing and encouraging others to do so.

"Next, In the same name, and by the same authority, I excommunicate, and cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, James Duke of Monmouth, for coming into Scotland, upon his father's unjust command, and leading armies against the Lord's people, who were constrained to rise, being killed in and for the right worshipping of the true God: and for his refusing that morning at Bothwell Bridge a cessation of arms, for hearing and redressing their injuries, wrongs, and oppressions.

"Next, I do by virtue of the same authority, and in the same name, excommunicate, cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, John Duke of Lauderdale, for his dreadful blasphemy, especially that word to the prelate of St. Andrews:—"Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool:" his atheistical drolling on the Scriptures of God, scoffing at religion, and religious persons: his apostacy from the Covenant and work of reformation; and his persecuting thereof, after he had been a professor, pleader and presser thereof: for his perjury in the business of Mr. James Mitchell, who, being in Council, gave public faith, that he should be indemnified, and that to life and limb, if he should confess his attempt on the prelate, and notwithstanding of this, before the Justiciary Court, did give oath that there was no such act in Council: for his adulteries and uncleanness: for his counseling and assisting the king, in all his tyrannies, overturning and plotting against the true religion: for his gaming on the Lord's day; and lastly, for his usual and ordinary cursing.

"Next, I do, by virtue of the same authority, and in the same name, cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, John Duke of Rothes, for his perjury, in the matter of Mr. James Mitchell; and for his adulteries and uncleanness; for allotting the Lord's day for his drunkenness: for his professing and avowing his readiness and willingness to set up Popery in this land at the king's command; and for the heathenish, barbarous, and unheard of cruelty (whereof he was the chief author, contriver, and commander, notwithstanding that he had otherwise engaged lately) to that worthy gentleman David Hackston of Rathillet; and lastly, for his ordinary cursing, swearing, and drunkenness.

"Next, I do, by virtue of the same authority, and in the same name, excommunicate, cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, Sir George Mackenzie, the king's advocate; for his apostacy, in turning into a profligateness of conversation, after he had begun a profession of holiness: for his constant pleading against, and persecuting to death, the people of God, and alleging and laying to their charge, things, which in his conscience he knew to be against the Word of God, truth, reason, and the ancient laws of this kingdom: and his pleading for sorcerers, murderers, and other criminals, that before God, and by the laws of the land, ought to die; for his ungodly, erroneous, phantastic, and blasphemous tenets, printed to the world in his pamphlets and pasquils.

"And lastly, I do, by virtue of the same authority, and in the same name, excommunicate, cast out of the true Church, and deliver up to Satan, Thomas Dalziel of Binns, etc.; for his leading armies, and commanding the killing, robbing, pillaging, and oppressing of the Lord's people, and free subjects of this kingdom; and for executing of lawless tyrannies and lustful laws; for his commanding to shoot at a post one Finlay at Newmilns, without any form of law, civil or military, he not being guilty of anything that they themselves counted a crime: for his lewd and impious life, led in adultery and uncleanness from his youth, with a contempt of marriage, which is the ordinance of God; for all his other atheistical and irreligious conversation; and lastly, for his unjust usurping and retaining of the estate of that worthy gentleman William Mure of Caldwell, and his other injurious deeds in the exercise of his power.

"I think, none that acknowledge the Word, can judge their sentences to be unjust; yet some, it may be, to flatter the powers, will call them unorderly and unformal, there not being warning given, nor probation led. But for answer, there has been warning given, if not of all these things, at least of a great part of them: and for probation, there needs none, the deeds being notour and public, and the most of them, such as they themselves do avow and boast of. And as the causes are just, so, being done by a minister of the Gospel, and in such a way as the present persecution would admit of, the sentence is just; and there are no kings nor ministers on earth, who, without repentance of the persons, can reverse these sentences upon any (such) account: God, who is the Author of that ordinance, is the more engaged to the ratifying of them; and all that acknowledge the Scriptures, ought to acknowledge them. Yet some, perchance, will think, that though they be not unjust, yet that they are foolishly rigorous. We shall answer nothing to this but that Word, which we may speak with much more reason than they did who used it, 'Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?' Should they deal with our God as with an idol? Should they deal with His people as murderers and malefactors, and we not draw out His sword against them?"