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of the persecuted party sent him a letter, assuring him, that if he touched these graves, they would burn him and his family and all that he had; so he forbore.
It was some days ere friends and fellow-sufferers could get notice to John of his wife's death; but frae once1 word came, he hastened as soon as possible to the place where she died. So eight days after when he entered the house, (which was a sheep's cot, where was no light or fire but that of a candle, no bed but that of straw, no stool but the ground to sit on,) friends were putting his dead daughter in her coffin, he stepped and kissed the corps, saying, Religion doth not make void natural affection, but we should be sure it run in the channel of sanctified submission to the will of God, of whom we have our being. Then turning to a place of the cottage where two of his sons were lying in the rage of a fever, he spoke to them, but they knew him not; at which he groaned, and said, "Naked came I into this world, and naked must I go out of it; the Lord is making my passage easy," &c. One of the company said, Sir, I hope ye know who hath done this. He answered, I know that He hath done it that makes all work together for the good of them who love him and keep his way, even He who first loved us, and this is my comfort; also, it doth comfort me very much that my wife, whom ye have already buried out of my sight, bears the mouth that never bade me do that that might hurt my conscience, notwithstanding of all the trouble she met with on my account; but, on the contrary, when I was telling her at any time I dare not do such or such a thing, she would have said, "Well, then, see you do it not, come of me and my bairns what will. God lives, we need not be afraid; and if ye, they, and I, were once fairly in Immanuel's land, we shall be richly made up." Therefore, said he, I bless God who gave me such a wife, and I bless Him that hath taken her again. At eleven o'clock in the night they carried away his daughter, and had two miles to Stenhouse church-yard, where her mother was buried that night bygone eight nights. He carried the head all the way, and quickly after went off to hide himself. 1 After, as soon as.
There was great search made for him by the enemy before the next day, but ere then he was a good way from that bounds, and so escaped. Yet though the enemy got notice that he had been there helping to bury his daughter, they got no notice where either she or her mother died, which truly was a great mercy. This nature-trying pinch of affliction he endured with much admirable magnanimity, patience, and submission. But in the meantime, being called of God to more public sufferings, and before-hand endued with a singular measure of Christian courage, neglecting his own private troubles, and casting them aside, he returned to his wandering lot with eminent forwardness and vigour, though he certainly knew to meet with dangerous and straitening circumstances in it; yea, he ceased not through these and other sufferings of greater import to pursue his former course of duty; for he had espoused Christ's cross by deliberate choice, he was indeed of an excellent spirit; and, as Solomon says, "More excellent than his neighbour." His natural temper was truly noble and generous, but after regulated by sanctified understanding and improven by grace, it became far more so in a spiritual sense: for then suitable to his inclination, his endeavours were carefully bent, on all occasions, to save the credit of the cause for which he suffered. Among other instances that might be adduced to evince this, the following passage seems to be significant. As he was travelling through a moor on a snowy day, one of his old neighbours, who was seeking sheep, met him, and knowing him, cried out, " O Hardhill, are you yet alive? I was told you was going in a pilgrim's habit, and that your bairns were begging, and yet I see you look as well as ever you did !"—then taking out a rix-dollar he offered it to John; John, seeing this, took out a ducat-down, and offered it to him, saying, I will have none of yours, but I will give to you if you please, for you may see there is nothing wanting to him that feareth the Lord, and I would never have thought that you (calling the man by his name) would have gone so far on with the enemies of God as to sell your conscience to save your gear; I had far other thoughts of you before Bothwell, when you was in society with us; take warning, H.; go home and mourn for that and all your other sins before God, for if mercy do not prevent, you will certainly perish. The poor man thanked him, put up his money, and went home. John continued after this, and to his last breath, stedfast and firm witnessing for what he saw to be duty, and against what he saw to be sin. Anent which, if you desire to have full information, you may view the particulars in his last testimony, which he wrote within a few hours of death. He wrote also a manuscript some time before he was taken, called his " Large Testimony to the Truth," in case he should have been killed in the fields.
The Sabbath night before he was taken, as he and four more were travelling, it being exceeding dark, no wind, but a thick, small rain, no moon, for that was not her season, behold, suddenly the clouds clave asunder towards the east and west, above our heads, and there sprang out a light beyond that of the sun, which lasted above the space of two minutes. They heard a noise, and were much amazed. They said one to another, " What may that mean?" But he spake none, only uttered three deep and heavy groans. One of them asked him what it might mean; he said, We know not well at present, but within a little we shall know better; yet we have a more sure word of prophecy, unto which we would do well to take heed; and then he groaned, and said, "As for me, I am ready to live to Him or die for Him, as he in his providence shall call me to it, and bear me through in it; and although I have suffered much from prelates and false friends these twenty-one years, yet now I would not for a thousand worlds I had done otherwise; and if the Lord spare me, I will be more zealous for his precious truths, and if not, I am ready to seal his cause with my blood, for I have longed for it these sixteen years, and it may be ere long I will get it to do; welcome be his will, and if he will help me through with it, I shall praise him to all eternity." We all wondered at his unusual freedom, (for he was a very reserved man ;) he seemed all that week to be under great concern of spirit. The next Sabbath morning as he, with George Whitburn, John Fergii8son, and Peter Gemmell, was hiding in a man's house, near Fenwick Kirk, where they sometimes used to be sheltered in severe weather, it pleased God they were seen, and private information given to the enemy; so that before they were aware, forty of the enemy, commanded by Robert Nisbet, a kinsman of his own, surrounded the house; John, with the other three, thought fit to hide themselves among the cows in the byre, resolving, if the enemy found them, all of them should fight it to the last rather than be taken, saying, It was death do what they would. The enemy got light, searched the house, and coming where they were, fired on them: they fired also upon the enemy, after which they stroke with their clubbed guns till the stocks broke; then they went in grips with some of the enemy, and threw some of them down. The enemy, seeing they could not win at them for the beasts, (some whereof were shot and lay in the way,) cried to go all forth and burn the house. The four men, choosing rather to die by the sword than by fire, went out after them; John went out foremost, and getting his back to the wall, stood and defended himself, but received seven wounds, two in each side of his neck, one above the left pap, another near the right, and one in the left arm: the commander came to them that were goring and stabbing at John, crying, Why have ye not despatched that obstinate rebel? But when he saw him, he knew him, and changing his note, in great haste, cried, Ho! it's Hardhill, spare his life, for the Council has offered 3000 merks for him, and I will get it. Then by his orders they fetched bed-clothes, and threw upon John, which enabled them to throw him to the ground, and disabled him from wielding his sword; bearing him down, they tied him hard, blood and gore as he was.
The lieutenant, his name-sake, insulting over him, when he had treated him in this most barbarous manner, took his three friends who were prisoners with him, and shot them dead before his face. Then coming to him, asked him what he thought of himself now? He replied, I think as well of Christ and his cause as ever, and not at all the worse for what I suffer; only I grieve and think myself at a loss, that I am left in time, when my dear brethren VOL. II. 2 B
are gone to heaven, whom ye have wickedly murdered. The bloody cruel wretch replied with an oath, He should not be long behind them; adding, I have reserved you for a worse punishment. He answered, " If the Lord stand by me, and keep me faithful to death, I am at a point what piece of suffering you put me to endure." Thus cruelly bound and bleeding at his wounds, they carried him with some others they had taken that day to Kilmarnock: when he came there they slacked his arms a little; but would allow him no bed-clothes, nor suffer any to see him, or speak to him, save in at the prison window. From this place he sent word to his three sons not to come near him, assuring them, if they did, they would lose their lives also.
On Monday they carried him to Ayr: the lieutenant being a relation, pretending friendship, called him out of the rank where he was guarded; and [as] they two went a space before the party, he asked John what he should say to the superior officer; for, said he, I resolve to speak for you. John thanked him, and said, If the Lord favour me, and stand by me in owning of him and his precious truths, I want none of your favours. When he came to Ayr, and not till then, by the intercession of friends, a chirurgeon was allowed to dress his wounds: here he was examined, and to their questions he gave free and plain answers.
The third day after he was sent back to Kilmarnock; from that to Linlithgow; from Linlithgow he was carried to Edinburgh; and there being brought before the bloody Council, where, to the following questions asked at him, they received such answers from him, as plainly showed that he neither expected nor desired any mercy at their hands.
The Questions were thus:—
When he came in, they said, " Hardhill, we look on you as privy to all that is amongst that party called rebels, and we hope you will tell us all that we ask at you?" He answered, When you ask in general, I will answer in general; and when you ask in particular, I will answer in particular. For I am more afraid to lie than