« PreviousContinue »
from what the enemy hath charged me with, and from what I charge myself with also. The Lord that chose Jerusalem rebuke Satan, send him to his place, and let him pursue me no more. On which the merciful Judge smiling on me in the face of his Anointed, pronounced my absolution, and said, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee ;" which made me go from before his tribunal wondering at the mercy of the Judge, and tender bowels of the Eternal Son. Thus again the God of peace bruised Satan for a time under my feet, and made me go on in my way rejoicing, my soul being filled with joy and peace in believing, because I had got the new name and the white stone, which no man knoweth but he that receiveth it, for strangers intermeddle not with this joy.
Some time after this, our minister not being able to preach, I went to Girvan on the Sabbath to hear Mr Stewart; and as he closed his forenoon sermon, Satan stood up at my right hand to resist me, and charged me with my filthy garments, setting all my sins and plagues of heart before me in a sinful view; upon which, between sermons I retired to the fields to think on a text of Scripture which came to my mind, and suited my case; the words were these, in the First Epistle of John, " If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves; but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness;" where I observed that it was most consistent with the faithfulness and justice of God to forgive his people their sins, and that he was by these his attributes engaged to do so; that it was agreeable to his faithfulness, was evident from his promise in the Proverbs, " He that confesscth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy;" as also in Jeremiah, which is mentioned also in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more;" therefore faithful is he that hath promised, who also will do it, for his is the word of a King, who abideth faithful, and cannot deny himself. It is also evident, said I, that God's justice does also engage the Holy One to pardon the sins of his penitent people; for when man had destroyed himself, and could not help himself, it pleased the
offended God to lay help on his dear Son, who was mighty to save; him he appointed and accepted of as the elect's surety, and laid on him the iniquities of them all; so that it pleased Jehovah to bruise him in the elect's room and stead; "he was wounded for their transgressions," and "laid down his life a ransom for many;" and therefore, seeing the debt was already paid by the surety, it was just with God to let the elect go free, and not exact double payment: so that justice itself did now cry out concerning the elect sinner, "Deliver him from going down to the pit, for, behold, I have found a ransom." Wherefore I concluded, that though I was verily guilty, yet God was just and faithful to forgive his people's sins. On which, the enemy strongly suggested, that he was faithful to forgive sin, but it was only the sins of his people; and desired me to find by Scripture marks that I was one of them. I owned it was true that he would only pardon the sins of his people, and endeavoured to read my evidences of grace; but, alas! the enemy took me at a catch, for the cloud I was under was so great, that I could not see to read my character; nevertheless, I told the enemy that I was sure of one mark, and would lay claim to it, namely, that I loved the brethren, even all who bore God's image. But here he suggested, that one swallow made not summer, and that one mark alone was no mark of a real Christian, which so confounded me, that the enemy rejoiced over me, and for three full weeks did trample on my faith and hope, and no doubt thought he would for ever separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. The enemy still pursued my soul, and made me dwell in darkness, as one that had been a long time dead; whereupon I resolved I would no longer keep the devil's secrets, but would open my case to some of his messengers, if happily I might find an interpreter, one among a thousand, that could show unto man his uprightness. To my own minister I could not go, for he himself was in great trouble at the time. Therefore I went to Mr Stewart, and opened my case to him, but comfort found I none, for the Comforter that should, and only could, relieve my soul, was yet far from me. Having taken my leave of Mr Ftewart, VOL. II. 2 E
Satan attacked me just as I was coming away, and assured me that I was acting the basest hypocrisy, telling Mr Stewart that I was in distress, when there was no such thing, and persuaded me that I had not lied to man only, but to the Holy Ghost, which new accusation greatly perplexed my soul. This being on Thursday, I was sorely buffeted till Sabbath thereafter, when, early in the morning, Scripture marks of my interest in the favour of God did throng into my mind with great sweetness and power from high. Then I told the enemy that now I could read my evidences, and that I was in covenant with God, to which God himself was witness on Craigdowhill; yea, I told him that I had fled to the city of refuge, and got my absolution pronounced near Maybole, as I came from Galston to Kirkoswald. I added as a further mark, that I counted the people of God "the excellent ones in all the earth," and could say, Lord, do I not love those that love thee, and am grieved with those that rise up against thee ?" yea, I love the habitation of his house, the place where his honour dwells;" yea, I am sensible of my body of sin and death, and count it my greatest burthen, and long exceedingly to be delivered from it, and can say, that whatever corruption be in me, I have no quarrel with his excellent law, but count it holy, just, and good, and can say, " How love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day," and stays ever with me; yea, glorious Christ is precious to my soul, as he is to them that believe. After the enemy found me assisted to read my evidences, and that God by his Spirit had let me see the grace that was freely given me, Satan departed from me for a season, and God filled my soul for some time with joy and peace in believing.
Some time after this, as I was coming from the Bar, the adversary gave me a new onset, and told me.I was a great fool to trouble myself about religion, seeing there was no reality in religion; upon which I went to prayer, and begged of God he would direct me how to answer the adversary; after which, I proposed the following questions to the enemy: 1st, If there were no reality in religion, how comes it that graceless sinners, when they come to die, when people are for ordinary most serious, do so desire to be religious, and to die the death of the righteous? 2dly, If there be no reality in religion, how cornea it that some who were irreligious, have such a remarkable change wrought on them, that they not only turn religious, but continue so through a long life, notwithstanding of great affliction and persecution on the account of religion? 3dly, If there be no reality in religion, how comes it that the religious get much advantage, both temporal and spiritual, by the same dispensation, by which the wicked get great prejudice? 4thly, If there be no reality in religion, how comes it to pass that the judgments threatened against the wicked in God's word have so frequently such an exact accomplishment? 5thly, If there be no reality in religion, how comes it to pass that the religious are so encouraged by God, in the way of their religion, and meet with so many mercies from the God they serve, and many of them coming to them as the fruit of prayer? 6thly, If there be no reality in religion, how comes it that God works so many wonders for the credit and vindication of religion and religious persons? Having proposed these questions, the Lord rebuked Satan, and has never suffered him to molest me since in such a way; so that I may say, God has never suffered me to be tempted above measure, but has to this way always, with the temptation, given a way to escape; and has in all my distress put underneath his everlasting arms, and has been a present help in straits, so that I will cheerfully own he is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
As to the second thing promised to give you some account of, namely, Remarkable Providences and Returns of Prayer, I shall join these both together, because in their falling out they were frequently connected one with the other.
The first I shall mention was what I met with at Bothwell. I am not ashamed to own I was there, and do declare it was not a spirit of rebellion against the then king and government that took me there, as that rising up and association is slanderously reported of by many. That which moved us to join together, yea, appear in arms, was the necessary defence of our lives, liberties, and religion, for it is well known how the enemies of God and our holy religion did eat up the people of God as bread, and called not on his name; and wherever they met with honest ministers, or private Christians, they either shot them, banished, or dragged them to prison, and for no other reason but because we worshipped the covenanted God of our fathers, and that according to our conscience, and in the way we judged was appointed of God; we took cheerfully the spoiling1 of our goods, had not the enemy sought to lord it over our conscience, which we could not submit to them without incurring the displeasure of God. I own many of us could not be edified by a set of men forced on us by the prelates; and it is well known how scandalous and immoral the generality of them were; and yet, for not joining in communion with men who were a scandal to the Christian religion, we were hunted like partridges upon the mountains, and exposed to the rage of the bloody soldiery, whose tender mercies we found to be cruelty; yea, when we complained of our grievances to those in power, in the most humble, dutiful, and loyal way, we were the more harassed and oppressed; and as if our persecutors had a mind to show to the world that they were entirely void of humanity as well as religion, they made Acts against our laying grievances before them. All which considered, it was no wonder we joined together for our common safety; and our uniting together was on the very principles on which our happy Revolution was afterwards brought about, namely, the preserving ourselves and posterity from Popery, slavery, and arbitrary power. Having shown you what moved us to take up arms at Bothwell, I come now to let you know the providence I met with there. Whilst we lay at Hamilton before the engagement, I observed all my acquaintances and others providing head-pieces and breastplates, and what was necessary for their safety in the day of battle. I not having money to spare on these things, as some others had, T looked up to God, and took him for a covering to my head in the day of battle, as he had been to David of old; for I observed whatever pieces of armour they had prepared for their safety, there