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against temporal fears and discouragements; and the fruits of righteousness discovering their beauty and excellency in a holy conversation, were a glorious proof of the sincerity of their profession, and the wonderful success of Mr Guthrie’s ministry. And there are some of those yet alive, of whose conversion to a religious life God honoured him to be the instrument, who are ready to attest much more than hath been now said, and can never think, without an exultation of soul, and emotion of revived affections, upon the memory of their spiritual father, and the power of that victorious grace, which in those days triumphed so gloriously.
During these few years, while Mr Guthrie was connived at, the dangers of the time never frightened him from his duty; but, with a becoming boldness, [he] fortified his people in a zealous adherence to the purity of our reformation, warned them of the defection that was then made by the introduction of Prelacy, and instructed them in the duties of so difficult a season ; while he recommended, by his own steadiness, what he taught from the pulpit, he constantly maintaining fellowship with his ejected brethren, and never making the least compliance with the prelatic schemes. And yet, in his sermons, he governed his courage and faithfulness by Christian prudence; and, with reference to civil affairs, confined himself so much to the language of the sacred oracles, and expressed himself with such a just regard to lawful authority, that his enemies could find no occasion against him.
The extraordinary reputation and usefulness of Mr Guthrie, who was admired and followed by all the country, provoked the jealous and angry passions of the prelates; and his excellent merit became one of the causes of his being attacked. Intercessions were, indeed, made in his behalf, but without success. Particularly by the Earl of Glencairn, then Chancellor, who made a visit to the Archbishop of Glasgow, at his house there; and, at parting, asked it as a particular favour from him, that Mr Guthrie might be overlooked, he knowing him to be an excellent man, and well affected to the civil government; but the Bishop not only refused him, but did it with a haughty and disdainful air, telling him, That cannot be done, it shall not; he is a ringleader, and keeper up of schism in my diocese; and then pretty abruptly left the Chancellor. Rowallan, Cunninghamhead, and some other Presbyterian gentlemen, who were waiting on him, observing the Chancellor discomposed when he left the Archbishop, presumed to ask what the matter might be. To which the Earl answered, We have set up these men, and they will tread us under their feet. In consequence of this resolution of the inexorable Archbishop Burnet, upon the 24th of July 1664, Mr Guthrie was, by a commission from him, suspended, discharged the exercise of his ministry, and his church declared vacant, and he himself, by an armed force, obliged to remove from it, a large account of which will be given by the Reverend Mr Wodrow, in that useful and much desired work, “ The History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland,” which will shortly be published:1 he was, notwithstanding, allowed to live in his manse at Fenwick, where he continued some more than a year, during which he was exceeding useful to his people in a private character.
His brother, to whom he had made over his paternal estate of Pitforthy, dying in the summer 1665, Mr Guthrie's presence there was necessary for ordering private affairs, which made him and his wife take journey for Angus about that time. He had not been long in that country till he was seized by a complication of distempers, the gravel, with which he had been frequently tortured, the gout, and a violent heart-burning, at once attacking him with great fury. The agonies which those three terrible engines of pain occasioned were almost insupportable; and were therefore a scene prepared for a brighter appearance of the constancy, patience, and resignation of this worthy minister. In the midst of his heavy afflictions, he still adored the measures of Divine Providence, though, at the same time, he longed for his dissolution, and expressed the satisfaction and joy with which he would make the grave his dwelling-place, when God should think fit to give him rest there. His compassionate Master at last indulged the pious
i These Memoirs of the Life of Mr William Guthrie were written in the year 1720, before Wodrow's History was published.
breathings of his soul. After eight or ten days' illness he was gathered to his fathers, and died in the house of his brother-in-law, Mr Lewis Skinner, minister at Brechin, upon Wednesday the 10th of October 1665, afternoon, in the forty-fifth year of his age, and was buried in the church of Brechin, under Pitforthy's desk. And as he himself died in the full assurance of faith, as to his own interest in the covenant of God, and under the pleasing hopes that God would return in glory to the Church of Scotland, so we have no doubt that his better part, his soul, was carried by angels to those peaceful regions, not one of the inhabitants whereof ever says that he is sick; and is now shining amidst the dazzling glories of those superior orbs, which are destined for the heroes of Christianity who have turned many unto righteousness, and have borne a distinguished part in the battles and triumphs of the King of saints.
During his sickness he was visited by the Bishop of Brechin, and several Episcopal ministers, his relations and acquaintances, who all had an high value for him, notwithstanding he, with an ingenuous freedom, expressed to them his sorrow for their compliance with the corrupt establishment in ecclesiastical affairs, which was then made.
This short and imperfect account of his life may, in some measure, let the reader into the character of this excellent person ; but we hope it will not be unacceptable, if, without repeating what hath been already represented, we, in a very plain and simple manner, give some further account of his character, as we have it from persons of undoubted reputation, who were themselves well acquainted with him.
His person was stately and well-shaped, and his features comely and handsome. And while he was raised above an effeminate delicacy, which was unworthy the dignity of the ministerial character, he abhorred a slovenly meanness, as very far below it, and was, therefore, neat and cleanly in his apparel; and in his whole behaviour, as well as in his dress, there was nothing that could give the least disgust to gentlemen of the politest education and nicest taste. An awful gravity dwelt upon his countenance, and never VOL. II.
gave way to levity in conversation, or those freedoms which were unbecoming his sacred office, however allowable they might be to persons of a different order. But he knew how to sweeten and manage his temper, so as never to degenerate into an affected solemnity, or inconversible austerity, but was usually extremely eheerful and facetious in his conversation, which made it universally agreeable, and added to the esteem of a minister, the endearments of a friend and comrade ;—though, indeed, (which is generally the case of great spirits,) there was in his temper an intermixture of thoughtfulness and melancholy, which sometimes gained the superiority when the public interests were endangered, and the enemies of Zion, which was his favourite concern, prevailed.
He used the innocent recreations and exercises which then prevailed, fishing, fowling, and playing upon the ice, which, at the same time, contributed to preserve a vigorous health ; and, while in frequent conversation with the best of the neighbouring gentry, as these occasions gave him access, to bear in upon them reproofs and instructions with an inoffensive familiarity.
His strong, clear, and melodious voice, joined to a good ear, gave him a great pleasure in music, in the theory and practice of which he had a more than ordinary dexterity; and he failed not, with mighty joy and satisfaction, to employ frequently his voice for the noblest use of it, the praises of his Maker and Saviour; in which part of divine worship his soul and body acted with an united and unwearied vigour.
All the other amiable qualities that can give a lustre to a man or a Christian, recommended this excellent person. His generosity, hospitality, and charitable disposition, were on all proper occasions conspicuous, and his modest humility gave a loveliness to his other virtues. Few men had greater temptations offered to pride and vanity; his natural and acquired abilities, great success, established reputation, and the applauses of the whole country who admired him, were all dangerous flatterers, apt to beguile a man into a fond conceit of himself; but his lowliness of mind was proof against these pleasing seducers, nor could they charm him into self-sufficiency and esteem, for he had not so learned Christ, and knew that he possessed nothing but what he had freely received.
He excelled in another noble part of religion, as well as humanity, an affectionate sympathy with such as were exposed either to outward afflictions, or the heavier troubles of a disquieted soul; for such he had always a melting tenderness, and embraced every occasion of succouring and relieving them. His own experience filled him with pity for those who were in like circumstances, gave him, in some measure, what his great Master hath always in an incomparably more exalted degree for poor sinners, a fellow-feeling of their infirmities, and enabled, as well as stirred him up, to comfort them with the consolations whereby God had refreshed and solaced his own soul; and he was ever sending up fervent prayers to the throne of grace in their behalf.
We have, in the former part of this account of Mr Guthrie, mentioned several of those eminent ministerial qualifications which he possessed, and made his character as a minister equal to that which he so justly enjoyed as a man and a Christian.
In his youth he had been a hard student, and this gave him a value for all the branches of learning, and an acquaintance with them. But above all, his favourite employment was the study of the Holy Scriptures, which he read often in the original languages; and out of this divine treasure of spiritual knowledge he brought out, as our Saviour speaks, things new and old, which were of the highest advantage to him when he came to the pulpit. As a thorough acquaintance with the Bible is the best way to make a good preacher, so this was one mean of that excellency in discourses from the pulpit, for which Mr Guthrie was so much celebrated. And, indeed, his sermons had all the advantages which could be given them, by a clear explication of the text, observations and enlargements that were important and suitable to the subject, allusions and illustrations adapted to the meanest capacities of his people, and, at the same time, to the dignity of the pulpit, and the honour of religion, which required a very uncommon talent; and then a lively and affecting application of the doctrines which he