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Scepticism and infidelity may do well enough in health, but disappear when most in need. Religion added a lustre to her highly cultivated mind, and supported her till she finished her earthly, to take possession of a heavenly life, which shall never end
Y LADY ANNE ELCHO was at secret prayer about five or six o'clock, when a live coal fell from the chimney, which kindled her clothes into a flame, before she was apprehensive of the danger. When she felt the flames ascend, she arose and opened the door, which had been bolted on her during the night, and came to her woman, Mrs Arthur, who was in the next room attending. Mrs Arthur endeavoured her relief, but had perished in all probability with her lady, had not George Bannerman, the under-butler, come from the next room, upon a call, who extinguished the flames. The burning of her cravat mightily affected her; her neck, her breasts, were grievously burnt, as also her face, her hands, and her ears. She evidenced a great deal of composure, even in the time of her burning. She extinguished with her hands, burnt as they were, George Bannerman's cravat, alleging it enough that she herself had been burnt, though he had not been so too. Mr Greerson being then at Edinburgh, and Mr Halyburton at Pittenweem, Mr Wardrop, minister at Kirkaldy, was at her desire sent for, who accordingly came that same night. She was so violently ill, that she could speak none that night, but the next evening she began a discourse ; some hints thereof follow in her own words.
"I bless God I came to this family. I inclined to have come sooner, and God forgive them that would have hindered me. The Lord be thanked for Kirkaldy. I hope I have gotten good by it," (meaning the administration of the Lord's Supper there, on the 9th July 1699, to which she was a witness, having never seen the administration of that Sacrament formerly, at least in the method used in our Church.) Mr Wardrop said unto her," Madam, do you remember any word, spoken at that communion, which did touch your heart 7" She replied: "What Mr David Williamson1 and Mr Riddel spoke in serving the tables affected me much. I designed to partake of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper the first time the Lord should give me occasion and opportunity, but God has disappointed me. It was long ere I came to it, but now I die in the faith, that the Presbyterian Church is the true Church of God, and that they are the true servants of God who * die in the faith of it. Mind my lord to educate his children under the strictest Presbyterianism. I think the eldest will not live; the youngest may. Mind to educate them so; and if they will not, (it is a hard word for me to say,) I leave them my curse. But this I say, I do not consent to their being educated otherwise. I deserve this punishment for my sins, yet I was on my knees when I got it. The devil is busy on all occasions, but he shall not have his will. The Lord forgive me my sins, though I be not guilty of criminal sins, (by which she meant gross outbreakings, as she herself afterwards explained to the ministers,) yet I deserve hell, and wrath, and continual burning, for sins I am guilty of. But I hope to be pardoned for the merit of Jesus Christ. It is for the'sins of my youth that I am thus punished with these burnings; but they are far from everlasting burnings." Here, likewise, she blessed God for family worship, and said, family prayer had been many times sweet and refreshing to her. She desired those about her to give her blessing to Mr Black, and she blessed God she had ever seen him. She owned the remarkable goodness of God in singling her out to
1 He was intercommuned in 1675, and even in 1C88, was the victim of keen persecution. * Another copy says, " I die,'' &e.
be a monument of his free grace, and exhorted others to follow the ways of God. She pressed to mind her husband of the religious education of her children,1 telling how much they were upon her heart. She acknowledged particularly the obliging and dutiful carriage of the servants of the family, naming most of them, and speaking favourably of them. She then desisted, not being able to continue speaking.
The next morning, February 14, Mr Halyburton was sent for. About noon, when he arrived, and entered the room, and one told her he was come, she said three times: "Dear Mr Halyburton, are you there? God bless you, and I bless you. I could fain have seen you sooner, when I could have spoken to you: now I cannot say much. I charge you to take care of, and see to the religious education of my children. Give my lord your best advice." Then she says: "O Mr Halyburton, the Lord has been good to me." After several other things had passed, he says: "I hope the Lord has been taking pains on you, and working on your heart, to engage you to his ways." "O," she replied, "it is a short time since." "Well then," replied he, "if you have at all tried the ways of God, I hope you have no quarrel at strict godliness." "None at all," said she, " only I was too long of trying it;" and then exhorted those present to follow God's ways, as frequently during the time of her sickness as she did on other occasions.
She continued under the violence of pain from February 14th to 18th, not using any expression that could, even by force, be drawn to import discontent or impatience: but in this interval, on the contrary, blessing God frequently. February 18th and 19th, her discourse was Christian and edifying, and gave great satisfaction to all who conversed with her, both ministers and others; for not only Mr Wardrop, but Mr Greerson was with her, having come from Edinburgh, upon the first account of what had befallen her. He attended her very closely till February 19th, when he again went to Edinburgh. She bore him a particular respect, and expressed
1 Another copy adds, " With greatest carefulness."
no less that first morning she was ill. What passed during this interval is entirely lost—some prospects of her recovery making us less careful to observe and record what occurred.
Physicians thought she might live, but never could get her to believe any such thing. February 19th.—She was this night troubled with vapours, and in the morning became extremely suspicious of herself, that she might have spoken something offensive to God, and would scarcely be put out of it, by the joint testimony of all present, to the contrary.
Tuesday, February 20th.—About six o'clock this morning, she sent for Mr Halyburton. When he came, she was under a great damp as to her spiritual condition. "O," says she to him, "I fear that Satan and the world are upon me; I cannot get rid of them. I have spent my days in vanity;—vanity of vanities, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. O, Mr Halyburton, pray that the Lord may beat down Satan, he is like to prevail against me;" and here discoursing of her own folly in serving sin and Satan, she seriously dehorted those about her from doing so. Then she again resumed her discourse about her present fears, and insisted on her danger, complaining extremely of Christ's absence, and declaring her great fears of hell; and withal telling how much the world did cleave to her. The sequel of her discourse lets us understand that her children were the greatest difficulty she had to part with. Mr Halyburton began to discourse of man's natural estate, the sin and misery of it, and withal endeavoured to hold out Christ as the only refuge and relief, showing how he is to be improven under the fears of hell and death, he having come to destroy the works of the devil, and deliver them who through fears of death are all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Here she cried, "How much an interest in Christ would be worth to me now! Lord, I am a lost sinner, seek me, and find me." After this she desired Mr Halyburton to pray. After prayer she still continued in the same mind, thus damp and full of fears, constantly crying out, " Come, Lord Jesus, come;" and after a little pause, she says, "Mr Halyburton, tell my Lord (Elcho) it