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Mr Hugh White in Larbert, a man of considerable abilities, great piety and tenderness, was also very friendly and affectionate : but I had little occasion of converse with him, being on the other side of Forth.
Having preached some time in these parts, and before the presbytery of Stirling on July 13. some of the parish of Carnock, in the presbytery of Dunfermline, took occafion to hear me at Clackmannan and Airth. Where. upon I had two letters from Mr John Wylie, then minister of Saline, afterwards of Clackmannan, inviting me to preach at Saline, a parish neighbouring with Carnock : but Mr Turnbull shewed me, that I behoved not to go ; and I went not. William Paton, one of the elders of Clackmannan, was clear for my going, and told me, what others kept fecret from me, that they had a design on me for Clackmannan; but withal, that Mr Inglis, tacksman of the estate of Clackmannan, whose coal-grieve he was, and Kennet, would set their foot against it. But on July 26. two of the elders of Carnock came to the Ferritown unto me, trying how I would relish a call to their parish. I left the matter open, saying little, and defiring them to seek a minister from the Lord.
About the beginning of August, Mr Wylie wrote to the presbytery of Stirling, in name of the presbytery of Dunfermline, defiring them to allow me to come a day or two to them; the which they absolutely refused : and that day, or soon after, I perceived the presbytery had a design on me for Clackmannan. That their refusal I did not take well: but they never asked my inclination, and I had no freedom to urge their letting me go. However, afterward, on a letter from Mr James Fraser of Brea, minister of Culross, inviting me to affift by preaching at the communion there, on the 21st, I went and preached there accordingly in the church-yard ; Mr Turnbull having allowed, that if there was such a necessity as was alledged in the letter, it could not well be refused. At this time began my acquaintance with the worthy Mr George Mair, Brea's colleague, whose conversation was afterwards of good use to me, in regard of the spirituality of it, and the insight he had into the doctrine of the gospel. I think, that holy and learned man Brea died not very long after.
On the 14th of August I communicated at Larbert, and was not altogether deserted in it: but I think, as I was walking alone to my lodgings, I got my cominůnion in
deed. Two or three days before, I did endeavour to examine myself thus : They that have a sincere desire of union and communion with Christ, have true faith, Matth. v. 6.; 2 Cor. viii. 12.: and such are those who, 1. chuse and detire Christ, without desire to retain fin; that chuse Christ whatever may follow, Ecb. xi. 25.; 2. that are not carried forth after fpiritual good things merely as profitable to themselves, but as things in themselves good and desirable, Pfal. lxxiji. 25.; 3. who defire a whole Christ, as well for fanctification as justification, 1 Cor. i. 30. ; 4. who esteem Christ above all, i Pet. ii. 7.; 5. who have a sense of fin presling the conscience, and ferious displeasure with it, Matth. xi. 28. ;. 6. who make suitable endeavours after Christ, Prov. xxi. 25. But I (I appeal to God's omniscience) have such a desire. For, 1. I defire Christ without exception of any fin, or the cross : I am content to part with all fin, and take Christ, to follow him in his strength whitherfoever he goes. 2. I desire union and communion with Christ, though there were no hell 'to punish those who are united to their fins. 3. I defire a whole Christ, and would as fain have fin subdued and mortified, as guilt taken away. . 4. I esteem Christ above all : Give me Christ, and take from me what thou wilt. 5. Sin is a burden to me, especially my predominant lust. 6. I endeavour, in some measure, to seck after Chrift: Lord, thou knowest. Therefore I have true faith.
The week after the communion at Culross, my acquaintance with Katharine Brown, now my wife, was carried on to a direct proposal of marriage made to her. She was fifth daughter to Robert Brown of Barhill, in the parish of Culross ; her mother, then a widow, and her eldeft Gifter, who had been married to Thomas Brown above mentioned, being dead more than a year before. I had, while I was at Kennet, heard a very savoury report of her; and from the first time that I saw her, which was March 3. 1697, the day on which I left that country, something stuck with me. A few days after I returned, as said is, the had occasion to come and tarry some time with her brother-in-law. And my health being broken as above mentioned, I was valetudinary, and particularly fubject to faintings; with one of which I was seized June 3. The being present : but by her advice, whose father had been a practitioner in phylic, I used wormwood boiled,
and and applied to my stomach in linen bags, that month, and was much relieved of these faintings. Howbeit, when they left me, I was seized with a binding at my breaft; and for a long time that year I used Lucatellus's balsain by the same advice. What engaged me to her, was her piety, parts, beauty, chearful disposition fitted to temper mine, and that I reckoned her very fit to fee to my health. I never was in a mind to marry before I should be settled ; but I judged both the one and the other requisite for my health. But though I made choice of a moft worthy wo. man, I was afterwards obliged to confess, before God, my sin, in that I had not been at more pains to know his mind in the matter before I had proposed it. And how. beit I did frequently that summer lay it before the Lord, and consider it; yet I can never forgive myself, though I hope my God hath forgiven me, that I did not fet some time or times apart for fasting and prayer for that'end, before I made the proposal. But God did chastise my rashness, partly by my finding that process very entangling to me in my vagrant circuinstances, partly by suffering perplexing scruples to rise in my mind about it; while yet he did, in the issue of them, convincingly shew the matter to be of himself, and bound it on my conscience as duty; which cleared, my difficulty was not to get love to her, but rather to bound it.
In the beginning of September I had a letter from Mr Wylie, defiring me to preach a Sabbath-day, either at Salin or Carnock, or on a week-day at Carnock. In answer to which, I promised to preach a Sabbath-day at Salin, if they would procure the day from the presbytery; but declined seeking it for myself.
About the middle of that month, I received a letter from Mr Murray, inviting me to Nithsdale ; and had thoughts of complying with it. On the uth, being a national faft-day, I had preached at Clackmannan, the Lord helping me ; and that night going to bed weakened and wearied, I found myself, notwithstanding, able to lie on my back; a posture which for a long time before I could not place myself in, without being in hazard of fainting. Some were much offended at that day's work, others much endeared to me. But about this time the business of my settlement there being still in agitation, and the elders not speaking of it to me, till they might see the matter brought to a bearing, I thought it meet to thew one of them, that it was needless to make a bustle between heritors and el. ders on my account, in regard, for any thing I knew, I fhould never accept of a call to Clackmannan.
So, on Oct. 5. I went to the presbytery, with an intention to crave my testimonials, in order to leave that country; but ere i got it moved, there was produced and read a letter from Kennet, defiring, that in regard the parish of Clackmannan had a desire for me to be their minifter, they would interpose with me not to leave the bounds, and appoint me to preach three Sabbaths at Clackmannan, in regard some of the heritors had not heard me. Whereupon the presbytery urged me to stay till the next presbytery-day at least, and appointed me two days at Clackmannan; whereto I at length yielded; though it troubled me somewhat after, that I should have consented to preach there on that account.
On the 18th came to me an elder of Carnock, with a line figned by five of their number, shewing, that they had the presbytery's allowance for drawing up, a call to me ; but that Kincairdine and Sir Patrick Murray would not allow it to be done for any young man, till once the parish had a hearing of him ; and defiring me to thew, whether they might go on or not. I found by the bearer that they were not unanimous ; shewed them I could not have access to preach a day to them ; left them to their liberty; and desired they might not on my account deprive themselves of any ocher whom they pleased.
Having preached the two days at Ciackmannan, the elders could not prevail with the heritors to join in a call to me. Mr Inglis aforesaid set himself against me particularly, alledging for a reason, that I was young, and but a probationer. It was supposed, that my not bowing in the pulpit, and going with none of them on the Sabbathnights, rendered me unacceptable : and I do believe, that they and I both agreed, that, in respect of my temper and way, I was not fit for the parish of Clackmannan. However, the said Mr inglis, who was a friend of Brea's, told me some time or other, while in that country, (I apprehend it has been after this, when Brea was deceased), that there was something in my sermons fo like Brea's, that one would have thought I had seen his notes, but that he koew I had no access to them ; which last was very true.
By this time I had preached twice at Dollar, then lately become vacant through the removal of the Episcopal
incumbent ; and an inclination towards me there was sige nified by some of them; and thinking about settling in that country, I could scarcely be able to fay in mine own neart, where I would desire to settle in it, if it was not in Dollar; and hardly there either. But I went to the prerbytery Nov. 2. fully resolved to have my liberty, thinking to go to Nithfdale. Accordingly 1 desired their testimonial, shewing that I could stay no longer. Mr White, being moderator, did long press my stay, which, with all the modesty I could, I declined, reprefenting, that if I continued longer, I behoved to continue all the winter, in respect of the broken state of my health. (I was now ufing conserve of roses, by the advice aforesaid). After they had urged me till I was athamed, two ministers, whereof Mr Turnbull was one, took me out to converse with me privately. In the mean time a man from Dollar, with mush concern, addressed himself to me, that I might not go away, shewing the inclination of that parish toward me; and elders of the other vacant parishes urged me. Finding myself perplexed, and not knowing what to say, I left myself to the presbytery's disposal, and so received their appointments after.
Being thus locked in there again, the tongues of many were let loose on me; and my railing and reflecting, as they called it, came often to my ears. Preaching at Clackmannan on the 27th, fome were vexed, and one in a rage went out of the church. When I came home to my lodging, I was much affected that my preaching was fo stormed at; and the rather, that I thought I had not the inward support requisite in luch a case: but I was comforted at family-worship, singing Pfal. lxix. 7. and downwards. That same week, it was uneasy to me to hear that some concluded I had an inclination for the parish of Clackmannan, from the zeal shewn for it by my most intimate acquaintance, thinking they could not have done so without encouragement from me. Upon which I find I made this reflection, setting that matter in a due light, viz. “But, Lord, thou knowest, that it was not my in• clination, though in my own thoughts I would not • be too peremptory, not knowing how God might call ( me.'
In the month of December, some of the elders of Dollar fignified to me their inclination to give me a call, if they could get it done ; but withal I had an account of