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where I evidently perceived the Lord going before me, and providing for me at Hodsdon, within eighteen miles of London, my mean portion which I had being all spent (I speak it to his glory that cared for me) in that same place : That same day was I desired by our kind countryman Mr Guthrie, to help him in the teaching of a school ; with whom I remained some three quarters of a year, but after did the Lord lead me further : For having occasion to go to London, without my knowledge, or any suit of mine, I was called to the service of a learned divine, Mr Broughton, unto the which, with the good will of Mr Guthrie I entered, and there remained about a year and a half, daily exercised under him in the study of theology. To him under God, and some other learned divines of that city, do I acknowledge myself bound for these beginnings of knowledge I then received.
« In the nineteenth year of my life I returned again to Edinburgh, where having the commodious occasion to be with my elder brother, then one of the ministers of Edinburgh, I still continued in the same study, and at length was required to give a proof of my gift privately, which I did in the new church in presence of Mr Rcbert Pont, and Mr Robert Rollock, with sundry others of the ministry : Then, after that, I was required to teach publicly in the new church on a Sabbath in the afternoon. And the next week I was commanded to teach publicly in the great church, in time of a fast, on a Thursday in the afternoon. Thus did the Lord train me up, and these were the beginnings of my ministry, which I recount to the praise of his grace, who counted me faithful, and put me into his service.
“ A little after that, in the beginning of my twentieth year, there ensued a general assembly of the church at Edinburgh, and by their authority was I sent out, and arpointed pastor of Bothkenner, in Stirlingshire ; for that church had been desolate ever since the Reformation, and the people had given in their supplication to the assembly for a pastor. This calling of God and his church i embraced, and went unto them, where I found the deso
the walls, which were ruinous also, neither door, nor window, nor scat, nor pulpit, ncr any part of a roof was there at all; yet it pleased God to give such a blessing to the ministry of his word, that their hearts thereby were stirred up cheerfully to builci the Lord's house, which most willingly they fully resolved within haif a year, not content to build their own part of
lation so great,
the house, but the choir also, which of due should have been done by the parson: There needed here no letters of horning, nor other compulsatories; neither content to have built it only, they adorned it within and without, not inferior to any other church of such quality round about it. This was my first external seal, and confirmation of my calling to the ministry.
“ in this service I remained seven or eight years, subject to great bodily infirmities, by reason of the weakness [or marshiness] of the soil in winter, and the unwholesome waters thereof. And here did the Lord first begin to acquaint me with his terrors, and the inward exercises of sundry sorts of temptations; so that between these two, my life was almost wasted with heaviness; yet I bless the Lord for it, it was unto me like the wilderness of Midian to Moses, a school of temptation, whereby I learned daily more and more to know Christ Jesus, gathering some store of knowledge thereby, inward exercises and outward studies, which the Lord afterward called me to give out in more public places in his church, for the necessity of increasa ing, disease forcing me to think of a transportation, the purpose of my mind was to another church unplanted in the south, about eight miles from Edinburgh, but the Lord still continued his calling, and drew me another way northward: For at the same time there intervened a general assembly of the church of Perth: There was I nominated, and with consent of the assembly and people was I written for to that ministry, as the letters of both, sent to me out of Perth, with my dear brother, Mr Patrick Simson, yet extant do bear. Thus did the Lord clear my way before me, and lead me there, where I thought never to have gone; yet two or three days before did the Lord give me some signification of it, but I understood it not, till the event did teach me: For in my thoughts in the night, there seemed a man to lead me by the hand to a little pleasant city, in a plain valley on a river's side, having some banks lying at the shore thereof, (as indeed it had the first time, that after this I was brought to it, such a sight got I of it in that vision, as afterward I saw with my eyes) he led me a long time up and down the streets of that town from one to another, at length carried me over the water to an hill, and led me up unto it, by many turnings and windings from one earth to another, very near unto the top thereof. Then did I awake, my face looking to the south-west. This made such an impression in my mind, as after that I could never forget it. Let no
man here impute to me the superstition of Papists : I know, there is no revelation now of doctrine, or new article of faith, to be sought out in dreams. The Lord hath spoken once for all now unto us by his Son in the Word ; bur that the living Lord, who sleeps not, can give warnings to the souls of his servants, when their bodies are sleeping, no man acquainted with his working, I trust, will deny.
" After this three or four days, as I said, returned Mr Patrick Simson, from the general assembly at Perth, to Stirling, and delivered me letters from the assembly, and the town, containing my calling to that ministry. The town shortly after sent their commissioners, to transport myself and my family. There I continued doing the work of God, for the full space of nineteen years. How I did carry myself in my open conversation, living among them, not as one separate from them, but mixed myself in all their fellowships, as a comfort to the best, and a wound to the worst inclined sort, this age will not want loving witness to record it. My diligence in like manner in the ministry, not only on the ordinary days, but on others, which' I voluntarily chose thrice a week in the evening ; to wit, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, for a preparation to the Sabbath, (for these days they had no preaching in the morning) it would have done a Christian heart good, to have seen those glorious and joyful assemblies, to have heard the zealous cryings to God among that people with sighings and tears, melting hearts and mourning eyes. I speak the truth in modesty, and not all the truth:
It is not vain-glorying, I abhor that; not I, but his grace in me. Why shall it offend any man, that I eat the fruit of my labour, and that my conscience this day enjoys the comfort of my former painfulness and fidelity ? my witness is in heaven, that the love of Jesus and his people, made continual preaching my pleasure, and I had no such joy, as in doing his work. Some witnesses also I want not to remain : For albeit my charge was to teach five times in the week, yet this was more, that I penned thereafter, whatsoever I preached, whereof some are already extant; others, by God's grace, if the Lord spare my days, shall come in their time. And in outward things, what care I had to see the house of God there honoured, the welfare of that people every way, there are monuments standing to witness for me, when I am dead.
“ All this time, except some little intermissions and breathing-times, did the Lord still exercise me with inward temptations. O what a vicissitude of estates! O what a variety of combats ! It were tedious here to set them down all, as they were done and fought : But this I must say, the end of all and every one of them were unspeakable joy. And once for all, in greatest extremity of horror, and anguish of spirit, when I had utterly given over, and looked for nothing but confusion, suddenly did there shine (in the very twinkling of an eye) the bright and lightsome countenance of God proclaiming peace, and confirming peace with invincible reasons. O what a change was there in a moment ! The silly soul that was even now at the brink of the pit, looking for nothing, but to be swallowed up, was instantly raised up to heaven, to have joyful fellowship with God in Christ Jesus ; and from this day forth my soul was never troubled with such extremity of terrors. This confirmation was given me on a Saturday in the morning; there found I the power of religion, the certainty of the word : There was I touched with such a lively sense of a divinity, and power of the Godhead, in mercy reconciled with man, and with me in Christ, as I trust, my soul shall never forget : Glory, glory, glory be to the joyful deliverer of my soul out of all adversities for ever!
« In the midst of these wrestlings with God, all this time wanted I not combats with wicked men, like those beasts at Ephesus, with whom St Paul did fight. All the time of my residence-years continued this battle; as one Jeft off, another still renewing the battle : But the greatness of my inward conflicts made me regard lightly all their outward contradictions, and I esteemed them but like the bitings of a flea. I resolved with myself, It was no marvel to see Satan stir up his wicked instruments to disquiet me, since I professed myself a disquieter of him, and his kingdom : Yea, my comfort was, that I had never a controversy with any of them but for their sins. God knows I loved their persons and estates ; therefore did the Lord assist me, the power of his word hammering down their pride, they were all of them by course brought to the acknowledgment of their sins.
“ But at length, as God turned the heart of Pharaoh and his people from the Israelites, when the time came that he would have them to remove out of Egypt: So by little and little did the zeal and love of the most of this people, at least, in my sense, fall away; so that at last my battle was not with such as were like the publicans and sinners, (for these were now turned my
favourers and comforters), but with such as seemed before justiciars, I mean, unrebukable men for outward offences : These men found I stuffed with such pride, self-conceit, disdain, and intolerable contempt, as carried them further from their duty, than any of the former : Yea, such as above others should have been my comforters, were my crossers : That I had cause to say with Micah, The best of them are briers, but I trust it repents them ere now: And therefore I pray God not to lay it to their charge.
I will have none of my words extended to that handful there, which truly fear the Lord.
66 Now about this time God had opened to me a door, and called me to the charge of the churches in Galloway, in the south-west part of this kingdom: For being named with others, by the general assembly of such as they thought meet to be preferred to the episcopal dignity (whereof I ever acknowledged myself not worthy), and recommended by the fathers of our church ; it was his majesty's pleasure to present me to that benefice, due to the office whereunto the church had called me. God knows this: was done without my knowledge, or seeking, directly or indirectly: For I could have been contented all my days with a private life, resolved to give honour and obedience in God to such as were called to these places ; after that it was once established by order in our church, and I had considered the lawsulness, antiquity, and necessity of it among us.
“ Here was I neither guilty of ambition, nor of any precipitate embracing of it; for between the date of his majesty's presentation, and my acceptation, there intervened eighteen weeks.
“ Yet as the calling to this work was greater than any other whereto I had been led before, so greatest opposition was there made unto me by men, whose lying libels and carnal contradictions forced me to spend more time unprofitably, then I had done before since my entry to the ministry. The Lord forgive them, and me also, where in the manner of my answering, I have been sharper than became Christian meekness. For as to the matter itself, unfeignedly I followed my light, I estcem it a lawful, ancient, and necessary government; I see not, nor have not read of any church that wanted it before our time : Only the abuses of it by pride, tyranny, and idleness, have brought it in misliking. From these evils, I pray