صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

when he had nothing else to complain of (being for many days together before his death, filled with as much joy of the Holy Ghoft as he could hold) he went away regretting this (though with a sweet fubmission to his Master's will) that he died not in that bed of honour, and was not brought forth, to breathe out his life and last upon a fcaffold, since his Mafter was dealing such favours amongst his followers (for to fome (and blessed be he eternally who carried them honourably through) it was given, not only to believe, but also to suffer, and to the convictions of their enemies, as men who seemed rather to triumph over that king of terrors, than to be daunted by its dreadful aspect :) and lince he was taking such proofs of the fidelity and affection of fome of his followers, it will not be amiss, for this purpose, to insert his own words, which were taken from bis mouth, not once, but often reiterate : Now (faid that faithful servant, even when he was upon the threshold of glory, teady, to receive the immortal crown) My tabernacle is weak, and I would think it a more glorious way of going hence, to lay down my life for the caufe, at the cross of Edinburgh or Št. Andrews; but I fubmit to my Master's will. Is it any wonder then, I say, since he, and those other worthy mens way in witnessing for God, was so unlike ours, and fo far beyond what is to be found in our faint appearances for him, as the one keeps no proportion with the other; that there should be to remarkable a difference betwixt his bearing witnefs to, and teftifying his complacency in what they did, and what we do : if there be, for the most part, fome proportion, betwixt the dispensation of God, and the disposition of men, what wonder, that he who admitted them to the nearest familiarity with himself, deal thus with us, and so let us know our breach of promise? Nay, if there be any thing strange, and to be wondered at in this, it is rather, that he hath not been more terrible to us, by writing his difpleasure against our lukewarmness in greater characters, than that we have not been more indulgently dealt with. It is exceedingly of all our concernments, to lay this to heart, and seriously to consider, whether this be not the very thing that makes him keep a distance from us. i fuppofe upon a very overly search, and survey of our way, it will be found that by our unworthy carriage in his matters, we have rewarded this evil to our own fouls : our suffering (if it deferve that name) is with less edification and advantage to the church, and less comfort to our own fouls; because if our testimony be weighed in the balance of the fanctuary, it will be found light, and to want ma dy pounds, not only of what it ought to have, but what theirs had whose work was found perfect before God. But if we be really defirous, to be dealt with as they were and what is so defireable, next to heaven, and the coming of the kingdom of the Son of God upon the earth) let us endeavour to carry as they did : were they not mien of the like passons and infirmities with us? Why then should not we aim, to be men of the like faithfulness and zeal with them : then is it, that we may hope to have sweet and halcyon days in his service; such as will make us the envy of our enemies, a comfort to our friends, and an ore nament to our profession: hereby thall a good report be brought up u.. pon the ways of God, and we shall be living witnesses, that godliness with all disadvantages, and when accompanied with the fiery trial, is great gain, and hath its hundred fold in this life, even with persecution. Let us study to be like them in going about our Master's work, and then we have rational ground to hope, that he who shewed by his dealing with the cloud of witnesses that went before us (and do ftill conpals us about, and call to follow on) that he was not unrighteous, to forget their zeal in doing, their patience in fuffering, their work and

labour

[ocr errors]

with me.

[ocr errors]

labour of love; will also remember us, with the favour that he bore to these who went before us': then may we expect that he will say to our fouls in fecret, when we have faithfully acquit ourselves for him in public, go your way now, and eat your bread, though it be brown, with joy, and drink your drink, though it be not wine, with a merry heart: for I have accepted your works, and these are come up in remembrance

O but one of these hours, which Mr. Rutherfoord had in God's company, were worth many years suffering, and sweating in the heat of the day! I know the Prelates and their party, will think them. felves at a loss, to hear of it, or have it said, that God did admit to such familiarity with himself, his faithful witness against the wickedness of their way (I grant indeed, it is a special prejudice to them; for though it bé ftrange, yet they who persecute his favourites and followers, would even be thought to do God good service) but left I should seem to say, that there was some singularity in God's dealing with him (which i know would grate the ear of some of them, who pretend to be chief amongst the rest, that had a particular spleen against this eminent servant of Jesus Christ, I need not trouble the world in telling them who he is, that being no fecret, though I know not whether he would blush tó have it faid, he hated and perfecuted a man, fo greatly beloved of God, and dear to all his people, or if he would not rather boast of it; I owe him the charity that the latter of the two will be his choice, and that for fear of being charmed he will itop his ear from hearing that, Why persecutest thou me? and will essay to justify himself, and fatisfy others, by faying (according to his accustomed candor and conscience) that he was a ring-leader amongst the phanatics : it will found harsh also i know, in the ears of them, who, in joining with him, have served themselves heirs, to these, who went before thein, in perfecuting him, and such faithful men as he was: for as they have come in their places, 10 they persist in their practices, only with this difference, that in making havock of the church of God, they out-do all that ever made apoftafy to that

way and run at that 'rate, in endeavouring the ruin of the work of reformation, as if they were afraid to be out-run by any who should come after them, or have it said, that there had ever been men, who with more malice did persecute, and stretch forth their hands, not against certain of the disciples, but against the whole church of God, Reader, pardon I pray thee, that I now and then digress in a parenthe: sis, while these wife men come in my way, for thou knowest very

well according to the proverb, that the devil should have his due, and I dea fire to do them justice, and here I close it, if they should take it ill, I say, to have fo much said to the advantage of this worthy man. If it will be acceptable to them to hear it, I have a mind to gratify them fo far, as to say, that Mr. Rutherfoord was not alone in this, as his practice in that opposition was not peculiar to himself (for he but walked in the way of them who left him an example, to continue with Christ in his temptations) fo, his privileges were not so peculiar to himself, that he had none to share with him: and therefore I fay (if they can reap any fatisfaction by having it faid, or if they have a mind still to quarrel, fee if there be any of them in cafe to convince me of a falfhood) that God made it known, not only to themselves, but to the world, how highly he esteemed the fidelity of others also before him, who were his conltant witnesses against introducing and establishing of prelacy in Scotland, he not only made themselves find what favourites they were, by putting them (if I may fay so) upon his secrets : (for Mr. Davidson, Mr. Welch, Mr. Bruce, and many others of the valiant soldiers of Chrift, and worthy witnesses in their time, were known to have been prophets

[ocr errors]

(which I could evince by many particular passages, but they deserve a more honourable mention, and it may be some will undertake it, than to be shut up within the limits of a parenthesis) particularly removed Mr. Welch, who at home, and abroad in France, was taken notice of, as an extraordinary Man, as a fervant from whom his Master did not conceal what he was about to do: not one word hath fallen to the ground, of all that which by that feer was foretold, concerning the troubles of Scotland; hath not the sword of strangers, according to his prediction, been made drunk with the blood of the ilain? Is not Chrift crucified this day in Scotland, which he forefaw would follow ? Yea, and buried too ; and for fear that he should rise again, there is by the procurement of the chief priests, a watch set, the great stone rolled to the mouth of the fepulchre is sealed, and all made as sure as they can: because if he rise upon them again, this last error will prove worse than the firft by far:

the Lord, I say, hath fulfilled in every circumitance the word of his servant hitherto; only the last part of it is not yet accomplished, wherein he foretelleth of the glorious resurrection of Christ crucified and buried in Scotland; but the exact accomplishment of the former, puts us in expectation of the latter, notwithstanding that the great stone of an act Recissory, and many subsequent acts luitable to that fad one, is rolled to the mouth of the fepulchre, and notwithstanding that the priests (the prelates I thould say) have by their inportunity, procured an order from the magistrate to make it as fure as they can, and being now clothed with the formality of that law whereby he was crucified (for alas ! we have a law now, by which law he must die!) they are most diligent in setting their watches and making all faft: this is the thing, I say, that his fad-hearted difciples are in expectation of; notwithstanding of all the endeavours of his enemies to the contrary. and then prelacy in Scotland will breathe out its life and last together : for between Christ's rising and reigning, and their falling, there hath ever been seen amongst us, a certain connection : and truly for as great an enemy as they may think me, I would make a very friendly overture unto them (I grant I come to counsel uncalled, and I hope also, that my soul shall never enter into their secrets) and this is the advice I have to give them, that they would even look fo far before their nose, as ro make their testament, so long as they are in cafe to go to kirk and mar. ket; but I fear'I lose my labour; for ere erer Judas will part with his pieces, he is in the next door to hang himself, and who can help it, God not only dealt with them, I say, as to put them upon his secrets but he made their very enemies take notice of them oftentimes, as men that had been with Jelus. Hath it not been a heart-Itaying, and handîtrengthening remark amongst the servants and people of God in our native land, especially in a declining time, that God did fingularly shine from heaven upon, and shew his fatisfaction in the way, and towards the persons of those of his fervants, who stood firm in their opposition to prelacy; and that he did as fignally, one way or other, either fooner or later, give significations of his diflike of the way and persons of thein who turned alide to these crooked courses? And was it ever more vi. fible (as to the latter part) than at this day? It may be that they will think it fufficient to convince me of a lie, that their greatness and grandeur is fuch, as if they had monopolized to themselves all the riches and honour of the natión; but if they will have patience to hear me to Amen, I may posibly convince them of a truth that they are not willing to hear; for I only grant, that they have forgotten their Master's directions, inhibiting them, to lift up themselves above their brethren, but I will grant them this alfo (for they must have much given them)

that

2

that they have carried away the primacy, and precedency from the no bility, on whose necks they now trample; but when all this is granted them, yet they have not convinced me of telling an untruth : they must have leave to put out mine and other mens eyes besides, (which we are not willing to give them : though if any man would gratify his grace, and their lordships, he must part with these in the first place; for an implicite faith is the basis and foundation of their kingdom of darkness, without which it would fall about their ears, and but overwhelm them in the rubbish, and that would be very sad to them, for I suspect they have no great mind to die) before this come fo much as under debate, almost with indifferent men; whether God be angry at their way; his very giving of them up, to perfecute his people and fervants, fays nothing, if it fay not this; that whatever be their outward prosperity, he hath classed them with Pharaoh, in pouring out his plagues upon their heart: is not this feen, that fo foon as a man becomes serious in seeking of God, he becomes the butt of their malice, and the mark against which they bend their bow, and shoot the arrows of their indignation? And so foon as any begins to mind seriously the concernments of his soul, then, sine monitore, he falls in a dislike with them, and their way: I do not say, that all who hate the prelates are faints; for there is sufficient in their way to make them odious to others; but is not this known, that these who once begin to set their face towards God, turn their back upon them? I am sure this observation does feldom fail, or can be proved false in our native land: and then on the other hand, fince thefe men were exalted, do not the wicked walk on every fide ? Is there pot a profane spirit (the constant attendant of episcopacy in Scotland) broken loose in the land? Is there not sach a flood of impiety run. ning through the land, that carries most men down the current, as hath hardly been seen? Hath not this leprosy spread itself over the whole land ? So that we are an abomination, and talk to all about us : and if any would endeavour to accomplish a diligent search, to find out the fountain that casts forth this mire and dirt, to the defiling of the land, and defacing of congregations, he would, it may be, find it where it ought least to be expected: these streams of impiety and impurity run from the fanctuary; hence is it, that profanity goes forth through the whole land: and can it be otherwise, when so many faithful minifters are driven away, and men put in their places to handle the law, of moft of whom without breach of charity, it may be faid, that they know not God, and care pot for the fouls of his people: it is under the shadow of this plant (which because it is not of our heavenly Father's planting, we live under the expectation, and, though our eyes should be shut before we see it, we hope to die in the faith of its being pluckt up) that these weeds have grown up, so that alas! the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is now no more like his inclosure, it bringeth forth briers and thorns instead of good fruit: he planted the church of Scotland a noble vine, wholly a right seed, but since it became a seminary for prelates, the conversation of the generality proclaims this, that we are turned into the degenerate plant of a ftrange vine unto him: this is the prelatical reformation, which is suitable to itself all along; for having purged out of the church the faithful ministers of Christ and the few who are yet remaining, being in expectation of the fame lot) what can follow among the people; but, that the land should be drowned with a deluge of profanity! And are we not for the most part (oh if with a suitable measure of forrow I could make mention of it) as the children of the Ethiopians to him? Are not our spots unlike the spots of his people ? This observation, I say, as it was a very heart-staying consideration in

former

former times, and was inftead of many arguments amongst them who were no great disputants : fo I hope, (lince it was never more evident) it will fill prove a heart-establishing consideration in the faith once des livered to the saints.

Reader how desirous foever thou majst be, to have dead Mr. Ru. therfoord live in the hearts of the present and fucceeding generations, by an account of his fingular gracious life, and answerably glorious Death: yet, I shall not (for that would lead me a length beyond the just limits of an epistle, where, contrary to my purpose, I find myself almoft arrived already) be able to fatisfy thy desire, nor answer thy expectation. It's not my present work to tell thee, that he was a gentleman by Extraction. That he was educated at schools and colleges, where he was admitted for the pregnancy of his parts, and deservedly looked upon, even then as a person of whom great things might be expected: of his being pitched upon for aprofeffion of philofophyby the college of Edinburgh (where he was educate) when he was yet very young. of his being called thence to the Ministry in Anwoth (to which charge he entered, by the means of that worthy nobleman my Lord Kenmure, without giving any engagement to the Bishop) where he laboured night and day with great success, the whole country being to him, and accounting themselves, as his particular flock : There it was, where he wrote that great Master piece of learning against the Arminians (which yet was but a compend of what he then intended,) his Exercitationes Apologetica: Of his perfecution by the Prelates, who were fo found in the faith, as to challenge and accufe him for writing that book. Being called before their high commission court, he appeared and declined it, as none of the courts of Christ (nor was there need of any thing else for a confirmation, that it came not from on high, but from below save its procedure; for its 4cts had the verydy and visage of hell upon them: if they will plead that it is from above, they will be puzzled to pitch upon a period, or fix upon any other time when it came down, except with the fallen Angels; but it may be, this pleases such Angels of the church (so they will be called) for they boaft much of antiquity: and truly that which gives ground for this conjecture, that it came down from heaven in that company, is that, it perfecute's the faints and feryants of the Most High; and if there were none such upon earth, it would have no work) and was by this bigh commission put from his ministry, and sent to Aberdeen, where the doctors found to their confusion, that the puritans were clergy-men as well as they, on his returning to his former charge, upon that happy change of affairs in the year 1638, and his being shortly after sent to the profesion of Theology in the University of St. Andrews by the General Assembly (where he was also called to be worthy Mr. Blairs Colleague in the midiftry which being the seat of the arch prelate, was the very parsery of all superftition in worship, and error in doctrine, and thelink of all profanity in conversation among the Itudents: where God did so fingularly second his fcrvants indefatigable pains, both in teaching in the schools, and preaching in the congregation, that it became forth with a Lebanon, out of which were taken cedars for building the house of the Lord througủ the whole land: not a few of whom are this day, amongst those, who have obtained mercy of the Lord, to be his faith ful witnesses, against Scotland's present shameful and unparalleled de fection : of his being fent with other worthy ministers, by the general assembly, to the famous fynod at London; where, during the time of his abode, he published several pieces: In a word, of his unparalleled painfulness, and holy zeal in being about his mafter's business;

fo

« السابقةمتابعة »