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in the persons of many worthy men; I pass all these and only point at one, whose gifts and graces are well known to you, viz. Mr. David Dickson, who, I am sure God has made the instrument of the conversion of many souls, and of much good in the country; and yet this gracious person has been tossed to and fro. And you know that the Lord made him a gracious instrument in the late reformation, and yet he has in a great measure been slighted by the state and the kirk also. What reason have I then to bless God, who, in mercy is timously removing me from all trouble, and will make me as wel. come to heaven as if I had preached forty years, for he knows it was my intention, by his grace, to have honoured him in my ministry; and seeing he has accepted the will for the deed, what reason have I to complain ? for now I am willing and ready to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, which is best of all ; wherefore, dear father, comfort yourself with this."
One time, in conference concerning the sin in the godly, his father said to him, “I am sure you are not now troubled with corruption, being so near death." He answered, “ You are altogether deceived, for as long as my foot remaineth on this earth, though the earth were translated above the clouds, my mind would not be free of sinful motions.” Whereupon, he regretted that he could not get his mind and his affections so lifted up, as he could have wished, to dwell or meditate on God, his word, and the endless life; that he could not feel such spirituality as became bim, by entertaining thoughts of God's greatness and goodness, and was often much perplexed with vain thoughts; but still he was confident, that the Lord, in his rich mercy, would pity and pass by this, his weakness and infirmity.”
About ten or twelve days before his dissolution, he fell into a faint, and was speechless for nearly an hour, so that none present had any hopes that he would again recover; but in the meantime he was wrapt in divine contemplation. At last he began to recover, and his heart being enlarged, he opened his mouth with such lively exhortations as affected all present; and directing his speech to his father, he said, “ Be glad, Sir, to see your son, yea, I say, your second son, made a crowned king.” To his mother also he said, “ Be of good courage, and mourn not for want of me, for ye will find me in the all-sufficiency of God;" and then exclaimed, “ O death, I give thee a defiance, through Jesus Christ ;" saying to the on-lookers, “ Sirs, this will be a blythe and joyful good night.”
In the meantime, Mr. Bell came in, and to him he said, “Sir, you are welcome as a witness to see me fight out my last fight." After this, he fell quiet, and got some rest. Within two days, Mr. Bell being come to visit him, he said, “O Sir, but I was glad the last night when you were here, when I thought to be dissolved, that I might have met with my Master, and have enjoyed his presence for ever ; but I was much grieved, when I perceived a little reviving; and that I was likely to live longer."
To Mr. Gabriel Cunningham, when conferring about death and the manner of dissolution, he said, “O! how sweet a thing it were, for a man to sleep to death in the arms of Christ.” He bad many other lively and comfortable speeches wbich were not remembered ; not a day passing duriug the time of his sickness, but the on-waiters were refreshed by him.
The night before bis departure, he was sensible of great pain. Upon this he said, “I see it is true, that we must enter into heaven tbrough trouble, but the Lord will help us through it.” Then he said, “I have great pain, but mixed with great mercy, and strong confidence." He called to mind the saying of John Knox, on his deathbed, “ I do not esteem that pain, which will be to me an end of all trouble, and the beginning of eternal felicity."
His last words were these : “ Lord, open the gates that I may enter in ;" and a little after, his father asked, What he was doing ? Whereupon be lifted up his hands, and caused all his fingers shiver and twirl, and in presence of many honest neighbours, yielded up his spirit, and went to his rest, a little after sunrising, upon the 11th of June, 1643.*
XIII. GEORGE GILLESPIE. [Mr. Gillespie, was the son of Mr. John Gillespie, minister of
Kirkaldy. Being from principle a supporter of presbyterian government he was for sometime licensed to preach, before he could gain admission to a living. He was at length, however, ordained minister of Wemyss, in 1638; being the first who was inducted during that period, without an acknowledgment of the bishops. Henceforth, he became a most zealous defender of the presbyterian interest. In 1641, he was translated to Edinburgh, and two years after was sent as a commissioner for the church of Scotland, to the Westminster assembly. On his return from this court, in which he distinguished himself bighly, he continued to take a prominent lead in the public affairs of the church, and in 1648 was chosen moderator of the general assembly. He was also appointed to superintend the treaty for uniformity of religion with England, but shortly after, being seized with his last sickness, he died on the 17th of December following. His last words, whilst they record bis sentiments with respect to religion in general, have a special reference to the question which then agitated the public mind, with regard to the duke of Hamilton's unlawful engagement in favour of the king. We insert them in the order in which he delivered them, as imbodied in his latter will, bis farewell Letter to the general assembly, and his Testimony ]
1. His Latter Will. “ Being, through much weakness and sickness, in expectation of my last change, I have thought good, by this my latter-will, under my
• Scots Worthies-Life of Mitchell.
hand, to declare first of all, that the expectation of death, which appeareth not to be far off, doth not shake me from the faith and truth of Christ, which I have professed and preached; neither do I doubt, but this so much opposed covenant and reformation of the three kingdoms, is of God, and will have a happy conclusion. It bath pleased God, who chooseth the foolish things of this world, to coufound the wise, and the things that are not, to confound the things that are, to employ me (the unfittest and unworthiest among many thousands) in the advancing and promoting of that glorious work ; and now I repent no forwardness or zeal that ever I had therein, and dare promise, to as many as will be faithful and zealous in the cause of God, it shall be no grief of beart to them afterward, but matter of joy and peace, as this day I find it, through God's mercy, passing by my many and great infirmities, and approving my poor endeavours in his cause. But if there be a falling back to the sin of compliance with malignant ungodly men, then I look for the breaking out of the wrath of the Lord, till there be nó remedy. O that there were such a spirit at least, in such of our nobility as stand for the truth, that they may take more of God's counsel, and lean less to their own reason and understanding. As for dangers on the other hand from sectaries, I have been, and am of the opinion, that they are to be prevented and avoided by all lawful means; but that the dangers from malignants are nearest and greatest in this kingdom." *
Sic Sub.-GEORGE GILLESPIE” “ Kirkaldy, Sept. 4th, 1648.”
2. His LETTER TO the COMMISSION OF THE GENERAL
ASSEMBLY. « My very reverend and dear brethren,-Although the Lord's hand detaineth me from attending your meetings, yet, as long as I can write or speak, I dare not be silent, nor conceal my thoughts of any sinful and dangerous course in the public proceedings. Having therefore heard of some motions and beginnings of compliance with those who have been so deeply engaged in a war, destructive to religion, and the liberties of the kingdoms, I cannot but discharge
• It would appear from this, that some members of assembly, imposed on by their high pretensions to zeal for religion and the coverant, had discovered a tendency to favour the malignants. This, therefore, Mr. Gillespie inveighs against as a tacit recognition of their unlawful engagement and as a dereliction of the principles on which, in reference to that matter, the assembly had hitherto acted. It was certainly from no want of loyalty, in the proper sense of the word, that the covenanters were opposed to the lately adopted measures in behalf of the king. They were on the contrary his best and steadiest friends. Tbey were his friends from principle, and not merely from a vapourish and enthusiastic feeling of loyalty which would flatter him to his own and his country's ruin. They, therefore, wished to favour him, in a way that was consistent with their solemn obligations. And above all, they desired to free him from the counsels, and check the influence, of a set of men, who, with the most ample professions of religion, as well as of patriotism, bad it secretly as their object to lay at the feet of the monarch, both the religious and political privileges of their fellow subjects.
my conscience, in giving a testimony against all such compliance, I know, and am persuaded, that all the faithful witnesses that gave testimony to the thesis, that the late engagement was contrary and destructive to the covenant, will also give testimony to the appendix, that compliance with any who have been active in that engagement, is most sinful and unlawful. I am not able to express all the evils of that compliance, they are so many; sure I am, it were a hardening of the malignant party, a wounding of the hearts of the godly, an infinite wronging of those, who, from their affection to the covenant and cause of God, have taken their life in their hand; a great scandal to our brethren of England, who as they have been strengthened and encouraged by the hearing of the zeal and integrity of the well affected in this kingdom, and how they opposed the late engagement, so they would be as much scandalized to hear of a compliance with malignants now. Yea, all that hear of it might justly stand amazed at us, and look on us as a people infatuated, that can take into our bosom the fiery serpents that have stung us so sore.
“ But above all, that which would heighten this sin even to the heavens, is this, that it were not only a horrible backsliding, but a backsliding into that very sin which was specially pointed at, and punished by the prevalency of the malignant party; God justly making them thorns and scourges, who were taken in as friends, without any real evidence, or fruits of repentance. Alas! shall we split twice upon the same rock: yea, run upon it, when God hath set a beacon on it; shall we be so demented as to fall back into the same sin, which was engraven with great letters in our late judgment; yea, I may say, shall we thus outface and outdare the Almighty, by protecting his and our enemies, when he is persecuting them; by making peace and friendship with them, when the anger of the Lord is burning against them; by setting them on their feet, wben God hath cast them down. Oh! sball neither judgments nor deliverances make us wise. I must here apply to our present condition, the words of Ezra : And after all this is come upon us, for our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou, our God, hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and bath given us such deliverance as this : Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations ? Wouldest thou not be angry with us, till thou hast consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor escaping ? O happy Scotland, if thou canst now improve aright, and not abuse this golden opportunity; but if thou wilt help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord, wrath upon wrath, and wo upon wo shall be upon thee from the Lord.
“ This testimony of a dying man, (who expects to stand shortly before the tribunal of Christ) I leave with you, my reverend brethren, being confident of you, through the Lord, that ye will be no otherwise minded; but that, as men of God, moved with the zeal of God, you will freely discharge your consciences, against every ibing which you see lifting up itself against the kingdom of the Lord Jesus : this shall be your peace and comfort in your latter eud. Now the God of all grace establish you, and direct you, and preserve you all blameless to the end, and bring others out of the suare, that hanker after that compliance. So prayeth, your most affi ctionate brother, to serve you in what I can to my last:
GEORGE GILLESPIE.” “ Kirkaldy, Sept. 8th, 1648.”
3. His Testimony. “ Seeing now, in all appearance, the time of my dissolution is very near, although I have in my latter will declared my mind of public affairs, yet I have thought good to add this further testimony, that I esteem the malignant party in these kingdoms, the seed of the serpent, enemies to piety, and presbyterian government, (pretend what they will to the contrary) a generation that have not set God before them. With the malignants are to be joined the profane and scandalous, from all which, as also from heresies and errors, the Lord I trust is about to purge his churches. I have often comforted myself (and still do) with the hopes of the Lord's purging this polluted land; surely the Lord bath begun and will carry on that great work of mercy, and will purge out the rebels. I know there will be always a mixture of hypocrites, but that cannot excuse the conniving at gross and scandalous sinners. This purging work which the Lord is about, very many bave directly opposed and said by their deeds, we will not be purged nor refined, but we will be joining and mixing ourselves with these whom the ministers preach against as malignant enemies to God and his cause. But let him that is filthy be filthy still, and let wisdom be justified of her children. I recommend to them that fear God, sadly and seriously to consider that the holy scripture doth plainly hold forth, Ist. That the helping of the enemies of God, or joining and mingling with wicked men, is a sin bigbly displeasing. 2d. That this sin bath ordinarily ensnared God's people into divers other sins. 3d. That it hatb been punished of God with grievous judgments. 4th. That utter destruction is to be feared, when a people, after great mercies and judgments, relapse into this sin, Ezra ix. 13, 14.
“Upon these and the like grounds, for my own exoneration, that so necessary a truth want not the testimony of a dying witness of Christ, also the unworthiest among many thousands; and that light may be held forth, and warning given, I cannot be silent, at thiq time, but speak by my pen, when I cannot by my tongue; yea, now, also by the pen of another, when I cannot by my own, seriously, in the name of Jesus Christ, exhorting, and obtesting all that fear God and make conscience of their ways, to be very tender and circumspect, to watch and pray that they be not enspared in that great dangerous sin of conjunction, or compliance with malignant, or profane enemies of the truth, under whatsoever prudential considerations it may be varnished over, which, if men will do, and trust God in his owu way, they shall not only repent it, but to the