Memoirs of the Life, Time, and Writings
of the Reverend and Learned
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Thus far did the author bring down the history and account of his own life and times. His disorder (which was of the scorbutic kind) resisting the power of medicine, increased in its violence until 20th May 1732, when he entered into the joy of his Lord. His public services in the church of Christ were not much interrupted by his indisposition: and when he was so debilitated by it as to be unable to go out to the church, he preached from a window in the manse, the auditory standing without. His fortitude in the immediate prospect of dissolution never forsook him. His patience under the chastisement of a Father's hand was uninterrupted. Inured to afflictions, as well personal as domestic, he bore them with that quiet submission, and unreluctant resignation, which a filial spirit can only inspire. Viewing them as originating from his heavenly Father, the habitual language of his heart was, "Shall I receive all good at the hand of God, and shall I not receive evil."
It will be obvious to the intelligent reader, that the radical principle upon which the narrative in these Memoirs is founded, is, "That God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass." This principle the author believed with his whole heart: it was often an anchor to his soul; and every minister of the Church of Scotland is bound, by his subscription, and ordination-vows, to maintain it. This, kept in view, will account for the author's ascribing to an over-ruling Providence many incidents, which some may think might be resolved into natural causes.
During his last illness, he received the following affectionate and consolatory letter from his endeared friend Mr. Gabriel Wilson.
"REV. DEAREST BROTHER, - It has been a most real pain to me, after I was fully purposed to be with you sometime this day, to think of sending any. But the ordering seems to be of the Lord. I design to essay it again without delay, according as I hear from you.
"I hear the trial is become still more fiery; but hope you will be kept from thinking it strange, as though some strange thing had happened you. O it is difficult; but you are allowed, and even called to rejoice, in as much as you are thus made a partaker of Christ's sufferings.
"The Lord has in great favour led you forth into His truth, and is now in His fatherly wisdom giving you me for it all; calling you to show forth the supporting and comforting power of it. Our season (if need be) of being in heaviness through manifold temptations, is made up of hours and minutes, and will soon run out, 2 Cor. 4: 17,18.
"The Son of God, your Lord and Master, is with you in the furnace, though not always visible, and will never leave you nor forsake you. May the God of hope, of patience, and consolation, the God and Father of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, comfort you in all your tribulation with comforts of His covenant, and with the same comforts He has enabled you to comfort others in any trouble. You mind Ps. 31 ult., that it is in the way of our labouring, to be of good courage, that He promises to strengthen our hearts. I will yet still hope and seek, He may turn the shadow of death into morning, and spare to recover strength.
"Our session being met this day, in token of their love and sympathy, have sent the bearer, one of their number, to visit you, and bring them word. - Dearest Brother, I desire to remember your bonds, as bound with you. Great grace be upon you. I am, with love to all yours, Dearest Sir, yours,
"Maxton, 8th April 1732."
A few weeks before his death, he likewise wrote the following letter to a correspondent in Edinburgh; which, as it terminated a correspondence of twelve years' standing, and is perhaps the last letter the author ever wrote, we shall conclude this postscript with a copy of it.
"MY VERY DEAR SIR, - I am obliged downright to acquaint you, that I have been of a considerable time, and am still, in an apparently dying condition. All business is quite given over; and I can no more, as matters stand, correspond with any about the MSS. or anything else, but must leave them to the Lord, and the management of my friends, as He shall direct them. I do not doubt but your God, who has seen meet to row you into deep waters, will in due time bring you out; but there is need of patience.
"I cannot insist. - The eternal God be your refuge, and underneath the everlasting arms, and plentifully reward your twelve years' most substantial friendship. - I am, my very dear Sir, Yours most affectionately, etc."
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