Mr. John Blackadder was a lineal descendent, and the only representative of the house of Tullialen. After he had undergone his courses of classical learning, he was ordained minister of the gospel at Traquair near Dumfries, where he continued faithfully to discharge the trust committed unto his charge, until he was with many others of his faithful brethren thrust out by that act commonly called, the drunken act of Glasgow, in the year 1662. -- At that time, a party came from Dumfries to seize him; but he was gone out of the way. But his wife and children (to whom the soldiers were extremely rude) were forced to retire to Barndennoch in Glencairn parish. But there he and his numerous family met with further troubles: for in the year 1665, a party of Sir James Turner's men came in quest of him; but happily he and his wife were at Edinburgh. However with great fury and terrible oaths and execrations in the middle of the night they turned out the children from their beds, caused one of them to hold the candle till they searched his book and papers, and took what they lifted. They stabbed the beds with their swords, and threatened to roast the children on the fire, and caused one of them to run near half a mile in a dark night in his shirt.
After this he went and preached in the fields, where he had numerous meetings, particularly at the hill of Beeth in Fife in the year 1670. He had been before this, by the council's letter, put to the horn; and after this, came west about the year 1675, and preached in the parish of Kilbride and other places. The same year being in the Cow-hill in Mr. Livingston parish, he went out in the evening (being in the month of August) unto a retired place. When he came in again, he seemed somewhat melancholy. Being asked by some friends, what was the reason? He said he was afraid of a contagious mist that should go through the land in many places that night, which might have sad effects, and death to follow; and as a mean he desired them to keep doors and windows as close as possible, and notice where it stood thickest and longest: which they did; which was upon a little town called the Craigs, wherein was but a few families; and within four months after that, thirty corpses went out of that place: great dearth and scarcity followed for three years space after. Mr. Blackadder was in his judgment against the indulgence, and preached sometimes with Mr. John Dickson, they being both of one sentiment. He continued under several hardships until the year 1678, that he went over to Mr. M'Ward in Holland. Having continued sometime there, and then returned home, he was about Edinburgh in the time of Bothwel; and, after that, was of no small use to the prisoners in dissuading them from taking the bond, and other compliances; which he did by letters.
After he had endured a series of hardships, and surmounted a number of difficulties, he came to discharge his last public work at a moor side, at the new house in the parish of Livingston, March 28th, 1681. He lectured upon Micah iv. chapter from the 9th verse, where he asserted, |That the nearer the delivery, our pains and showers would come thicker and sorer upon us; and that we had been in the fields; but ere we were delivered, we would go down to Babylon; that either popery would overspread the land, or else would be at the breaking in upon us, like an inundation of water.| He preached upon 1 Thess. iii.3. And, amongst other things desired people to take good heed what ministers they heard, and what advice they followed: and, praying, he said, he was as clear and willing to hold up the blest standard of the gospel, as ever, and blessed the Lord he was free of every bond and imposition; and said, |The Lord rebuke, give repentance and forgiveness to these ministers who persuaded the poor prisoners to take the bond; for their perishing at sea was more shaking to him than some thousands of them that had been slain in the fields.| He went to Edinburgh, and being got notice of by major Johnston, he was by him apprehended upon the 6th of April following, and brought first to general Dalziel, then to the guard, and then before a committee of council, consisting of the chancellor, general, advocate, and bishop Paterson. The chancellor asked, if he had excommunicated the king, or was at Torwood? He answered, he was not there these four years. Chan. But do ye approve of what was done there? Answ. I am not free to declare my inward sentiments of things and persons; and therefore I humbly beg to be excused: You may form a libel against me, and I shall endeavour to answer it as I can. Chan. But we hear you keep conventicles since the indemnity. Answ. I am a minister of the gospel, though unworthy, and under the strictest obligation to exercise my ministry as I shall be answerable at the great day. I did and do full count it my duty to exercise my ministry as I am called thereunto. Chan. But you have preached in the fields, that is to say, on moors and hill sides. I shall not ask you, if ye have preached in houses, though there is no liberty even for that. Answ. I place no case of conscience, nor make any difference between preaching in houses and in the fields, but as it may best serve the conveniency of the hearers; nor know I any restriction as to either in the word. My commission reaches to houses and fields, within and without doors. Chan. We doubt, you know and have seen the laws discharging such preaching. Answ. I have, and I am sorry that ever any laws were made against preaching the gospel. Chan. Not against the gospel, but against preaching rebellion -- The chancellor asked, if he kept conventicles in Fife? which he did not deny. -- He was carried to the guard. The council sat in the afternoon; but he was not again called before them; but without a farther hearing, was sentenced to go to the Bass. Accordingly, April 7th, he was carried thither, when on the way, at Fisher's-row there happened to be a gathering of people, the captain, apprehending it might be for his rescue, told Mr. Blackadder, if they attempted any thing of this kind, he would instantly shoot him through the head: He told the captain he knew nothing of any such design.
He continued there, till the end of this year 1685, when he contracted a rheumatism from the air of the place. A motion was made for his liberation on bail on this account; but it never took effect; and so he entered into the joy of his Lord about the beginning of the year 1686 and as the interest of Christ always lay near his heart through his life, so amongst his last words he said, |The Lord would yet arise, and defend his own cause in spite of all his enemies.| Thus died Mr. John Blackadder, a pious man, and a powerful preacher. There are several well vouched instances of the Lord's countenancing his ministry, while in the fields, and of the remarkable success of his sermons, (which were not so low and flat but the pious learned might admire them, nor so learned but the plainest capacity might understand them). In a word, he was possessed of many singular virtues. His going through so many eminent dangers with such undaunted courage, was remarkable, and his love to God and his church exemplary.
I have only seen two of his many pathetick sermons, which are very extensive upon the sufferings of Christ from Isa. liii.11. He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied, &c -- The reader will find them in a small collection of sermons lately published.