John Gordon of Lochinvar (afterwards viscount Kenmuir) was born about the year 1599. He received a reasonable measure of education, and yet, through the circumstance of his birth, the corruption of the age, but above all the depravity of nature, and want of restraining grace in his younger years, he became somewhat irreligious and profane, which, when he arrived at manhood, broke out into more gross acts of wickedness, and yet all the while the Lord never left him altogether without a check or witness in his conscience, yet sometimes when at ordinances, particularly sacramental occasions, he would be filled with some sense of sin, which being borne powerfully in upon his soul, he was scarce able to hold out against it. But for a long time he was a stranger to true and saving conversion. The most part of his life after he advanced in years, he spent like the rich man in the gospel, casting down barns and building greater ones, for at his houses of Rusco and Kenmuir he was much employed in building, parking, planting, and seeking worldly honours.
About the year 1628, he was married to that virtuous and religious lady, Jean Campbel sister to the worthy marquis of Argyle, by whom he had some children, two at least, one of whom it appears died about the beginning of the year 1635, for we find Mr. Rutherford in one of his letters, about that time, comforting this noble lady upon such a mournful occasion.
In the year 1633, Charles I. to honour his coronation, in the place of his birth and first parliament, dignified many of the Scots nobility and gentry with higher titles, and places of office and honour, among whom was Sir John Gordon, who upon the eighth of May was created Viscount Kenmuir and Lord Gordon of Lochinvar.
Accordingly the viscount came to the parliament which sat down at Edinburgh June 16th 1633, and was present the first day, but stayed only a few days thereafter, for being afraid to displease the king, from whom he had both received some, and expected more honours, and not having the courage to glorify God by his presence, when his cause was at stake, deserted the parliament under pretence of indisposition of body, and returned home to his house at Kenmuir in Galloway, and there slept securely for about a year without check of conscience, till August 1634, that his affairs occasioned his return to Edinburgh, where he remained some days, not knowing that with the ending of his affairs he was to end his life. He returned home with some alteration of bodily health, and from that day his sickness increased until September 12th ensuing, which was the day of his death.
But the Lord had other thoughts than that this nobleman should die without some sense of his sin, or yet go out of this world unobserved. -- And therefore it pleased him with his bodily affliction to shake his soul with fears, making him sensible of the power of eternal wrath, for his own good, and for an example to others in after-ages never to wrong their own consciences, or to be wanting to the cause or interest of God, when he gives them an opportunity to that purpose.
Upon the Sabbath August 31st, being much weakened, he was visited by a religious and learned minister who then lived in Galloway not far from the house of Kenmuir, his lordship much rejoiced at his coming, observing the all-ruling providence in sending him such a man (who had been abroad from Galloway some time) sooner home than he expected. After supper his lordship drew on a conference with the minister, shewing he was much taken up with the fears of death, and extremity of pain. |I never dreamed, said he, that death had such a terrible, austere and gloomy countenance. I dare not die, howbeit I know I must die. What shall I do, for I dare not venture in gripes with death, because I find my sins grievous and so many that I fear my account is out of order, and not so as becomes a dying man.|
The minister for some time discoursed to him anent this weakness of nature, which was in all men, believers not excepted, which made them afraid of death, but he hoped Christ would be his second in the combat, willing him to rely upon the strength of Christ; but withal said, |My lord, I fear more the ground of your fear of death, which is (as you say) the consciousness of your sins, for there can be no plea betwixt you and your Lord if your sins be not taken away in Christ, and therefore make that sure, and fear not.| My lord answered, |I have been too late in coming to God, and have deferred the time of making my account, so long that I fear I have but the foolish virgins part of it, who came and knocked at the door of the bridegroom so late, and never got in.|
The minister having resumed somewhat both of his own and his father's sins, particularly their cares for this world and worldly honours, and thinking his lordship designed to extenuate his fault in this, he drew several weighty propositions in way of conference about the fears of death and his eternal all, which depended upon his being in or out of Christ, and obtested him in these words, -- |Therefore I intreat you, my lord, by the mercies of God, by your appearing before Christ your Judge, and by the salvation of your soul, that you would look ere you leap, and venture not into eternity without a certificate under Jesus Christ's hand, because it is said of the hypocrite, Job xx.11. He lieth down in the grave, and his bones are full of the sins of his youth.|
My lord replied, |When I begin to look upon my life, I think all is wrong in it, and the lateness of my reckoning affrighteth me, therefore stay with me, and shew me the marks of a child of God, for you must be my second in this combat and wait upon me.| His lady answered, |You must have Jesus Christ to be your second,| to which he heartily said |Amen -- but, continued he, how shall I know that I am in the state of grace, for while I be resolved my fears will still overburthen me.| The minister said, |My lord, scarcely or never doth a cast-a-way anxiously and carefully ask the question, Whether he be a child of God or not?| But my lord excepted against that saying, |I do not think there is any reprobate in hell, but he would with all his heart have the kingdom of heaven.| The minister having explained the different desires in reprobates, his lordship said, |You never saw any tokens of true grace in me, and that is my great and only fear.|
The minister said, |I was indeed sorry to see you so fearfully carried away with temptation, and you know, I gave you faithful warning that it would come to this. I wish your soul was deeply humbled for sin; but to your demand, I thought you ever had a love for the saints, even to the poorest, who carried Christ's image, altho' they could never serve nor profit you in any way, 1 John iii.14. By this we know we are translated from death unto life, &c.| And at last with this mark after some objections he seemed convinced. The minister asked him, |My lord, dare you now quit your part in Christ, and subscribe an absolute resignation of him?| My lord said, |O Sir, that is too hard, I hope he and I have more to do together, and I will be advised ere I do that,| and then asked, |What mark is it to have judgment to discern a minister called and sent of God from an hirling?| The minister allowed it to be a good mark, and cited John x.4. My sheep know my voice.
At the second conference the minister urged deep humiliation. He acknowledged the necessity thereof, but said, |Oh! if I could get him! But sin causeth me to be jealous of his love, to such a man as I have been.| The minister advised him |to be jealous of himself, but not of Jesus Christ, there being no meeting betwixt them without a sense of sin,| Isa. lxi.2, 3. Whereupon my lord said with a deep sigh accompanied with tears, |God send me that,| and thereafter reckoned out a certain number of his sins, which were as serpents or crocodiles before his eyes. The minister told him, |that death and him were yet strangers, and hoped he would tell another tale ere all the play be ended, and you shall think death a sweet messenger to carry you to your Father's house.| He said with tears, |God make it so,| and desired him to pray.
At the third conference he said, |Death bindeth me strait. O how sweet a thing it is to seek God in health, and in time of prosperity to make our accounts, for now I am so distempered that I cannot get my heart framed to think on my account, and the life to come.| The minister told him, |He behoved to fight against sickness and pain, as well as sin and death, seeing it is a temptation.| -- -- He answered, |I have taken the play long. God hath given me thirty-five years to repent, but alas! I have mispent it:| and with that he covered his face and wept. The minister assured him, that although his day was far spent, yet he behoved in the afternoon, yea when near evening, to run fast, and not to lie in the field, and miss his lodging, upon which he, with uplifted eyes, said, |Lord, how can I run? Lord, draw me, and I shall run,| Cant. i.4. The minister hearing this, desired him to pray, but he answered nothing; yet within an hour he prayed before him and his own lady very devoutly, and bemoaned his own weakness both inward and outward, saying, |I dare not knock at thy door, I ly at it scrambling as I may, till thou come out and take me in; I dare not speak; I look up to thee, and look for one kiss of Christ's fair face. O when wilt thou come!|
At the fourth conference he charged the minister to go to a secret place and pray for him, and do it not for the fashion; I know, said he, prayer will pull Christ out of heaven. The minister said, |What shall we seek, give us a commission.| He answered, |I charge you to tell my beloved, that I am sick of love.| The minister desired if they should seek life or recovery, he said, |Yea, if it be God's good pleasure, for I find my fear of death now less, and I think God is now loosing the root of the deep-grown tree of my soul so firmly fastened to this life.| The minister told him, If it were so, he behoved to covenant with God in dedicating himself and all he had to God and his service, to which he heartily consented, and after the minister had recited several scriptures for that purpose, such as Psal. lxxviii.36. &c. He took the Bible, and said, Mark other scriptures for me, and he marked 2 Cor. v. Rev. xxi. and xxii. Psal. xxxviii. John xv. These places he turned over, and cried often for one love blink, |O Son of God, for one sight of thy face.|
When the minister told him his prayers were heard, he took hold of his hand and drew him to him, and said with a sigh, Good news indeed, and desired him and others to tell him what access they had got to God in Christ for his soul, -- They told him they had got access, at which he rejoiced, and said, |Then will I believe and wait on, I cannot think but my beloved is coming leaping over the hills.|
When friends or others came to visit him, whom he knew feared God, he would cause them go and pray for him, and sent some of them expresly to the wood of Kenmuir on that errand. After some cool of a fever (as was thought), he caused one of his attendants call for the minister, to whom he said smiling, |Rejoice now, for he is come. O! if I had a tongue to tell the world what Jesus Christ hath done for my soul.|
And yet after all this, conceiving hopes of recovery, he became more careless, remiss, and dead, for some days, and seldom called for the minister (though, he would not suffer him to go home to his flock), which his lady and others perceiving went to the physician, and asked his judgment anent him. -- -- He plainly told them, There was nothing but death for him if his flux returned, as it did. This made the minister go to him and give him faithful warning of his approaching danger, telling him, his glass was shorter than he was aware of, and that Satan would be glad to steal his soul out of the world sleeping; this being seconded by the physician, he took the minister by the hand, thanked him for his faithful and plain dealing, and acknowledged the folly of his deceiving heart in looking over his affection to this life when he was so fairly once on his journey toward heaven; then ordered them all to leave the chamber except the minister, and causing him to shut the door, he conferred with him anent the state of his soul.
After prayer the minister told him, He feared that his former joy had not been well grounded, neither his humiliation deep enough, and therefore desired him to dig deeper, representing his offence both against the first and second table of the law, &c. whereupon his lordship reckoned out a number of great sins, and, amongst the rest, freely confessed his sin in deserting the last parliament, saying, |God knoweth I did it with fearful wrestling of conscience, my light paying me home within, when I seemed to be glad and joyful before men, &c.| The minister being struck with astonishment at this reckoning after such fair appearance of sound marks of grace in his soul, stood up and read the first eight verses in the 6th of the epistle to the Hebrews and discoursed thereon, then cited Rev. xxi. But the fearful and unbeliever, &c. and told him he had not one word of mercy from the Lord to him, and so turned his back, at which he cried out with tears (that they heard him at some distance) saying, |God armed is coming against me to beat out my brains; I would die; I dare not die; I would live; I dare not live; O what a burthen is the hand of an angry God! Oh! what shall I do! Is there no hope of mercy?| In this agony he lay for some time. Some said, The minister would kill him, -- Others, He would make him despair. But he bore with them, and went to a secret place, where he sought words from God to speak to this patient.
After this another minister came to visit him, to whom he said, |He hath slain me,| and before the minister could answer for himself said, |Not he, but the Spirit of God in him.| The minister said, Not I, but the law hath slain you, and withal told him of the process the Lord had against the house of Kenmuir. The other minister read the history of Manasseh, and of his wicked life, and how the Lord was intreated of by him. But the former minister went still upon wrath, telling him, He knew he was extremely pained both in body and mind, but what would he think of the lake of fire and brimstone, of everlasting burning and of utter darkness with the devil and his angels. My lord answered, |Woe is me, if I should suffer my thoughts to dwell upon it any time, it were enough to cause me go out of my senses, but I pray you, what shall I do?| The minister told him he was still in the same situation, only the sentence was not given out, and therefore desired him to mourn for offending God. And farther said, What, my lord, if Christ had given out the sentence of condemnation against you, and come to your bed-side and told you of it, would you not still love him, trust in him, and hang upon him? He answered, |God knoweth I durst not challenge him, howbeit he should slay me, I will still love him; yea though the Lord should slay me, yet will I trust in him, I will ly down at God's feet, let him trample upon me, I will die, if I die, at Christ's feet.| The minister, finding him claiming kindness to Christ, and hearing him often cry, O Son of God, where art thou, when wilt thou come to me! Oh! for a love-look! said, Is it possible, my lord, that you can love and long for Christ, and he not love and long for you? Can love and kindness stand only on your side? Is your poor love more than infinite love, seeing he hath said Isa. xlix.15. Can a woman forget, &c.? My lord, be persuaded yourself, you are graven upon the palms of God's hands. Upon this, he, with a hearty smile, looked about to a gentleman (one of his attendants) and said, I am written, man, upon the palms of Christ's hands, he will not forget me, is not this brave talking.
Afterwards the minister, finding him weaker, said, My lord, the marriage day is drawing near; make ready; set aside all care of your estate and the world, and give yourself to meditation and prayer and spiritual conference. After that he was observed to be still upon that exercise, and when none were near him, he was found praying; yea, when to appearance sleeping, he was overheard to be engaged in that duty. After some sleep, he called for one of his kinsmen with whom he was not reconciled, and also for a minister who had before offended him, that they might be friends again, which was done quickly. To the preacher he said, |I have ground of offence against you, as a natural man, and now I do to you that which all men breathing could not have moved me to do; but now because the Holy Spirit commands me, I must obey, and therefore freely forgive you as I would wish you to forgive me. You are in an eminent station, walk before God and be faithful to your calling; take heed to your steps; walk in the right road; hold your eye right; for all the world decline not from holiness; and take example by me.| To his cousin he said, |Serve the Lord, and follow not the footsteps of your father-in-law| (for he had married the bishop of Galloway's daughter); |learn to know that you have a soul, for I say unto you the thousandth part of the world know not that they have a soul: The world liveth without any sense of God.|
He desired the minister to sleep in a bed made upon the ground in the chamber by him, and urged him to take a sleep, saying, |You and I have a far journey to go; make ready for it.| Four nights before his death, he would drink a cup of wine to the minister, who said, |Receive it, my lord, in hope you shall drink of the pure river of the water of life, proceeding from the throne of God and from the Lamb.| And when the cup was in his hand, with a smiling countenance he said |I think I have good cause to drink with a good will to you.| After some heaviness the minister said, |My lord, I have good news to tell you. -- -- Be not afraid of death and judgment, because the process that your Judge had against you is cancelled and rent in pieces, and Christ hath trampled it under his feet.| -- -- My lord answered with a smile, |Oh! that is a lucky tale, I will then believe and rejoice, for sure I am, that Christ and I once met, and will he not come again.| The minister said, |You have gotten the first fruit of the Spirit, the earnest thereof, and Christ will not lose his earnest, therefore the bargain betwixt him and you holdeth.| Then he asked, What is Christ like, that I may know him? The minister answered, He is like love, and altogether lovely, Cantic. v. &c.
The minister said, |My lord, if you had the man Christ in your arms, would your heart, your breast and sides be pained with a stitch?| He answered, |God knoweth I would forget my pain, and thrust him to my heart, yea if I had my heart in the palm of my hand I would give it to him, and think it a gift too unworthy of him.| He complained of Jesus Christ in coming and going -- |I find, said he, my soul drowned in heaviness; when the Lord cometh he stayeth not long.| The minister said, |Wooers dwell not together, but married folk take up house and sunder not, Jesus Christ is now wooing and therefore he feedeth his own with hunger; which is as growing meat as the sense of his presence.| He said often, |Son of God, when wilt thou come; God is not a man that he should chance, or as the son of man that he should repent. Them that come to Christ he casteth not away, but raiseth them up at the last day.| He was heard to say in his sleep, |My beloved is mine, and I am his.| Being asked if he had been sleeping? he said, he had, but he remembered he had been giving a claim to Christ &c. He asked, |When will my heart be loosed and my tongue untied, that I may express the sweetness of the love of God to my own soul;| and before the minister answered any thing, he answered himself, |Even when the wind bloweth.|
At another time, being asked his judgment anent the ceremonies then used in the church; he answered, |I think and am persuaded in my conscience they are superstitious, idolatrous and antichristian, and come from hell. I repute it a mercy that my eyes shall not see the desolation that shall come upon this poor church. It is plain popery that is coming among you. God help you, God forgive the nobility, for they are either very cold in defending the true religion, or ready to welcome popery, whereas they should resist; and woe be to a dead time-serving and profane ministry.|
He called his lady, and a gentleman come from the east country to visit him, and caused shut the door; then from his bed directed his speech to the gentleman thus, |I ever found you faithful and kind to me in my life, therefore I must now give you a charge which you shall deliver to all noblemen you are acquainted with; go through them and show them from me that I have found the weight of the wrath of God for not giving testimony for the Lord my God, when I had occasion once in my life at the last parliament, for which fault how fierce have I found the wrath of the Lord! My soul hath raged and roared; I have been grieved at the remembrance of it. Tell them that they will be as I am now, encourage my friends that stood for the Lord; tell them that failed, if they would wish to have mercy when they are as I am, now, they must repent and crave mercy of the Lord. For all the earth I would not do as I have done.|
To a gentleman one of his kinsmen, he said, |I love you soul and body, you are a blessed man if you improve the blessed means of the word preached beside you. I would not have you drown yourself so much with the concerns of this world (as I did). My grief is, that I had not the occasion of good means as you have, and if you yourself make not a right use of them, one day they shall be a witness against you, &c.|
To Lord Herries his brother-in-law he said, |Mock not at my council, my lord. In case you follow the course you are in, you shall never see the face of Jesus Christ, you are deceived with the merchandise of the whore that makes the world drunk out of the cup of her fornication; your soul is built upon a sandy foundation. When you come to my state, you will find no comfort in your religion. You know not what wrestling I have had before I came to this state of comfort. The kingdom of heaven is not gotten with a skip or leap, but with much, seeking and thrusting, &c.|
To his own sister he said, |Who knows, sister, but the words of a dying brother may prevail with a loving sister. Alas; you incline to a rotten religion; cast away these rotten rags, they will not avail you when you are brought to this case, as I am. The half of the world are ignorant, and go to hell, and know not that they have a soul. Read the Scriptures, they are plain easy language to all who desire wisdom from God, and to be led to heaven.|
To a gentleman, his neighbour, he said, |Your soul is in a dangerous case, but you see it not. Leave these sinful courses. There are small means of instruction to be had seeing the most part of the ministry are profane and ignorant. Search God's word for the good old way, and search and find out all your own ways.|
To a gentleman his cousin he said, |You are a young man, and know not well what you are doing. Seek God's direction for wisdom in your affairs, and you shall prosper; and learn to know that you have need of God to be your friend.|
To another cousin he said, |David, you are an aged man, and you know not well what an account you have to make. I know you better than you believe, for you worship God according to men's devices; you believe lies of God; your soul is in a dreadful case; and till you know the truth you shall never see your own way aright.|
To a young man his neighbour, |Because you are but young, beware of temptation and snares; above all, be careful to keep yourself in the use of means; resort to good company, and howbeit you be named a puritan and mocked, care not for that, but rejoice, and be glad that they would admit you to their society, for I must tell you, when I am at this point in which you see me, I get no comfort to my soul from any other second means under heaven, but from these who are nicknamed puritans; they are the men that can give a word of comfort to a wearied soul in due season, and that I have found by experience.|
To one of his natural sisters, |My dove, thou art young, and alas ignorant of God. I know thy breeding and upbringing well enough, seek the Spirit of regeneration. Oh! if thou knew it, and felt the power of the Spirit as I do now. Think not all is gone because your brother is dead. Trust in God, and beware of the follies of youth. Give yourself to reading and praying, and be careful in hearing God's word, and take heed whom you hear, and how you hear, and God be with you.|
To a minister he said, |Mr. James, it is not holiness enough to be a minister, for you ministers have your own faults, and those more heinous than others. I pray you, be more painful in your calling, and take good heed of the flock of God, know that every soul that perisheth by your negligence, shall be counted to your soul, murdered before God. Take heed in these dangerous days how you lead the people of God, and take heed to your ministry.|
To Mr. George Gillespie, then his chaplain, |You have carried yourself discreetly to me, so that I cannot blame you. I hope you shall prove an honest man; if I have been at any time harsh to you, forgive me. I would I had taken better heed to many of your words, I might have gotten good by the means God gave me, but I made no use of them, &c. I am grieved for my ingratitude against my loving Lord, and that I should have sinned against him who came down from heaven to the earth for my cause, to die for my sins; the sense of this love borne in upon my heart hath a reflex, making me love my Saviour, and grip to him again.|
To another kinsman he said, |Learn to use your time Well. Oh alas! the ministry in this country are dead, God help you, ye are not led right, ye had need to be busy among yourselves. Men are as careless in the practice of godliness as it were but words, fashions, signs and shews, but all these will not do the turn. Oh! but I find it hard now to trust in and take the kingdom of heaven by force.|
To two neighbouring gentlemen he said, |It is not rising soon in the morning, and running to the park or stone-dyke, that will bring peace to the conscience, when it comes to this part of the play. You know how I have been beguiled with this world, I would counsel you to seek that one thing necessary, even the salvation of your souls, &c.|
To a cousin, bailie of Ayr, he said, |Robert, I know you have light and understanding, and though you need not be instructed by me, yet you need be incited. Care not over-much for the world, but make use of good means which you have in your country, for here is a pack of dumb dogs that cannot bark, they tell over a clash of terror, and clatter of comfort without any sense or life.|
To a cousin and another gentleman who was along with him he said, |Ye are young men and have far to go, and it may be some of you have not far to go, and tho' your journey be short, howsoever it is dangerous. Now are you happy, because you have time to lay your accounts with Jesus Christ. I intreat you to give your youth to Christ, for it is the best and most acceptable gift you can give him. Give not your youth to the devil and your lusts, and then reserve nothing to Jesus Christ but your rotten bones, it is to be feared that then he will not accept you. Learn therefore to watch and take example by me.|
He called Mr. Lamb, who was then bishop of Galloway, and commanding all others to leave the room, he had a long conference with him, exhorting him earnestly not to molest or remove the Lord's servants, or enthrall their consciences to receive the five articles of Perth, or do any thing against their consciences, as he would wish to have mercy from God. -- -- The bishop answered, |My lord, our ceremonies are, of their own nature, but things indifferent, and we impose them for decency and order in God's kirk. They need not stand so scrupulously on them as matter of conscience in God's worship.| -- -- My lord replied, |I will not dispute with you, but one thing I know and can tell you from dear experience, that these things indeed are matters of conscience, and not indifferent, and so I have found them. For since I lay on this bed, the sin that lay heaviest on my soul, was withdrawing myself from the parliament, and not giving my voice for the truth against these things which they call indifferent, and in so doing I have denied the Lord my God.| When the bishop began to commend him for his well-led life, putting him in hopes of health, and praised him for his civil carriage and behaviour, saying, He was no oppressor, and without any known vice; -- he answered, |No matter, a man may be a good civil neighbour, and yet go to hell.| -- -- The bishop answered, |My lord, I confess we have all our faults,| and thereafter he insisted so long, that my lord thought him impertinent; this made him interrupt the bishop, saying, |What should I more, I have got a grip of Jesus Christ, and Christ of me, &c.| On the morrow the bishop came to visit him, and upon asking how he did, he answered, I thank God, as well as a saved man hastening to heaven can.
After he had given the clerk of Kirkudbright some suitable advice anent his Christian walk and particular calling, he caused him swear in the most solemn terms, that he should never consent to, but oppose the election of a corrupt minister and magistrate. -- And to his coachman he said, You will go to any one who will give you the most hire, but do not so, go where you can get the best company; though you get less wages, yet you will get the more grace. Then he made him hold up his hand, and promise before God so to do. -- And to two young serving-men, who came to him weeping to get his last blessing, he said, Content not yourselves with a superficial view of religion, blessing yourselves in the morning only for a fashion, yea though you would pray both morning and evening, yet that will not avail you, except likewise ye make your account every day. Oh! ye will find few to direct or counsel you; but I will tell you what to do, first pray to the Lord fervently to enlighten the eyes of your mind, then seek grace to rule your affections; you will find the good of this when you come to my situation. Then he took both their oaths to do so.
He gave many powerful exhortations to several persons, and caused each man to hold up his hand and swear in his presence that by God's grace they should forbear their former sins and follow his counsel, &c.
When giving a divine counsel to a friend, he rested in the midst of it, and looked up to heaven, and prayed for a loosened heart and tongue, to express the goodness of God to men, and thereafter went on in his counsel (not unlike Jacob, Gen. xlix.18. who in the midst of a prophetical testament, rested a little and said, I have waited for thy salvation.)
He gave his lady divers times openly an honourable and ample testimony of holiness, goodness and respective kindness to him, and earnestly craved her forgiveness wherein he had offended her, and desired her to make the Lord her comforter, and said, He was but gone before, and it was but fifteen or sixteen years up or down.
He spoke to all the boys of the house, the butler, cook, &c. omitting none, saying, Learn to serve and fear the Lord, and use carefully the means of your salvation. I know what is ordinarily your religion, ye go to kirk, and when ye hear the devil or hell named in the preaching, ye sigh and make a noise, and it is forgot by you before you come home, and then ye are holy enough. But I can tell you, the kingdom of heaven is not got so easily. Use the means yourself, and win to some sense of God, and pray as you can, morning and evening. If you be ignorant of the way to salvation, God forgive you, for I have discharged myself in that point towards you, and appointed a man to teach you, your blood be upon yourselves. He took an oath of his servants, that they should follow his advice, and said to them severally, If I have been tough to or offended you, I pray you for God's sake to forgive me; and amongst others one to whom he had been rough said, Your lordship never did me wrong, I will never get such a master again. Yet he urged the boy to say, My lord, I forgive you; howbeit the boy was hardly brought to utter these words. He said to all the beholders about him, Sirs, behold, how low the Lord hath brought me.
To a gentleman burthened in his estate he said, |Sir, I counsel you to cast your burthen upon the Lord your God.| -- -- A religious gentleman of his own name coming to visit him four days before his death, when he beheld him he said, Robert, come to me and leave me not till I die. Being much comforted with his speeches, he said, Robert, you are a friend to me both in soul and body. -- The gentleman asked him, What comfort he had in his love towards the saints? -- He answered, I rejoice at it. -- Then he asked him, What comfort he had in bringing the minister who attended him from Galloway? He answered, God knoweth that I rejoice, that ever he put it in my heart so to do, and now because I aimed at God's glory in it, the Lord hath made me find comfort to my soul in the end; the ministers of Galloway murdered my father's soul, and if this man had not come they had murdered mine also.
Before his sister lady Herries, who was a papist, he testified his willingness to leave the world, That papists may see, said he, that those who die in this religion, both see and know whither they go, for the hope of our father's house. When letters were brought him from friends, he caused deliver them to his lady, saying, |I have nothing to do with them. I had rather hear of news from heaven concerning my eternal salvation.| It was observed that when any came to him anent any worldly business, before they were out of doors he was returned to his spiritual exercises, and was exceeding short in dispatching all needful writes. He recommended the poor's case to his friends. Upon coming out of a fainting fit, into which his weakness had thrown him, he said with a smiling countenance to all about him, |I would not exchange my life with you all: I feel the smell of the place where I am going.|
Upon Friday morning, the day of his departure from this life, he said, |This night must I sup with Jesus Christ in paradise.| The minister read to him 2 Cor. v. Rev. xxii. and some observations on such places as concerned his state. After prayer, he said, |I conceive good hopes that God looketh upon me when he granteth such liberty to pray for me. Is it possible that Jesus Christ can lose his grip of me? neither can my soul get itself plucked from Jesus Christ.| He earnestly desired a sense of God's presence; and the minister said, What, my lord, if that be suspended, till you come to your own home, and be before the throne clothed in white, and get your harp in your hand, to sing salvation to the Lamb, and to him that sitteth on the throne, for that is heaven; and who dare promise it to you upon earth? There is a piece of nature in desiring a sense of God's love, it being an apple that the Lord's children delight to play with. But, my Lord, if you would have it only as a pledge of your salvation, we shall seek it from the Lord for you, and you may lawfully pray for it. -- Earnest prayers were made for him, and he testified that he was filled with the sense of the Lord's love. Being asked, What he thought of the world? he answered, |It is more bitter than gall or wormwood.| And being demanded, if he now feared death, he answered, I have tasted death, now it is more welcome, the messenger of Jesus Christ, &c.
The minister said, There is a process betwixt the Lord and your father's house, but your name is taken out of it. How dear was heaven bought for you by Jesus Christ? he frequently said, |I know there is wrath against it, but I shall get my soul for a prey.| -- -- Oftimes he said, |It is a sweet word God saith, As I live, I delight not in the death of a sinner. I will not let go the hold I have got of Jesus Christ; though he should slay me, yet will I trust in him.|
In deep meditation on his change, he put this question, What will Christ be like when he cometh? It was answered, Altogether lovely. Before he died, he was heard praying very fervently, and said to the doctor, |I thought to have been dissolved ere now.| -- The minister said, Weary not of the Lord's yoke, Jesus Christ is posting fast to be at you, he is within a few miles. -- He answered, This is my infirmity. I will wait on, he is worth the onwaiting, though he be long in coming, yet I dare say he is coming, leaping over the mountains and skipping over the hills. -- -- The minister said, Some have gotten their fill of Christ in this life, howbeit he is often under a mask to his own. Even his best saints, Job, David, Jeremiah, &c. were under desertions. -- My lord said, But what are these examples to me? I am not in holiness near to them. The minister said, It is true you cannot take so wide steps as they did, but you are in the same way with them. A young child followeth his father at the back, though he cannot take such wide steps as he. -- My lord, your hunger overcometh your faith, only but believe his word; -- you are longing for Christ, only believe he is faithful, and will come quickly. To which he answered, |I think it is time -- Lord Jesus, come.|
Then the minister said, My lord, our nature is anxious for our own deliverance, whereas God seeketh first to be glorified in our faith, patience and hope. He answered, Good reason to be first served. Lord, give me to wait on; only, Lord, turn me not to dross.
Another said, Cast back your eyes, my lord, on what you have received, and be thankful. -- At the hearing of which he brake forth in praising of God, and finding himself now weak, and his speech failing more than an hour before his death, he desired the minister to pray. After prayer, the minister cried in his ear, |My lord, may you now sunder with Christ?| To which he answered nothing, nor was it expected that he would speak any more. -- Yet in a little the minister asked, Have you any sense of the Lord's love? -- He answered, I have. The minister said, Do you now enjoy? -- He answered, I do enjoy. Thereafter he asked him, Will ye not sunder with Christ? -- -- He answered, By no means: -- This was his last word, not being able to speak any more. The minister asked if he should pray, and he turned his eyes towards him. In the time of the last prayer he was observed joyfully smiling and looking upward. He departed this life about sun setting, September 12, 1634. aged 35 years. It was observed, that he died at the same instant that the minister concluded his prayer.
Mr. Rutherford in one of his letters to the viscountess of Kenmuir a little after the death of her husband, to comfort her, among other things lets fall this expression, |In this late visitation that hath befallen your ladyship, ye have seen God's love and care in such a measure, that I thought our Lord brake the sharp point of the cross, and made us and your ladyship see Christ take possession and infestment upon earth, of him who is now reigning and triumphing with the hundred and forty and four thousand who stand with the Lamb on mount Zion, &c.|
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Some may object, what did this nobleman for the cause of Christ, or Scotland's covenanted work of reformation, that he should be inserted among the Scottish worthies? To this it may be answered, What did the most eminent saint that ever was in Scotland, or any where else, until they were enabled by the grace of God. So it was with reference to him; for no sooner was he made partaker of this, than he gave a most ample and faithful testimony for his truths and interest; and although the Lord did not see it proper that he should serve him after this manner, in his day and generation, yet he no doubt accepted of the will for the deed, and why should we not inroll his name among these worthies on earth, seeing he hath written his name among the living in Jerusalem.