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Biographia Scoticana Scots Worthies by John Howie

The Life of Mr. THOMAS HOG.

Mr. Thomas Hog was born in the beginning of the year 1628, in the burgh of Tain, in the county of Ross. His parents were careful to give their son a liberal education; for which purpose he was early sent to school, and, from his commencement to the study of letters, he discovered an uncommon genius, and soon made such proficiency as rendered him respected during his youth. He was much addicted to the harmless diversions of that age, yet they did never abate his progress in his studies, nor his detestation of any thing immoral or unbecoming the character of a scholar. He was put to the university in the new town of Aberdeen, where he made great proficiency, till at last he was admitted master of arts, with the universal approbation of the regents of the college.

About this time, a very remarkable incident fell out, which confirmed Mr. Hog's aversion to drunkenness, and his belief of an over-ruling providence: For, having accompanied a merchant of Aberdeen to a ship in the mouth of the river Dee, who was going a voyage (being one of his acquaintance), upon his return, with two burgesses who had gone the same errand, through the importunity of one of them, they turned all aside to take a bottle in an inn by the way. There he tarried till he thought they had drunk sufficiently, and, finding they were not disposed to go home, he laid down his share of the reckoning, and was going away, but they, being averse to part with him, and resolute in their cups, laid hold on him to stay, but he, being full six feet high, and proportionably strong and vigorous, soon twisted himself out of their gripes, and went off; and came home to his chamber, and went to bed at his usual hour, but, though in good health, he could get no rest till the clock struck one, when he fell asleep, and rested quietly till the morning, when he arose. At which time coming forth to his class, one met him weeping, and told him, That the two men he left yesternight, after continuing a while at their cups, fell a-contending and then a-fighting, in which the one killed the other. He asked, at what time? and being told just at one, he adored that providence which had both seasonably disposed him to leave them, and made him uneasy whilst the complication of sin was thus committing.

And though Mr. Hog was adorned with these natural and acquired accomplishments which constitute a truly amiable person, heightened with the lustre of an unblameable life, yet, as he himself acknowledged, he remained a stranger to the saving operations of the Spirit of God till about the year 1638, when the arm of the Lord was gloriously revealed in the revival of the work of reformation, and the influences of his grace poured out upon many through the nation: and yet still his conversation was strictly moral, and he frequented societies, conversed and prayed with them, was in the diligent use of means, and in reference to the public state of religion and reformation, was found, bold and resolute; in his straits acknowledging the Lord, bringing these his difficulties before him, to which he thought he got some notable returns; yet upon all these he himself declared, That if he was then in a state of grace and salvation, he was not in that state afterwards, for that the whole of the following work, which, by the Spirit and Word of God, was wrought on his heart, was founded upon a strong and clear conviction of his having been at that time out of Christ, notwithstanding all the forementioned lengths.

What the manner and means of his saving conversion were, we are at a loss to describe; only we find he was under a very deep and severe law-work, and that his convictions were very close, particular and pointed, setting his sin before him; and that during this work, which was of long continuance, whole clouds of sin were charged home upon him without end or measure, so that he was brought well nigh to despair, being then chaplain to the earl of Sutherland, where the work of God flourished in several souls about that house; and amongst whom the butler was at the same time under the same law-exercise, and yet the one did not know of the other; notwithstanding the countess (who was an eminent Christian), wanted not some discerning of what was a-working with them both, and particularly with Mr. Hog; as will appear by what follows:

One time Mr. Hog, sitting alone in his chamber in extreme anguish, nothing but wrath in his view, a horrible temptation was thrown in like a thunderbolt, viz. Why do you continue under such intolerable extremity of distress? Put rather an end to a miserable life immediately. Upon this suggestion, he resented the temptation and the tempter with indignation; his pen-knife (at which the enemy pointed) lying well sharpened upon the table, lest the assault should have been renewed, he rose up and threw it over the window, after which he sat down and fell a-musing upon the intricacies of this his complicated distress, and while in the midst of this his terrible whirlpool, the countess, besides her custom (though she had been ever affable at table) knocked gently at the door, and invited him to go and partake with her of a present of summer fruit; he went with her, and behaved so, that nothing could be known concerning his former troubles. She discovered by her kind speech and behaviour, that she was either impressed with his danger, or that she suspected somewhat of the matter with him. After this entertainment he returned to his room, and found the temptation mercifully removed.

As to the manner of his relief we learn in general, that, from a conviction of actual sin, he was carried up to the fountain-head, original sin, and to a conviction of unbelief as the seat of this fountain, according to Rom. xi.32. John iii.16, 38. The Lord having in this manner laid a solid, clear and excellent foundation, he was at length blessed with faith's views of the glory of Christ in his offices and person; which did so ravish his soul, as to render him most willing, through grace, to forego, endure, and, in his strength, to adventure upon any thing in his cause, and for his sake.

But the last and most considerable adventure, while in this family, was his being the instrument to convert a young gentleman of the name of Munro who frequented the house, and though of a sober deportment, yet void of real religion. He took great pleasure in Mr. Hog's company, but wasted his time with idle, frothy and useless discourse. He bore with him for some time, but pitying his case, he used all means possible with him, till by divine grace he was wholly brought over from a state of black nature unto a state of grace; and if he had visited Mr. Hog often before, he made many more visits to him after this, but never gave him occasion to impeach him, for the gentleman became eminently gracious; and for an evidence that this free dealing was blessed, the good man in his after-conduct did so excel in the virtues opposite to the former blemishes, that he was esteemed for accommodating differences, and several gentlemen did submit their contests to him, and acquiesced in his sole determination.

After Mr. Hog was settled at Killearn, this gentleman made him a visit; where, after their mutual endearments, the gentleman addressed Mr. Hog in this amazing dialect, |Sir, my course is nigh finished, and I am upon my entrance into a state of eternal rest. The Lord hath his own way of giving the watchful Christian previous warning concerning the end of the warfare, 2 Pet i.14.; and I, being so privileged, have been seriously pondering where it may be most convenient to breathe out my last, and quietly lay down this tabernacle, and seeing, after deliberation, I can find no place nor company so fit as with you, I have adventured to come and die with you.| At this time the gentleman was in good health, and ate his meat as well as ever, whereupon Mr. Hog endeavoured to divert him from these thoughts; but he firmly persisted in his persuasion: and accordingly in a few days he was seized with a fever, whereof he died.

Mr. Hog was licensed to preach the gospel in the 26th year of his age, and ere one year elapsed, several parishes were competing for him, some of which could have yielded him a greater living than what he ever had; but he preferred Killearn to the rest, because he understood that sovereign grace was pursuing some elect vessels there, and he knew that several gentlemen (especially the baron of Foulis) were friends to religion there: And he was ordained minister in the year 1654 or 1655, with the unanimous consent and approbation of all concerned.

Mr. Hog, being thus settled, he heartily applied himself to his work, taking heed to himself and his doctrine, that he might both save himself and them that heard him, casting a good copy or example before them, in all manner of temperance and Christian virtues, but more especially remarkable in his public character. His concern and sympathy with the ignorant was great, the bulk of the people of that parish, through the long infirmity of their former pastor, and the interveening vacation, being neglected in their examination, became very ignorant; but he was at great pains in spreading catechisms and other abstracts among them; and, going from house to house, he prayed with, exhorted and instructed them in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God; and his deportment was attended with as much majesty proper to that function, as had been observed in any; and no wonder, for few were favoured with so many testimonies of the divine presence, in the discharge of their ministry; as witness J -- -- s N -- -- o, E -- -- b B -- -- e his spouse, B -- -- a B -- -- e her sister, afterwards Mrs. S -- -- d, Mrs. R -- -- s, the judicious and famous John Monro of Ross, Mr. Thomas Taylor, Mr. Angus MacBean minister at Inverness, John Bulloch his own servant, Christian MacIntosh a poor woman in the depths of soul distress; holy Mr. Ross; Mr. John Welwood, and the so much famed John Monro, were either converted or confirmed by him while in this parish, or after his ejection, while he was settled at Knockgaudy in Murray; and none more particular than that instance of Monro of Lumlair, an heritor in that parish, who, upon some reprehensory expressions by Mr. Hog, which he was at first dreadfully offended at, yet were made the means of his thorough conversion, so that he ever looked on Mr. Hog after as his best friend, and laid himself out to promote the success of his ministry.

So soon as it pleased the Lord thus to bless his parochial labours with a gracious change wrought upon a considerable number of the people, he took care to join the more judicious in societies for prayer and conference. These he kept under his own inspection, and did heartily concur with them; for he himself was much in the exercise of that duty, and had several notable returns thereof, of which we have several instances.

1st, A good woman having come to him with this sore lamentation, that her daughter C -- -- L -- -- was distracted, Mr. Hog charged one or two devout persons (for he frequently employed such on extraordinary occasions) to set apart a day and a night for fasting and prayer, and then join with him in prayer for the maid next day. Accordingly when this appointment was performed, she recovered her senses as well as before.

2ndly, A daughter of the laird of Parks, his brother-in-law, who lodged with him, being seized with a high fever, and little hope of life; Mr. Hog loved the child dearly, and while he and his wife were jointly supplicating the Lord in prayer, acknowledging their own and the child's iniquity, the fever instantly left her. This passage was found in his own diary, which he concludes with admiration upon the goodness of God, to whom he ascribes the praise of all.

3dly, In like manner, a child of the reverend Mr. Urquhart having been at the point of death, those present pressed Mr. Hog to pray (for he was now become so esteemed that none other would in such case do it, he being present) upon which he solemnly charged them to join with him; and having fervently wrestled in prayer and supplication for some time, the child was restored to health. A like instance is found of a child of Kinmundy's in his own diary.

4thly, One David Dumbar, who lived at a distance, being in a frenzy, came to Mr. Hog's house in one of his fits. Mr. Hog caused him to sit down, and having advised with Mr. Frazer of Brae, and some others present, what could be done for the lad; some were for letting blood, but Mr Hog said, The prelates have deprived us of money, wherewith to pay physicians, therefore let us employ him who cures freely, and so laid it on Mr. Frazer to pray, but he put it back on himself. So after commanding the distracted person to be still, he prayed fervently for the poor man, and he was immediately restored to his right mind. This is faithfully attested by those who were eye and ear witnesses.

5thly, Mr. Hog having once gone to see a gracious woman in great extremity of distress, both of body and mind, he prayed with and for her, using this remarkable expression among many others, O Lord, rebuke this temptation, and we in thy name rebuke the same; and immediately the woman was restored both in body and mind. And yet notwithstanding the Lord had honoured him in such a manner, it is doubtful if any in his day more carefully guarded against delusions than he did, it being his ordinary, whenever he bowed a knee, to request to be saved from delusions, &c.

But as Mr. Hog was sent of God to be an ambassador of peace to some, so he was also a messenger of wrath to others. Of which we have several instances, but none more particular than the following, of a certain gentleman in the parish, who had one dead in his family, and intended to bury in the kirk; but on account of the vulgar superstition the general assembly had by an act discharged the same, and Mr. Hog being a strenuous defender of the act of the church, the gentleman was non-plussed what to do; but one William Munro, a strong hectoring fellow, engaged to make his way good against all opposition, and succeeded so far that the people with the corpse were entering the church-yard when Mr. Hog got notice. He went out and set his back to the door through which the corpse was to pass, and began to reason with the people to convince them of their error in breaking through good order; but this had not the desired effect, for the fellow laid violent hands on Mr. Hog to pull him from the door; but he, having the spirit of a man as well as of a Christian, turned on his adversary, wrested the key out of his hand, and told the assailant, Were he to repel force with force, probably he would be no gainer; and then said to the people, |This man hath grieved the Spirit of the Lord, and you shall see either his sudden repentance or a singular judgment befal him.| Accordingly the poor wretch continued in his wicked courses, and met with the foretold judgment in a few months after that. Having made a violent attack upon one, who drew out the wretch's sword and dagger, and thrust him through the belly, so that his bowels burst out, and he died most miserably.

Another instance of this kind fell out, while he was lecturing in the laird of Lethem's house in the county of Murray. During the time of worship, he observed a servant laugh once and again, and after an admonition the third time, at which Mr. Hog paused a little, and then with an air of severity said, |The Spirit of God is grieved by one in the company, for mocking at these great truths, therefore I am bold to say, Such offers of grace shall be visibly and more suddenly punished than any here could wish, &c.| After they had supped, and retired to their apartments, a message came to his chamber, telling him, that the forementioned mocker was seized with a sudden sickness and cried bitterly for him. Upon this Mr. Hog arose, quickly cast on his gown, and came down stairs to see him without losing a minute's time, but ere he got to him, the poor creature was dead.

Mr. Hog was in judgment on that side called protestors, and therefore was in the beginning of the year 1661. deposed by the synod of Ross, because he would not decline that party judicially; and afterward when he knew he was to be put out of the charge at Killearn anno 1662. he had a farewell sermon to them, where, with the apostle Paul, he took God and their own consciences to witness that he had not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God to them, and added, That the storm would be of a long continuance, but, after all, the sky would clear, and he would live to see it, and be called to his own charge again as minister of Killearn, and die with them. And further said, If any of you shall decline from that good way, and these truths wherein ye have been taught, and shall comply with the wicked designs now carried on, I take heaven and earth to witness against you, I take the stones of these walls I preached in, every word that was spoken, and every one of you to be witnesses against another. With many other words he exhorted them, and his labours were not altogether in vain; for there was not a parish in Scotland that complied less with the corruptions than they did.

After his ejection, John Card, who was converted by his ministry, told him, That he should go to Murray. Of which he had no thoughts then, but in a little the laird of Park offered him Knockgaudy near Oldearn to labour and dwell in, of which he accepted, and went thither; where he was a very useful instrument in the hand of the Lord in turning many souls to him, as has been already said, and here finding his private ministry so blessed with success, he adventured to give the sacrament in this place, which was a bold attempt, considering the severity of the laws at that time. But this solemnity being remarkably blessed with the divine presence and glory, the communicants returned to their habitations with unspeakable joy, and amongst the rest one MacLoad who came from Ross-shire, and understood nothing of the English language; but, Mr. Hog understanding the Irish language, he told him, That he came hither obeying the command of his exalted Redeemer, and understood what was preached there in the English, as well as if every word had been spoken in his own tongue. Which when Mr. Hog interpreted to the rest, they were filled with wonder, and the good man was allowed to communicate, which he did with joy.

Anno 1668. he was imprisoned for the truth at Forres, upon a complaint for keeping conventicles, &c. and there he was wonderfully strengthened and comforted, having great joy in his sufferings. Upon his account many prayers were put up by many in Murray, and their prayers, as one faith of the church's prayers for Peter while in the like case, set God a-working. The effect was, That Mr. Hog, without his own knowledge or expectation, was set at liberty, without any concessions on his part.

But what was more remarkable, he was again apprehended about the beginning of the year 1676. for the same cause, and sent to Edinburgh. He said to some in company, I thank my God, this messenger was most welcome to me: And giving a scratch with his nails on the wall, he said, I trust in the living God, that before my conscience shall get that much of a scratch, this neck (pointing to it) shall go for it. Accordingly when tried, he submitted himself joyfully to a prison, rather than bind himself from preaching; and was sent to the Bass, where by the air of the place and his close confinement he fell into a bloody flux, whereof he was in great danger. A physician being called, gave his opinion, Unless he was liberated from that place, there was no hope of life. But Mr. Hog, hesitating, would not address that mongrel court, at any rate. However the doctor, of his own accord, did it without his knowledge, and gave in a petition to the council, in the strongest terms he could devise. The petition being read, some of the lords interceeded for Mr. Hog, and said, That he lived more quietly, and travelled not the country so much as other presbyterians did. Upon which bishop Sharp, taking up the argument, said, That the prisoner did, and was in a capacity to do, more hurt to their interests, sitting in his elbow-chair, than twenty others could do by travelling from this corner of the land to the other; and if the justice of God was pursuing him, to take him off the stage, the clemency of the government should not interpose to hinder it; and it was his opinion that if there was any place in the prison worse than another, he should be put there. Which motion, being seconded by the prelates, was put to vote, and carried, To the closest prison in the Bass; which was speedily put in execution. When the keeper intimated this to Mr. Hog, he said, It was as severe as if Satan himself had penned it. His servant William Bulloch, being with him when he carried him down to that low, nasty dungeon in the Bass, fell a-weeping, and cried, Now, master, your death is unavoidable. But the good man, directing his eyes up, said, Now, that men have no mercy, the Lord will shew himself merciful; from the moment of my entering this dungeon I date my recovery. And so it fell out, for the very next day he recovered surprisingly, and in a short time was as well as ever. Yet afterward, when speaking of the arch-prelate, he never shewed any resentment, but merrily said, Commend him to me for a good physician.

In the end of the year 1679 being brought to Edinburgh before the council, and refusing to take the bond to live peaceably, he was remanded back to prison, and afterwards liberated, but on what conditions we do not learn.

About the year 1683, he fell again under the displeasure of the managers, for holding private conventicles, and was banished by the privy council, and ordained to remove off the kingdom in 48 hours, unless he gave caution not to exercise any part of his ministry, under a penalty of 5000 merks over and above performance; which conditions he would by no means submit to, and therefore retired to Berwick, and from thence to London, with a design the first opportunity to go from thence to Carolina; but the pretended plot, called the presbyterian plot, then falling out, he was thrown into prison, where he continued some time, till his money being near spent, for beside his own and his servant's maintenance, he paid 10 shillings sterling weekly to the keeper, for a place by himself, and not to be put down among thieves and felons, he said to his servant William, I'll set to-morrow apart for prayer and see that no person be allowed to come in to interrupt me. Accordingly he rose early and continued close at meditation and prayer till 12 o'clock, when a person in the habit of a gentleman desired to speak with him. William Bulloch told him, that his master was retired, &c. yet he still interceeded to see him. Upon which William, seeing him of a grave pleasant aspect, reported his desire to his master, who ordered him to his room. Mr. Hog received him courteously. The other entertained him with a discourse about suffering for a good God and a good cause, and shewed that our light afflictions which are but for a moment, are not to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. After which he arose and embraced Mr. Hog most lovingly, exhorted him to continue in well-doing, and then took out of his pocket a white paper, and gave it to him. Mr. Hog, finding its weight, understood it was money, and said to the stranger, Upon what account, Sir, do you give me this money? The other answered, Because I am appointed by our great and exalted Master to do so. Mr. Hog asked his name, and upon his refusing to tell it, Mr. Hog said, Sir, it is not curiosity that prompts me to ask, but I hope to be enlarged, and then I shall account it my duty to call for you at your dwelling in this city, for I suppose you are a citizen in London. The other replied, You must ask me no more questions, but be faithful to the death, and thou shalt have a crown of life. Then he retired, and Mr. Hog never saw nor heard of any him more. When Mr. Hog opened the paper, there were five pounds sterling in it, which to the good man was sweeter than if he had got 1000 pounds settled on him yearly.

After he was set at liberty, being at London in the year 1685. when the duke of Monmouth landed in England, and Argyle in Scotland, he plainly told some of his acquaintance, That God would never honour any of these men to be instruments of our deliverance. And much about the same time, some protestants at court, knowing he was in the city, and that he was endued with a prophetic spirit, drew king James's attention so far, that he wanted Mr. Hog should be consulted concerning affairs at that juncture. This being communicated to him, he concealed his mind, till he consulted the Lord by prayer. In the mean time he made ready for his departure, and then told them (what he charged them to report to him faithfully) That if king James had seriously adhered to the principles of our holy reformed religion, his throne should have been established in righteousness, and if he would yet turn from popery matters might be well with him, but if otherwise the land would spue him out. When this was reported, the king ordered he should be speedily apprehended, but he, having foreseen this, eschewed it by a speedy flight to Holland.

When in Holland, he was soon introduced to the prince of Orange, who had him in great esteem, and therefore let him into the secret of his resolution to deliver these nations from popery and tyranny. In the indulgence Mr. Hog agreed with worthy Mr. M'Ward and Mr. Brown, yet was far from clearness to withdraw from all presbyterian ministers, who either had not taken the benefit of the indulgence, or those exposed to suffering notwithstanding the same.

Mr. Hog returned to Scotland anno 1688. where he stayed till 1691.; that his old parishioners, finding the way cleared, sent commissioners to accompany him back to his parish of Killearn; where he was received with great joy in June or July that year. But his constitution being broken, he was unable to discharge his function much in public after that; however his conversation became still more heavenly. King William as a reward to his merit, resolving to have this good man near him, sent him a commission to be one of his chaplains, which was no mean evidence of his esteem for him, and the truth of his prediction concerning him. But before ever that honour was bestowed upon him, he was seized with the trouble, or rather the complication of troubles, whereof he died.

His sickness was considerably long, and accompanied with great pain. One time his judicious servant, hearing the heavy moans he made, asked, Whether it was soul or bodily pain that extorted such heavy groans from him? To which he composedly replied, No soul trouble, man, for a hundred and a hundred times my Lord hath assured me that I shall be with him for ever, but I am making moan for my body. And thereupon entertained him agreeably concerning the Lord's purging away sin from his own children, Isa. xxvii.9. At another time he said, Pity me, O ye my friends, and do not pray for my life; you see I have a complication of diseases upon me; allow me to go to my eternal rest. And then with deep concern of soul he cried, Look, O my God, upon mine affliction, and forgive all my sins. And yet, says his servant, never was his conversation more heavenly and spiritual, than when thus chastised. Toward his end he was much feasted with our Saviour's comfortable message to his disciples, John xx.17. I ascend to my Father, and to your father; and to my God, and your God. To the writer of some remarkable passages of his life he said, He could not give a look to the Lord, but he was persuaded of his everlasting love. And to Mr. Stuart (who succeeded him in that place) at another time he said, Never did the sun in the firmament shine more brightly to the eyes of my body, than Christ the Sun of Righteousness hath shined on my soul. |And some time after,| (continues the same writer), |when I understood he was very low, I made him my last visit; and when I asked him how he did, he answered, The unchangeableness of my God is my rock. Upon Sabbath evening, for I stayed with him that week, when I came from the church, his speech was unintelligible to me, but his servant desired me to pray, and commit his soul and body to God. After prayer I retired a little, and when I returned, I found all present in tears at his dissolution, especially his wife and his faithful servant William Bulloch.| Mr. James Hog and the forementioned writer of the remarkable passages add, That Mr. Thomas Hog had many times foretold that his Lord and husband was coming; so in the end he cried out, |Now he is come, my Lord is come, praise, praises to him for ever more. Amen.| And with these words death closed his eyes, upon the 4th day of Jan.1692, being about 60 years old.

Mr. Hog was of a tall stature, but more remarkable for his courage and fortitude of mind; he was most temperate in his diet and sleep. Gluttony, he said, is a great incentive to lust, and rising betimes is not only good for the health, but best adapted for study, wherein he took great pleasure. His more serious work, his necessary diversions, as visiting of friends, &c. and even meaner things were all gone about by the rule of duty. He was sought unto by many for his good and faithful advices, and in prayer he was most solemn and fervent, the profoundest reverence, the lowest submission, and yet a marvelous boldness and intimacy with God attended his engagements in this exercise. It might truly be said of him as of Luther when he prayed. It was with so much reverence as if he was praying to God, and with so much boldness as if he had been speaking to his friend. And though the Lord did not bless him with natural children, he gave him the powerful assurance of that promise, Isa. lvi.5. I will give thee a name better than of sons and daughters, which he signally fulfilled to him in making him the instrument of begetting many sons and daughters to the Lord.

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