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At the first field-preaching he ever attended—evidently in 1677 —he says he entered into covenant with the Lord, and at a communion in Irongray he had a clear manifestion of his interest.
This communion was that of which John Blackader, the ejected minister of Troqueer, gives so graphic an account in his Memoirs. It took place in the summer of 1678. The services of the Saturday were held at Meiklewood in Nithsdale, about seven miles from Dumfries. Blackader preached in the forenoon from 1 Cor. xi. 24, "Do this in remembrance of me;" and John Welch, the ejected minister of Irongray, in the afternoon; but his text has not been recorded. On the Sabbath, the congregation assembled in a small valley in the Skeoch Hill, Irongray. Here they were secure from observation, as they were shut in by the rising ground all around them; while, from the heights above, sentinels could command a view of the surrounding country for many miles. Upwards of three thousand, including " gentlemen from far and near," were present.
"Mr Arnot, late minister of Tongland, lectured in the morning, and Mr Welch preached and broke up the action, which was his ordinary. The rest of the ministers exhorted and took their turn at the table service. Mr Dickson preached in the afternoon. The whole was closed in the evening without disturbance. It was a cloudy and gloomy day, the sky lowering, and often threatening showers; but the heavy clouds did not break, but retained their moisture, as it were to accommodate the work; for ere the people got to their houses and quarters, there fell a great rain, which that night waxed the waters, and most of them had to pass through both the Cairn and the Cluden."
Just when the large assemblage was about dismissing, an alarm was given that the dragoons were coming. The men who had arms —and they made a troop of horse and four or five companies of foot —instantly made preparation to receive them, and for three hours remained expecting their approach. But the tidings had either been false, or the dragoons, alarmed at the large number they found assembled, did not advance, for no enemy appeared.
Next day Blackader preached from Heb. xiii. 1, "Let brotherly love continue," on a hill-side in the same parish, but about four miles from the Skeoch.
The spot where the communion took place is carefully preserved by the surrounding inhabitants, in much the same state as it was in 1678. A tenant who some years ago removed a few of the Communion Stones to build a dyke, was compelled, in order to silence the voice of his neighbours' indignation, to put them back where he found them. The stones that were used for seats when receiving the Sacrament are placed in four rows, each two rows forming one table, and giving accommodation in all for about an hundred and twenty communicants. Down the middle of each pair of rows are a few stones on which boards for the tables were fixed. At the one end there is a heap or pile of stones about four feet high, on which the bread and the wine were placed.—Ed.]
HE LAST TESTIMONY of David FARRIS, who suffered at the Gallowlee, Edinburgh, October 10, 1681.
"Dear Friends,—I desire to bless the Lord, that I am sentenced" to be a martyr for Christ and His cause by wicked men, whose actions prove what they are; yet glory be to the name of God, that this day I do not suffer as an evil-doer, but for the testimony of the truth in owning Jesus Christ as head in His church; yea, in the Church of Scotland; and not only so, but covenanted to be so, as He was with the children of Israel, in the sight of the nations; which Covenant, made betwixt Jesus Christ and this land, I bless the Lord, that by His strength, I have been enabled to own before all these accusers of mine, especially the bloody Committee, the bloody Council, and the dreadful bloody assizers of the people of God, and givers of them their sentences of death ; all instituted by Charles Stuart, who was once by his profession, and by his oath, an owner of that Covenant.
"Now the grounds of my sentence are to be seen in my interrogations before the Committee, Council, and Justiciary, so called. At which I was asked, if I owned my former speeches. I said, What I had said, I had said. But in case that any might think, that I had heart malice at him, whom they call king, I told them, I wished neither him nor them, nor their souls, any more evil nor [i.e., than] I wished my own; but since he had broken the Covenant with God, and turned out all our ministers, obtruded Prelacy on the Church, and overturned the whole work of Reformation, I could not own him as king, and them as judges; seeing he and his emissaries were proceeding to bring in Popery into the land. And I disowned them as my judges, and told them, There was a day coming, wherein they and I would be arraigned before a Judge, ere it was long, and receive righteous judgment, and that I, in that day, would be a witness against them for their unrighteous sentences against the people of God, and their unrighteous proceedings against us, to take away our lives for owning and adhering to the word of God and our sworn Covenants. And when I was asked again the same questions, I answered, What I had said, I had said; for I had said as much as would be for the woe and sorrow of all present, except those that were penitent.
"Now let men judge, whether or not it becomes any to own Charles Stuart as king, and them as judges, seeing they have broken the Covenant, and overturned the work of Reformation, and shed so much of the people of God their blood; and not only so, but also have made a Duke, popish by profession, heir to the crown, to be the door whereat they may receive Popery into the land. For I think there are none but in some measure they allow Popery, that will not witness against and withstand him and them in their proceedings; especially that black Test, which that wicked Parliament hath put forth, among all their other proceedings these twenty years against God, His work and people; whereof the overturning our ministry, and thrusting in of Prelacy, the unlawful Acts of Indulgence, first and last, the killing and murdering of the people of God in fields, and scaffolds, and seas, in one place and another, are a witness.
"Oh! the Great Witness, that is, and will be standing against the said Charles Stuart, and his unlawful Council and Parliaments, and all their proceedings! The Lord, in the second Commandment, threatens His wrath against the children for the fathers' iniquity, unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate Him. And if the Lord visit not the successors of this generation aforenamed with dreadful judgments, I am mistaken; yea, and all these that join and comply with them, either ministers or professors (I mean the indulged), and all these that bond with the enemies, or give them clats [i.e., scrapings together] of gear for their liberation, when they are brought to prison upon the account of owning the truth; or in any manner of way acknowledge them as magistrates; I say (without repentance), I see no way that they can miss God's wrath.
"But I think I need not insist much on these subjects; for all the warnings they have gotten (which are many) by ministers and professors, one way or other, especially on scaffolds, since Mr James Guthrie [of Stirling) to this day, have not been effectual; their actings prove them to be more hardened in their sin than when they began. Therefore I think, it seems that the Lord will either give them no more warnings, or else take them shortly away, or both. Indeed, He may give them more warnings, but if ever they do the most part of this generation any good, I greatly question. I mean these whom I have named; for I think, with several others who are gone before me, and are going off the stage by death, that there will be dreadful judgments to follow on this generation, for breach of Covenant with God, and open rebellion against Him by these iniquitous laws of theirs, in taking away the lives, liberties, and privileges of the people of God; and not only so, but in making Charles Stuart head of the Church, which becomes not him, nor any mortal; for Jesus Christ is head of His own Church, and Lord over the con sciences of men.
"And as for me, I would not have my conscience tied by Charles Stuart's belt, nor any who are called his subjects, though I were to live an hundred years; no, though I could have the whole world for my pains , for I might as well tie my conscience to the devil and my own corruptions, as do it, by yielding submission to his iniquitous laws, by either bond or cess, or anything relating thereto. Now, I bless the Lord, I hope that He, who hath led me hitherto, will lead me away from him and his, and my own corruptions, and the devil, ere the tenth day of this month pass over [i.e., the day of his execution).
"And as for my own particular interest, I bless the Lord I am in some measure as clear of my interest in Christ, as I am that my pen is writing on this paper. For I hope that the Lord will carry me honourably through, and give me that which He hath promised; ay [i.e., always) when I asked of Him faith, He gave me faith, life, light, and a heart to believe; and love to Him, and His glory, interest, cause, Covenant, and work of Reformation; and strength to stand, and withstand my enemies, inward and outward, who many a time have assaulted and tempted me, striving to drive me away to sin. Indeed, it is true, I lived most lewdly, ay, till within a little more nor [i.e., than] these four years.
"Oh ! if I could go to the stage, blessing and magnifying the Lord that it hath pleased Him to bring me from the devil's fireside, as it were, and draw me out to hear the Gospel of Christ! I bless the Lord, the first field-preaching that ever I heard, I entered in Covenant with Him, to follow Him though it should cost me my life; and at a communion in Irongray, in Galloway, I had the clear manifestation of my interest. Oh ! free grace ! oh, free love! oh, free mercy! Oh! what am I, that He hath been so kind to me, oh, me! oh, poor me! And not only so, but also when He discovered the evils of the woeful Indulgence from the Supremacy, that He made it known to me, and also made me stand and withstand that woeful evil, and to join with that party, by the Bond found upon Mr Richard Cameron, whom He honoured to witness against it. And for this, I desire to bless Him.
"Oh! I think, it is Scotland's mercy this day, that He hath opened the eyes of the blind to see these abominations, especially among the ministers, I mean the indulged, and these who plead for them. Oh! Scotland's mercy hath been great, that, notwithstanding of their rebellion and joining with rebels by that Supremacy, the Lord opened the eyes of the blind, to see these abominations, and to testify against them. Oh! I say, this is Scotland's mercy, though some may think otherwise; for if the Lord had not opened up that evil to poor things, it had been a token that He would have gone His way and not owned His Covenanted land any more. But it is a token for good yet to the land, that notwithstanding of all our rebellions against Him by breach of Covenant, He continues yet to discover to His people what is sin and duty.
"And this also is a token that the Lord will not leave Scotland, though He may chastise it very sore; His taking the blood and lives of His saints on fields, seas, and scaffolds, to witness for His Covenants; for the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. And this is another token for good to the Church, that there is a remnant (though small) that is weeping and lamenting over the broken case of the Church, and over the unconcernedness of the people of God; or of these who say, they are the people of God; and that there are so few to keep clean garments, and to wrestle and witness against the sin of this generation of Covenant breakers and usurpers. Oh! sirs, is not this a sweet cordial yet, for all that is come upon us? Oh! sirs, take courage, and plead with the Lord, and also, through His strength, plead with your whorish mother, via, the indulged, and their deeds, which they have done, and those that plead for them. Oh I plead, and plead in patience: let not self rise, let not passion rise and vex you; be sober, be not soon angry;