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THE CROSS, EDINBURGH.
beg, till we see ourselves destitute of all that procures favour, and full of all that merits and hastens vengeance and wrath.
"And besides, it heightens the price of that precious blood, by which only we can have redemption from sin and wrath; it being the only sufficient in itself, and only acceptable to the Father; and so it must be, being the blessed and gracious device and result of infinite wisdom, which makes the eternal God to be admired in His graciousness and holiness; having found out the way of His own payment without our hurt; and which makes all return to their own desires, and there to rest in an eternal complacency; for this way returns to God His glory, to justice its satisfaction to disquieted consciences of men, frighted and awakened with the sight of sin and wrath, ease, peace and assurance; and to the souls of men, fellowship with God, and hope of eternal salvation. Now the righteousness of Christ being made sure to us, secures all this for us, and this truth is believed and apprehended by faith; it being the hand by which we grip this rock; and if it be true, it cannot but be strong, and we saved.
"Look well, then, to your faith, that it be a faith growing out of regeneration, and the new creature, and that it have Christ for its righteousness, hope, and rejoicing, and be sealed by the Spirit of God. And what this sealing is, when it comes, it will abundantly show itself; and there can be no other full satisfaction to a soul than this. But seek till ye find, and, whatever ye find for the present, let your last act be to lay and leave yourselves on the righteousness of His Son, expecting life through His name, according to the promise of the Father.
"Dear friends, your work is great, and time short; but this is a comfort, and the only comfort in your present condition, that you have a God infinite in mercy to deal with, who is ready at all times to forgive, but especially persons in your case, who have been jeoparding your lives upon the account of the Gospel; whatever failings or infirmities in you that action hath been accompanied with; for it is the action itself which is the duty of this whole covenanted kingdom, and not the failing, for which you are brought to suffering. Seek not then the favours of men, by making your duty your sin; but confess your failings to God, and look for His mercy through Jesus Christ, who has said, 'Whosoever loseth his life for my sake, shall keep it unto eternal life.' And though it will profit a reprobate nothing to die after this manner (for nothing can be profitable without love, which only is, or can be in a believer), yet it should be no disadvantage, but in a manner the best way of dying; for it would take some from his days that he might have lived, and so prevent many sins that he would have committed, and so the sin is lessened that is the cause of eternal sufferings.
"And let not this discourage you, or lay you by [i.e., overcome you], that the work is great, and the time short; though this indeed should mind you of your sinful neglect, that you were not better provided for such a short and peremptory summons, which you should always have expected. It also shows the greatness of the sin of these enemies, who not only take away unjustly your bodily life, but also shorten your time of preparation, and so do their utmost to deprive you of eternal life. Yet, I say, let not this either discourage or lay you by, for God can perfect great works in a short time; and one of the greatest things that befall men shall be effectuate in the twinkling of an eye, which is one of the shortest . I assure you, He put the thief on the cross through all his desires; conviction, conversion, justification, sanctification, etc., in short time; and left nothing to bemoan, but that there did not remain time enough to glorify Him upon earth, who had done all these things for him.
"Go on, then, and let your intent be seriousness. The greatness of your sorrow, and the height of love, in a manner make a compensation for the shortness of time; and go on, though ye yourselves have gone short way; for where these things are, one hour will perform more than thousands where there were not either such enforcements or power; and be persuaded in this, you have Him as much and more hastening than yourselves; for you may know His motion by your own, they being both set forward by Him. And, dear friends, be not terrified at the manner of your death, which, to me, seems to be the easiest of all, where you come to it without pain, and in perfect judgment, and go through so speedily; before the pain be felt, the glory is come! But pray for a greater measure of His presence, which only can make a pass through the hardest things cheerful and pleasant.
"I bid you farewell, expecting, though our parting be sad, our gathering shall be joyful again. Only our great advantage in the case you are in is, to credit Him much; for that is His glory, and engages Him to perform whatever ye have credited Him with. No more, but avow boldly to give a full testimony for His truths, as you desire to be avowed of Him. Grace, mercy, and peace be with you.
LETTER to the Prisoners in the Correction House of Edinburgh. (These prisoners were twenty-six women, followers of John Gib, of Borrowstounness. Cargill, when preaching at Darmead, heard that Gib and his followers were in the neighbourhood, and, sending for them, had a long conference with them as to their opinions. Its sum and substance, according to Patrick Walker, is contained in the following letter. Gib and about thirty adherents had forsaken their homes, and had taken up their abode in the moors, under the persuasion that they would thus be more free from all snares and sins. Their extravagances attracted the notice of the government, and in the spring of 1681, they were taken by a troop of dragoons, and carried to Edinburgh. Gib and three male associates were imprisoned in the Canongate Tolbooth, and the twenty-six women in the Correction House, usually filled with the loose and abandoned of the city. Gib and his male adherents gave in a statement of their opinions to the Council, which will be found in Wodrow; and Donald Cargill seems to have come to the conclusion that they were so wedded to their errors as to be irreclaimable. Of the women he entertained better hopes, and hence sent them the following affectionate appeal. It says much for his kindness of heart, and for his patient and earnest desire to reclaim them. His efforts were not without success, for the greater part of them, according to Patrick Walker, came to their right mind after they had tasted the bitter fruits of these demented delusions. Gib himself was shortly after set at liberty, but in 1684 was again apprehended, and banished to America. After a life of much misery and wretchedness, he died in 1720.—Ed.]
"Dear Friends,—I think ye cannot but know that I am both concerned and afflicted with your condition, and I would have written sooner, and more, if I had not feared that you might have been jea! ous, under your distempers, that I had been seducing you to follow me, and not God and truth.
"It had been my earnest and frequent prayer to God, as He Himself knows, to be led in all truth, and I judge I have been in this graciously answered; but I desire none, if they themselves judge it not to be truth, to adhere to anything that I have either preached, written, or done, to any hazard, much more to the loss of life.
"But I have been afflicted with your condition, and could not but be more, if God's great graciousness in this begun discovery, and your sincerity and singleness, gave me not hope that God's purpose is to turn this to the great mercy of His poor Church and yours, if ye mar it not; and yet the great sin, and pillar of Satan, that is in this snare, makes me tremble. It was God's mercy to you, that gave you such convictions; that made you, at least some of you, once to part with these men. And it was undoubtedly your sin, that you continued not so; but after convictions, did cast yourselves in new temptations; for convictions ought to be tenderly guided, lest the Spirit be grieved, from whom they come; but this second discovery, though it be with a sharper rebuke, as it makes God's mercy wonderful, so it shall render your perseverance in that course sinful and utterly inexcusable; for God has broken the snare; and it will be your great sin, if you go not out with great haste, joy, and thankfulness, when God's wonderful discovery has made such a way for your delivery. For God, having now shown you the ringleaders and authors of these opinions to be persons of such abominations, calls you not only to deny credit to them, but also to make a serious search of their tenets; which will, I know, by His grace, bring you undoubtedly to see, that these things are contrary both to God's glory and truth, that they so much pretend to.
"And now, dear friends, I cannot be tender enough of you, who in your zeal and singleness have been misled. For though this did bewray a great simplicity and unwatchfulness, yet it did also betoken some zeal and tenderness; that being beguiled, it was in things that were veiled and busked [i.e., adorned) with some pretence to God's glory, and public reformation. And on the other hand, I cannot have great enough abhorrence of the persons, who, knowing themselves to be of such abominations, did give out themselves to be of such familiarity with God, and of so clear illumination, to make their delusions more passing with devout souls. Let nothing make you think this is malignity, or natural enmity against the power of Godliness, or progress in reformation, that is venting itself in me: For though I cannot win [i.e., get] forward as I ought, yet I have rejoiced to see others go forward.
"And I am sure, there lies in this bed within you, a viper and a child. Satan, transforming himself into an angel of light, has put these two together, to make it passing with some, and to be spared of others who are of tenderness. But my soul's desire is, to kill the serpent and keep the child alive; and God is calling you loudly to sever the good from the bad, that the wit of Satan's subtilty has mixed together, and to deliver yourselves speedily, as a roe from the hand of the hunter; and not only return, but bitterly mourn for your high provoking of God, in offering such foul sacrifices to His glory, and sewing your old clouts upon that new garment; in your making the enemy more to despise that cause and company who are enough despised already, and discouraging those who were following and going forward with you in that which was right; so that now, neither have they heart nor hand for the work, nor can they look out till God recover them again.
"There is much in the whole of this, that may, and does weight and overwhelm some spirits: but there is nothing in all their cogitations about it that they find comfortable; unless it be, that He is cleared in afflicting us, and continuing to afflict, because there were such persons among us. I speak this but of some of you, and beloved by us, though ignorantly; and we wish that this be the last and great stop that was to be removed, before His coming to re