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CHA P. II. - . . On his entering on the Ministry at Ceres.
D Eing thus licensed June 22, 1699, at Kirkaldie, D I continued preaching as appointed or desired every Lord's day, for most part, blessed be God, not without some countenance and success. November 23, the call of South-Leith came to me, where I had preach'd some time before, Mr. Wishart the minister, with several elders, came with it: and November 29, a call from the Eli, where I also had preached, was put in my hand; and much about the same time the call of the parish of Ceres was put in my hand. I took them to consideration, and gave no manaer of hopes to any; I found myself in a great strait between Leith and Geres, and it was much the greater that both posts lay not within one province ; and so there was nc judicature equally concerned in both, to whom I might fubmit; so that I was neceffitated to make a choice myself. After fome endeavours with my own heart, to bring it to a willingness to close with either as God should clear up dury, I did fet myself to consider and ponder reasons on the one hand and the other; And for Luith the following reasons had weight:
1. The importance of the post, and considerableness of
the charge. 2. The unanimity of their call, after they had been
long otherwise. 3. The Collegue was most desirable, and one from whom I might learn much, both as to preaching and
discipline. 4. There was a considerable number of Godly in the
place.. 5. I fould have the advantage of living in the prese
bytery of Edinburgh where there is unquestionably
the faireft occasion for improvement 6. The Gumnifion's interposition on behalf of Leith by
their letter of the date
On the other hand, for Gerés it was of weight.
Ir. That the parilh was considerable, had been .intirely without one of a long time, had been di( vided, and were now harmonious, whereas Leith was well supplied of one. . 6 2. That whereas Leith lying near Edinburgh, where they had the choice of young men, and had
men of weight and activity, and interest to obtain, ... whom they had a mind to; it was otherwise with 6 Ceresa :
• 3. Where collegues are most desirable, a colle• giate life is not without such difficulties as should .: incline one not to run into them without an evi i o dent call.
. 4. I had not enjoy'd time for reading, and could o not in a town, and that so near Edinburgh, where o the charge was so great, have any time for improve "ment, which I might hope for in the country, at 6 least in the winter season.
• 5. The charge was less than the half of Leith, "and my body was but weak.
6. I found my temper soft and unmeet for man. • aging the humours of town's people.
• 7. I found my best friends, whom I had reason "to respect, as designing nothing but my good, firmi I of the opinion, That Ceres was the more suitable o charge.
Having weighed all, and laid the matter before the Lord as I could, I at length came to a resolution, to reject the call of Leith, and did, January 2, 1700, give it up, and close with that of Ceres, to the great disatisfaction of the minister and people of Leith, who had been at more pains with me then I deserved. L.
· Being thus in some measure clear'd to accept of Ceres's call, that of the Eli making no competition, I did enter on trials, and delivered my common head de Communicatione Idiomutum; . February 13: at Coupar and my exercise and addition on Galatians iii. 9. March 19, and April 16, I delivered my popular sermon on Revelation i. 6. and underwent the other parts of my private trials; and last, on May 1, 1700, was ordain'd at Ceres, Mr . Alexander Pitcairn mi. nister at Kilmeny preached on Hebrews xiii. 17. and fabbath next I began my ministry on AEZ S X. 29. May 5, 1700.
CHA P. III: Of his management in the work of the ministry. 1 Fter he was licensed to preach, and before he was f1 ordained to the ministry, on some folemn occalons, he dedicated himself to the service of the Lord with earnest prayer for the suitable endowments whereby he might be fitted for the discharge of that high trust, if it should please God to call him to it. This occurs frequently in his diary whereof take an instance or two in his own words..
April 18, 1700, being the fast in order to Lesly's sacrament, I rose early in the morning, and after fome review of my former ways and serious thoughta fulness of the design of the present duty, I did in prayer pour out my loul to God, confessing fins; and I dare not say, but it was with some tender sense of the dishonour done to God, and of the wretch'd unkind. ness that is in them to God. Original sin imputed and inherent were both heavy, and my particular evils. I did solemnly renew my engagements to the Lord, accepting of Christ according to the gospel-offer and terms, and did endeavour particularly to act faith on
him, with respeEt to the ministerial endowments, and did devote myself to him in that service. .
May 1, 1700, being the day of his ordination. This morning I renewed my engagements to God, and accepted of Christ upon the gospel.terms, casting myself over upon him, not only for what belongs to me as a private Christian, but as a minister, eyeing his strength for throw bearance in the whole of the work particul. arly pleiding, for his presence this day; I cannot
deny his presence in secret, Mr. Alexander Pitcairn • minister in Kilmeny preached the ordination-fermon
on Hebrews xiii. 17. Where he insisted upon the watchmen's dury; I cannot deny, but my heart was much weighted with the sense of the greatness of the work ; and after I had answered the questions put to me concerning my soundness in the faith, and the sincerity of my purposes in undertaking the office and work of the holy ministry, I was ordain'd. Lord thou knowelt what my heart's desire to thee was in the time. O Lord help, and thro' grace I fall lay out myself for gaining finners to thee.
Being thus entered into the ministry,he studied and prepared his sermons with much serious secret prayer for divine assistance and direction in his work, and for a successfull blessing upon the word, both to him. self and his hearer3.. .
His practise also was to review and remark his be. haviour, and acquitting himself in public duties, as to what assistance and enlargement he obtained. as to the gravity, seriousness, tenderness in his own frame, as to his concern for the souls of hearers, as to the warming of his affections with the comforts and ravishing sweetness of divine truths. And when he was remarkably helped, ir issued in thanksgiving toGod, and watching against vain pride and self, that that might not rob the Lord of the glory of his free grace.
When otherwise, it was matter of humiliation to him. ." Knowing that he was called to watch for souls,
as one that must give an account,' he had the weight of the ministerial charge much upon his spirit: He wastherefor at pains to acquaint himself with the spiritual state of the souls of his flock, that he might be the more capable of dealing with them for their edification according to their particular cases. In order thereunto, so far as health and strength did allow, he was diligent in visiting all the families within his parilh, in instructing his people by the familiar way of catechi. fing, and in marking their proficiency in the knowlege of the truths of the gospel. At some seasons allo, especially when he was about to administer the sacrament of the Lord's supper,he conversed severally with such who were to be admitted unto that holy ordinance; not to bring them unto auricular cong fessions, but to try. what sense they had of serious re. ligion and practical godliness, what efficacy and influence the word of God had upon them, and what fruits of the preached gospel were to be found in them, that accordingly he might deal with their consciences, and rightly divide unto them the word of truth. Take one instance of this in his own words, as they are found written, July 8, 1703; when he had la: boured about three years in the ministry at Ceres.
I've, faith he, spent now about a month in con: verse with my people, and I observe the few follow• ing things.
1. That of three or four hundred persons there were not above forty, who had not at one time or 0. ther been in more or less awakened by the word tho! with far the greater part it came no length; whence notwithstanding it follows, 1. That where there is a faithful ministry, it is not like, but most part are at one time or other in so far touch'd, as will be sure to issue in a dreadful aggravation of their guilt in quenching the spirit, and putting out light : For it so many were touch'd, so that they could remember of it, how many moe may have been so, who have