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fully attended for ordinary the preaching of the word at Revelaw, where Mr Erskine had his meeting-house, near about four miles from Dunse. In the summer-time, company could hardly be misled; and with them something to be heard, especially in the returning, that was for edification, to which I listened; but in the winter, sometimes it was my lot to go alone, without so much as the benefit of a horse to carry me through Blackadder water, the wading whereof in tharp frolty weather I very well remember. But such things were then easy, for the benefit of the word, which came with power.
The school-doctor's fon having, in his childish folly, put a pipe-stopple in each of his nostrils, I designing to pull them out, happened fo to put them up that he bled. Whereupon his father, in great wrath, upbraided me; and particularly said, Is that what you learned at Revelaw ? which cut me to the heart, finding religion to fuffer by me.
In these days I had a great glowing of affections in religion, even to a zeal for luffering in the cause of it, which I am very sure was not according to knowledge ; but I was ready to think, as Zebedee's children said, Matth. xx. 22. “ We are able.” I was raw and unexperienced, had much weakness and ignorance, and much of a legal disposition and way, then, and for a good time after, undiscerned. Howbeit I would fain hope, there was, under a heap of rubbish of that kind, “fome good thing toward “ the God of Israel” wrought in me. Sure I am, I was in good earnest concerned for a faving interest in Je. fus Chrift; my foul went out after him, and the place of his feet was glorious in mine eyes.
Having read of the fealing of the tribes, Rev. vii. Satan wove a snare for me out of it, viz. That the whole number of the elect, or those who were to be saved, was already made up; and therefore there was no room for me. How that snare was broken, I do not remember ; but thereby one may fee, what easy work Satan, brooding on ignorance, hath to hatch things which may perplex and keep the party from Christ.
At that time there was another boy at the school, Thomas Trotter of Catchilraw, whose heart the Lord had also touched : and there came to the school a third, one Patrick Gillies, a serious lad, and elder than either of us ; but theson of a father and mother, ignorant and carnal to a
pitch; which made the grace of God in him the more remarkable. Upon his motion, we three met frequently in a chamber in my father's houfe, for prayer, reading the feriptures, and spiritual conference; whereby we had some advantage, both in point of knowledge and tenderness. It was remarkable concerning the said Thomas, that being taken to the first Presbyterian meeting that was in the country after the liberty; where I suppose, the worthy and famous Mr James Webster, afterwards a minifter in Edinburgh, preached; he, upon his return from it, giving an account in the school concerning his being there, ridiculed the Whigs; the which I, who nevertheless was not there, was very sorry for, on no other account, I reckon, but that my father was one of that sort of people. But going afterward to the like meetings, he turned a very devout boy.
To bind myself to diligence in seeking the Lord, and to ftir me up thereto, I made a vow, to pray
times a-day: how many times, I cannot be positive; but it was at least thrice. It was the goodness of God to me, that it was made only for a certain definite space of time ; but I found it fo far from being a help, that it was really a hinderance to my devotion, making me more heartless in, and averse to duty, through the corruption of my nature. I got the time of it driven out accordingly: but I never durft make another of that nature fince, nor so bind up myself, where God had left me at liberty. And it hath been of some good use to me, in the course of my after life.
The school-house being within the church-yard, I was providentially made to see there, within an open coffin, in an unripe grave opened, the consuming body just brought to the consistence of thin mortar, and blackish : the which made an impresion on me, remaining to this day; whereby I perceive, what a loathsome thing my body must at length become before it be reduced to duft; not to be beheld with the eye but with horror.
In the course of years spent at the grammar-school, I learned the Latin rudiments, Despauter's grammar, anů all the authors, in verse or profe, then usually read in schools ; and profited above the rest of my own class, by means of whom my progress was the more floir. And before I left the school, I, generally, faw no Roman author, but what I found myself in some capacity to turn B 2
into English : but we were not put to be careful about proper English. Towards the end of that time, I was al. so taught Vossius's Elements of rhetoric ; and May 15. 1689, began the Greek, learned some parts of the New Teftament, to wit, fome part of John, of Luke, and of the Acts of the Apostles. And helping the above-mentioned Patrick Gillies, in the Roman authors, in our spare hours, I learned from him, on the other hand, some of the common rules of arithmetic, being but a forry writer. And this was the education I had at school, which I left in harvest 1689, being then aged thirteen years, and above five months.
PERI O D II.
From my leaving the grammar-school, to my laureation.
BEtween my leaving of the grammar-school, and my en
tering to the college, two years intervened. And here began more remarkably my bearing of the yoke of trial and affliction, the which laid on in my youth, has, in the wise disposal of holy Providence, been from that time unto this day continued, as my ordinary lot; one scene of trial opening after another.
Prelacy being abolished by act, of parliament, July 22. 1689, and the Presbyterian government fettled, June 7. 1690, and the curate of Dunfe having died about that time, the Presbyterians took pofleflion of the kirk, by the worthy Mr Henry Erikine's preaching in it on a Wednesday, being the weekly market-day; the soldiers being active in carrying on the project, and protecting against the Jacobite party. The purity of the gospel being new to many, it had much fuccess in these days, comparatively speaking; and in the harvest that year, my mother fell under exercise about her soul's case, and much lamented her mil-spent time ; and there was a remarkable change then made
her. My father, as well as myself, inclined that I should proceed in learning ; but apprehending the expence unequal to his worldly circumstances, was unwilling to bear the charges of my education at the college : whereupon he tried leveral means for effectuating the design otherwife, particulariy in the year 1690 ; but prevailed not,
Hereby Hereby I was discouraged, and had some thoughts of betaking myself to a trade ; the which being intimated to him, he flighted, as being resolved not so to give it over : and I entertained them not, but as the circumstances seemed to force them on me.
In the end of that year he took me to Edinburgh, and effayed to put me into the service of Dr Rule, principal of the college, not without hope of accomplishing it ; but one who had promised to recommend me to the Doctor, having forgot his promise, that essay was made in vain ; and I returned home, having got that notable disappointment on the back of several others.
Mean while the difficulties I had to grapple with, in the way of my purpose, put me to cry to the Lord in prayer on that head, that he himself would find means to bring it about. And I well remember the place where I was wont to address the throne of grace for it, having several times thereafter had occafion to mind it, in giving thanks for that he had heard the prayers there put up for that effect.
About, or before this time, was the melancholy event of Mr J. B-'s falling into adultery. He was born in Dunfe, and so an acquaintance of my father's ; and he was minister of the meeting-house at Mersington, and not young. This dreadful stumbling-block, laid especially at such a critical juncture as the Revolution, filled the mouths of the ungodly with reproach against the way of religion, and saddened the hearts of the godly to a pitch. I well know, that many a heavy heart it made to me, and remember the place where I was wont heavily to lament it before the Lord in secret prayer.
On the ist day of February 1691, it pleased the Lord to remove my mother by death, not having lain long fick. To the best of my knowledge, the was not above fifty-fix years of age, my father and the having lived together, in the state of marriage, from their youth, about thirty years. While the died in one room, my father was lying in another fick, as was supposed, unto death; and heavily received the tidings of her departure. Returning from bidding fome friends in the country to her burial, I met on the street one whom I asked concerning my father, that told me, in all probability he would never recover. This fo pierced me, that getting home, I went to the foot of the garden, and cast myself down on the ground, where, according to the vehemency of my passion, I lay grovelling and bemoaning my heavy stroke in the loss of my parents, looking on myself as an absolute orphan, and all hopes of obtaining my purpose now gone. Thus I lay, I think, till my eldest brother, a judicious man, came and spoke to me, and raised me up. But it pleased the Lord that I was comforted in the recovery
my father fome time after. About this time, I suppose, I myself was sick about eight days.
Some time after, my father, in pursuance of what had paffed betwixt him and the town-clerk, fent me, at his desire, to write with him. But whatever way they had concerted their business, he drew back, took no trial of me in the matter, and I returned. And that project was
But being, it would seem, put in hopes by my father of proceeding in learning, towards the middle of June I betook myself to my books again, which I had almost given over; and I applied myself to the reading of Justin at that time, the malt-loft being my closet: but beginning thus to get up my head, my corruption began to set up its head Loo; lo necessary was it for me to bear the yoke.
Mean while I was, that year, frequently employed to write with Mr Alexander Cockburn, a notary. "The favourable design of Providence therein, then unknown to me, I now see, since it could not be but of some use to help me to the style of papers; the which, since that time, I have had considerable use for. And thus kind Providence early laid in for it.
But here I was led into a snare by Satan and my corruption. Mr Cockburn being in debt to me on the foresaid account, I saw Dickson on Matthew lying neglected in his chainber ; and finding I could not get the money due to me out of his hand, I presumed to take away the book without his knowledge, thinking I might very well do it on the foresaid account. I kept it for a time ; but conscience being better informed, I saw my fin in that matter, and could no more peaceably enjoy it, though he never paid me; fo I restored it fecretly, none knowing how it was taken away, nor how returned ; and hereby the scandal was prevented. This, I think, contributed to imprets me with a special care of exact justice, and the neceflity of restitution in the case of things