IN the noble army of martyrs during the period of prelatic
persecution in Scotland (1662-88), Cargill helds a prominent and distinguished
position. One of the clearest-minded and most heroic of men, he fought a battle
for truth and liberty which may well secure for him a warm place in our hearts;
and although, judged by present-day standards, he may some the s appear
provokingly narrow and scrupulous, our judgment to be just must take account of
the widely-different character of the age in which he lived, and the peculiar
difficulties and trials of his life. By a recent writer he has been truly
described as "a faithful watchman, moody, and self-mortified," yet, with all
his moodiness and sorrowfulness, "a man most affectionate, mild, and
charitable, who within the boundary line of certain fixed ideas could
vigorously think out his subject, and express his thoughts with great nerve and
Moreover, for the views he held and the principles he inculcated, he was willing to suffer and to die. He did not, as some ungracious pastors do, shew his people the steep and thorny way to heaven, while treading himself the primrose path of dalliance. On the contrary, while his heart was subject to the operations of divine grace, his whole life was permeated by his faith in the Unseen.
"He had perceived the presence and the power of greatness; and deep feeling had impressed Great objtects on his mind, with portraiture And colour so distinct, that on his mind They lay like substance, and almost seemed To haunt the bodily sense."
Of his early life little is known beyond the fact that he was born at Rattray, in Perthshire, in or about the year 1619, and was the oldest son of a heritor of that parish, "a singularly godly gentleman." The situation of the parish is a pleasant one, bounded, as it is, on the west and south by the water of Ericht, which separates it from Blairgowrie, while from an early period, as we learn from Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account, the the of the inhabitants was happily divided botween weaving and farming. To the south-east of the village there is a rising ground, known by the name of Castle Hill, upon which a large building once stood, doubt less the residence of the family of Rattray. About two miles north of the village is Craighall, a fine mansion standing upon a rock overhanging the river, at a height of about two hundred feet, and once a place of strength.
Here Sir Walter Scott spent the greater part of the suner of 1793, and Lockhart, in his Life of the novelist, mentions that the latter told him that Craighall was the original of Tullyveolan in Waverley. Not far from the village is a well- known salmon pool, which is called Keith Fishing, and which may often have attracted young Cargill, if his tastes and habits at all resembled these of Guthrie of Fenwick, which, however, is doubtful. The mode of fishing was curious, and is described in the following passage which we borrow from the Statistical Account already mentioned :-" They make what they call a drimuck, resembling thin wrought mortar, which they throw into the water to disturb the clearness of the water. The fishers stand upon the point of the rock with long poles and nets upon end of thern, with which they rake the pool and take up the fish."
From Rattray Cargill went to school at Aberdeen, for what reason we cannot conjecture. The parish schools were then excellent, thanks to Knox's foresight and love of learning ; but for family or personal reasons Aberdeen may have had attractions for the young student, which his father's position enabled him to enjoy without difficulty. As his name appears in the list of students who matriculated in St. Salvator College, St.. Andrews, in 1645, one is left to imagine all sorts of things as to what may have hindered him from entering the University sooner, or at last have induced him, at the ago of twenty-five or twenty-six, to take so important a step.
On his return from Aberdeen, where he is believed to have completed his elementary education, had he settled down to a mercantile or agricultural life, until lifted and borne along by the wave of religious and patriotic enthusiasm which, swept over the land in 1638? Or was it the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643 which sent a thrill of joyful expectation through his soul, and ultimately secured him for the work of the ministry, as we know, from the St. Andrews copy of that venerable document, it secured his signature? Timid and despondent by nature, he may have long wished to serve Christ and his country publicly, yet have been deterred through a sense of his own insufficiency. Or his love of learning from the first may have been so slight that he never dreamt of prosecuting his studies at college until constrained to do so by the force of conscience in a the of national peril and enthusiasm. So far as we can learn, he never graduated at St. Andrews or elsewhere, probably feeling himself unable to do so, or so much engrossed with public affairs as to set little value on such an honour. Indeed, to these familiar with this period of Scottish history, it cannot fail to afford matter for continual surprise that the work of our schools and colleges could have been carried on at all, and the excitement and confusion which prevailed. When the disputes between Cavaliers and Covenanters, Resolutioners and Protesters, divided the professors and students into separate camps, it could scarcely be expected that the calm and leisure required for successful study should remain unbroken. Referring to the Glasgow College, Robert Baillie says:- " These diverse months all discipline has been loose among us. . . . no examinations at the end of the year, no solemn laureation, nor much attendance on classes." A similar state of things, only probably much worse, prevailed in St. Andrews, where, after the battle of Philipshaugh (September, 1645), the more distinguished prisoners were tried in the large hall of the University Library, and Parliament sat from the 26th of November till February 6th, 1646. The excitement was all the greater that Montrose, whom Leslie defeated at Philipshaugh, had been a student of St. Andrews, and had many friends and sympathisers there. Still the Covenantors, with Argyll at their head, were jubilant at their victory, and spared not the captive Cavaliers; and while mourning over their fate, and recording the names and titles of these who were decapitated by the " Maiden," or Scotch guillotine, which was brought over from Dundee for that purpose, even Andrew Lang admits that, "in attempting to estimate the conduct of the clergy and Argyll, we must not forget hew much Argyll had suffered from Montrose, who had sacked his country, and how much the populace of Scotland had endured from the savagery of Montrose's Irish." A few month's later, immediately before the coronation of Charles II. at Scone, St. Andrews was once more the scene of unusual excitement. The house is still pointed out where Charles lodged during this memorable visit, when the silver keys of the city were delivered to him, and Samuel Rutherford lectured him well on the duties of kings. This was the the when, in ordinary course, Cargill should have taken his degree, and charity forbids that we should demand any other reason for his failure to do so than the unsettled state of public affairs.
Perhaps, hewever, it was partly due to his natural timidity and self-depreciation, which also almost succeeded in turning him aside from the ministry. Notwithstanding his father's express desire that he should enter this profession, it seemed for a the , on completing his course of philosophy, as though he would be unable to muster sufficient courago and resolution. Fears came to him, as they have come to other holy men. The work, he said, was too great a burden for his weak shoulders, and he was too unworthy. At length, during a day which he had set apart for special prayer and fasting, that he might consider and enquire regarding the Lord's will in the rnatter, the words of Ezekiel ch. iii. I "Son of man, eat this roll and go speak unto the house of Israel," were borne so strongly in upon his mind, that he felt compelled to throw aside his scruples and devote himself to the study of theology. According to Professor James Wodrow, the father of the historian, who was a fellow-student and on terms of intimacy with him, he was peculiarly shy and reserved, troubled with sore temptations, too, which occasionally assumed an alarming form, and almost led him, oftener than once, to put an end to his life his sense of sin was strong, and his doubts and fears most disquieting; though gradually, like Bunyan's Pilgrim, with the aid of the promises, he escaped from this Slough of Despond. In a short paper which he wrote and signed immediately before his death, he makes the following statement:-" It is near thirty years since He made it sure, and since that time ( though there has fallen out much sin), yet I was never out of an assurance of his interest, nor long out of sight of his presence, He has dandled me and kept me lively, and never left me behind, though I was oft for turning back."
On the 13th April, 1653, he was licenced by the Presbytery of St. Andrews, and two years later, in the spring of 1655, he was ordained minister of the Barony Church, Glasgow. When the call to this charge was first presented to him, he felt much disposed to decline it, and, indeed, was in the act of leaving the city that he might escape further solicitation. But just as he was mounting his horse a woman said to him, "Sir, you have promised to preach on Thursday: have you appointed a meal for poor starving people, and will you go away and not give it? If you do, the curse of God will go with you." This address so moved him that he relinquished his purpose and remained, asking her and others at the same the to pray for him that he might have grace to be faithful. His faith was also strengthened by this curious coincidence, that the text prescribed by the Presbytery for his trial discourse was the very one from Ezekiel which he had formerly received as a message from God. This circumstance confirmed him more in the conviction that the call was from God, and that He would not send him a warfare on his own charges, but would make His grace sufficient for him, and perfect His strength in his weakness. The charge to which he was now appointed had been left vacant in the spring of 1653, by the death of Zachary Boyd, whose name is honourably associated with the University of Glasgow, in which he held successively the offices of Dean of Faculty, Rector, and Vice-Chancellor, and which still possesses his portrait and bust, the former in the Senate Room, and the latter in the Hunterian Museum. Mr. Zachary, as he was generally called, had been minister of the Barony from 1623, and at his death left to the University a large sum of money, as well as his library and MSS., from which splendid legacy the old College Buildings in High Street were erected, under the care of Principal Gillespie. At the the Cargill entered upon his pastorate the melanchely dispute between the Resolutioners and Protesters, which then divided and distracted the Church, was at its height, and the feelings of bitterness and wrath engendered by it had already helped to prolong this vacancy. But the opposition, which had hitherto been offered to the settlement of a protesting minister, was now withdrawn, and the vacant pulpit was again filled by an earnest and faithful preacher of the Gospel.
At the Reformation, in 1560, Glasgow could boast of only 4,500 inhabitants, for whose spiritual wants the Cathedral also known as St. Mungo's and the high Church - was provided and was served by one minister. In 1588 a second was appointed as colleague, while in 1592 another congregation was formed and another minister provided. For this new congregation the old Church of St. Mary's was repaired, but from the fact that the "tron" or public weights were kept in the steeple it received the name of the Tron Church, which it retains to this day. This addition to the number of city congregations was soon followed by another, in which our readers may be expected to feel a special interest. The inhabitante of "the paroch of Glasgow, without the town and territory of the samen," having applied to have a minister for themselves, their application was considered and approved, and in July, 1595, the Rev. Alexander Rowat was ordained as the first minister of the Barony. The place assigned to him and his congregation for worship was the crypt of the Cathedral, which is the finest in the kingdom, and to which Scott refers in the following extract from Rob Roy: "Conceive an extensive range of low-browed, dark, and twilight vaults, such as are used for sepulchres in other countries, and had long been dedicated to the same purpose in this, a portion of which was seated with pews and used as a church. The part of the vaults thus occupied, though capable of containing a congregation of many hundreds, bore a small proportion to the darker and more extensive caverns which yawned around what may be called the inhabited space. In these waste regions of oblivion, dusky banners and tattered escutcheons indicated the graves of these who wore once doubtless princes in Israel. Inscriptions which could only be read by the painful antiquary, in language as obsolete as the act of devotional charity which they implored, invited the passengers to pray for the souls of these whose bodies rested beneath."
Such was the Laigh Kirk or Barony, where the people assembled to whem Cargill was appointed to preach, while the Cathedral itself was by this the divided into two parts, providing acconodation for two separate congregations, each of which was served by two ministers. In the Inner or High Kirk were James Durham, the author of Conentaries on the Song of Solomon and the Apocalypse, whe married the widow of Zachary Boyd and died in 1658, and John Carstares, the father of an eminent man, who afterwards became the trusty friend and councillor of William III. In the Outer Kirk were Patrick Gillespie, whe became Principal of the University in 1653, but continued to held his ministerial office, and Andrew Gray, who married a daughter of Robert Baillie of Jerviswood, and died on the 8th Feb., 1656, in the third year of his ministry. Gray was succeeded by Robert M'Ward, who was born in Glenluce, and afterwards, during his exile in Holland, becamo the minister of the Scotch Church in Rotterdam, where he died in 1681, at the age of 54.
Cargill's congregation was entirely distinct from the other two, though all met under the same roof; yet, doubtless, he and his colleagues were closely joined together in ministerial fellowship and work. From the minutes of Session of August and September, 1656, it appears that both congregations overhead were large and flourishing. The magistrates, we there learn, were requested to increase the acconodation in both places, "in regard that they do not contain these that come to hear on Sabhath and week days;" and after consideration an Act was issued that the Kirks should be "enlarged by lofting and otherwise as shall be convenient." Let us hope that Cargill was gracious enough not to grudge his brethren either their superior acconodation or their overflowing congregations.
From a Report drawn up in 1656 by one of Cromwell's officers, and addressod to the "Right Honourable the Conissioners of Appeals," we extract the following interesting passage: "Glasgow is a very neat burghe towne, lying upon the banks of the river Clyde, which, riseing in Annandale, runns by Glasgow and Kirkpatrick, disburthening itself into the frith of Dunbarton. This towne, seated in a pleasant and fruitful soil, and consisting of 4 streets handsomely built in forme of a cross, is one of the most considerablest burghs of Scotland, as well for the structure as trade of it. The inhabitants, all but the students of the College which is here, are traders and dealers: Some for Ireland with small smiddy coales in open boats from four to ton tonnes, from whence they bring hoops, ronges, barroll-staves, meal, oats, and butter: Some for France with pladding, coales, and bering (of which there is great fishing yearly in the western sea), for which they return saltpetre, rozin, and prunes: Some to Norway for timber; and every one with their neighbours the Highlanders." Twelve vessels, carrying 957 tons in all, formed then the mercantile fleet of what is now one of the principal seaports in the British Empire. At first a more bishop's burgh, its Provost and three Bailies being appointed by the Archbishop, it took its place, in 1636, among royal burghs; and in 1641 it was erected into a temporal lordship in favour of the Duke of Lennox, to whom at the same the was transferred the right of nominating the magistrates. As yet, hewever, Glasgow was a comparatively small town, its population, even in 1660, having reached only 14,600. Two years before Cargill's ordination, a. great fire had destroyed a third part of it, and left many families homeless and destitute. This proved a blessing in more ways than one, the houses and shops destroyed being soon replaced by others of a more substantial kind, while the temporal losses of the people made them more susceptible to spiritual impressions.
It was a the of much religious interest, when, notwithstanding the unhappy disputes by which the Church was divided, the cause of Christ prospered in no ordinary degree. Kirkton, the historian of the Church, speaks of "the great success the Word preached had in sanctifying the people of the nation;" and a godly minister, who survived the persecution and was privileged to see and enjoy many of the fruits of the Revolution Settlement, gives the following remarkable testimony :-" When I compare the the s before the Restoration with the the s since the Revolution, I must own that the young ministers preach accurately and methodically; but there was far more of the power and efficacy of the Spirit, and the grace of God went more along with sermons in these days than now. For my part, (all the glory be to God), I seldom set foot in a pulpit in these the s, but I had notice of some blessed effects of the Word." Thus, according to a well-known principle of the divine government, was God evidently preparing Scotland for the fiery trial through which she was to pass. We have no specimens of Cargill's preaching in the Barony; but, if we may judge from his character and future career, we need not doubt that be sought to declare to his people the whele counsel of God, and that he did this with all the greater urgency and fulness that lie could not fail to discern, from many significant events, the disastrous the s that were approaching.
Soon after his ordination he married Margaret Brown, widow of Andrew Bethune of Blebo, who died within a year. Her three sons and two daughters by her former husband doubtless remained under his care and received as much attention from him as though they had been his own children. Little, however, is known of him at this timo, beyond the fact stated by Wodrow "that he was a pious and zealous minister, and a successful preacher of the Gospel."
The year 1662 is memorable in Scottish history on account of the dishonourable attempt of Charles II. to re-establish Prelacy in Scotland contrary to the religious convictions of the nation and his own solemn oath. His Restoration to the throne two years before had created much joy in every part of the island, and nowhere more than in Scotland. Notwithstanding their painful and protracted sufferings on his account, none wore more faithful in their allegiance or more willing to upheld and defend his cause, even with their lives, than the Scottish people. Without pausing to consider the probable consequences of their act, they had proclaimed him king at the Cross of Edinburgh, inediately on receiving the tidings of his father's death; in the following year they welcomed him with open arms when he landed on their shores; and at the battle of Dunbar (September 3, 1650), in which they were defeated by Cromwell and the English, no fewer than 3000 fell, among whom were several ministers. Notwithstanding their long experience of the heartless duplicity and treachery at which he was so thorough and accomplished an adept, with that loyalty for which Scotchmen have always been proverbial they hailed with delight his accession to the throne of his fathers on the 29th May, 1662. Soon, however, their laughter was turned into heaviness, and their joy into mourning. Early in the following year two Acts were passed by which their liberties were overthrown, the Act of Supremacy which appointed the king as supreme judge in all matters civil and ecclesiastical, and the Act Rescissory whereby the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant were publicly repudiated, and all the proceedings in connection with the work of Reformation declared rebellious and treasonable. Moreover, these measures were accompanied by events of the most painful and ominous character. On the 27th of May, 1661, the noble Marquis of Argyll, the tried and trusty champion of freedom, was beheaded, and not many days later the Rev. James Guthrie, of Stirling, " the short man who could not bow," was also led to the scaffold. These zealous and faithful defenders of Presbytery being thus removed, Charles issued a proclamation, announcing his resolution "to interpose his royal authority for restoring the Church of Scotland to its right government of bishops, as it was before the late troubles." Four ministers vere elected to fill the episcopal office (namely, Sharp, Fairfoul, Hamilton, and Leighton), on whose return from London, where they had received episcopal ordination, the Scottish Parliament passed an Act, restoring them to all their ancient prerogatives, both temporal and spiritual. Many ministers having refused to acknowledge their authority, it was further enacted that, in the event of continuing to do so, they should be banished from their manses, parishes, and presbyteries, and their churches declared vacant. On this occasion Fairfoul, whe was now Archbishop of Glasgow, judging all others by himself, as such men are wont to do, loudly asserted that there would not be ten who would risk their stipend by refusing to conform. But, as on another and more recent occasion, (The Disruption of 1843) God had reserved far more in the land for Himself and His service than their enemies ever imagined, and, when the day of trial came, between three and four hundred ministers sacrificed their worldly all for the honour of Christ and the freedom and purity of His Church.
Fourteen belonged to the Presbytery of Glasgow, and among these, as one would naturally expect, was Donald Cargill of the Barony. Indeed on this, as on other occasions, he enjoyed the enviable notoriety of being singled out as the special object of prelatic hatred and oppression. A few months earlier, on the 29th of May, he had exposed himself to grave suspicion and censure. The day had been appointed as one of thanksgiving in conemoration of "the King's birth and blessed Restoration," and in some places was signalised by acts of the most wanton and profane description. In Edinburgh, for example, the Covenants were torn in pieces by the conon hangman, and in Linlithgow ignominiously burned. Meanwhile, a very different scene was enacted in the Barony. It happened to be the very day on which Cargill was accustomed to give his weekly lecture, and, on entering the pulpit and seeing the church unusually crowded, he observed "We are not come here to keep this day on the account for which others keep it. We thought once to have blessed the day wherein the king came home again, but now we think we shall have reason to curse it; and if any of you come here in order to the solemnising of this day, we desire you to remove." These and similar words so stirred the hatred of his enemies that soon afterwards an attempt was made to apprehend him, though fortunately witheut success. As the soldiers entered by the door he escaped by another, and they had to content themselves with locking the door and taking away the keys of the church. A few months later, in October, 1662, the following Act was emitted by the Council, in which referonce is made to the preceding incident.
"Information being given that Mr. Donald Cargill, minister of the Barony Church of Glasgow, has not only disobeyed the Acts of Parliament for keeping an anniversary day of thanksgiving for his Majesty's happy Restoration, and for obtaining a lawful presentation and collation from the Archbishop of Glasgow before the 20th of Sept., last, but that also his carriage hath been seditious, and that he hath deserted his flock, to their great prejudice, by want of the ordinances, therefore the Lords of Council declare the foresaid church to be vacant, and at the disposal of the lawful patron. And for avoiding the inconveniances that may follow by his residing at Glasgow or places near adjacent, they conand and charge the said Mr. Donald Cargill not to reside in any place on the South side of the river Tay, and to cause transport his family and what belongs to him out of the town of Glasgow before the 1st Nov. next to come: with certification that if he be found to contravene and be seen on this side of Tay, he shall be apprehended, imprisoned, and proceeded against as a seditious person."
It was, doubtless, a fortunate circumstance that the district to which he was banished was one with which, both by birth and marriage, he was already closely connected. The mansion of Blebo, his wife's former heme, stands and wooded picturesque grounds a few miles to the east of Cupar, and not far from St. Andrews. Containing, as it did not long ago, the portraits of Cardinal Beaton and of Archbishop Sharp, the latter by the Archbishop's daughter, it is difficult to think of it as affording shelter to the persecuted Covenanter. Strange things, however, have often happened; and during his enforced exile, north of the Tay, the minister of the Barony may have turned his steps to Blebo, as well as Rattray, and in both have found frequent and precious opportunities of preaching the glorious gospel of Christ. If Samuel Rutherford's banishment to Aberdeen, and Walter Pringle's to Elgin, proved a blessing to these northern cities, there is nothing to prevent us from supposing that Cargill's enforced residence in Fife and Perthshire may have been followed by similar results. Indeed, to a larger extent than is generally known, the enemies of the Gospel in this way scattered its blessings broadcast over Scotland, and other lands too. Holland, so long a place of refuge to our exiles, received more than it gave, and these who crossed the English Border, especially from the Merse and Teviotdale, carried with thern an abundant blessing to many districts in Northumberland.
Cargill's heart, hewever, remained with his people in Glasgow.
For the next two or three years, as we learn from various sources, he continued to lurk in and around the city, embracing every opportunity that offered itself of ministering to his people, either in their own homes or in the fields. This, of course, was done at the risk of liberty and life, which, however, like Paul, he counted not dear unto himself that he might finish his course with joy, and the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus to testify the Gospel of the Grace of God. It also exposed him to serious anxieties and privations, which injuriously affected his health, and for a the almost deprived him of his voice. Still, so great even then was his desire to be engaged in his Master's service, that when his friend, the Rev. John Blackadder, was invited to preach in the neighbourhood he agreed to share the work with him on the next Sabbath. The text he chose was, Is. xliv. 3, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground, I will pour My blessing upon thy seed and My blessing upon thine offspring." When the people saw him rise to address them, they were afraid they would not be able to hear; and yet he preached with so much power that Mr. Blackadder afterwards said, "Ye that have such preaching have no need to invite strangers to you - make a good use of your mercy."
We have not been able to find any trace of this particular sermon; but some notes of others which we have in our possession may, hewever meagre, afford us an idea of his style as a preacher. We cannot, of course, claim that his sermons were of equal value, or that they were even accurately reported. Indeed, his occasional quaintness, and even obscurity, must have made this task peculiarly difficult. Yet there is always evidence of clear thought and earnest and devout application; and though the expression with which his enemies occasionally taunted him, "one word more," seems to have been often on his lips, he was remarkable for brevity both in prayer and in preaching. Once, when remonstrated with on this point by these who would fain have listened longer to his words, and who said: "0, Sir! Lis long betwixt meals, and we are in a starving condition," he replied, "Ever since I bowed a knee in good earnest to pray, I never just pray and preach with my gifts; and where my heart is not affected and comes not up with my mouth, I always thought it the for me to quit it. What comes not from my heart I have little hope that it will go to the heart of others."
Frequently, hewever, as appears from the notes in our possession, he preached from the same text on different occasions, not repeating himself at any length, but only recapitulating at the outset the principal thoughts he had already expressed, and then proceeding to present another aspect of the subject. This may account for the apparently incomplete and fragmentary character of some of his sermons, which originally formed part of a series, and wore delivered even at considerable intervals of the . Thus, Howie's Collection contains two on John viii. 34-36, the one preached near Glasgow, and the other, a month later, at Quarrel-Holes, on the Duneaton Water, near Elvanfoot; while on another text (1 John, iii. 8) we have evidence of three sermons having been delivered later still, and at intervals of ten or fourteen days, all short and containing passages in Cargill's best and most characteristic style. The lengthened interval suggests at the s the dangers to which he was exposed, some of his sermons, indeed, giving evidence, by their brevity and abrupt ending, of being interrupted by the approach of the soldiers.
In reading these sermons, even in their obviously imperfect form, it is easy to see that one secret of his popularity was that indescribable quality of preaching known as "unction," more common long ago than now, which appeals to the emotional part of our nature, and suggests that the preacher believes and feels what he says. Thus he begins the last of his sermons on I John, iii. 8, in the following lofty strain "0, sweet Author, and 0, sweet action! The Son of God, sweeter there cannot be. He hath a heart to love, a mouth to kiss, arms to embrace, a bosom to comfort, a back for our burdens, and a hand to Inelp us. But as he is a sweet Author, so there is a sweet action. I say, a sweet action. What is the action? Redemption and conversion, liberation and conversation. What liberation? Liberation from the greatest and basest of thraldoms, and the greatest and gloriousest of liberties. What is lower than devils, and what is higher than Christ? What is more base than Satan's drudgery and what is more glorious than Christ's freedom? But 0, sweet conversion! What is conversion? It is to raise up a princess out of ashes, and when she is risen, to place her and set her in glory, that she may be eternal and return to ashes no more. Now we shall say that word over again, 0, sweet Author, and 0, sweet action!"
IT may serve to illustrate the spirit and character of the men now in power, as well as their persistent yet unsuccessful attempts to change the religion of a people, if we refer briefly to some of the Acts passed between 1662 and 1669, when, for political reasons, the first Indulgence was granted to the Presbyterians. In August, 1663, it was enacted that all the non-conforming ministers, with their families, should remove from their parishes within three weeks, and not be allowed, under pain of sedition, to reside within twenty miles of the same, or within six miles of Edinburgh or any Cathedral, or three miles of any royal burgh. This, which was known as the Scots Mile Act, was followed by another, whose principal object was to compel the people to attend the services of the curates, who were the unworthy successors of the outed ministers, and frequently were very ignorant and dissipated men. In case of refusal, each nobleman, gentleman, or heritor was to suffer the loss of a fourth part of that year's rent in which he was accused and convicted: every yeoman, tenant, or farmer the loss of such a proportion of their moveables as his Majesty's Council should think fit, not exceeding a fourth part thereof : while every burgess was to lose the right of trading, and all other privileges within the burgh, together with a fourth part of his moveables. This Act, known as the "Bishops' drag-net," was frequently altered, amended, and confirmed in the interests of the Bishops, and however unsuccessful in attaining its object to their satisfaction, was, nevertheless, justly regarded by them as thoir strongest Charter.
In January, 1664, at tho instigation of Archbishop Sharp of St. Andrews, a new Court corresponding to the Star-Chamber of England, was established by royal prerogative, regarding which Wodrow observes: "the chief work of this High Commission is to maintain the Bishops, and to use the utmost endeavours that the Acts of Parliament and Council be executed. What an untowardly and ill-thriving weed was Prelacy in this kingdom! And what pains and force must be used to plant and maintain it! The authority of Parliament, it seems, is not enough, the executions of the Privy Council do not suffice, even when supported by the quarterings of the army. The Prelates must have this new Court set up for their support, and to put the laws made in their power into execution. It has also been compared to the lion's cave in the fable, where there were many footsteps going to the cave, but non returning! In 1666 another engine of cruelty was devised by Sharp, and brought into active use. The High Conission having failed and been dissolved, he hastened to London, and prevailed upon the King to levy a standing army "for guarding the Prelates, executing arbitrary conands, and suppressing the fanatics." This army was placed under the command of Thomas Dalziel of Binns, an exceptionally cruel and coarse man, whose cruelty at last goaded the people to insurrection, and whose name in some parts of the country is still remembered with detestation and regarded as one of evil omen. Another proclamation, also, was issued on October 11th of this year, according to which all masters were made responsible for their servants' conformity, all heritors for their tenants': magistrates of burghs had to answer for the conduct of the inhabitants, and, in case of refusal, masters, heritors, and magistrates were all subjected to the severest penalties.
Can we wonder at the existence of wide-spread disaffection, with a general disposition to break into open hostilities against the Government, or can we be surprised that the authorities themselves had begun to fear that they had carried their repressive measures a little too far, and destroyed their own cause by undue severity? Indeed, at this time the panic of the Council was extreme, and in the apprehension of an outbreak the Archbishop of Glasgow was hastily despatched to London to solicit a warrant, which was obtained and put in execution, for the inediate imprisonment of about twenty gentlemen in the West, among whom were General Montgomery, brother of the Earl of Eglinton, and Sir William Muir of Rowallan, the friend and neighbour of Guthrie of Fenwick. A rebellion actually did take place, on a small scale, which, however, proved premature and abortive. Provoked by the cruelty of Sir James Turner, one of Dalziel's officers, who was then harrying the country around Dumfries, some of the Covenanters succeeded in seizing him and disarming his troop. They then marchod to Lanark, where they renewed the Covenant, and emitted a Public Declaration, in which they justified their conduct in betaking themselves to the fields "for self-defence ;" after which they marched, by Bathgate, to Edinburgh, where they failed to obtain the support they expected, and in whose neighbourhood, at Bullion Green, they were finally defeated and dispersed. To this defeat of the Covenanters Lady Nairne refers in an exquisite poem, from which we quote the following stanzas;
" The pilgrim's feet here oft will tread
O'er this sequestered scene,
To mark where Scotland's martyrs lie
In lonely Bullion Green.
To muse o'er those who fought and fell,
All Presbyterians true
Who held the League and Covenant,
Who waved the banner blue
"Like partridge to the mountain driven,
Oh, lang and sairly tried!
Their cause they deemed the cause o' heaven,
For that they lived and died.
Together here they met and prayed,
Ah! Ne're to meet again
Their windin' sheet the bluidy plaid,
Their grave lone Bullion's Green.
"Ah! here they sang the holy strain,
Sweet Martyrs' melodie;
When every heart and every voice
Arose in harmonie.
The histenin' echoes all around
Gave back their soft reply;
While angels heard the hallowed sound,
And bore it to the sky.
"Oh! faithless King, hast thou forgot
Who gave to thee thy crown?
Hast thou forgot thy solemn oath
At Holyrood and Scone?
Oh! fierce Dalziel, thy ruthless rage
Wrought langesome misery;
What Scottish heart could ever gie
A benison to thee?
This event, which is known as the Pentland Rising, led, in
the first instance, to increased severity, and most cruel hardships and
sufferings among the persecuted; yet ere long, through a change of policy, a
momentary respite was obtained, and the Prelatists, so long accustomed to rule
without hindrance, were obliged to be satisfied with more moderate measures.
Sharp was dismissed from the management of affairs, and confined to his diocese
; the Earl of Rothes was stripped of all his offices except that of Chancellor;
while Lauderdale, who had always disliked the Prelatic domination, became the
sole and supreme master of Scotland. As Lord Maitland, the latter had at one
the been a zealous friend of the Covenanters, and had sat as one of the
Scottish Conissioners in the Westminster Assembly of Divines. At a later period
he joined the Engagers, and, after their defeat in 1643, had to do penance in
the church at Largs, which humiliation he never altogether forgave.Having
forsaken the Covenanters, and become a friend and favourite of Charles, he
rushed into a course of the wildest extravagance, and, even in that age of
bold, bad men, became prominent for his wickedness. By a strange turn in the
wheel of fortune, he was now at the head of affairs in Scotland, and,
fortunately for the country, he called to his aid a different class of men from
those who had been the willing tools of Middleton and Rothes. The most
distinguished of them was Sir Robert Moray, one of the most capable and
deserving of his age, and best known to posterity as one of the founders and
first president of the Royal Society of London. Having made a journey through
the West, he declared on his return that "the clergy were such a set of men, so
ignorant and so scandalous, that it was not possible to support them, unless
the greater part of them could be turned out, and better men found to be put in
their places, but it was not easy to know how this could be done." After this
we need not be surprised to learn that he was no favourite with the Prelates,
which fact, however, so far as Lauderdale was concerned, was rather a
reconendation than otherwise.
Supported by such men, and influenced by an inherent dislike to Prelacy, Lauderdale's first measures were of a moderate and conciliatory character. The large standing army was disbanded, only a small reserve force, such as had always existed since the Restoration, being retained. Sir James Turner and other officers like him wore prosecuted and punished for their cruelties and misconduct; an indemnity was promised to those who had been engaged in the recent insurrection, while greater leniency began to be shown towards the outed ministers. Of this an interesting illustration occurs in connection with the subject of this memoir. It will be remembered that ho had been banished north of the Tay, and threatened with serious penalties should he fail to obey this sentence. It will also be remembered that in his zeal for his flock he had contrived to minister to them in Glasgow and the neighbourhood, preaching to them in the fields, visiting them from house to house, and administering to them the sacraments. During all this the he had been exposed to great peril, but had hitherto escaped. Now, in November, 1668, the following proclamation appeared among others of a similar kind: "Whereas Mr. Donald Caigill was confined bermorth Tay, October 1st, 1662, and that under pain of sedition; and yet he hath repaired to the city of Edinburgh and other places at his pleasure, in high and proud contempt of authority, ordains the said Donald Cargill, by open proclamation at the Cross of Edinburgh and Forfar, to be cited to appear before the Council the 11th of January noxt, otherwise he shall be denounced simplicitor."
Under the former regime, this proclamation would probably have been ignored, and for an obvious reason, that to comply with it would mean destruction. But now, as more moderate measures prevailed, Cargill resolved to put in an appearance, and with this result, that, having been heard in his own vindication, he was dismissed without punishment, but ordered to comply with the injunction, and to remain henceforth within the limits formerly assigned. Later, however, having petitioned the Council to be allowed to come to Edinburgh about some business matters, his petition was considered favourably, and it was resolved that he be no longer confined north of the Tay, but that he bind himself "not to reside within the town of Glasgow upon any occasion whatsoever, nor in the towns of Edinburgh and suburbs thereof without warrant from the Lords of Session and Exchequer."
Another illustration of the conciliatory views at present prevailing in high places is furnished by the measure cononly termed the "Indulgence," which only served to embitter the struggle by splitting the Covenanters into two parties, as the Engagement had done with those of a former generation. This scheme originated in the desire to grant some liberty of conscience and of worship to those who wore not able to conform to the existing Establishment, and yet wished to be loyal subjects, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly. After frequent conferences between several Presbyterian ministers and Lord Tweeddale, who was high in favour at Court, a letter from the king was presented by him to the Council "to appoint so many of the outed ministers as have lived peaceably and orderly in the places where they have resided, to return and preach, and exercise other functions of their ministry in the parish churches whore they formerly resided and served (provided these be vacant), and to allow patrons to present to other vacant churches such others" as the Council would approve of. Those who were willing to take collation from the Bishops and to keep Presbyteries and Synods were to be allowed to lift their stipends, but for others who refused to do this a yearly maintenance was to be provided, in addition to the free use of the manse and the globe. The Indulgence, therefore, was a royal permission to exercise the functions of the ministry under certain proscribed conditions, reserving to the Government an authoritative right to superintend and control the ecclesiastical acts of the ministers. In view of the privations and sufferings of the outed ministers and their families, and tho desolate and distractcd condition of the Church, it may be interpreted as doing honour to the hearts of those who devised it. But to those who asked for bread it gave a stone, to those who asked a fish it gave a serpent. Refusing to recognise the Church's inalienable right to manage her own affairs, under the solo headship of Christ, it established an unhappy distinction between the indulged and non-indulged ministers, and made it morally certain that the sufferings of those who declined this arrangement would be increased rather than diminished. As a measure of worldly expediency it might perhaps commend itself to politicians and statesmen, but whatever the motives and intentions of those who framed it, it was a most insidious attack upon the spiritual freedom of the Church, and proved a serious bone of contention among ministers and people.
Three years later (September, 1672), a second Indulgence was granted, which also contained most objectionable conditions, and was suspected and condemned by many as an insidious attempt to secure the toleration, and, ultimately, the triumph of Popery. This, which extended to England as well as Scotland, and set John Bunyan free from his twelve years' imprisonment in Bedford Jail, was, if not conceived, at least concurred in by tho Duke of York, afterwards James II., who at this the openly connected himself with the Church of Rome. In it, as Wodrow observes, a greater favour was allowed to papists than dissenters. "Probably," he adds, "it was given to gratify French designs and to quiet matters at home, as much as might be, when engaging in a war with Holland, so much against the interest as well as inclinations of England. The like liberty, if not a greater, was expected in Scotland to Presbyterians, exclusive of Papists; and indeed here there was no colour for making the last sharers, and it is pretty certain the king did design it." Toleration, as understood by us, was even in Wodrow's day quite unknown, while in judging our forefathers and condemning them for their narrowness and intolerance, we aro apt to forget how intimate was the connection between Protestantism and liberty, and how difficult it was to believe that a Papist could ho loyal to the Constitution and the Throne. Viewed in its relation to Scotland, this second Indulgence provided (1) that the outed ministers should be thrown together by twos, threes, and fours, in selected parishes, the stipend being shared among them, and assurance given to " the regular and legal incumbents that no more shall be indulged" (2) that the indulged men must observe certain prescribed rules about baptising, marrying, observing the Lord's Supper, preaching only in the church, not leaving the parish without license from the Bishop, etc.; (3) that no other Presbyterian ministers except those indulged be allowed to exercise any part of their ministry, and that all outed ministers attend ordinances in the parishes where they live, or go and live in such places where they will attend. Among the forty-two ministers who accepted the first Indulgence, we look in vain for the name of Donald Cargill, and although in the Act announcing the second Indulgence his name is bracketed with another for Eaglesham parish, we are not surprised to learn that he refused to accept this favour, and continued as before assert and exercise his freedom. If we are right in supposing that it was at this time he found it expedient to leave his native country and visit Holland, where already so many faithful ministers from Scotland wore gathered, this is the place to introduce the following letter, which is undated, but which he sent to some friends beforo going abroad :(see letter on menu)
(The biography follows with another sermon - see Sermon Two on menu) .
ON his return from Holland, Cargill found to his cost that his fears regarding the unhappy results of the Second Indulgence were only too fully realised. As for a season it was attended with no small difficulties to such as accepted it, so, in the words of Wodrow, "it was followed with harsh enough treatment of the rest of the outed mimuistors who could not involve themselves in what appeared dubious to them." During several years that Cargill seems to have lived in or near Glasgow, he was exposed to serious peril, and had numerous hairbreadth escapes. On one occasion the soldiers came to his room but failed to find him, as he was providentially in another house. Several other ministers were seized that night in the city, yet he mercifully escaped. Another day, when hotly pursued on the street, he took refuge in a house which happened to belong to one of the soldiers; the man's wife - recognising him - refused to betray him, and kept him concealed until the search was over. On another occasion still, while conducting a meeting in the house of a gentleman called Mr. Callender, the soldiers surrounded the house and searched it diligently. The people who were present having put him and a friend outside the window and closed it up with books, he again escaped. Had the soldiers removed but one of the books, our informant tells us, they had infallibly apprehended him; but the Lord so ordered it that they refrained from doing so. Indeed when one of them was in the very act, a servant cried to the officer that he was about to take her master's books, and he was commanded to let them alone. These and other incidents are mentioned by his intimate friend, Sir Robert Hamilton of Preston, and whether accurately reported or not, we may be sure that his life at this the was beset with anxiety and danger. In 1673, there appeared a Royal Proclamation against Conventicles, denouncing the heaviest penalties upon heritors, life-routers, and others, who allowed or encouraged "those unwarrantable meetings either in houses or in the fields upon pretence of religion and religious exercises." Sheriffs and other magistrates were authorised and required to call such before them and inflict on them the aforesaid fines, whereof one third part was to be applied for the use of the said judges, another third part to the person giving information, and the remaining third to pass into the royal treasury.
Instead of repressing, or even reducing the number of such meetings, however, this and similar measures appear to have had the exactly opposite effect, and in the paper of grievances drawn up by the Glasgow Synod at their meeting on October 22nd, 1674, for the information of the Lord Commissioners and members of Parliament and of Privy Council, the following statement occurs :" That the Conventicles still abound more publicly and avowedly, notwithstanding of all the Acts and laws made against them, and these are kept by men that are indulged and others who are not." Then follow the names of nine ministers, "all indulged aud confined to other places, yet residing within the town of Glasgow," and among those offenders we at once discover the name of Donald Cargill.
The increase of Conventicles here complained of appears all the more remarkable from the fact that during the previous winter and spring the weather had been exceptionally severe, the people generally having been "hindered from ploughing till the 24th of March, and the third part of the cattle in Scotland having been destroyed for want."
To bring this state of things to an end, more severe measures were now passed, yet all without success. In the autumn of 1675 "letters of intercommuning" were issued by the Council against more than a hundred persons, sixteen or eighteen of whom were ministers, and one of these Cargill. The nature of these letters may be inferred from the following sentences towards the close: "We command and charge all and sundry our lieges and subjects that they, nor none of them, presume nor take upon hand to reset, supply, or intercommune with any of the foresaid persons, our rebels, for the causes foresaid, nor furnish them with meat, drink, house, harbour, victual, nor no other thing useful or comfortable to them, nor have intelligence with them by word, writ, or message, or any other manner of way, under the pain to be reputed and esteemed art and part with them in the crimes foresaid, and pursued therefore with all rigour, to the terror of others; requiring hereby all sheriffs, stewards, baillies of regalities and bailiaries and their deputies and magistrates of burghs to apprehend and commit to prison any of the persons above written, our rebels, whom they shall find within their respectivoejurisdictions, according to justice as you will answer to US thereupon."
Thus were these faithful servants of Christ driven from the society of men, and compelled, like the early Christians, to seek for shelter in dens and caves of the earth. Writing three years later (in 1678), Archbishop Burnet himself remarks: "All the force the King had was sent into the West country, with some cannon, as if it had been for some dangerous expedition ; and letters were writ to the lords of the highlands to send all the strength they could to assist the King's army. The Marquis of Athole, to show his greatness, sent 2,400 men; Earl of Breadalbane sent 1,700; in all 8,000 were brought into the country and let loose upon free quarter." These troops were also promised an indemnity against all civil and criminal proceedings for killing, wounding, apprehending, or imprisoning any who opposed them. Accustomed to rapine and spoil, and following their traditional methods, they soon raised such a storm, even among the loyal supporters of the Crown, that they had to be ordered home. Referring to the departure of this Highland host, Wodrow remarks:-"One would have thought they had been at the sacking of some besieged town by their baggage and luggage. They wore loaded with spoil, they carried away a great many horses and no small quantity of goods out of merchants' shops, whole webs of linen and woollen cloth, some silver plate bearing the names and arms of gentlemen." This experiment having failed, the Government next resolved on raising a standing army, for whose support they imposed a tax - the "cess," as it was commonly called. A bond also was attempted to be imposed on all heritors or proprietors, by which they were to undertake obligations, not only for themselves, but for their wives and children, and for their servants and tenants, that none of them should withdraw from their parish churches or be present at Conventicles, or be married or have their children baptized by any except the Episcopal clergy. When an attempt was made to remonstrate with Lauderdale against this monstrous proposal, in a towering passion he struck the Council table with his hand and swore "by Jehovah" he would compel them to enter into the bond. But brave men are not easily frightened, and ere long this furious persecutor had a striking illustration of the resolute attitiude of the Covenanters. 0n the high moorland between tho valley of the Tweed and that of the Leader stands a conspicinous eminence, known as the Blue Cairn. Here, on the Duke's own estate, a vast audience of about 4000 persons assembled to listen to the preaching of the Rev. William Veitch, one of the Duke's own relatives, and this meeting was repeated during several years, Veitch himself finding it possible to preside over it on more than one occasion.
Similar meetings were also held in different parts of the country, notwithstanding the strenuous attempts to prevent or disperse them. One which entailed disastrous consequences on some of the worshippers was held on the hill of Beath, near Dunfermline, and was presided over by the Rev. John Dickson and the Rev. John Blackadder. Some present were heavily fined, others were sent into exile and slavery, whilst two men, who were charged with the heinous offence of receiving baptism for their children, were cast into prison, from which they were ultimately liberated on finding security to the extent of 500 merks each. Occasionally the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered at these gatherings, and happily we are able to furnish a description of one of these Communions fiom the pen of the same Blackadder, who himself took a leading part in the service. This Communion was hold at East Nisbet, in Berwickshire, on the banks of the Whiteadder, and to prevent a sudden attack, pickets of twelve or sixteen armed men were stationed at convenient points. When these military preparations were made, "then," says Blackadder, "we entered on the administration of the holy ordinance, committing it and ourselves to the invisible protection of the Lord of Hosts, in whose name we were met together. . . . On either hand there was a spacious brae, in form of a half round, covered with delightful pasture, and rising with a gentle slope to a goodly height. Above us was the clear blue sky, for it was a sweet and calm Sabbath morning, promising to be indeed one of the days of the Son of Man. The Communion tables were spread on the ground by the water, and around them the people had arranged themselves in decent order. But the far greater multitude sat on the brae face, which was crowded from top to bottom, full as pleasant a sight as was ever seen of that sort."
During this reign of terror, Cargill preached for eighteen Sabbaths, publicly, in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, and, if we may judge from two sermons which we now insert,(see sermon 3 and 4) his preaching, far from being political or controversial, was characterisod mainly by its evangelical fervour and faithfulness. At this time, also, he received initelligence of the death of Col. Wallace, who had commanded the Covenanters at Pentland, and afterwards took refuge in Holland, where he remained till his death. From a manuscript in the Advocate's Library in Edinburgh, the following message from M'Ward to Cargill has been transcribed: "Great Wallace is gone to glory. I shut his eyes, while he went out of my sight, and was carried to see God, enjoy Him, and be made perfectly like Him in order to both. Forget not to give me a particular account, whethor there be any such agreement amongst those young men lately licensed with you." This closing sentence reminds us that even in such a time of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy, men wero found willing to offer themselves, in the ministry of the Word, for the service of Christ and his Church.
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