« AnteriorContinuar »
Directions anent private Christian Meetings;" together with a letter written by him when he was studying at Utrecht, to Janet Fimerton, a singular Christian, of deep exercises, high attainments, and great experience in the serious exercise and solid practice of godliness. The letter is a very excellent one, and speaks much for Smith's piety and Christian knowledge.
Two books are specified in Walter Smith's testimony
1. "The book which contains the Confession of Faith," etc. This is the volume that in Scotland usually bears the title of the Confession of Faith, although it includes the Catechisms, the Covenants, the Directory for Worship, and the Sum of Saving Knowledge. It is not known by what authority the Sum of Saving Knowledge has been put along with the others, for it has never been sanctioned by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The "Causes of God's Wrath" seems to have been bound up in the same volume in Smith's time. Wodrow assigns its authorship to James Guthrie of Stirling, who suffered at Edinburgh, June 1st, 1661. The first words of the full title fix its nature and date: "Some General Heads of the Causes why the Lord contends with the land, agreed upon, after seeking of the Lord, by the Commission of the General Assembly 1650, with the advice of divers ministers from several parts of the kingdom, met at Edinburgh 1651." One of the steps of defection from the Covenant mentioned is, "The authorising of commissioners to close a treaty with the King for the investing him with the government, upon his subscribing such demands as were sent to him, after he had given many clear evidences of his disaffection and enmity to the work and people of God, and was continuing in the same." The "Causes" was condemned, along with Rutherford's "Lex Rex," in a proclamation by the Committee of Estates, dated September 19, 1660, and both were burnt, October 17th, at Edinburgh, by the hand of the hangman. "No doubt," says Wodrow, "by order of the Commitee, though I do not observe any clause for this in the proclamation. It was much easier to burn those books than to answer the reasonings and facts in them." The "Causes" is now somewhat It occupies eighty-five pages in Henderson's collection of tracts, entitled "Testimony-bearing Exemplified," 12mo, Paisley, 1791.
2. Shepard's "Sound Believer." Thomas Shepard was a native of Northampton; but went out in 1635 to New England, and was speedily settled at Cambridge, where he was the chief means of erect
ing and endowing the well-known Harvard College, an institution that in this century has renounced the opinions of its founders, and become the chief seat of unitarian error. Shepard was an able and successful Gospel minister. His works, comprising twenty different publications, have been lately collected. He is best known on this side the Atlantic, by his "Parable of the Ten Virgins ;" and his "Sound Believer," a treatise on evangelical conversion; both of which have been frequently reprinted in this country.-ED.]
HE DYING TESTIMONY AND LAST WORDS of Mr WALTER SMITH, Student of Theology, who suffered at the Cross of Edinburgh, July 27, 1681
"DEAR FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES,-As I desire, while in the body, to sympathise somewhat with you, in lamenting your various cases, and the case of the Church, whereof we are the sons and daughters; so I must lay this request upon you, and leave it with you, that ye take some of your time, and set it apart particularly to solace your souls, in blessing and magnifying your God and my God, for the lot He hath decreed and chosen out for poor unworthy me, from eternity, in time, and to eternity; in the immediate enjoyment of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, incomprehensible and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth; and that, because He hath made me a man and a Christian. And now I set to my seal to all His truths revealed in His word, and particularly these:
"First, That He is one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But alas! who can think of Him? who can hear of Him, or write of Him aright? Oh! He is God! He is God!
"Secondly, That He made man perfect. And though we have destroyed and incapacitated ourselves to do anything that is right, while out of Christ, yet we are under the obligation of the whole law, which is the perfect rule of righteousness.
"Thirdly, That my Lord (yea, through free grace I can say, my Lord Jesus Christ), came to the world to save sinners. And,
though I cannot say that I have been the greatest of sinners, yet I can say, that He hath covered, pardoned, prevented, and hid from the world, sins in me that have been heinous by many aggravations.
Fourthly, That except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. My friends, this is the new birth, this is regeneration that I am speaking of, to which the great part, even of professors, I fear, will be found strangers.
"Fifthly, I set to my seal to the truth of that precious promise, Josh. i. 5, etc.; repeated, Heb. xiii. 5: For He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,' together with all the other promises to that purpose; and, I am sure, He hath carried me through divers conditions of life, many various and singular difficulties, and damping discouragements. But omitting these things, whereof the profane persecutors may as much boast as to the outward as any, He hath led me through the several steps of soul exercise, and the pangs of the new birth, into Himself. This, this, my friends, is the cognisance and distinguishing character of a saint indeed; and by this, and this only, we pass from death to life.
“And, as I adhere to the Confession of Faith and work of reformation (as I shall afterwards speak to), so particularly, I set to my seal to these truths, in the xviii. chapter thereof, anent the assurance of grace and salvation. Alas! the ignorance of this generation is great. My dear friends, I leave this as my last advice to you, make use of that book which contains the Confession of Faith, Catechisms, Sum of Saving Knowledge, Practical Use of Saving Knowledge, Directory for Worship, the Causes of God's Wrath, etc. And let none think this work below them; for the spiritual enlightening of the mind, which requires the literal with it, is the first work of the Spirit, after we first begin to come to ourselves, or rather to what we were in innocency, and ought to be by grace. But as to this, I do confidently refer you to Shepard's 'Sound Believer,' which, in my poor apprehension, is the soundest and surest ye can meet with.
"And Sixthly, I set to my seal to the Covenant of Grace, particularly that clause of it (Isa. lix. 21), 'As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; my spirit that is upon thee,' etc. And here I leave my testimony against all atheists, speculative (if there be any such) and practical, and all mockers at godliness, all formalists and hypocrites, Quakers and enthusiasts, who either pretend to the Spirit, neglecting the word, or lean upon the word, neglecting the teaching of
the Spirit. And what shall I more say, but by what of truth I have in experience seen, I am bold to believe what I have not seen; His testimony is a ground sufficient, and there can be no deceit under it.
"And now I am to die martyr; and I am as fully persuaded of my interest in Christ, and that He hath countenanced me in that for which I am to lay down my life, as I am of my being. And let the world and biassed professors say their pleasures, I am here in no delusion. I have the free and full exercise of reason and judgment; I am free of passion and prejudice, and, excepting that I am yet in the body, I am free of Satan's fire and fury. I have no bitterness nor malice at any living, so that what I am owning and dying for, I am solidly and firmly persuaded to be truth and duty, according to my mean capacity. And this is the main point this day in controversy, upon which I was peremptorily questioned, and desired positively to answer, yea or nay, under the threatening of the Boots, viz.: Whether I owned the King's authority as presently established and exercised; which I did positively disown, and denied allegiance to him, as he is invested with that supremacy proper to Christ Jesus only. And who knoweth not that at first he was constituted and crowned a covenanted King, and the subjects sworn in allegiance to him, as such, by the Solemn League and Covenant? This was the authority wherewith he was clothed; and the exercise of it was to be for God, religion, and the good of the subjects. And is not all this, as to God and His people, overturned and perverted? But secondly, The whole of this pleaded-for authority at present, is established on the ruin of the land's engagements to God, and to one another. But I say no more as to this. Consider things seriously, and ponder them deeply; zeal for God is much gone. Look to it, and labour to recover it; your peace shall be in it, as to duty; though Christ's righteousness, I see, is the only sure foundation.
"I leave my testimony against malignancy, ungodliness, and profanity, and whatsoever is contrary to sound doctrine, professed and owned by the reformed anti-erastian presbyterian party in Scotland, whereof I die a member and professor, being fully satisfied and content with my lot. And as to my apprehending; we were singularly delivered by Providence into the adversaries' hand, and, for what I could learn, were betrayed by none, nor were any accessory to our taking, more than we were ourselves; and particularly let none blame the Lady St John's Kirk in this. [It was the lady St John's Kirk who persuaded Smith and Boig, against Cargill's judgment, to leave the
house where Cargill would have passed the night, and go to Covington Mill, where all three were taken. Patrick Walker blames her very much.-ED.] I have no time to give you an account of the Lord's kindness and tenderness to us, in restraining the adversaries' fury. For they began very brisk, by making us lie all night bound, and expressly refused to suffer us to worship God, or pray with one another, until we came to Linlithgow. But the Lord hasteneth to come. Beware of going back. Wait for Him. Be not anxious about what shall become of you, or the remnant. He is concerned; His intercession is sufficient. Get Him set up, and kept up in His own room in your souls, and other things will be the more easily kept in theirs. Be tender of all who have the root of the matter, but beware of compliance with any, whether ministers, or professors, or adversaries.
"As to my judgment, insignificant as it is, I am necessitate to refer you to the draught of a paper which I drew at the desire of some societies in Clydesdale, entitled, "Some Steps of Defection,' etc. Beware of a spirit of bitterness, peremptoriness, and ignorant zeal, which hath been the ruin of some, and will be the ruin of more, if mercy prevent not. I was withdrawn from by some, as having given offence to them by my protesting against their way in a particular, wherein I am sure as to the manner they were wrong; and though they had been right, it was not a ground to have made such a separation from me, much less from those who joined with me. And if any division be longer kept up upon that account, they will find it a great iniquity, if rightly considered.
"I can get no more written, nor see I great need for it; for the testimonies of martyrs are not your rule. Farewell.
"From the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, July 27, 1681. "Sic subscribitur,
EING come to the scaffold, Walter Smith accosted the multitude to this purpose: "All ye beholders who are come here upon various designs, I entreat you, be not mistaken anent the cause of our suffering this day; for however ye may be misinformed, yet it is of verity that we are brought here upon the matters of our God; because we testified against the supremacy, and would not consent to the setting of Christ's crown upon the head of him who had by usurpation aspired thereto, contrary to his former engagements."