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The temptation still continued, and one day he was on the point of throwing himself into an old coal pit, when that word struck him in the mind, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven." It put new life into him. His fears and doubts vanished, and his faith acquired the confidence that so strikingly appears in his after life.
He became minister of the Barony parish in 1654. Little, however, is known of him during his ministry, further than the general statement of Wodrow, that he was "a pious and zealous minister," and a "successful preacher of the Gospel." In 1662 he refused to keep the anniversary day of thanksgiving for the restoration of Charles II., and to accept a presentation from the archbishop of Glasgow; and in November he was banished north of the Tay.
He was at the battle of Bothwell Bridge-June 22, 1679-when he was severely wounded and taken prisoner, but was set free by his two captors when they found who he was. As soon as his wounds healed he went over to Holland; but after a short residence there he returned to Scotland, and lived in retirement at Queensferry. The escape he here made when surprised by his enemies, through Haughhead's grappling with the governor of Blackness until he got safely away, is detailed in the Appendix, in the "Brief Relation," etc., of Henry Hall. After this deliverance he preached much in company with Richard Cameron, until the fatal encounter at AirsmossJuly 22, 1680-left him well-nigh alone.
In September, before a great assemblage at the Torwood, half way between Larbert and Stirling, he pronounced sentence of excommunication upon Charles II., and the Dukes of York, Monmouth, Lauderdale, Rothes, Sir G. M'Kenzie, and Dalziel of Binns. The sentence itself is in the Appendix. The Government was now stirred up more than ever against him. On November 22, he was declared to be "one of the most seditious preachers," and "a villainous and fanatical conspirator," and a reward of 5000 merks offered to any one who should bring him in, dead or alive. In December following he made a second narrow escape from the governor of Blackness. He spent the next three months in England, where, according to Patrick Walker, "the Lord blessed his labours in the ministry to the conviction and edification of many souls."
In April 1681 he came back to Scotland, and passed his few remaining weeks in almost constant preaching. His last sermon was preached, July 10th, at Dunsyre, a parish in Lanarkshire on the confines of Midlothian, and on the watershed between the east and west
of Scotland. Next morning he was seized while in bed, and was immediately hurried on to Lanark, and thence to Glasgow; on the 15th he was brought before the Council in Edinburgh, and again on the 19th. His "interrogatories" and "answers" on both occasions are in Wodrow's History. During his imprisonment Professor Wodrow visited him. After some conversation, he asked how he found matters with him? Mr Cargill answered, "as to the main point, my interest in Christ, and the pardon of my sins, I have no doubts there; neither have I been ever shaken since the Lord's condescension to me in my extremity about twenty-five years ago, which I communicated to you a little after; and no thanks to me, for the evidence was so clear that I could, never since, once doubt."
He was tried on the 26th, along with Walter Smith, James Boig, William Thomson, and William Cuthill, martyrs whose testimonies are also in this volume. According to Patrick Walker, in "Some Remarkable Passages in the Life and Death of that singular Exemplary, holy in life, zealous and faithful unto the death, Mr Cargill," when he was first brought before the Council, "they were very fierce and furious against him, especially Chancellor Rothes." But, in the interval, Cargill's words at the examination, as well as the spectacle of Rothes, now in sore suffering upon his death-bed, [so remarkably in accordance with the martyr's answer to his threatenings: "My Lord Rothes, forbear to threaten me; for die what death I will, your eyes will not see it,"] had done much to allay their wrath; and it was proposed, that "as he was old, and had done all the ill he would do, to let him go to the Bass and be prisoner there during life." It was put to the vote, but by the casting vote of the Earl of Argyle, who said, "Let him go to the gallows and die like a traitor," it was carried that he be hanged next day.
Argyle's vote afterwards troubled him. His premature rising in 1685 against the Government with which he had been so long associated, brought him few followers. One morning, after his landing, he was walking at the waterside very sad, when he was accosted by a Thomas Urquhart. "I am sorry to see your Lordship so melancholy." "How can I be otherwise?" replied Argyle. "I see few coming to our assistance. I am persuaded I will be called Infatuate Argyle. But all does not trouble me so much as the unhappy, wicked vote I gave against that good man and minister, Mr Cargill; and now I am persuaded I shall die a violent death in that same spot where he died," a persuasion unhappily soon verified. On the morning of his execu
tion, it is said that Argyle again spoke of the vote to some of his friends, and declared, "That above all things in his life, it lay heaviest upon him."
The sentence passed upon Cargill and his fellow-sufferers was executed July 27th, 1681. "The hangman hashed and hagged off all their heads with an axe. Mr Cargill's, Mr Smith's, and Mr Boig's heads were fixed upon the Netherbow Port; William Cuthill's and William Thomson's upon the West Port."
Donald Cargill's dying testimony, and the four letters that follow it, are all of the same character-earnest and evangelical, and written in nervous English. M'Millan's "Collection of Letters," Edinburgh, 1764, contains two by Cargill. They are of the same nature as those in this volume. John Howie of Lochgoin, in his "Collection of Lectures and Sermons," etc., has given four lectures and seven sermons, from notes taken by hearers. But they are obviously imperfect, and by no means do justice to Donald Cargill. One of them is said to be his last sermon. Patrick Walker gives the close of the same discourse, and in a form much superior to that of Howie, which indeed justifies Wodrow's commendation, as well as his own, of Donald Cargill as a preacher :
"I had the happiness to hear blest Mr Cargill preach his last
public sermons (as I had several times before, for which, while I live, I desire to bless the Lord) in Dunsyre-Common, betwixt Clydesdale and Lothian, where he lectured upon the 1st chapter of Jeremiah, and preached upon that soul-refreshing text, Isa. xxvi,, two last verses, 'Come, my people, enter into your chambers,' etc. Wherein he was short, marrowy, and sententious, as his ordinary was in all his public sermons and prayers, with the greatest evidences of concernedness, exceeding all that ever I heard open a mouth, or saw open a Bible to preach the Gospel, with the greatest indignation at the unconcernedness of hearers. He preached from experience, and went to the experience of all that had any of the Lord's gracious dealing with their souls. It came from his heart, and went to the heart; as I have heard some of our common hearers say, that he spake as never man spake, for his words went through them.
"He insisted what kind of chambers these were of protection and safety, and exhorted us all earnestly to dwell in the clefts of the rock, to hide ourselves in the wounds of Christ, and to wrap ourselves in the believing application of the promises flowing therefrom; and to make our refuge under the shadow of His wings, until these sad calamities pass over, and the dove come back with the oliveleaf in her mouth. These were the last words of his last sermon."
The following testimony, and those of Walter Smith and James Boig, are given first, because of their importance, and the high character and influence of Donald Cargill. With David Hackston a chronological arrangement begins, which is strictly followed throughout the volume.-ED.]
HE LAST SPEECH AND TESTIMONY of the Rev. Mr DONALD CARGILL, sometime Minister of the Gospel in the Barony Parish of Glasgow, delivered by him in Writing before his Execution at the Cross of Edinburgh, July 27, 1681:
"THIS is the most joyful day that ever I saw in my pilgrimage on earth. My joy is now begun, which I see shall never be interrupted. I see both my interest and His truth, and the sureness of the one, and the preciousness of the other. 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 mine 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 ofttimes turning back. Oh! He has showed the wonderful preciousness of His grace, not only in the first receiving thereof, but in renewed and multiplied pardons!
"I have been a man of great sins, but He has been a God of great mercies; and now, through His mercies, I have a conscience as sound and quiet as if I had never sinned. It is long since I could have adventured on eternity, through God's mercy and Christ's merits; but death remained somewhat terrible, and that now is taken away; and now death is no more to me, but to cast myself into my husband's arms, and to lie down with Him. And however it be with me at the last, though I should be straitened by God or interrupted by men, yet all is sure, and shall be well. I have followed holiness, I have taught truth, and I have been most in the main things; not that I thought the things concerning our times little, but that I thought none could do anything to purpose in God's great and public matters, till they were right in their conditions.