Imatges de pÓgina

daughter Janet (by a former marriage) and the herd boy were teasing the wool, and the shepherd was carding it, while Mrs. Brown sat nursing her first-born son at one side of the fire, with the faithful watch-dog lying at her feet. At the sound of Mr. Renwick's footsteps, the dog started up, and ran to the door, barking at the approach of a stranger. Janet and the herd were almost as soon at the door as the dog, commanding him to be silent. The herd caught the dog in his arms, and returned with bim into the house, while Janet followed, leading the stranger, first looking to her mother for encouragement, and then to her guest. She led him to her father's chair with a courtesy that seemed to give rise to strong emotions in bis heart. Mr. Renwick, who was unknown to any in the house, was pale with fatigue and sickness. His shoes were worn out, and a shepherd's plaid hung round him, seemingly for disguise ; for by his dress and speech, they were convinced that he was of superior rank. While the servants gazed on him, Mrs. Brown was at a loss to know whether she should welcome him as a sufferer, or consider him as a spy ; and she accordingly left Janet to perform the kind offices the stranger required, while she lulled her boy to sleep, by singing a verse of an old song. During Mrs. Brown's song, Mr. Renwick's countenance brightened up, and he more cheerfully accepted of the cbild's endearing attentions, who placed him in the warmest corner, helped him off with his drenched plaid, and, in short, imitated all the kind offices she had seen her mother perform to her father, to the no small amusement of the rest of the family. On Mr. Renwick it had a different effect. He burst into tears, and cried, "May the blessing of him that is ready to perish rest upon you, my dear bairn. Surely God has heard my cry, and provided me & place to rest my head for a night. O that I had in the wilderness a lodying-place of wayfaring men, that I might leave my people, and go from them ; for they be an assembly of treacherous men.”

“ At this moment John Brown entered. He gazed at Mr. Renwick for an instant, and then, with great deference, informed him that he was welcome to his house. Do you know me ” said Mr. Renwick. think I do,' replied Brown. 'It was in this house that the societies met that contributed to send you to Holland, and now I fear they have not received you as they ought.' 'Their reproach has not broken my heart, rejoined Mr. Renwick; but the excessive travelling, night wanderings, unseasonable sleep, frequent preaching in all weathers, especially in the night, has so debilitated me, that I am upfit often for my work. The reproach of those who called me to the ministry I look upon as a device of the enemy to stop the Lord's work ; but blessed be his grace that has kept me from mixing anger or scorn of them with my

Some have declared that I will never be honoured of the Lord to do his pour remnant good. But one thing I know, and may say, that the Lord has done me good. Oh! let none fear a suffering lot. Enemies think themselves satisfied that we are put to wander in mosses, and upon mountains ; but even amidst the storms of these last two nights, I cannot express what sweet times I have had, when I had no covering but the dark curtains of night. Yea, in the silent watch, my mind was led out to admire the deep and inexpressible ocean of joy, wherein the whole family of heaven swim. Each star led me to wonder what He must be, who is the Star of Jacob, of whom all stars bórrow their shining. Indeed, if I may term it, I am much obliged to enemies; they have covered me many a table in the wilderness, and have made me friends where I never expected them.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

“Every one of the family now strove which of them should shew the greatest kindness to their much respected guest ; while he by bis conversation and prayers, animated and cheered them in their resolution to continue in the faith stedfast unto the end. Having remained two nights under the hospitable roof of John Brown, during which time his health rapidly recovered, Mr. Renwick took leave of the family, and recommenced his wanderings among the scattered covenanters.”

The account of Mr. Renwick's sufferings, contained in the next extract, should teach us, in these days, what it is to enjoy religious liberty. It should also teach us caution in the use of the word persecution, when that is applied to any thing which we may be called upon to suffer for Christ's sake. We have sometimes felt ashamed to hear men talk of persecution, while living in the enjoyment of all earthly luxuries. Let such read attentively what follows, and think what persecution was in the times and the men that were.

“Irritated at his perseverance in instructing the people, many of the indulged ministers turned informers, and gave notice to his persecutors where these proscribed meetings were to be held ; while, on the other hand, the council and prelates, filled with rage at his contempt of their impious mandates, and his undaunted constancy in the defence of presbyterian principles, left no means untried to effect not only his destruction, but the destruction of every covenanter throughout the kingdom. They accordingly filled the country with dragoons, the meanest of whom was authorized to put to death without distinction every covenanter on whom he could lay his murderous hands. Nor did these unfeeling ruffians either pity or spare. The groans of the sufferers, whom they often tortured before putting them to death, were exulted over with more than fienaish satisfaction. Still, howerer, Mr. Renwick, who was accounted the chief and the leader of these obnoxious nonconfornists, escaped their hands. To bring him in, therefore, 'dead or alive,' was the unwearied effort of every minion employed by a cruel and an iniquitous government. The hairbreadth escapes of Mr. Renwick were consequently as numerous as they were remarkable. But in order to give the reader a more correct idea of the vigilance of bis enemies, and of the signal interpositions of Divine Providence in his behalf, we shall here insert a few extracts from his own letters.

“In one of these letters, addressed to Mr. Hamilton, and dated July 9, 1684, he says, “Your letter which I received was wonderfully sweet and refreshing to me, and was made a means in some measure to prepare me for what I was to meet with ; for immediately thereafter, I was involved in such troubles as before I had not been trysted with, but all indeed to manifest, in a wonderful manner, the Lord's love and power to and for bis people. On the Sabbath after your letter came to my hand, we met 'for public worship near the whin bog in the Monkland; but that country being generally apostatized into an open hostility against the Lord, some went quickly away to Glasgow, and gave notice unto the enemies' forces; howbeit we heard thereof ere forenoon's sermon was ended, yet continued till that part of the work was gone about ; and thereafter thought it fit to depart from that boupds, and that the armed men should keep together for their better defence and safety ; which,

through God's goodness, was a mean to keep the enemy' from noticing and pursuing strangers. Notwithstanding, they kept up a pursuit and search, which proved very obstructive to our general meeting, which was upon the Thursday thereafter. For upon that very day, they came with horse and foot to search those moors where we were, and came near upon us ere we got any thing concluded. We all in haste set forward through the moss, having no outward strength to fly unto, but by crossing the way of the adversary ; whereupon we expected an encounter; yet commiting ourselves unto the Lord's hand, we went on until we came unto another certain muss, where we staid until night, and got much of our business done. On the Saturday night thereafter there was a competent number of us met in a barn for worship, and had not well begun until we heard both the drums and trumpets of the enemies ; but we thought it most expedient to set watches without, and continue at our work till we saw further. Nevertheless, in all these tumults and dangers, the Lord's goodness was so manifested to his people, that he not only hid thểm under his wings and preserved them, but also he kept their spirits from the least fear, confusion, or commotion; yea, the very sight of some of them would have made resolute soldiers amongst us.

So after this hazard was over, some of us thought it convenient to stay where we were (it being a woody place,) until the Sabbath day was past, Butere the middle of the day we got an alarm that the enemy was within two miles or thereabout, coming toward that airth; whereupon we went over Clyde; but so soon as that was, we, being in number about six or seven, had almost rencountered with a party of the enemy's borse, who at the crossing of our way had inevitably met with us, if that the Lord had not so ordered it, that a friend of ours had seen them ere they saw us, who thereupon came running toward us with a white napkin flourishing in his hand ; whereupon we halted, and whea he came to us, we lurked among some bushes until the enemy past by. And thereafter we setting forward by two and two upon our journey, which was intended to be but short, some two of us met with one of the adversary's number upon horseback, who presently fled with all his might towards Lanark, we being within three short miles thereof, which forced us to take a desperate course, in running through that plenished country into Darmead moss, still expecting to foregather with that hostile town of Lanark, both horse and foot; but the Lord's power and goodness were such towards us, that we escaped all their hands.'

“And in another letter, dated August 23, he says, “On the 30th of July, when I was going with other three to the general meeting, we espied two dragoons meeting us, and not expecting any more to be following, we went forward, not dreading them; but when we came within word and shot, we saw a party of about twenty more very near upon us, whereupon seeing there was no probability of resisting them, we turned up to a hill cailed Dungavel. But my three neighbours being on foot, and I on horseback, they compassed about the foot of the hill, but I took up to the height, being hotly pursued by many of party ; some whereof were at my right hand to keep me from the mosses, and others behind, who always as they came within shot, discharged upon me.

So being near unto the top of the bill, and finding myself beset round about, and seeing po visible door to escape, I thought fit to quit the horse which I had, and to wait till I saw what God did in it. Thus I went up to the top of the hill upon foot, and seeing myself so encompassed that I could not run from thence, and that I was in no ways able to fight with them,

[ocr errors]

I judged it my best to clap upon the ground; so I went into a caim, which by situation was about six or seven paces of ground out of all their eyes, thinking to lie down upon it, all the hill being green, and bare in that place, knowing that God could carry their sight over it; so coming to the top of it, I espied in it a pit, and lay down in it, winning by God's goodness to a cheerful submission to death, torture, or whatever his will might be. But I was in no small measure confident that no evil at that time would happen unto me, the Lord giving me that Scripture, Psal. vi. 8. Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity,' which was so powerful, that I was made, I think, a bundred times to repeat it over, ere I could get myself stayed; together with that other, Psalm xci. 11, 'For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways;' which was such unto me, that I lifted up my head to see these angels, but, considering my folly in that particular, I was made to laugh at my own witlessness. So I lay still unto the sun set, sometimes praying, and sometimes praising God; though ah ! I can do neither to purpose. But all the joy that the Lord's works of wonder for me did afford, were swallowed up in sorrow, because of what befel my dear brethren, who (all that were with me,) fell into the enemies' hands, one of them receiving eleven wounds. Then, after all, when I thought of drawing off the hill, not knowing the way to one friend's house in the whole country, I besoaght the Lord, that as he had bid me, so he would lead and guide me. Thus I set my face towards Clyde, and after I had travelled about four miles, I met with Windhill, with whom I staid about two days, and kept a meeting upon the second night, even while the militia were searching that side of the country; and twice that night I very narrowly escaped, as it had been even out of their very paws. 0, time would fail me to relate the Lord's works of wonder for poor unworthy me; for even since, I have in one day escaped three or four signal bazards.""

In our times of peace and security we can scarcely form a just idea of the extent to which the rage of a wicked world against the truth may proceed, or of the patient endurance with which that may be borne by the servants of Christ. Of both these we have an example in the following proclamation issued against Renwick by the public authorities, compared with the spirit in which he received it.

Forasmuch as Mr. James Renwick, a seditious vagabond, and pretended preacher, being lawfully summoned to have compeared to have answered and underlien the law, for his being in the late rebellion at Bothwell-Bridge in 1679; keeping and preaching at field conrenticles in arms, several times since, and particularly at Blackloch, Welshole, Craig, Spittalhole, Greenock, and several other places; for maintaining and asserting several treasonable and rebellious principles against us and our authority and government; whereby some of our unwary subjects have been infected with and debauched into the same wicked, unnatural, and seditious principles with himself: 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 the said Mr. James Renwick, rebel foresaid ; nor furnish him with meat, drink, house, hars bour, victual, por no other thing useful or comfortable to him; or to

have any intelligence with him by word, writ, or message, or any other manner of way whatsoever, under the pain of being esteemed art and part with him in the crimes foresaid, and pursued therefor with all rigour, to the terror of others. And we hereby require all our sheriffs, &c. to. apprehend and commit to prison the person of the said Mr. James Renwick, wherever they can find or apprebend him.'

“The effect which this furious mandate had on the mind of Mr. Renwick will appear from the following extract from one of his letters:

Though the world think my case most miserable, yet, I think, it is so happy, that I know not a man this day upon the face of the earth with whom I would exchange my lot. O, it is more sweet and pleasant to be swimming in the swellings of Jordan for Christ and with Christ, than to be wallowing in the pleasures of sin and delights of the flesh; yea, though Christians had not a heaven hereafter, I cannot but judge their case, even here, happy beyond all others, as the Psalmist saith, “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time when their corn and their wine increased.' And when the world frowns most, I know it is the time wherein the Lord smiles most upon his own. O, therefore, let none of them fear a suffering lot. Enemies may feel satisfied that we are put to wander in dark stormy nights through mosses and mountains; but if they knew how we were feasted, when others are sleeping, they would gnash their teeth for anger; nay, while they are pining away in dusk envy and pale fear, I am feeding in peace and joy. Let enemies, therefore never think that they can make the people of God's case miserable, while He lives and reigns; and I know well he hath that to give, and will give it, which will sweeten all the sufferings of bis followers. And I may say this to his praise, that I have found so much of his kindness and supply in setting about his work in such hard circumstances, that though the prevailing of a body of death sometimes, and desire to he with himself, makes me long for a dissolution ; yet, I think I could be content to dwell, if it were a thousand years, in this iofirm and weakened body of clay, with continual toil and hazard, to carry his name to his people. O, poor fools, what can they do? The greatest wrong they can do, is to be instrumental in bringing a chariot to carry us to that higher house, and should we not think this the greater favour? The Lord is still increasing his people in number and spiritual strength; and many a sacrifice he is taking off their hands; for there are not many days wherein his truths are not sealed with blood, and that in all places, so that I think within a little there shall not be a moss or mountain in the west of Scot. land which shall not be flowered with martyrs.'

Mr. Renwick was at length discovered, and made 'a prisoner by his enemies, at Edinburgh. The following is the account of his apprehension.

“Mr. Renwick returned to Edinburgh on the 30th January, and lodged io a friend's house on the Castle-hill. In consequence, however, of the numerous spies who prowled about the city, he was soon found out, and a scheme devised for his apprehension. John Justice, a customhouse officer, who had been for some time on the alert, proceeded to the house with a strong guard at seven o'clock the following morning, and, under pretext of searching for contraband goods, demanded admittance. No sooner had Justice entered than he exclaimed, My life for it, this is Mr. Renwik;' and immediately cailed upon his associates to assist him in carrying the dog Renwick’ to prison,”.

« AnteriorContinua »