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wanting on your behalf, and he begs a share in yours; for neither you, nor any in the world, needs that charity more than he does. Wait on the Lord, and be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart : wait, I say, on the Lord.
LETTER to the Heritors of the Parish of Straton.
Worthy Gentlemen and Friends, Being informed that it is my duty to present a person fit for the charge of the ministry now vacant with you, I have thought of one, whose integrity and piety I am so fully persuaded of, that I dare confidently recommend him to you as one who, if the hand of God do bind that work upon him amongst you, is likely, through the blessing of the same hand, to be very serviceable to the building up of
fouls heavenwards, but is as far from suffering himself to be obtruded, as I am for obtruding any upon you: So that unless you invite him to preach, and after hearing of him, declare your consent and desire towards his embracing of the call, you may be secure from the trouble of hearing any further concerning him, either from himself or me; and if you please to let me know your mind, your reasonable satisfac. tion shall be to my utmost power endeavoured by,
Your affectionate Friend,
The person's name is Mr James Aird; he was minister at Ingram in Northumberland, and is lately removed from thence, and is now at Edinburgh. If you write to him, direct it to be delivered to Hugh Paterson, writer in Edinburgh, near the Cross, on the north side of the street.
This, if you please, may be communicated to such of the inhabitants of the parilh as you shall think fit.
This and the two following Letters were wrote to the
Rev. Mr James Aird, Minister at Torry.
Dear Friend, I did receive your letter, which I would have known to be yours, though it had no other sign but the piety and affectionate kindness expressed in it.
I will offer you no apology (nor I hope I need not) for not writing since that, yea, I will confess, that if the surprising and unexpected occasion of the bearer had not drawn it from me, I should hardly for a long time to come have done what I am now doing; and yet still love you, more than they do one another that interchange letters, even of kindness, as often as the gazettes come forth, and as long as they
And now I have begun, I would end just here ; for I have nothing to say, nothing of affairs (to be sure) private nor public; and to strike up to discourses of devotion, alas! what is there to be said, but what you sufficiently know, and daily read, and daily think, and, I am confident, daily endeavour to do? And I am beaten back, if I had a great mind to speak of such things, by the sense of so great deficiency in doing those things, that the most ignorant among Chriftians cannot choose but know. Instead of all fine notions, I Hy to Κυριε ελεησον, Χριστε ελεησον. I think them the great heroes and excellent persons of the world that attain to high degrees of pure contemplation and divine love ; but next to those, them that, in aspiring to that, and falling short of it, fall down into deep humility and self-contempt, and a real desire to be despised and trampled on by all the world. And I believe, that they that sink lowest into that depth, stand nearest to advancement to those other heights: For the great King, who is the fountain of that honour, hath given us this character of himself, that he refifts the proud, and gives grace to
the humble. Farewell, my dear friend, and be fo charitable as sometimes, in your addresses upwards, to remember a poor caitiff, who no day forgets you. 13th December 1676.
Dear Friend, I trust you enjoy that same calm of mind, touch. ing your present concernment, that I do on your behalf. I dare not promise to see you at Edinburgh at this time, but it is possible I may. I know you will endeavour to set yourself on as strong a guard as you can, against the assaults you may meet with there from divers well meaning persons, but of weak understandings and strong passions; and will maintain the liberty of your own mind both firmly and meekly. Our business is the study of fincerity and pure intention; and then, certainly, our blessed guide will not suffer us to lose our way for want of light; we have his promise, that if in all our ways we acknowledge him, he will direct our paths. While we are consulting about the turns and new motions of life, it is sliding away, but if our great work in it be going on, all is well. Pray for
Your poor Friend, Dunblain, Jan. 13th.
My Dear Friend, I have received from you the kindest letter that ever you writ me; and, that you may know I take it so, I return you the free and friendly advice, never to judge any man before you hear him, nor any bufiness by one side of it. Were you here to see the other, I am confident your thoughts and mine would be the same. You have both too much knowledge of me, and too much charity to think, that either such little contemptible scraps of honour or riches sought in that part of the world, with so much reproach, or any human complacency in the world, will be ad
mitted to decide fo grave a question, or that I would fell (to speak no higher) the very sensual pleasure of my retirement for a rattle, far less deliberately do any thing that I judge offends God. For the offence of good people, in cafes indifferent in themselves, but not accounted fo by them; whatsoever you do or do not, you shall offend some good people on the one fide or other : And for those with you, the great fallacy in this businefs is, that they have misreckoned themselves in taking my silence and their zeals to have been consent and participation, which, how great a mistake it is, few know better or so well as yourself; and the truth is, I did see approaching an inevitable necessity to strain with them in divers practices, in what station foever, remaining in Britain, and to have escaped further off (which hath been in my thoughts) would have been the greatest scandal of all. And what will you say, if there be in this thing fomewhat of that you mention, and would allow, of reconciling the devout on different fides, and of enlarging those good souls you meet with from their little fetters, though possibly with little fuccess? yet the design is commendable, pardonable at least. However, one comfort I have, that in what is pressed on me, there is the least of my own choice, yea, on the contrary, the strongest aversion that ever I had in any thing in all my life; the difficulty, in short, lies in a necessity, of either owning a scruple which I have not, or the rudest disobedience to authority that may be. The truth is, I am yet importuning and struggling for a liberation, and look upward for it* ; but whatsoever be the issue, I look beyond it, and this weary weary wretched life, through which the hand I have resigned to, I trust, will lead me in paths of his own choosing; and so I may please him,
* It is highly probable this has been wrote when he was deliberating about accepting a bishoprick.
I am satisfied. I hope, if ever we meet, you shall find me in the love of folitude and a devout life. Your unalter'd Brother and Friend,
When I set pen to paper, I intended not to exceed half-a-dozen lines, but flid on insensibly thus far; but though I should fill the paper on all fides, still the right view of this business would be necessarily suspended till meeting. Meanwhile, hope well of me, and pray for me. This word I will add, that as there hath been nothing of my choice in the thing, so I undergo it (if it must be) as a mortification, and that greater than a cell and hair-cloth; and whether any will believe this or no, I am not careful.