Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Life and Diary of Lieut. Col. J. Blackader
Chapter VII


THE DIARY.

Peace Establishment—Object of the Diary—Critical Remarks—On the character and views of the Writer—Extracts.

After the peace of Ryswick, the regular forces in England were reduced to a standing army of 7000 men; 4000 of which were horse and dragoons, and 3000 infantry. This establishment was reckoned by William much too small, considering that France, by keeping up more than twenty-five times that number, was in a condition to re-commence hostilities, as she had done at the peace of Nimeguen, whenever she might find it convenient to infringe the treaty.1 The suspicious state of affairs abroad obliged him to declare his opinion, that the safety of Britain required a considerable land-force, and to strip it, from an ill-timed economy, of its military defences, was only giving their enemies an opportunity of effecting, under the notion of peace, that ruin which they could not accomplish by war. But the nation, jealous of their liberties, looked upon a standing army as the formidable engine of slavery and oppression. The parliament, with a resolution not to be shaken by the wishes or entreaties of the king, disbanded the troops, not excepting his favourite Dutch Guards, who had been the companions of his glory and his toils, and the regiments of French Protestant refugees, who were attached to him in gratitude for their protection.

The Cameronian Begiment was not disbanded, but retained on the Peace Establishment. They appear to have continued in Holland in the Dutch pay, at least for some time, together with four other Scots Regiments, viz. Lauder’s, Murray’s, Collier’s and Strathnaver’s. There was an express capitulation between William and the States General, by which the latter obliged themselves to send home the British troops, whenever the king should think proper to re-cal them. In virtue of this, three of the above regiments known by the name of the Scots Brigade, were brought over to Scotland, where they were retained

in the king’s own pay, until the prospect of a rupture with France, in 1701, made their assistance necessary again in Holland. Whether the Cameronian Regiment came over at the same time, I know not, nor is it material; they seem, however, to have been in Scotland in 1701-2, as we shall find, that in March that year, they were embarked for the Continent. They were stationed in garrison at Perth, as the Writer of the Diary mentions, who, by this time, was advanced to the rank of a captain.

At the commencement of the Diary, October 1700, the Writer was in London, where he continued a year, detained by business, partly relative to his promotion, and partly about regimental arrears; as all officers who had legal claims (among which his regiment was one) were required to state them to the Commissioners of debts due to the Army, f It does not appear that the above date was the original commencement of the Diary. Most probably that Journal extended to the preceding campaigns, or even to an earlier period; hut those parts of it have been lost, and cannot now he recovered.

As the Diary and Letters are entirely personal, and relate almost exclusively to matters of private concern, the reader is not to expect from them much of historical or extraneous remark. His design was not to write commentaries on the military operations in which he was so long engaged, nor to treasure up for the entertainment of posterity, a boastful catalogue of his own achievements; for no man was ever more unambitious of renown, or less captivated by the frivolous glory of a name. His object was to keep a spiritual register of his experiences,—to note down, day by day, the various phases of his own mind, that by comparing himself with himself, he might, from time to time, judge of his progress in Christian attainments. And this, I am persuaded, constitutes their peculiar value. The actions of warriors and statesmen, are matters of public history and of general notoriety. We know how battles have heen lost or won, where valiant men have fought and fallen; but the religious annals of a soldier’s life, the combats he sustains with enemies within himself, and the victories to he won over the corruptions of his own heart, are of comparatively rare occurrence.

As these papers were never intended to see the light, they may be reckoned to exhibit a faithful transcript of the writer’s sentiments,—a fair unvarnished, image of his thoughts. They present to our view a faith kept in lively and habitual exercise,—a devotion glowing with uncommon ardour and intensity, and engaging all the affections on the side of religion. They shew us piety, flourishing under circumstances deemed the most hostile and unpropitious to its growth. They unfold a character, marked by a singular exemption from the prevailing immoralities,—a blamelessness of conduct, exemplary in any profession, but more remarkable when found in situations where moderation in vice may be accounted, in some degree, a mediocrity of virtue.

Though no outward condition, however adverse, can be reckoned altogether incompatible with the duties of religion and morality, yet some are more, unfavourable to their cultivation than others. Of these, the army has always heen held as one. There the mind has often little relish, and little vacancy for serious thoughts. The hurry and tumult of action, leave no room for their entertainment. The moments of interval are too apt to be filled up with levity, riot, or debauchery. The uncertainties and vicissitudes of events, distract and indispose men for calm and sober reflection. The pomp and parade of war, dazzle their imaginations with false charms, and misplace their affections on improper objects. The ambition of rising to fame or fortune,—of rivalling the glory of illustrious actions, while it excites them by more impetuous motives than those of religion, tends at the same time to inspire a certain disdain for the Christian character, as inadequate to these sublime and noble pursuits, and not calculated to make a figure on the stage of the world, by possessing so little to attract external notice. Many thus argue themselves into a foolisb and groundless contempt for religion, as if it were something mean and despicable, that checks the ardour of heroism, and chills every generous emotion of the soul. And hence it is, that the portraits of heathen conquerors, or even the achievements of a fabulous hero, will stand higher in their esteem and admiration, then all the magnanimity of Christian martyrs, or the most shining and sublime moral virtues that ever adorned human nature.

But perhaps the greatest enemy to piety, and the most formidable obstacle it has to encounter, are those criminal amusements and licentious pleasures to which a military life, more than any other, is exposed, and which are not attended in that profession with the same infamy and disgrace, that public opinion has stamped upon them in civil society. Amidst all the rigour of military discipline, there is often a lamentable deficiency of moral control. And when the restraints of fear and shame are removed, the passions become more ungovernable. The contagion spreads by example; and many are carried away with the guilty crowd, from the dread of affected singularity, or the hopelessness of stemming the universal torrent of error and corruption. They are content to resign the glory of an honourable opposition, from the apprehension of incurring an ideal reproach,—to prefer the fleeting and frivolous satisfactions of a moment, to the more solid and durable felicities of a virtuous abstinence.

The extracts which we shall lay before the reader, will exhibit a character, in every respect the reverse of this general portraiture; the character of one who had the courage to be singular; whose principles were proof against the seduction of example,—the tyranny of custom,—and the terror of ridicule. So far from running himself into fashionable vices, or countenancing them in others, we find him, at all times, their avowed and determined enemy. If he did not always signify his disapprobation in formal reproofs, he shewed it by his example; his habitual seriousness and sobriety being a constant rebuke on the profligate and intemperate.

The prevailing cast of Colonel Blackader’s mind was singularly devout and spiritual. His purest delights were in the duties and ordinances of religion, and he embraced every opportunity of being engaged in them. His intervals of business were generally filled up with useful reading, or company, when it could be procured, from which he could reap some improvement; and he dedicated a portion of every day to prayer and meditation. These duties he never allowed to he interrupted by the most urgent and pressing emergencies. On fatiguing marches, at the post of command, or in the heat of action, he could snatch a moment to hold communion with the Father of Spirits. To him, no station seemed incompatible with maintaining this intercourse, and no circumstances so straitened, where the virtues and graces of the Christian life had not room for exercise* Every where, his devotion could find for itself a temple and an altar; in the camp, in the closet, or in the fields. It was his custom to spend an occasional hour in meditative retirement, and he would frequently steal from bustle and observation, to some sequestered walk, or the solitary banks of a river, where he could enjoy, unmolested, the benefits of contemplation and reflection. Sometimes he would visit the field of battle on the evening after an engagement, to moralize among heaps of slaughter, and “get a preaching,” as he expresses it, “from the silent dead.”

These habits and sentiments may probably be derided by some, and stigmatized as enthusiastical fancies, or the reveries of a gloomy and mistaken piety. To the gay, the thoughtless, and the dissipated, it may appear that he carried his abstinence from those amusements and recreations, which are thought harmless, because they are fashionable, to an unnecessary extreme; that he affected a strictness and precision, not only ridiculous in his profession, but apt to create errors and misconceptions of religion, as if it were an enemy to all cheerfulness, fit only for men of dark unsocial tempers, who shun companionship with the world, and betake themselves to melancholy solitudes, or the practice of rigid austerities. None, however, I am persuaded, will entertain such on opinion who have any relish for personal devotion, or have felt the pleasures which spring from piety and virtue,—pleasures which the world cannot give, and which strangers never intermeddle with.

Were they, who thus censure and condemn, more conversant with religion, and more deeply imbued with a sense of its importance, they would see abundant reason to think otherwise, and to judge more favourably, even of the pious excesses of good men, whose souls are purified, warmed, and inspired with heavenly affections. Profligates and infidels are not the persons best qualified to fix the just boundaries of morality,—to decide between sinful compliances on the one hand, and an overstrained scrupulosity on the other. They are not only unacquainted with its principles, but from their mode of life, have contracted habits and prejudices that unfit them for judging with candour, or drawing an impartial comparison. Hence all actions and pursuits, more rigid than their own, they brand with the name of enthusiasm, or some term denoting a stiff and puritanical cast of deportment.

This is a very common practice, although the term is but vaguely understood, and often very erroneously applied. Many use the word enthusiast or fanatic as an epithet of reproach, without being able to attach to it any definite signification, or knowing what kind of people are comprehended in the aspersion; and if interrogated for an explanation, or to^ state their own ideas upon the subject, we would find them often ridiculously at a loss to give a determinate answer. They cannot tell exactly what ingredients must go to constitute an enthusiast, or what degree of precision will entitle a man to that appellation. But they fasten it in general, without troubling themselves to inquire into its meaning or applicability, on any who shew an extraordinary veneration for religion, or who are distinguished for the strictness of their principles, and the severity of their manners. If these are the odious characteristics of an enthusiast,—if he is obnoxious to that reproach, who fears an oath, and is offended at indecent speeches,—who reverences the laws of God, and strives to regulate his walk and conversation by them,—who acts at all times under a full and sensible impression of the Divine presence, aspiring after a nobler reputation than the esteem of men, and cherishing a contempt for the pleasures and vanities of the world, in proportion as faith reveals more nearly the pure and endless felicities of heaven; then it may be affirmed, more to his glory than his shame, that the Writer of the Diary was an enthusiast.

His character, however, cannot be held up as a faultless model, worthy of indiscriminate praise, or unqualified imitation. He had infirmities that ought to be pitied; failings that cannot be too carefully avoided; and erroneous views that every sound judgment will mark with reprehension. Of his faults and infirmities, he was himself very sensible, and none could lament or condemn them more strongly than he has done. The restraints he imposed upon himself in conversation, made him, at times, appear deficient in cheerfulness and sociality. His constitutional proneness to melancholy or depression of spirits, gave a dark tinge to the current of his thoughts, and led him sometimes to form mistaken conclusions on the state of his own mind. Of the tendency of this disease, he was fully aware, though not sufficiently careful to distinguish its operations ; hence he frequently mistook its effects as symptoms of spiritual desertion, or the hidings of his Father’s countenance. But the liveliness of his faith, and the powerful influences of religion, tended, in a great measure, to correct the effects of this habitual dejection, which, in him, was a malady of the body, rather than of the mind. ,

With some who are of weaker faith, and less fortified by the aids and comforts of the Holy Spirit, this distemper rises to a most distressing height, and makes its unhappy victims truly miserable.' It fills their terrified imagination with dismal images and apprehensions, perplexes their reason with doubts and disquietudes, and overspreads the whole soul with clouds, and darkness, and tempest. It eclipses all them brightest hopes of futurity, and environs the throne of Mercy itself with a mist of discouraging fears. From these gloomy and desponding misgivings, the Author of the Diary was wholly exempt. In spite of his infirmity, he enjoyed the greatest peace and tranquillity of mind. It had no effect in darkening or deranging his views of Divine Providence, although it frequently made him querulous and dissatisfied with himself. It is no doubt the characteristic of a true Christian, to strive after higher measures of perfection, and not to rest contented with present attainments; yet a fretful anxiety, a perpetual dissatisfaction with ourselves, is certainly culpable. If we exert our utmost, and make the best use of the means put in our power, there can he no reason for distressing apprehensions about the consequences.

But there is another mistake, (perhaps, however, an error of the times, as much as of the man) that runs through the papers of Colonel Blackader, and that is, his sentiments in regard to prayer,—the encouragements to it,—and the effects he expected to result from it. If at any time he felt in this duty a warmer edge upon his zeal,—a particular satisfaction and enlargement of mind, he seemed disposed to interpret it as a sure mark of the divine approbation, and the consequent acceptability of his petitions. On the contrary, if he felt any peculiar dejection or difficulty of expression, he was apt to attribute it to a withdrawing of the Divine aid—a temporary desertion of the Holy Spirit. This, to say the least, is a very fallible criterion. Frames and feelings alone, are' no indication that our prayers are either rational or acceptable, and ought to be regarded with a salutary -distrust. These accidental elevations and depressions have no necessary connexion with the operations of the Spirit; much less can they be construed into undoubted symptoms of favour or disapprobation. Encouragement and success are to be derived, exclusively, through the intercession of Christ, and the promises of Scripture, that if we ask any thing, according to the will of God, he heareth us.

It is also an error to imagine, as the Writer of the Diary sometimes has done, that answers to our prayers .will be returned either by secret intimations, or by visible and external expressions. There certainly is, and always has been, a very strong and general propensity in mankind, not only to solicit direction from heaven in cases of doubt and uncertainty, than which nothing can be more necessary and becoming to weak and erring mortals, hut to expect or require some evidence or token symptomatical of their requests being granted; such were the fleeces of Gideon; the experiment of Abram’s servant at the well of Nahor; and other instances recorded in the Old Testament. But they who would now entertain such expectations, seem to have forgot that the age of oracles and wonders has ceased; that signs and miracles made a part of the Jewish Economy, wherein men were indulged with supernatural directions and intimations, and permitted, for their special instruction, to hold immediate consultation with heaven, through the rude intercourse of visible and material symbols.

The Christian dispensation has introduced a communion altogether spiritual. It is manifestly wrong to hope that God will, on our account, or by the force of our importunities, reverse the established order of his providence, or cause a sudden and simultaneous concurrence of different events, in order to produce the effect we desire. Even those who think answers to prayer may he conveyed mentally, by secret impulses, or internal convictions, ought cooly and candidly to examine whether these impressions have any good foundation,—whether they are to he ascribed to the agency of the Spirit, or produced by the natural and ordinary operations of their own minds. The most sober and rational course we can pursue, is to refer the issue of our petitions entirely to the wisdom of the Divine Being. We are- incompetent judges of what is most befitting to ourselves, and apt to mingle our follies and our passions with our wants. To have our wishes absolutely fulfilled, might often prove ruinous, or rashness in the extreme. This ought to teach us to moderate our anxieties about futurity, and to leave the issue of contingent events to Him who alone can know the propriety or the expediency of granting our requests.

There are also, in Colonel Blackader’s papers, some other misconceptions in regard to interpreting certain promises and passages of Scripture; as if, in addition to their original and literal import, they had a secret and mysterious application to himself. Upon this slender, and it may he, erroneous analogy, he would sometimes build his hopes and consolations, or form his resolutions in difficult or particular steps of conduct. These, however, and some of the other misapprehensions into which he has fallen, are the less to be wondered at, considering the prevailing, religious sentiments of the times in which he was educated. They were parts of a theological system, which many good men regarded with implicit veneration, and from which, it is not surprising, if his mind had not altogether emancipated itself: and it would be an invidious distinction, to censure in him those mistakes and imperfections which were systematical, and have been found in characters of the calmest temperament, and the most unaffected piety.

Those who may feel disposed to deride or reprimand, we would beg to keep in mind, that the papers now laid before them, were not originally intended for public inspection. They are the private registers of an individual, unfolding his mind without disguise or reserve,' drawing aside the curtain, as it were, and disclosing the inmost recesses of his thoughts. This consideration, while it does not preclude the liberty of pointing out errors, renders them an unfair subject of animadversion; and it would he ungenerous to drag forth the weaknesses of any man, for the single purpose of exposing them, or rake up his peaceful ashes in quest of food, for a captious and malevolent criticism. And notwithstanding these strictures, there are, in Colonel Blackader’s papers, innumerable traits of manly independent thinking—of a mind rising above the prejudices of education, and disentangling itself from the trammels of peculiar creeds and systems. His intercourse with others, and his opinions about religion, savoured extremely little of that intolerance, still prevalent in his time, and Which continued to operate long after it had been proscribed, and put down by acts of the legislature. It is now time, however, to lay before the reader a few extracts from these papers, that 'he may he able to form his own sentiments; and it may safely be left to his own candid judgment sto -discriminate between what he ought to avoid, and what he should be emulous to imitate,—between what is according to pure undefiled religion, and what is inconsistent with it.

That part of the Diary which refers to the Writer’s stay in London, and subsequently with his regiment in Scotland, before it was embarked a second time for Flanders, contains little allusion to political or public transactions. It is limited, chiefly, to his own feelings and experiences, and gives a fair undisguised representation of a humble and watchful Christian, lamenting the infirmities of his temper, and the mutability of his frame; sensible of the degeneracy of his heart, and struggling to be delivered from the bondage of corruption.

October, 1700. I complain, that though well directed in business, better than could be expected, yet I am not thankful. Chagrined at my natural temper; my spirit too* sensual,, trifling, and carnal. Occasionally falling into temptation and ill company, then blaming my want of zeal and. resolution. My life is a struggle, as it were, between.faith and corrupt nature—a combat, in which sometimes strengthening grace prevails, sometimes earthly affections and sensual appetites gain ground, yet partly involuntary.

November. Dejected and dissatisfied with myself, the more from my retiredness and want of settled employment. I am sensible of this my infirmity. Soli-, tude is the nursery of melancholy. Tried to divert it by amusement, and as a frolicksome experiment, went to see a comedie. More convinced of the folly and Vanity of worldly pleasures. Faith is the best remedy, but too little used. The soul immersed in sense, looses its spiritual bias, and neglects to fetch new supplies of grace from Christ. My resolution is, to live more by faith, and converse less with carnal and worldly men. This places me,. as it were, between Scylla and Charybdis; too much company dissipates the mind, and gives it an earthly sett; too much retirement from company and conversation, sours the temper, makes it. morose, .chagrined, unsocial. Melancholy is no friend to grace, and a great enemy tp religion.

December. Instead of a lively framed I often feel a deadness and heaviness through unbelief. Though serious, I am not religious; though calm, not spiritual. Sensual appetites, and vain imaginations usurp the place of heavenly affections. Corruptions which I thought subdued or extirpated, had only retreated into a corner of the heart, where they gather strength, and sally forth anew; hut, through grace, they shall he conquered. I see if I could rely more on Christ, there would he more contentment, more peace and tranquillity of mind, even in outward troubles. On Sabbath, I was cheered and comforted by the joy which a sure interest in the Saviour gives: In the evening, I had one of the sweetest visits, the most sensible communion with him, I think, I ever experienced. I was admitted, as it were, to draw aside the veil, and look into heaven, and would have been content to have been dissolved that instant. O that I were in such circumstances in the world! wherein, free from the hurry of business, and the cares of this life, I might serve my God, and enjoy sweet communion with him. The world is not my element. I am like a stranger in a far country, an exile chained to his oar* I do not ask to be taken from the world, I only beg to be found in my duty, and that I may have counsel to conduct, and grace to devote myself to the service of God; and if he have any use for me either to act or suffer, here I am, but my warfare must be at his charges.

January, 1701. Resolution, at the commencement of a new year, to improve my time more for the glory of God, and the working out of my own salvation. But, alas ! soon forgot; time trifled away by foolish and idle amusements. I know I am censured by many as stingy and inconversible, because I keep so little company, and seldom mix in conversation. But when I do keep company, such as my business is with, ah ! it is dear bought. A careless unthinking temper grows upon the soul. Grace wastes as water through a sieve, and as a spark of fire is stifled by throwing it into a river; so is grace by ill company. Let foolish men snarl and say what they will, I’ll converse more with God, and less with the world. There the fancy and imagination are easily corrupted: and these are the door whereby most sin is let into the soul. They are the faculties wherein grace last enters, and is longest in sanctifying.

I am surprised at the odd composition of my own heart: Heaven, earth, and hell, seem to make up the mixture. In the renewed part, I delight in holiness; but I find another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to sin. I know, in general, that I ought to make use of Jesus Christ, yet when it comes to the push, I neglect to employ him. When the Spirit of God shines upon his own work in the soul, then faith is the easiest thing in the world, and may - rather he called sense; but when that light is withdrawn, then faith must tug against wind and tide, by pleading promises, remembering former experiences, and drawing consequences from them. Mine, I am afraid, is but a fresh weather belief, and has never yet been in any great storm. It is like a weak anchor, that slips in the least gale. Lord, increase and strengthen it, that anxiety, fear, and distrust may be excluded. If under outward troubles, I might have inward peace and supplies of grace, proportionably as trouble is laid on, I should be so far from fretting, that I should pray for affliction; but my misery is, under outward distresses, faith gives way; and who can bear affliction without, and darkness within? I foresee storms are gathering, but I have a refuge to fly unto, where I shall be safe. Come death, come life, let him do with me what seemeth good. It is my request, that I may be found in a righteous cause, and out of all evil, and all appearance of evil, because of my profession, and because of wicked men. I bless God for all his providences, and- that he keeps me out of temptation.

February. I observe, that as ill company stifles and dispels grace, so good company helps to refresh and revive it; and there is a blessing in the society of some; it tends to my spiritual improvement. But I have a weak side, and am often vexed at my easiness in yielding to silly tempations. And really it is very difficult for a man to live in this age, if he be not more or less double and knavish. Hypocrisy is a kind of self-defence,—an armour which the world forces him reluctantly to put on. This keeps my mind in a prison, in straiter fetters than if my body were in irons; for. what I hate in my soul, I am compelled to seem to like, for fear of being thought singular. I dare neither go along with the world, nor manfully oppose it. My conscience hinders me from doing the one,—a timorous spirit a want of grace and courage, from doing the other. I think I know something of the way of the world, but for my life, I cannot practise it. When I retire from it, I am happy- and full of comfort; when I enter it again, I am miserable; Lord, let my desires be singly and intensely after thee alone. O unite my heart to love thee, to delight more in thee. The whole stream of my affections is too weak; ah! why then do I divide it into earthly channels? I involve myself in other’s sin, by my silence in not witnessing against it. Ill company is my greatest torment; and suppose there were neither loss nor pain in hell, I could not endure to live there for the sin and blasphemy in it. I am sure I love God, hut alas ! I want zeal to vindicate his honour when it is reviled and evil spoken of among men. And yet I know I could cheerfully venture my life against his enemies, and in giving a public testimony to his cause. O may he graciously pardon me and sanctify me, and restore to me the joy of his salvation.

March. Hindered all day by business, from retiring to seek communion with Christ, whereby I have missed my wonted supply and recruit of comfort, and in consequence, am dull, heavy, and dejected. About twelve at night, I got my liberty, and poured out my soul before him; the weight immediately fell off my hack, and I was sensibly relieved. But, alas! I live with Christ as I live with mankind, reservedly, coldly, and too much like a stranger. I come to him by set and solemn approaches, hut in the intervals I forget him. I neglect to depend and trust in him. Whatsover one loves well he thinks often on it, arid will not let it slip from his memory. I complain that the habit of my mind is not so spiritual as it ought to he; I should hunger and thirst more after righteousness, send up warmer desires, and more frequent longings for it. I know not how other Christians find it, who mingle in the world; hut I must confess, the restraints I am obliged to put on myself destroy my comfort, and make life burdensome. To me it appears that the world’s way of living, and a Christian’s living by faith, are directly at antipodes—diametrically opposite to each other. I cannot converse or do business in the world, without being a considerable loser in happiness and religion. This makes me often appear deficient in frankness and cheerfulness-; it quite eats out and corrodes any thing that is agreeable or gay in my natural temper. My sabbaths, I fear, are not rightly sanctified, ordinances not properly improven. Sensible of this during all the time of public worship. In the evening, I returned home sorrowful and dejected. I went to my knees, my soul filled with shame, humility, and contrition; then was I helped to cleave to Christ Jesus for pardon and for grace. Then the mountain of sin, sorrow, and desertion was removed, and joy began to flow in. Then it was but a little, and I found him whom my soul loved. I held him, and would not let him go, till the cloud had passed away, and peace made up firmer than ever.

April. It is my grief that I cannot more keep up a devotional frame and habit of soul through all my time and all my business, for there is no profession but may be adorned by the beauty of holiness—no turn of business so quick, but that I might send up an express about it, and receive an answer. My faith ebbs and flows, sensual desires sometimes prevailing. Gun-powder does not more suddenly flash up when a spark of fire falls upon it, than corruption, when Satan throws in his fiery darts. But I find to my unspeakable comfort, when I sin, I have an Advocate with the Father. I regret that my conversation and discourse is so idle, trifling, and unprofitable. It answers no solid purpose when the company is not made better hy it. I should always he mixing something that may edify in my discourse, to make people fall in love with the ways of holiness.

May. What ups and downs I have in my life, just as God shines or hides his face. One day I lie grovelling in the earth; another, sunk in darkness and despondency; a third, my soul is lifted up to heaven, and dwells, as it were, on the mount with God. Though outwardly I may appear with a dark side to the world, yet I have much secret joy and sweet communion which they know not of, neither can they give. I dare not converse with, or haunt that company which the world calls good and genteel. I think no graceless, debauched company can be good or genteel, he they of ever so great quality. Perhaps this wrongs my reputation among fashionable people ; but I value not their opinion. I think those men who are reckoned the best here in London, even ministers, are not so tender and circumspect in their walk as I could wish.

June. A believer should be an exact observer of the state of grace in his soul, whether it be making progress or decaying : He should be a careful observer of providences, and, like the bee, draw honey out of every dispensation. Alas ! I am like a machine, that is moved by springs; when my soul is roused up, either by a powerful sermon, by good company, by a surprising mercy, or a cross Providence, then it acts for a while by that outward force, lively, brisk, and vigorously; but when this outward spring and weight is taken off, my spirits flag, I return to my natural state of indolence and dejectedness. I beg this natural temper may be changed into a cheerful, happy, spiritual lightness of heart. I have continual experience of this, that I must employ Christ daily if I would have grace daily. I find I must have a regular supply; my grace is like the children of Israel’s manna in the wilderness, they that gathered much the day before, had nothing over the next: So must I gather for my daily sustenance. My corruptions need a constant check, they are like the flax to the least spark of temptation. 1 find not the ministers of the word so powerful here, as I have found them in Scotland: But perhaps the fault lies in me, and not in them. Oft times, on the Sabbath, I feel just such a frame as St. Paul complains of, Rom. vii. 15, &c. I converse much with good men, but I observe they have all their weak sides. I find men are generally had, even ministers are swayed too much by a worldly interest. This stumbles me a little, to see a minister, in the pulpit, pressing us to live by faith; yet follow him into the world, perhaps you will see him crouching, fawning, and playing fast and loose to gain some paltry temporal interest. Such conduct and conversation does me more harm than any thing I know besides. I cannot, for my soul, flatter and wheedle men, I cannot insinuate into their affections, or work upon their passions by warm talking, or plausible speeches.

July. I will not conceal the goodness of God, who is the hearer of prayer. I fell down on my knees this morning, my soul full of anxiety and despondency. I was helped to employ Christ by faith, and sought a return of a particular suit I had put up in his hands, some time ago. He heard me, and answered me; comfort flowed in upon my soul; I came away rejoicing, and resolving to treat him more and more. This I looked upon as a presage and good omen, concerning the circumstances which I was fearing. And so it was; for the same day I got notice that I am safe as to my employment; and I only beg, that I may be enabled to lay out myself more zealously for the glory and service of God. I believe, however, that people may sometimes he mistaken in their prayers about temporal things, e. g. a wife, or children, or estate. That which they reckon fervency, enlargedness, or freedom, is often only the strength of sensual appetites going out after earthly tilings; yet our condescending Advocate takes even their prayers, and fans away the chaff, and presents them to the Father, and solicits for us those things we want. But our safest way is to he very submissive and short; for while we enlarge, earthly affections and unmortified appetites take fire, and while we think the Spirit of God inflames our desires, we are mistaken, for it is our lusts that are kindled. This is a strange unhallowed fire; love to the world furnishes fuel to it.

July. I have been in London just a twelve-month : I bless God it has been the sweetest time ever I had —the kindest visits,—the nearest sensible communion with God,—lively faith and close dependence on Christ. I have not succeeded in the particular business I came up for; I bless God for it; it is better as it is; I have had an infinitely richer equivalent, (if I may call it so) pearls for pebbles, precious grace for worthless mammon and trash. I commit myself to him for counsel, conduct, and protection, on my return. Sailed on the 15th, and trust to Providence, we shall have a prosperous voyage.

July 20. A solitary Sabbath at sea; yet communion with God. In the afternoon, I went up to the cradle at the top of the mast, to be retired. We had been becalmed all day, and lay hulling on the water. I had not spent much time in prayer and meditation, when there arose a fresh gale, which obliged me to come down in great haste, and the seamen to handle their sails. So strong and fair was the wind, that we ran before it 140 miles.

July 23. This day I landed in Scotland; but company, business and drinking did so steal away my time, that I was not in a right thankful frame all day. I have trifled away eight days since I came home, and could wish them scraped out of the register of my life.

In August, Captain Blackader joined his regiment at Perth, where he appears to have exerted himself diligently for promoting their moral improvement. “I pray,” says he, “that God would bless and countenance the endeavours I am using here for curbing vice, and furthering reformation1 hope he will, for I think I am upright, and have his glory singly before my eyes. I strive daily to do what good I can, by the example of a holy life.”

About this time, he had resolved to change his “single and solitary life,” as he expresses it, and fixed his affections on Miss Anne Callander, daughter of James Callander, Esq. of Craigforth, near Stirling. The habitual spirituality of his mind is remarkably evinced by his conduct on this occasion, which also illustrates some of those mistakes into which, as I have noticed, he was apt to fall with regard to having contingencies prognosticated or ascertained by special interpositions of Providence. “ I trust,” says he, “that in this affair, I shall be guided by the Spirit of God, for I hope I may appeal to him, I am single and upright in my intentions. I have examined my heart, and dare say there is no idol in it to draw me from the road of duty. I have not taken one step in it, without seriously asking counsel and direction of God. If it he for his glory, and the advancement of grace in me, let him prosper it; if any thing else, let him put a stop to it; I shall see afterwards, it was for my good that it succeeded not. I sopght particularly that he would shew and determine me by some special providence, whether I should proceed or let it drop, and whether this should he the. particular person or not. Happening within half-an-hour after, unexpectedly to fall into her company, I looked upon it as somewhat observable, and encouraging me to go on.” They were married on the 4th of February, 1702,-and though their union was not blessed with any family, this circumstance seems to have in nothing abated their mutual affections. He cherished . for her an ardent and steady attachment. She accompanied him to the Continent, and remained generally, during the campaigns, in some of the towns within the Dutch frontier.

September. I live much easier and happier here (Perth) than I did at Edinburgh. The reason is, I can retire and he alone as much as I please. I may he no longer or oftener in company than I choose. I like to withdraw in the intervals of business, and keep up fresh intercourse with heaven by faith. Here there is less hustle, and fewer temptations. My soul is making a voyage, as it were, to Emanuel’s Land, through a stormy sea, like a frail bark on the wide ocean. There come flans and hurricanes that drive her far out of her course; then a little easy weather, and she returns to her due course; she does not perhaps sail a watch, till another tempest drives her away again. Alas ! at this rate, when shall I perfect my voyage, and gain my desired port. It is only free grace and mercy that can prevent one from making shipwreck,—Awake, O north wind; come thou south and blow, that I may at last get an abundant entrance into my destined haven.

October. When I get not the morning to myself, I am not right all day. An earthly, sensual temper grows upon me. Vain fancies, and roving thoughts take possession of the mind. Satan being chased, as it were, out of all the rest of the faculties, seems to retire into the imagination, from whence, as from a garrisoned citadel, he makes war upon my soul. Lord, give me grace to be watchful, faith to be my anchor in storms and tempests.

November. I find my heart like the sluggard’s garden, full of weeds if it be neglected but twenty-four hours. Worldly lusts, foolish thoughts, and trifling imaginations take root, and spring up in rank and rapid growth. My mind, in consequence, is disordered ; my soul is inflamed, and takes in poison at my eyes, by viewing vanity.

December. Employing myself in the work of public reformation, and frequently in Society prayer. O that God would make use of my poor endeavours, to kindle love to Christ in the hearts of others, how glad should I he. But I observe this, when I talk of assurance as that which should he pressed after, and that which may he attained, I am always snibbed; and Christians talk of it as a thing to he wished for, rather than attained; and they commend generally a frame and case of doubting and fears, as one of the best that is to be won to. But I maintain, assurance is to be had, and it is the sin of Christians, oft-times, that they get it not; for through an excess of mistaken humility, they dare not; they think it arrogance to act faith boldly on Christ. A bold assurance is quite consistent with a humble and needy reliance upon him. Lord, strengthen my faith more, and help me to improve my time better in future. Many years have now passed over my head: O to be so numbering my days, that I may apply my heart to wisdom.

In the beginning of the next year, 1702, the Cameronian Regiment received orders to go abroad. We shall therefore suspend our extracts for a little, until we offer a few observations on the subject of the new war in which they were to be engaged,—a war, distinguished by victories more brilliant, perhaps, than profitable,—more illustrious to the military genius, than advantageous to the political interests of this country.


Return to Book Index Page


 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast