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 XXI


CONCLUSION, 1722—1729.

Hemarks on the last years of the Colonel’s life—Death of particular friends, his Brother, Lord Rothes, &c.— His opinions on Preachers and Professors of Religion—His endeavours to get crimes punished and suppressed—Death of his Father-in-law—Close of the Diary —His death arid Character.

As the latter years of the Colonel’s life were not distinguished by any extraordinary events, it will he unnecessary to prolong the subject by multiplied extracts. Confined as he was within the narrow precincts of his office, and the limited circle of his friends, his character had less room to display itself in a manner sufficiently striking and diversified to command general interest. But though the concluding period of his history he less checquered and eventful, still it was marked by the same tokens of divine care, and furnishes instructive incidents worthy of being recorded.

To him, the most retired situation—the most tranquil season, had its memorable occurrences. Every day afforded to his mind matter of useful observation; every month had its calendar of mercies; every providence was noted in his journal, and thereby more deeply imprinted on the tablet of his memory. But the uniformity of his experiences had, in course of time, communicated a similar uniformity to his thoughts and expressions; and it is for this cause that his pious reflections have occasionally been omitted, as tending to fatigue the mind with needless repetitions. The same reason will apply to the remaining extracts, which are selected purposely of a desultory and miscellaneous kind, so as to exhibit his character under various shades of colouring. This explanation will obviate the supposition, which otherwise might have occurred, that the Writer of the Diary had become less devout, as if ease and prosperity, dangerous enemies to religion, had betrayed him into carelessness and security, or weaned his affections away from the things that belong to his everlasting peace, into a criminal conformity with the world.

As he advanced in years, he began to experience, in the loss of friends and relatives, some of those calamities and privations to which old age is necessarily exposed. He lived to witness the departure of many of his early acquaintances, and several of his distinguished patrons, among whom he records with much feeling, Marlborough, and the Earl of Rothes, his Fort-Governor. Of Lord Rothes’ death, he has given a most tender and impressive description; a favour which, it is much to be regretted, none of his own friends did for himself.

January 21. Sabbath. Hearing a very good sermon in the main, yet some expressions in it, which I thought sounded otherwise than what I used to hear, and even otherwise than what I think the Scriptures and our divines express. My ill heart nibbled at these new ways of speaking, and hindered me from being edified by the very good things that were in it. Lord, help me as a new born babe to desire the sincere milk of the word, that I may grow thereby. A man that has a good appetite, and is hungry, will not quarrel with a meal, though it be not quite to his taste. It is a squeamish stomach that carps at a dish of meat, though there be a mote in it.

March 5. Alarmed in the morning by an express, that my brother is dying. I made ready, and immediately went for Edinburgh, but ere I got in, he was dead. I doubt not he has left this valley of tears— this weary wilderness, to enter into that fulness of joy, —those rivers of pleasure at God’s right hand.

March 6. This morning, seeing another friend that was dying; and died two hours after. Lord sanctify these providences. Death is made familiar. I am handling it every day. O help me to be living as a stranger and pilgrim on the earth, sitting loose to all earthly enjoyments, that when death comes, I may look to it as a friend. O death, where is thy sting?

March 7. In the afternoon doing the last duty to my dear brother. Serious thoughts by the way. He is now happy; no more sin—no more sorrow—no more trouble. He is now singing that new song, To him that loved us, and washed us in his blood, 8fc. while we lay down the body to rest in the grave till the resurrection, in hope of a blessed immortality. It was liis desire to be carried to the grave by ministers, and he got his wish; for all the Presbytery came in a body to the burial. At night I was again in the house of mourning, with my other friend. It was a satisfaction that Providence brought me in to do these last duties, for I knew there was none in the world that they desired more to be near them at their death than myself. O, when I ani laying my friends in the dust every day, make me remember I must lie down there shortly myself. But I know that my Redeemer liveth, and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet I trust with these eyes, I shall see God.

March 8. Getting account that my Lord Rothes is very ill. I went over the water in the afternoon. This is a melancholy time; death striking on all hands. We were long upon the water, and had a troublesome landing. The night was dark, and the way bad. I got a guide, and got to Leslie, but found my Lord better than I expected.

March 10. I got opportunity this morning to speak alone to my Lord: I said but little. Lord speak thou; let him see his sin and danger, that he may cry out, What shall I do to he saved ! Then let him see the remedy, Jesus Christ ready to receive him. Come unto me all ye that labour, Sfc. Whosoever comes unto me, I will in no wise cast out. I thought of returning home, but my Lord would not let me go, and kept me two days longer.

March 22. Giving a commission about buying a piece of land. I am easy about it, being more at friends’ desire than my own. It is not time for an old man to be making projects for long life, and purchasing estates. Lord, be the portion of my inheritance, and of my cup. Make me meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Let me think more of a removal, than of a purchase in this world. The most part of my time is over. I desire to live a stranger and pilgrim on earth, waiting till the day of my appointed time.

May 6. Took a sudden resolution again to go to Leslie, hearing my Lord is very ill. Riding alone all the day; serene, serious temper. Came to Leslie at night, and was much affected, and I hope edified, seeing my Lord’s carriage. He called all his family together, and took leave of them solemnly; recommended them to the serious study of religion and holiness, as the one thing needful—as that alone which would make them happy in time and to eternity, and that when they came to be in the condition he was in, (death looking them in the face,) they would see it to be so. Then he prayed with them most Fervently; this was very affecting to us all. He shewed the greatest submission and resignation; and though he was in much pain, yet the greatest patience, never uttering the least fretting expression ; shewing a desire to be gone, yet submitting to the will of God, as to the time. About eleven at night, he caused his son, Lord Leslie, read the 86th Psalm to him, and as lie went along, he repeated the emphatical expressions of it, such as, I sought the Lordz he heard me and delivered me, &c. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him. O taste and see that God is good, &c. I left him about twelve, being so much fatigued and affected, that I fainted away.

I waited on my Lord next day, and it was well spent time. He shewed a lively faith, trusting in God, relying upon his promises and his faithfulness, and gave solid reasons of his hope; declaring his full satisfaction with the Gospel method of salvation; and besought a minister that was present, and me, to deal plainly with him, and tell him if we thought he wag wrong, or if we thought his faith was true and right founded; or if we thought it was presumption. For my part, I could not refuse to give testimony to the Spirit of God, and to the truth and reality of that gracious work of the Spirit, which, by all the skill and experience I had in religion, I thought I saw in him. So we encouraged him to go on believing, trusting, relying. He spoke to excellent purpose through the day; was very pertinent and ready in the Scriptures; prayed once I think publicly, and often privately, with his eyes so fixed and intent towards heaven, as if he were looking into it, and reminded me of Stephen, Acts vii. 55.

He desired the physician, and he himself frequently felt his pulse, not for the prolonging of life, but to observe how fast he spent and weakened; and was .not pleased when they promised him long time to live; telling us he had no more to do here, and was well content to go out of a vain, sinful world, and to be with Christ which was far better. This humility and good nature he carried with him do the last; and even his brisk, cheerful temper, and pleasant way of speaking. When they told him that one of his physicians was gone, he said smiling, “The doctor thinks I will not die to-night, but perhaps I .shall beguile him.” I sat up with him till about one in the morning, and then I left him; for he pressed me to go, and said he would send for me when he grew weak.

May 9. Called in the morning, my Lord being weak. This day he prayed once .in public with his family with great earnestness, recommending them to God; and prayed secretly, often with fixed fervent looks towards heaven. As he weakened, he began to be delirious; but whenever spiritual discourse was begun to him, he immediately came to himself again, and joined in it with the greatest seriousness; and he bade us that were about him, check him when we found him wavering, which we took the freedom to do, and which he took most kindly. About three hours before his death, his thoughts began much to waver, and the fever seized his head, and he became uneasy, but suddenly his spirit fled, and he went away calmly with little struggle. In a word, I never saw any man die more as a Christian hero, with so much natural fortitude, and such lively faith. He was pleasant in his life, and pleasant in his death. O keep the impression strong upon my heart for ever, of what I have seen and heard here.

May 10. Came into Edinburgh this morning; waited on the Commissioner to the Assembly, and went home.

June 22. Getting letters with the accounts of a new Governor. Lord, let it be for thy glory and our good; thou doest all things for us well.

July 7. Going out early in the morning to Kilmadock, being the day before the sacrament. Heard two good and suitable sermons. Walking in the fields alone after sermon, meditating on the solemn ordinance. I complain of a hard, dead heart, carnal earthly affections, no relish for spiritual things. I desire to come straight to Christ by faith, to believe in him as a complete Saviour, able to heal all my plagues, to pardon all my sins, to stop all my complaints, to make up all my wants. Lord, give me such a sight of my self-pollution, and misery, and withal, such a view of the sufficiency and fulness of a Saviour, as may chase me unto Christ; give me such a sight of his love—of free sovereign pardoning grace, as may make sin terrible and odious to me. ,

July 8. Sabbath. Rose early in the morning, at four o’clock, and went out to the wood. There I endeavoured to pour out my soul, in confession and acknowledgment of sin, and bring my heart to mourn and be humbled for it. I sought more grace and more strength, for all I need. I will n.ot speak of my resolutions and promises; it is not my promises to God I must trust to, to carry me through; it is God’s promises to me, that he will perfect strength in my weakness. I was troubled all the day that I could not get love to keep pace with faith; now that I am old, the heart is not naturally so soft as in youth; the edge of the affections is blunted. I went down to the table, desiring that the plagues of my heart might be healed, that it might he more powerfully touched with grace; and it pleased the Lord to pour upon me a spirit of repentance and supplication, The hard and stony heart was softened. I could not contain myself at the table, tears flowing out, which I strove much against; first, lest on-lookers should think better of me than I knew I deserved, or think I had that which I had not; and again, I know the heart is deceitful and vain. However, I desired to have secret work between God and my soul, which none could he witness to. But O, let me not trust to my vows and resolutions as I have too much done : but to the well-ordered covenant and the promises of grace. I sat in the church all day serene and calm. At night, fatigued by long exercise.

August 2. The day of Blenheim,, a day on which the Lord delivered and honoured me. This day also the great Duke of Marlborough is to be buried. This time eighteen years ago, was a glorious day for him ; one of the greatest victories ever was obtained. I could not forbear to solemnize it by dropping guns with my tears, to the honour of my ever renowned, and ever to be reinembered great General, under whose auspicious conduct, by the blessing of God, I have fought these thirty years bygone.

November 4. Hearing a stranger preach from a text that should be memorable to me from the time I was in the Bass, when Mr. Shields preached upon it.1 Jer. ii. 2. Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youths the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, 8fc. O for that first love, the love of espousals. Some are drawn in to Christ by the cords of love, others chased in by fear.

December 4. At night something came into my mind that passed in a public company the day before, wherein I thought I had justly given offence, especially to a minister, in speaking in too legal a strain, &c. I was uneasy at myself, and thought I was obliged to write a letter to him clearing myself, explaining my meaning, and declaring my principles and opinion on that 'head, which I think is sound, and I believe he thinks so too.

(1723,) February 20. Hearing sermon; but not very well pleased with it. The distinction of legal and gospel preachers is too far pushed on both sides; and both go to extremes. Some err in pressing too much moral duties and holiness, without insisting enough from what principle they spring, viz. faith in Christ. Others again dwell too much on faith, without pressing holiness and moral duties. I do not like legal preaching; and indeed some sermons, such as Tillotson’s, Barrow’s, &c. are but like Seneca’s discourses of moral virtue to me. I would have ministers lead me to the spring—Jesus Christ, and faith in him, all to he done through his strength and by his grace; hut I would have them often pressing—and warmly pressing obedience to his laws. There is certainly a middle way to be kept, and no doubt every minister thinks he is in the right way. Lord, lead me in the light way.

July 14. Not very well, and in the evening great and violent pain. But I bless God who mitigates and rebukes it, and makes it tolerable, and gives patience. O give the sanctified use of the rod. Let thy design he mercy to my soul. May affliction chase me unto Christ; and wean me from the world and its enjoyments. Sabbath, at home reading: serious and meditating. Lord, make up to me the want of ordinances.

August 21. In the Session, and after in the Presbytery. A foul scandal (adultery) of a great professor before us. O, we should not he high-minded, but fear. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. Though some will not own it, I am afraid there are in Scotland both Antinomians and favourers of Antinomians; those who think themselves great proficients in grace, and that they stand high in favour with God above others, and treat them with a Pharisaical Stand by, for I am holier than thou s and that then sins, even gross sins, cannot cast them out of his favour, nor make them liable to his displeasure; that God sees not their sins as the sins of others, and is not angry with them as with others; and their views being only on free grace and pardoning grace, they do not entertain those frightful ideas of sin which they call a legal spirit: so that when they fall into even gross sins and scandals they are not uneasy. David’s adultery and murder conies in to alleviate them; and they apply (or think so) the blood of Christ immediately, and take hold of the promise of pardoning grace.

There are others who do not fall into this way themselves, but from an excess of charity, and desiring to be much of a Gospel spirit, do favour these, and are easy to them, supposing them to be in a state of grace. Though they have made slips, they cannot find in their hearts to apply the threatenings of the law to them, but immediately apply the promises and consolations of the gospel. This is skinning over a wound before it be probed. I saw too much of this I thought this day in the Presbytery. I would magnify free grace; but I would also magnify the law. I would hold all by the tenure of free grace, but not so as to turn the grace of God into licentiousness, or take^ liberty to sin because grace abounds.

September 19. This is a remarkable day to me, the siege of Aeth. Particular providences happened to me that seemed awful and frowning at the first, but much mercy appeared after. I remember what a horror I was in alone for a little space in the trenches, from a providence that I brought upon myself and the regiment, which I did for the best, and to the best of my understanding, but which was like to turn ill out and endanger the lives of some soldiers, and indeed did cost some lives. This Satan drove home upon me as if I had been guilty of their blood, though it is as probable more might have been killed, if I had done the thing the other way. And at night, by another strange providence, I had almost been drowned after I had brought the regiment out of the trenches, coming home to the camp. All these had a terrible effect upon me. I thought upon that word our Lord said to Peter, Satan has sought thee, but I thought it was to destroy me. The damp of these providences continued upon me for several days: but I bless God who restored peace. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin,

October 1. Dining abroad; in company all the afternoon, and in the evening at a glass of wine. Cheerful conversation, perhaps too much upon the ramble. I comply too far with young rambling company; yet at the same time I was disputing against and keeping down wild mistaken notions, and debating on the side of truth. When I am grave at a bottle of wine, then I am reckoned morose, and a spy upon conversation; when I am cheerful, then it is a humour for drinking, and love of company. It is not easy keeping the middle way, therefore I go as seldom as I can into these occasions,

November 25. Burying a serjeant in the garrison, I was troubled I did not see him before he died; he was calling for me. I should embrace every opportunity of doing good to poor souls. O give more zeal for thy glory, more grace, to do my duty better.

December 20. Put out of humour by hearing, that he who is appointed to intimate the sentence of excommunication against that scandalous person, refuses to do it. It does indeed stumble me; for I have of a long time thought that Antinomianism is too softly and tenderly handled here; and this man seems to be a rank Antinomian. For, notwithstanding of these horrid scandals of adultery and perjury, he is enjoying a peace of conscience, that surpasses not only all natural, but all spiritual understanding. It does not shake his faith, no, nor yet his assurance. I. am persuaded he breaks his neck upon such doctrines as these: A believer has not to mourn or repent of his sins, &c. God does not see the sins of believers, 8fc., is not angry with them. And that God loves the believer as well when he is sinning as when he is holy. These are the doctrines they delude themselves with. Lord, send forth thy light and thy truth; let them be guides to me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

(1724,) January 1. Thou art still adding to my days and years. O Lord, give more grace to employtime better, and working out my salvation; that every year I may be made more meet for that inheritance of the saints in light. Then I might rejoice in old age, when every year, bringing me nearer the grave, might also bring me nearer heaven, by grace made ripe for glory.

January 13. Company coming up to the Castle in the forenoon, great high-fliers. I wonder what heights and extravagances some men’s violent humours will drive them to : and still the Church is the cry. By the Church they do not mean practical religion. It is not the Protestant succession. It is not King George.

All these would be dropt; yea, a Pretender would be taken by the hand to get their grievances redressed. These lie at the bottom of their hearts ; the breaking of the Union, &c. And there are too many that love to fish in troubled waters. A dice often thrown must cast up a lucky chance some time or other. Ambition, love of the world, &c. lie at bottom many times when we think we are acting from fair, principles. I used freedom with them, and told them my mind. Lord, subdue those lusts that war against the soul, and blind the eyes of our understanding.

January 24. This day went to Dunblane to the burial of another old Bass friend. Pious company and suitable conversation.

'February 13. Coming up from Craigforth in the evening, we met with a merciful. preservation. The hill of Ballochgiech being slippery with ice, the horse fell, and the chariot ran back, and was nearly thrown over. I may still observe, that God gives his angels charge over us, to keep us in their hands, so that not a bone is broken. It might have been a melancholy night, and lives lost. We came out and got men who brought horses and chariot home safe.

March 25. Went to a Quarter-Sessions, where I thought it my duty to speak to the magistrates, to stir them up to do their duty in putting the laws in execution anent Popish Priests, and Jacobite MeetingHouses. I told them I should feel myself obliged, by the post I was in, to represent it to Government. Lord, bless and give success.

April 14. Sent for this day to hold a Justice Court, a horrid murder committed this morning in the country; a woman and her daughter barbarously murdered and mangled. Several persons examined; and three others suspected and ordered to he seized, Lord, direct and guide us to discover the guilty. Strong presumptions of guilt upon two women ; a long tract of malice, rage, revenge, and threatenings proven upon them, hut they are most hardened obstinate wretches. Lord, make thou a full discovery. Let fall a spark of conviction on their consciences that they may confess and repent.

May 11. At home reading. Lord, make me more spiritually minded. We were alarmed with a great eclipse of the sun this evening; yet it did not appear remarkable, being very little darker than ordinary. The God of nature was pleased to spread a veil of clouds between the heavens and us; to stop the prying curiosity of vain man who would he wise to know every thing. It is our duty to he thankful for the daily kind returns of the sun to us; and that we are not scorched up as some climates are, or frozen with cold as others. -

May 20—22. The Judges coming in this morning; waited and went to church with them. Went to the court every day. They have heen at all pains to find hut the horrid murder of the woman and her daughter, and gave a fair hearing to the wretched culprits, appointing two advocates to plead for them, which they did as handsomely as the case would hear. The trial was long, and the Judges had great patience. I ordered some refreshment for them. The jury gave in their verdict, finding the two women guilty. It was a melancholy sight. During the trial the pannels had been quarreling between themselves; and one of the women, upon receiving her sentence, fell into a violent rage at sight of the executioner who pronounced the doom, and tore and hit every body near her. O may sinners he terrified by seeing thy righteous judgments against the wicked.

June 3. Hearing sermon in the forenoon. The three murderers who are under sentence of death were all brought into church. Yet I cannot say the discourse was suitable. He was too metaphysical about the law, when lie should have held out the remedy of the Gospel.

June 9. I was desired by the minister to go along with him to visit the criminals. It was a melancholy sight; no contrition, nothing but curses, imprecations, and rage, against the Judges and all who had any hand in their condemnation, I spoke to them honestly, telling them to confess and implore mercy and forgiveness of God. But^I saw nothing but hardened obstinacy,

June 14. Sabbath. There was an affecting melancholy sight in church this afternoon, a child baptized of one of the criminals, a man that is to be executed here for killing his own mother. The man was present himself. The minister spoke well to the subject, and it drew tears from every eye.

June 27. Called down to Craigforth hastily in the morning, a child there dying. I was much affected and went out to the fields, offering up prayers to the throne of grace for the poor child. She, as well as the oldest of us, must be washed from original sin in the blood of Christ. She must have his righteousness imputed to her as well as we ; she must have the corruption of nature taken away and cleansed, as well as we. I incline to have much charity for children.

Our merciful Saviour said, Suffer little children to ccrne unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven. I do not say all children will he saved, even of believing parents. But this is a point too deep for us; we must not meddle with the sovereignty of God.

July 27. Called down to hold a Justice Court, where I was sorry to hear some professors, and even good men, blamed for unfair practices. I thought myself obliged to give them a pretty severe reprimand in open court, to shew them that we do not approve of any such practices.

September 26. In the afternoon diverting with the officers that are come to this town ; but put out of humour hy their swearing, which I ought not to be witness to. I reproved them, but they cannot refrain. I resolve to withdraw from their company, one of them especially; for the rest are sober men.

October 21. Went this morning a mile to visit a curiosity; a man who is in good health, and yet has not been out of his house these twenty years. Was well diverted with him, he being a man of good sense, and great travel. Debating with him about his not coming to church to hear the Gospel; but I was too much on the banter; I should have been more serious and grave with him.

October 30. This being the Prince’s birth-day, I was invited by the Magistrates to drink the healths of the day. Very cheerful and merry. I went into the frolic of dancing, to avoid a greater frolic, drinking; for I thought it the more innocent of the two.

(1725,) January 12. At home writing letters to a friend. My vein is inclined to jest and humour. The letter was too comical and jocose; and after I had sent it away, I had a check that it was too light, and jesting foolishly. I sent and got it back, and destroyed it. My temper goes too far that way, and I ought to check it, and be more on my guard, and study edification in every thing.

May 6. Went to Edinburgh, being chosen a member to the General Assembly.

May 11. An affair came on this day wherein I was solicited and inclined to favour a certain side; but upon hearing the cause, I was quite determined on the other side. I bless the Lord who keeps me from acting against light, or wronging my own conscience.

May 12. I was solicited by the town of Aberdeen to appear in a cause which comes on to-mofrow. I do not like to be importuned, but to be keep free and unbiassed.

June 21. Went out to the country to see a dying Christian. I observe it is generally Christians of simplicity and godly sincerity, plain* simple hearted, that have most peace and serenity of mind at death, and most faith and joy; when the wise and purdent—the learned and subtle wits are often in the dark; and if they get their souls for a prey, yet they are not honoured to give such a testimony to the truth and reality of religion as the others. Worldly wisdom is good to defend us against the subtle serpents and ravening wolves of this world, but Uprightness and sincerity give us peace at death.

August 2. This is one of my remarkable days. Hochstet. I resolved, as usual, to stay at home, and spend all the day at home. I went to my knees, and prayed over that Psalm which I had done the morning of the battle, in marching up to the enemy,—the 91st Psalm.

August 18. Reviewing old letters and papers; 0 what thankfulness and admiration should it raise, that I have been carried through so many snares of a cunning deceitful world, while others of more wisdom and prudence have misgiven. I see much truth in that, The battle is not always to the strong, riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill. What dangers have I escaped, wherein I would have ruined and destroyed myself, hadst Hot thou held up my ways, and with-held me from leaping over precipices, into which my wicked heart and wild fancy would have precipitated me. How wonderfully preserved for twenty years wars, in battles and sieges! what great deliverances ! Thou honoured me, and set me up as a monument of mercy in the army; took me out of it just at the right crisis, and brought me home to my native country among my friends, laden with riches and honours.

Again, Providence acted and provided for me. While others have been industriously toiling^ running, projecting and plotting how to get posts and riches ; yet crossed and thwarted ih all their designs; Providence has laid them to my hand without anxiety, and often without the ordinary care and means. As an instance of this, how easily did I slip into this post. Many would have been glad of it, and courted it; I was not seeking it. I went from choice to Stirling

to live; then came on the Rebellion which brought the great men and the army here, among these, the Glasgow regiment; then the different parties rising up, brought me into the Castle.

Another instance, as to riches, was the South-Sea scheme. What labour and anxiety were some at! riding, running night and day; hastening to be rich, their hearts and souls going after the world. Yet how was it converted into a trap to catch their worldly minds, and make them ruin themselves. Providence did all for me in that; I never stirred out of my chamber, but used the ordinary means, writing a few letters; and I came better off than they did witli all their labour and pains. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee. As I desired to use the means with moderateness, so I desired to use the profit; and I might have had much more, for I gave nearly a third part of my profits to friends. God is the sovereign proprietor, he takes from one, and gives to another.

November. 4. Bad weather, and extremely backward season. There is much corn upon the ground, and much not yet cut down. Lord pity, and deal not with us as our sins deserve, but according to the multitude of thy mercies.

November 8. Spent the day quietly about the garrison. I have now given over the diversion of chess-playing, as that which trifled away too much time, &nd made the spirit too keen about frivolities. Lord, give grace to spend my time better.

(1726,) January 12. Getting account of the King’s landing.- Lord be blessed for his preservation, for he was in great danger at sea, coming over in a great

storm. Lord, preserve him long to be a lasting blessing to thy church, and these nations. Guide and direct him and his Parliament into right measures. Let them have thy glory more before their eyes, in all they do.

January 21. Writing and transcribing some memoirs that were lying by me, about the Earl of Rothes’ death. They were demanded of me long ago by a minister who was employed in writing lives. I was , in the wrong that did not send them sooner, for if I ! can do little good myself, I should do all I can to be helpful to others.

March 2. . Good company visiting us. I should like to be so trysted in a place, to live where I might have a good man or minister, two or three say, to converse with freely, without reserve, to argue and debate with freedom, without jealousies or misunderstandings ; a sympathy and good agreement between. Here I often dare not speak my mind out, for fear of giving offence.

April 5. Dull all day, and fit for nothing. I took up a play to read, a tragedy; but that did not answer.

O give me grace to spend time better; to have more delight in religion, and then the day would not hang so heavy on my hands. I cannot now hold out reading or being long intent upon any thing, as I could have done before. The infirmities of age come on.

If I had a spiritual mind, it would give a spiritual taste and relish; and I should not weary of spiritual duties.

May 3. Our friends going away; I felt melancholy at parting. No happiness in earthly enjoyments; all uncertain and unsatisfying. We are but strangers and sojourners here. All is vanity and vexation of spirit. O Lord, be thou my portion and my happiness, that when all other enjoyments vanish and perish, thou mayest be the eternal happiness of my soul. I went to the water, and diverted myself all the forenoon angling; but came up early to receive a visit from some persons of quality. Immediately when they were gone, another company came up that I was obliged also to drink a bottle of wine with. This made me uneasy; but I cannot help it. My post and station obliges me to entertain strangers.

May 21. Down at Craigforth all day. Going up stairs, I saw a melancholy employment, a painter drawing the portraits of two gentlemen, members of the family, both dead, and both my dear friends and relations. I had serious thoughts; they were both cut off in the bloom of youth. Tantum ostendunt terris nec ultra esse sinuni. We cannot dive into the deep mysterious designs of Providence. The old gentleman had a great ambition and fondness to see himself and family represented, now that view is more distant.

June 16. At the water again all the forenoon angling. It is a delightful place, and a pleasant amusement. There is a calm and solitary serenity of mind about woods and water, which pleases me. Making some visits in my way home.

November 28. Busy through the day, and sitting close from two o’clock, till eight at night, writing letters, making up accounts, discharges, muster-rolls, &c. all coming at once; making up dispatches for Edinburgh, &c. All going on smoothly. Lord, thou makest all I do to prosper well. O give me grace to

serve thee cheerfully, as I have good reason to do and have my heart lifted up in thy ways. Fatigued at night. I did not think I could have been able to hold out so well and so long. Lord, thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

(1728,) January 5. Paying a visit to the Commandant. How pleasantly and cheerfully, (and as the world thinks) happily, do some men live; and all this, because they know nothing of then own hearts. But the Christian oftentimes, though outwardly in great prosperity, is seen hanging his head melancholy and cast down: Wretched man, with this body of death. And this is one reason why the carnal world reproaches religion and religious persons, as sour, gloomy, and splenetic. And alas ! religious people are too seldom in that good, cheerful frame, so as to recommend their profession to a carnal world.

January 8. Writing letters this day (about purchasing more property.) Lord, keep my heart off the world, when my hands and thoughts are employed about it. I bless God my heart is not much set upon this affair. I should now, in old age, be thinking more upon dislodging, than settling in this world.

January 20. Applying to the Magistrates for a supply to a person, or rather a community, which they granted. - Some of them solicited again for a favour to a poor burgess, which I promised in my turn. Hogatus rogo. Manus manumfricat. .

February 17. Serious in the forenoon reading. In the evening with our Society for prayer. O may every mean be blessed for strengthening grace, and making Christ more precious to my soul.

March 14. Sent for to see Craigfortb, who is taken very ill. Found him very weak; he spoke little, and did not like to he spoken to. Our own ministers, and two others came and prayed with him. I desire to be much concerned about him. It is an awful, serious thing to see a friend dying. And I am sure I should hear this voice crying, to make ready for death, by fleeing to Christ; and this should be done when we are most lively and healthy. A death-bed is most unfit for this, when the body is oppressed with pain arid sickness—the spirits languishing and weak. O give grace to be taken up this way, when I have such a call, such an impressive sermon on mortality, and the vanity of the world. In a short time he died; by which a business was thrown upon me I was not fit nor inclined for, as I could have wished to spend my old age in quietness, free from the cares of the world, that I might have time to mind better things. I was appointed tutor to the young heir, and to take the management of his affairs, which I would rather have shunned, not having skill in the law. Cast thou thy burden on the Lord, he shall sustain thee; commit thy way to God; trust in him, and he shall bring it to pass.

June 1. Sent for to a Justice-Court, upon a complaint against one of the Excise Officers. I took this occasion to give him a severe reprimand for his lewd, wicked way of living, scandalous and offensive to all sober people. My temper and spirit hot and keen in giving the rebuke; but it was all zeal, and I bless God who gives me opportunities of discouraging vice in this place. We petitioned the Board to get him removed elsewhere, which they granted.

June 22. Dining in company with the officers here; cheerful conversation, but a great deal of loose language. I did not join them, but perhaps was too easy, and did not reprove. I think it would have done no * good; yet sometimes I gave a check, as far as decency and good breeding would allow; and I do think that among polite gentlemen, this way is more likely to gain the end, than a solemn formal rebuke which would be but laughed at. I had but one diversion here, viz. the bowling-green, and I find I must give that over, though it be a very innocent recreation, upon prudential considerations; because I do not like the company of these officers. I am more the worse than the better of it.

July 18. Exercising the garrison, and reading over the Articles of war; giving orders against immorality, and putting them in execution immediately against a swearer.

August 24. Sabbath. I often wish much to hear oftener our friend at St. Ninians. I had a grudge that I could not get him heard this day, for fear of giving offence. And indeed it is a great grievance to me here, that I cannot get that edification I could get, and would fain have. I dare not go where I am most edified, for fear it be taken amiss. I think offence should not be taken at any body for going occasionally where they get most instruction. It is the ill humours and narrowness of mind that makes ministers and others be offended. They. should rather rejoice that any of their people get edification to their souls, by whatever instrument. It is a hard thing to be tied up from Christian liberty, by the prejudices and narrowness of people’s humours. Lord, fill our hearts with mutual love and charity; there is not so much of that as should be among us.

October 10. Friends and acquaintance dropping off by degrees. Surprised with the sudden death of a young hopeful gentleman. Lord bless to me every providence. O give me grace to be living as a stranger and pilgrim, working out my salvation with fear and trembling; ready to go when called—ready in state—ready in frame.

The routine of his military avocations, with the additional duties of the subordinate offices he had been called upon to fill in a civil capacity, afforded but little room for incident or variety in his life, and necessarily led his thoughts to run more in the beaten track, of daily observation. This consideration, it would appear, weighed with him as an inducement to discontinue his Diary, which breaks off at this time, when he was yet in tolerable health, and nearly a twelvemonth before his death. He closes his register at the end of the year; with an allusion to this uniformity in his manner of living, and making some cursory remarks on the review of his own history.

It is needless for me to set down every particular day, when I have now so little to say that is worth saying—so little of variety, or remarkable as to my frame, or providences. Alas ! my frame is too dead and formal, faith not lively, grace not vigorous. I. am much taken up with business of one sort and another; yet still I do not want time for religion if, I had but a spiritual mind and disposition. In the intervals of business I sometimes turn my thoughts upward,, where there is, prepared an eternal rest for the people of God.

I am reviewing my. former Diaries, beginning in 1701, when Lwas ip London.. I find great variety many ups and downs; sad days of desertion, of melancholy, chagrin, and discontent with my own temper. But then, on the other hand, I had sweet ravishing communions and fellowship with God; noble actings of faith; delightful experiences; fervent prayer, and sensible returns of grace; faith vigorous; love ardent, and assurance strong. When I set up the one against the other, well may I say, that the light afflictions I met with, were not to he compared to these far more exceeding rich, and nohle comforts and supplies. That which fretted and vexed me most was, that I was so little fitted for the business I was employed in; and met with so much ill company that I could not live with. I had not suppleness to manage people’s tempers and humours, wherein my antagonists had a great advantage over me, by conforming to the world, and putting themselves in every shape to gain their point; by cajoling, treating, bribing, they carried their cause, though it was, to every impartial spectator, palpably less fair and just. I had peace in the justice of our cause, and I took this, as an earnest of it, that I had so much of God’s presence, though I was not supernaturally assisted above the sphere of Human ability, nor contrary to the bias of my natural temper. I was always well helped to do my duty, and when any thing failed of success, it was not for want of assistance, but through the defect of my own management.

I find I complained also of a stiff, reserved, unsociable temper; this was very uneasy and discouraging, but it had likewise its advantages; it kept me out of much sin and many temptations. My temper since has become more open, frank, and social; hut then it often exposes me to too much conformity to the world, and to many snares. So we see every temper has its good and ill; but to follow and practise the good, and shun the evil, Hoc opus, his labor est.

Of the last year of his life, which we have now reached, and of the manner of his death, no memorials, so far as I know, have been preserved. It is, however, of less moment to know how a Christian dies, than how he lived; and there can be little doubt, that his closing scene would correspond with the general tenor of his walk and conversation; and that all his professions of religion would be amply substantiated and confirmed by his dying example. His health, as we observed, was yet comparatively fresh and vigorous, and though descending into the vale of years, his natural strength and spirits were not sensibly decayed. Though ripe as to age and honours, he may be said to have died prematurely as to constitution. The severe and repeated attacks of the malady with which he was seized, were beyond the power of frail nature long to resist or endure. For a considerable time before his death he suffered extremely from attacks of the stone, which, it appeal’s, baffled all the efforts of medical skill to remove. This disease seems to have generated suddenly, as he never mentions, until a very late period, his being subject to calculous affections. These fits became more frequent and painful the nearer he approached his end; yet under the most excruciating anguish of bodily distress,. his soul fled to that refuge, and his faith grasped with firm hold to those promises which had been the source of all his hopes and consolations. The following is a quotation from his Diary for the 1st of May 1728; and among the earliest instances of his being seriously afflicted with his distemper.

This last night I had one of the severest nights for pain I ever had in my life. I was seized about the middle of the night, and wrestled with my affliction for an hour Or two, not wishing to awake any body, but found it would not do, the pains grew sorer and sorer; I arose and walked, and sat and tossed into twenty postures, seeking ease and using remedies which had little effect. I cried to God for pity and help, and prayed for patience, which was like to fail; hut his everlasting arms were underneath, powerfully assisting me in the severity of my distress. Faith also was at Work calling upon the Lord, and trusting in him as my God. But, alas ! in the extremity of pain faith stands at a low ebb, and goes into little bulk. The thoughts become confused when the body is racked; I know not how it may be with others, but I find it so. At two in the morning I was directed to take some medicine, which, by the blessing of God, had so good an effect, that I got some rest and slept till nine, when I awaked much refreshed. O the kindness and compassion of God, who knows our frame, that we are but dust, and has no pleasure in afflicting his poor creatures. O may this be a rod to chase me to Christ; and the fruit of all to purge away sin.

The progress of this malady speedily undermined his constitution, and it was to its agonizing pains that he ultimately fell a victim. When symptoms were discovered of its terminating fatally, physicians were sent for from Edinburgh, to give their advice and assistance; but their arts were of no avail, and the patient’s only resource was to await the approach of that final deliverance, which was to exchange his momentary afflictions for an eternal weight of glory.

There is often something sublimely interesting in the death-scene of an expiring Christian, especially when earthly remedies can bring no relief, and human skill, foiled and exhausted, has pronounced recovery hopeless. The mind driven from all other resources, rises above its infirmities, and seems to rally its languid and scattered, powers, as it were, to put forth one last collective effort of strength. Though the outward frame he racked with pains, or wasted to a shadow, the soul is often filled with secret raptures of heavenly joy. It seems to acquire new vigour in proportion as the mansion of clay falls into ruins; and never longs more to be disencumbered of its chains than when about to quit its earthly prison, It is then that the spirit displays its superiority over the things of time, and makes its sublimest efforts of magnanimity. Then is the moment that faith completes her victory over the world,— that divine grace triumphs over all the doubts and the fears of nature. Even the timorous saint who has heen all his life perplexed with discouraging apprehensions, viewing futurity through the dark and distempered region of his own thoughts, is often seen on' the near approach of dissolution to exchange his disquieting fears for holy transports. The cloud that overcast his spirit is dispelled by the beams of the Sun of Righteousness. That peace which passeth understanding shines in upon his soul with a setting splendour, and the lustre of his life never appears so bright as at the moment of its. being extinguished,

Something of this kind seems to have been exhibited in the instance of Colonel Blackader. . While he suffered the extremity of bodily pain, his soul appears to have burst from underneath the cloud of mental anxiety, and the pressure of severe distress. That temporary dejection of which he occasionally complained in earlier life, had entirely vanished. The gloom that sometimes intercepted the eye of faith in its contemplations of futurity, disappeared as the glories of the invisible world were more nearly revealed. A well grounded assurance of an interest in the Redeemer’s merits had calmed all his solicitudes; and Hope, rising to full fruition, lighted up every dark spot in his anticipations. His mind retained to the last uncommon firmness, and his piety its usual fervour. When his physicians informed him that his distemper was beyond the reach of medicine,—that sympathy was now the only aid they could administer, he is said to have received the melancholy intelligence with the most resigned submission. ' Raising himself on his bed, he surveyed his friends with a placid and dignified composure. He thanked all his attendants for their kind services, and having taken leave of his family, he breathed his last, expressing his firm hope and earnest desire of another and a better life beyond time and mortality. This took place on Sabbath morning the 31st of August 1729, when he was within a few days of completing his sixty-fifth year. His remains were interred in the West-Church of Stirling, within which, on the south wall, near the pulpit, is fixed a plain' marble tablet, erected several years ago by one of his near relations, bearing the following inscription, which expresses briefly and modestly a general outline of his life and character:—

Near this place are deposited the Remains of a Brave Soldier and Devout Christian,

JOHN BLACKADER, Esq.

Late Lieutenant-Colonel of the Cameroninn Regiment.

He served under the Duke of Marlborough in Queen Anne’s Wars, and was present at most of the Engagements in that Reign.

He died Deputy Governor of Stirling Castle, in August 1729. Aged 65 gears.

August 1789.

Having brought our extracts to a conclusion, it would now only remain to lay before the reader some general sketch of the character of the individual whose papers have been submitted to his perusal. This, however, has been already anticipated, and in some measure superseded, by the criticisms which precede the Diary, and the occasional remarks with which the whole is interspersed. Besides, the Journal itself presents so true a mirror of his mind, and enters so fully into the minutiae of his life, as to furnish a more accurate and faithful portraiture than any laboured delineation from the hand of another. We shall, however, to aid the reader’s conceptions, advert shortly to some of those circumstances with which he is already acquainted in the detail; and endeavour to place more immediately under his eye those characteristic features that lie scattered over so wide a surface.

In whatever light the particular shades of his life may he viewed, the general impression of the whole, by which alone the true estimate of any character must he fixed, will be such, I am persuaded, as to bear out the monumental title which the affection of his relation conferred upon him, as a brave soldier and a Devout Christian.

On his military qualifications it is not our purpose to enlarge; neither do we think these will be contemplated as the most illustrious or the most interesting parts Of his character. The rank he acquired, and the esteem with which he quitted the army, bear honourable testimony to the high reputation with which he discharged the duties of his profession. There was scarcely an action in which he had been, (to use his own words,) “but Providence did kindly make some incidents to fall out,” which raised him in the favour both of his General and fellow-officers; and when he left their society, he carried with him into his retirement the good opinion of one who was a competent judge of military character, and not given to flatter. “I was ashamed,” says he, “to hear of the kind and obliging things which my Lord Duke spoke about me to the company with him, after I was gone out.”

Bravery is reckoned the first and most shining quality in a soldier; and of this he never shewed any deficiency. On all occasions he seems to have behaved with abundant intrepidity, and in various instances acquitted himself with superior credit and distinction. Wherever his duty called him he was ready to go, without fear or hesitation; and in the hottest posts he never shrunk from danger, when example or encouragement made it necessary for him to expose himself. When he had opportunities of retirement and full leisure for his devotions, his courage, fortified by these internal resources, mounted to a pitch of boldness bordering on enthusiasm. Yet though daring, he does not appear rash or inconsiderate; we never find him courting unnecessary exposure, or rushing headlong into danger with a thoughtless and foolish temerity. His valour was of that cool and steady sort which is equally remote from callous insensibility and intemperate frenzy; it partook much of the general cast of his mind, solemn, grave, and deliberate, There is another species of courage different from the former, but not less essential to the soldier, and that is a patient and passive endurance of the toils, fatigues, and privations which he must undergo in the vicissitudes of long and laborious campaigns. This necessary quality the Colonel possessed in an eminent degree. Wearisome marches,—continuing under arms night and day,—the want of food and bodily repose, —the vexations of defeat and disappointments,—were endured with cheerfulness, and seem never to have extorted from him a single expression of discontent. He had the happy disposition of interpreting every occurrence in the most favourable light, and viewing every change in the fortunes of war, as working together, under Providence, for the general good. This I kept his mind in perfect peace,” easy as to the issue of doubts and difficulties. It inspired him with fortitude and encouragement under misfortune; it taught him confidence in the midst of perplexity,. to turn even losses and disappointments into matter of gratitude. What, in some circumstances, might scarcely have been thought common meroies, in others, became luxuries. As he judged of all his comforts by comparison, this made him thankful for the smallest accommodation, were it but the shelter of a cottage, a soldier’s tent, or a bed of straw.

Modesty, always the concomitant of true courage, was another conspicuous feature in his military character. His temper uniformly was to extenuate and never to exaggerate when speaking of his own achievements. His best actions, even such as were “distinguished by circumstances of reputation that gave them a peculiar lustre in the eyes of the world,” he acknowledges to be but a compound of weakness and defects. In speaking of the regiment, he employs the same humbling and derogative language. When they had been “ honoured in particular to do some very good service,” he remarks, “ It was the Lord’s doing, and not by our sword or our bow; take thou the glory to thyself.” That he considerably under-rated their services, “ lest the arm of flesh should boast,” appears from the historical fact, that during the preceding campaigns they received, for their gallant conduct, the thanks of the Duke of Marlborongh, no less than seven different times.

In his backwardness to solicit preferment, his modesty was very remarkable, and in his shunning, rather than seeking those honours he had so meritoriously earned. He frequently mentions his incapacity to “ fawn and cringe to the great,” as he terms it; and he abhorred the smooth, but shallow artifices by which men of pliable and unprincipled ambition will insinuate themselves into favour. Many, by cunning and stratagem, by adopting base and contemptible expedients, from which an honest independent spirit recoils with disgust, will take precedence of real merit, and outstrip their more conscientious competitors in the race of preferment. To these arts he was an entire stranger. He had a dignity and elevation of mind that scorned ever to stoop of apply to them. It was his rule to pay no court to his superiors, except where merit and integrity paved the way to their favour. “I never .incline,” says he, “to go near the court, except when friends push and hector me to go; for I had always that bashfulness of nature, that I cannot endure to be where I think I am troublesome. Let others whose talent it is, get places by assurance and forwardness, I shall have mine by modesty, or want them. I cannot flatter and cringe ,*neither is it decent or becoming for a child of the house to be fawning upon the servants for a favour. A child of God should have a nobler spirit.” Those qualities which his associates regarded as a blameable want of ambition, and bars to his advancement, were, in reality, the attributes that throw a peculiar lustre over his character; they are essential ingredients in the constitution of every noble and honourable mind. They formed no barrier in the way of his preferment, and they secured him ultimately, as they always will do, the esteem and confidence of his superiors.

The exemplary manner in which he discharged his regimental duties, has already been noticed, and will occur to the reader’s recollection. He regarded the minutest parts of his office as a matter of conscience, and not merely of form. His attention to discipline was strict and assiduous, arid his exertions were sometimes fortunate enough to attract the notice and the compliments of his Commanding-officer. Punishment was always a disagreeable part of his duty; and he shewed a tender reluctance to proceed to extremities, unless with incorrigible offenders, and where example could answer some salutary purpose. He took every opportunity of mitigating the rigour of the law, in favour of deserving objects, and mentions on one occasion his having saved “a poor creature’s life, whom the whole. court had sentenced to be executed, and would not recommend to mercy.” In cases where such interposition was unavailing, he made it his business to soften misfortune by acts of compassion, and temper even necessary severity with kindness. In the fate of a condemned criminal, he took an anxious and solemn concern. He would spend sleepless nights in prayer with God for the welfare of his soul, and attend him in his last moments, that he might teach him to flee to the blood of the atonement, for that pardon and reconciliation which he had forfeited at the hands of man. His sympathy for the “ poor soldiers” under want and fatigue, and his charity to distresses of every kind, set the general benevolence of his character in a very amiable light.

He was not less attentive to the morals, than to the military training of his regiment. These were to him a subject of great solicitude, and he was more apt, to overlook or forgive disobedience, to the rules of discipline, than a trespass against the laws of God. Here his zeal never shewed clemency, and would admit of no extenuation. Here he considered officers and men as alike amenable to the tribunal of his censure, and both frequently shared in his reprimands. Under all the obloquy, hatred, and reproach to which his strictness exposed him, he persisted in his efforts to correct and amend, in so far as compulsory power, and the influence of his own example could reclaim. His ordinary mode for promoting their improvement, and enforcing obedience to his authority, seems to have been very different from that in general practice. “Instead of cursing and swearing at my men,” says he, “I ordinarily put them, by prayer, within the circle of God’s protection.” The immorality and profaneness of the army, which no coercive laws could restrain, form the prominent subject of complaint throughout the whole Diary. This was his greatest uneasiness, and the most serious obstacle to his continuing in the profession. It made his soul “weary of the tents of sin.”

The justice of the war in which he was engaged, was a subject to which he frequently adverts. His extreme tenderness of conscience in this respect, is visible from the whole tenor of his conduct. He was fully convinced, on his entering the army, that he was supporting the side of true religion, and vindicating the rights of his native land from the usurpation of a despot and a bigot. In consistency with these principles, he ever cherished an irreconcilable hatred to Popery and tyranny, and was always solicitous that they should never receive the aid of his personal services. He was satisfied “that the quarrel against France was a just one,” but seemed less clear as to the lawfulness of carrying arms to assist the Austrians, seeing they had also been the oppressors and persecutors of the Protestant Church. “This,” says he, “makes me afraid we shall not prosper. It is a sad thing to be in an army where I have not confidence to pray for success, and dare not seek it in a way of faith.”

To ascertain at what point national wars cease to be just and necessary, by degenerating into ambitious conquests and wanton aggression; or how far an individual may make his own conceptions of their justice and necessity, a rule of conduct, are matters too intricate and casuistical to be here determined. We have said elsewhere, that the guilt of protracting the war from mercenary motives, attaches not to those who have unconsciously been made the dupes of designing policy, or the tools of selfish ambition. That Colonel Blackader acted with sincerity and singleness of aim to promote the glory of God, and the welfare of his country, nobody, we apprehend, will for a moment doubt, The emancipation of Britain from the House of Stuart—from all the evils which that infatuated race had brought upon it by their bigotted zeal and inherent love of despotism—and from the attempts that were subsequently made to restore the exiled family, and bring all Europe under the yoke of a haughty tyrant,—was the grand attainment which he had always at heart. It afterwards attached him warmly to the Hanoverian Succession, and made him, in private life, the firm advocate and assertor of ..those liberties, civil and religious, which he had so honourably defended in the field.

In strictness and propriety of moral conduct, he certainly stands singularly prominent in the annals of military history. Seldom, we think, has there ever been exhibited in any situation of public life, especially in one exposed to so many and strong temptations, such universal circumspection in walk and conversation—such unceasing efforts to maintain a conscience void of offence—or such a successful struggle against the allurements of vice from without, and corruptions within. It was his constant < and, earnest endeavour to escape the pollution of sin—to keep himself pure and unspotted from the world. Exposed as he was perpetually to company, and that often of the worst description, it is astonishing, and seems impossible, except by the goodness of preventing grace, that he could have guarded with such vigilance against falling into some of the numerous snares which surrounded him, and into which he saw others falling every day. It was the terror and abhorrence of his soul,. “to be chained on command with men whose tongues were set on fire of hell where nothing was to be heard but the confused ringing sound of oaths and blasphemies, which made his very flesh creep with horror.

He often shunned to mix in society, even when invited by the great, on no other account but that of unsuitable conversation, and an aversion to drinking, which was sometimes carried to excess. What others might think moderation, he reckoned intemperance; “I call that too much,” says he, “not when reason is disturbed, but when our heads are the least warmed, or that coolness of thinking marred which we should always be master of. And it is really astonishing to see men endowed with rational and immortal souls so degrade themselves, and lead such poor, animal, sensual lives as they do. I know this would sound harsh with the genteel world, whose example has dignified these customs, and given them the reputation of virtues. But this does not change the nature of the thing.”

Once, and only once, in the course of his life, was he himself overtaken with this vice, winch he so justly reprobates in his associates. As truth requires us to be impartial, and not to throw a veil of concealment even over his failings, so we think this solitary instance of insobriety deserves to be recorded, not merely for the lesson which it teaches as to the imperfections of the best men, but for the example which it affords of a penitent humbled under guilt, shame, and remorse. No event seemed to have distressed his mind so much, and nothing could exceed the expressions of deep unfeigned sorrow with which he bewails his misconduct. “ This has been a remarkable day to me; one of the most humbling, melancholy days of my life, and also one of my greatest deliverances, having fallen from my horse, and narrowly escaped being killed. A mortifying, humbling day it has been to me, of sin, folly, and disgrace on my part; of tender mercy, pity, care, and compassion on God’s part; love shining through anger; in the midst of wrath, mercy a father chastening with one hand, and everlasting arms underneath preserving and protecting. I, by sin and folly, plunging into trouble, and precipitating myself into danger : God in mercy giving his angels charge over me. O Lord, correct not in anger; let it be a fatherly chastisement to bring back a wandering son. Heal my backslidings; restore, quicken, and revive. O sanctify the use of the rod, may it chase me to Christ; heal the plagues and distempers of my soul; repair what is wrong in my heart, and life, and practice.” The account of the matter he gives is this: He had gone from Stirling with a marriage-party ; they had several visits to make in course of the forenoon, where etiquette required to drink the health of the young couple. They dined in the neighbourhood of Alloa, and spent the day with much hilarity. “Knowing the foolish fashion,” he observes, “of treating young married men, I was resolved to be on my guard. I did not drink any thing to do me hurt, but it was deceitful wine. We came away before five, afternoon ; I thought I was well enough when we took horse, but the air and quick riding soon began to affect me, and coming to a bridge where there was a difficult step, my horse plunged and threw me: I was taken up insensible, and very much hurt.” This is the only instance recorded in which sociality threw him off his guard; and yet after all, it appears the intoxication was produced as much by external causes, as by the quantity or the quality of the wine. But such were his habitual impressions of that blamelessness of heart and life which become a true Christian, that his smallest faults were remarked and made the subject of reproof.

Contemplating him as a pious and exemplary Christian, we are persuaded his character will appear to equal advantage. Rarely do we find an individual combining in his life, so much of the spirit and practice of true religion. It was the ruling principle of his conduct, and mingled with all he said and did, so that his ordinary actions were a continual proof and illustration of its power over his mind. We believe few instances will he found, all circumstances considered, of such habitual awe and reverence for religion—such lively and persevering faith—such ardent piety—such earnest aspirings after higher degrees of holiness—such constant spirituality of heart and mind —such separation from the vices and sinful customs of the world—such humility and submission to the will of Providence—such absolute dependence on the all-sufficiency of Divine grace,—and, finally, such grateful and unreserved ascription of all earthly enjoyments to the goodness of God, and of all hope of salvation to the merits of a Saviour.

Religion, with him, was a fixed and abiding principle. He endeavoured to keep the faith with undeviating and persevering constancy. That piety and devotion which were early implanted in his heart, were still cultivated in the midst of Surrounding temptations, and grew, as he advanced in years, into a more perfect maturity of godliness. This, if not the only mark, affords at least the most unequivocal test of a Christian’s sincerity. It is easy to assume a temporary profession,' of submit to any rules and restraints for a time. The observance of outward and occasional forms, is common with many, who, as to the vital and essential attainments of a holy life, are remiss and deficient. But when a man obeys with the whole heart, when he applies the strict rule of the divine law to his whole deportment, and pursues a steady and uniform course of holiness, then he deserves the name of a sincere and consistent Christian.

His religion was of this Sort. It was not put on to serve a turn, and laid aside when occasion permitted. It was his occupation and companion in retirement, as well as his delight in the sanctuary, and his profession before men. He did not conceal the absence of real godliness under the cloak of a sanctimonious phraseology, nor forget the Author of his mercies in the day when he was crowned with riches and honour. In his private, and in his public life, he may be said to have exhibited a pattern of religion, singularly amiable and edifying.

In the superintending care and protection of divine Providence he reposed the most unlimited and unshaken confidence. Every thing appeared to his eye under the inspection and control of a higher power. Armies and Generals he regarded but as subordinate instruments in thie hand of the Almighty. What others might call fate or destiny, with him were the fixed decrees of an overruling Providence; events which they traced to no higher source than the caprice of fortune or of chance, he uniformly ascribes to the unerring decision of infinite wisdom which could make victories or defeats alike to accomplish his purposes. To his firm belief and trust in the divine protection must we look for the true origin of his courage and resignation. This was his shield and buckler; the fortress and high tower, to which he fled for refuge. It was in the panoply of this spiritual and invisible armour that he wrapped himself up in the day of battle; and he esteemed its security a better defence than the strength of armies, or the weapons of war. “ Going through the saps and trenches, where the bombs, cannon-balls, and grenades were flying pretty thick all the night. I believed I was even as safe there under the care of Omnipotence, as if I had been in garrison, or in my own' chamber,” He reckoned himself, as well he might, the peculiar child of Providence; and his success and escapes might naturally suggest the reflection, when it is considered, that in battles, sieges, and skirmishes,* he was personally engaged in nearly forty different actions.

Of these deliverances he ever entertained the most grateful recollection. It was to commemorate them that he every year set up his Ebenezers—not by erecting monumental pillars or material buildings, but by consecrating them in his memory, and engraving them on the living tablet of his heart. Every object that surrounded him he made the occasion of renewing these impressions, and stirring him up to fresh remembrances of his mercies. Fields, rivers, and ruined walls werfe in his eye, the hallowed monuments of his preservations. The anniversaries of his battles were observed with more solemnity than the day of his birth. Most of them, especially those in which he had experienced any signal deliverance, were religiously devoted, as long as he lived, to retirement, prayer, and meditation. Such was his care to have these memorable events renewed and preserved in his mind, that he is said to have kept, as a memorial, a hat which had been riddled or perforated with bullets during the earlier period of his services.

That devout and spiritual frame which he seems on all occasions to have kept up, is also very observable. His mind seemed perpetually in a sanctuary; and lie often enjoyed a heaven within, when all around him was noise, and oaths, and confusion. Piety and prayer formed, as it were, the nourishment and native habit of his soul in the midst of a barren wilderness. They were the sacred element wliich he found essential to his spiritual existence. He could not breath without intervals of devout abstraction and solemn communion with his God. 'When circumstances permitted him not to withdraw from company, he would often retire within the chambers of his own thoughts, and hold intercourse with society which the world knew not of. It was often his custom while in the army to meditate alone in the fields, a practice which he afterwards continued when his comparative retirement gave him better opportunities of indulging it. Even his amusements were selected with this view, and made subservient to this favourite propensity. He preferred the recreation of angling chiefly because it combined healthful exercise with solitude and meditation; and would spend many a summer day on the wooded and sequestered banks of some of the delightful streams in his immediate neighbourhood.

His love of retirement seemed to be a passion of his mind more than an acquired habit. It was no doubt strengthened by the wicked company he was obliged to associate with, and wished as much as possible to shun. But solitude with him, was not the effect of a morose unsocial temper, neither was it chosen for the sake of indulging the fanciful reveries of a dark' and gloomy piety. His mind was not in the least tainted with those ascetic principles that have peopled the desert with hermits^ and driven the monk to the indolent superstitions of his cell. With him, solitude was the nursery of true devotion, the vehicle of spiritual improvement, the sacred armory in Which he fortified his soul with fresh supplies of divine grace against the assaults of temptation.

This, however, did not hinder him from paying respect to the institutions of religion.

His veneration for the Sabbath Avas supreme, and his attendance on public worship most regular and exemplary. One day spent in the courts of God’s house he accounted better than a thousand. It was his greatest grief and regret, that in the army he could not get these sacred duties and that solemn day observed in proportion to the reverence and importance in which he held them. He was always sorry when compelled, by the duties of his profession, to engage in any business unsuitable or contrary to its solemnity. “A Sabbath of rest in a camp” was a mercy which he enjoyed Avith peculiar thankfulness and delight ; and while others were amusing themselves with idle or criminal recreations, he either retired to the fields for meditation, or kept his tent reading his Bible. There was a solemnity in that holy day which he never forgot, which all the parade and profligacy of the army could not obliterate from his thoughts. He shunned, in devout remembrance of its appointment, the convivial board and the contagion of evil company; he shut himself up from vieAving vanities, or mingling in the ordinary intercourse of society.

When opportunities of solitude were denied him, and all external respect seemed lost amidst the noise and confusion of military operations, he never suffered the hallowed distinction to be effaced from his mind, and would supply the want of outward observances by the homage and reverence of his heart. “In the morning,” says he, after a long march, “I had almost forgot it was a Sabbath, but recollected myself and withdrew from company, (I mean in my thoughts,) and strove to keep up a spiritual habit of mind.”

In proportion to his regard for this sacred day, and the pleasure he felt in seeing it observed, was his sorrow when its sanctity was violated and its ordinances despised. Almost every page in the Diary is marked with expressions lamenting its sinful mis-employment, or its open profanation.

He shewed by his own conduct, especially after his settlement in Scotland, that he accounted the holy of the Lord not merely honourable, but a delight. The earnest longings of his soul were towards the sanctuary. On sacramental occasions he was a regular attendant, and frequently joined as a communicant in many of the neighbouring parishes. His gratitude for the blessings of salvation, and the gifts of free grace, through Jesus Christ, was at all times in lively exercise ; but more especially were his affections warmed and elevated on the days that were consecrated to the remembrance of his dying love. This unfeigned delight in the ordinances and solemnities of religion is one of the distinguishing marks of a true believer. It serves to discriminate between the real and the nominal professor. It is one of the surest tokens that grace prospers in the heart; and it throws an outward and visible lustre over the whole character.

To the established religion of his country he was sincerely attached; yet it appears he would not passively mould his opinions to any creed, nor implicitly follow any human system, without being satisfied of its conformity to the word of God. He had studied and investigated the scriptures for himself, and wished to make them the only rule of his faith—the only standard of his practice. "I dare not,” says he, "give myself up to be directed by any man or set of men; Lord* be thou thyself my guide.” Wherever he discovered errors in doctrine or in practice, his zeal for truth and the salvation of souls made him strenuous in opposing and confuting them. All notions derogating from the divinity and atonement of Christ —salvation through free grace, and justification by faith alone, he reprobated as sapping the very foundation of Christianity, and extracting every thing from it of essential and vital importance. He disapproved highly of the extremes to which preaching was carried in his time by both parties, the one running too much upon a legal strain, the other misleading their hearers into absolute Antinomianism. Both of these he reprehended as equally unscriptural, and equally injurious in their effects. He never wished to hear the doctrines of the Bible separated from its duties, but to have religion treated in a rational as well as in a spiritual manner—to have the law preached as well as the Gospel, that the harmony and proportion of the whole system might be maintained.

To what he conscientiously believed to be the truth, and considered as sound and orthodox, his adherence was firm and inflexible. Whatever indifference of temper he manifested as to his secular concerns, he was most decisive in his religious persuasions. These he avowed honestly and fearlessly, and was prepared to defend whenever they were controverted. Yet with all this firmness, he cherished the greatest liberality of sentiment towards those who conscientiously differed from him. He had too sacred a regard for the rights of conscience, to exact from others a conformity to his own opinions. “I would comply,” says he, “in things indifferent; for I do not think religion obliges to a morose captious behaviour, an opposing and contradicting every thing that those of a contrary persuasion say or do. I desire at all times boldly to avow my own principles, and never to be ashamed of them : but I do not think this obliges me to be always attacking and disputing with others.” With the exception of Roman Catholics, he was willing to tolerate dissenters of all kinds, provided they regulated their worship according to the prescriptions of law, and conformed in civil matters to the government of the country; and this, considering the state of party feeling then in Scotland, may be regarded as a stretch of charity by no means very general. He lived in habits of intimate friendship with many who differed from him on speculative points of theology. Several of the neighbouring clergymen were his constant guests, and his constant antagonists. Though separated in opinion on things of a doubtful or mysterious nature, he could associate with them as brethren united in more important matters than those which divided them. Honest and upright men he eyer esteemed, and could expand his heart in charity to all of every denomination, who loved the Lord Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity.

His charity and affability in this respect were displayed in the several church courts of which he had the honour to be a member. There he was always the advocate of tolerant and conciliatory measures. When parties ran high, he shunned to appear in the front ranks of either, or to inlist as a partisan under the banners of any faction. He wished rather to steer between extremes, and to mitigate by gentleness the rancour of conflicting opinions. He was persuaded, that in matters of general debate there might be differences without animosity, and concessions without dereliction of principle; that it was possible to dislike the sentiments of an adversary, and yet to treat him with candour and respect; and that it was the duty of a Christian not to retaliate the harsh usage he might receive at the hand of an irritated brother.

The time alluded to above, was a stormy period in our spiritual courts. The Ark of the Church was in danger of being wrecked, more by the rashness of her pilots, than by the violence of political tempests. They were planting with their own hands the seeds of the Secession, which were nurtured in the hot-bed of debate, until in a few years they sprung up with all the luxuriance of a rival growth. This was the effect of that “ rankling party-spirit” which the Writer of the Diary so often laments, but of which he did not live to witness the consequences.

In his social and domestic character he appears equally amiable and exemplary. He never allowed his public engagements to supersede or interrupt his private duties; and mentions it as an unjustifiable neglect, that by staying too late abroad, he had been prevented from family worship, although it was a solitary instance, having occurred only once in the space of four years. In conversation he was always the strenuous supporter of truth and virtue, and the determined opponent of every thing approaching to levity or immorality of speech. In companies where he could interfere, he was always ready to check improprieties of this kind; but where decency and good breeding did not allow him to reprove, he shewed his disapprobation by his silence, “which, among polite gentlemen,” as he observes, “was more likely to gain the end, than a solemn formal rebuke which would be but laughed at.” There was, indeed, a gravity and composure in his manner which must have abashed the petulant, and extorted a reverence for his person from the most profligate.

His temper, however, was by no means severe or censorious. His disposition was cheerful, hut not frolicsome; and he joined with the greatest hilarity in innocent diversions where mirth was restrained within the hounds of decorum. An austere and morose manner he considered as one of the reasons why the world reproached religion, and religious persons, as sour, gloomy, and splenetic; “and would have Christians, by a lively, cheerful frame, recommend their profession to a carnal world.”

He had a vein of wit and humour, and was inclined at times to be facetious; but this was a talent he seldom indulged, as he wished his speech to be always seasoned with salt; “the salt of grace rather than of wit.” Some of his letters which he thought too “comical and jocose,” he recalled after he had sent them away, as bordering upon foolish jesting, and not tending to edification, which he desired to study in every thing.

When arguing for truth, or “disputing against wild and mistaken notions,” his zeal at times betrayed him into warmth of expression; yet such was his tenderness of giving offence, even to an adversary, that if in the heat of debate he had dropt an injurious word, or used language which might be construed into intemperance or disrespect, he was willing to retract or make any proper apology; and mentions his having written a letter to a person with whom he had been disputing, upon recollection of something that passed in a public company the day before, wherein he thought he had given offence.

Of his great humanity and benevolence, abundant instances will occur. He was ever ready to assist the friendless—to visit the afflicted—and relieve the indigent. Providence had put the means in his hand, and he wished to be generous, to have his heart enlarged in proportion to his estate. Worldliness and love of money were not his faults. Earthly possessions he regarded with a jealous eye, and preferred to lay up treasures in heaven. He greatly enhanced his favours by his courteous and engaging manner of bestowing them. He was remarkably charitable, and at his death bequeathed £800 to the poor in his neighbourhood. He made various donations for religious uses, and conferred valuable legacies upon his friends and relations.

Upon the whole, we think his character altogether such as strongly to claim our reverence, and deserve our imitation. Few lives have been recorded more exemplary or more ornamental to religion. His piety, integrity, candour, humility, and benevolence, have seldom been exceeded. And we doubt not he will be ranked by posterity among the few of his profession, who have fought the good fight, who have been at once the defence and the glory of their country, and who have endeavoured to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.


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