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Christianity Yesterday

Donald Cargill stands out as one of the most notable preachers among the Scottish Covenanters. He was born near Aberdeen in 1610 and later pursued studies at the University of St. Andrews. After his ordination, Cargill was called to serve in Glasgow, where he worked until the establishment of prelacy in 1662. About this time he began to earn the wrath of the Scottish state and thereafter lived in constant jeopardy. When he was finally apprehended in 1669, he was soon freed by friends and subsequently preached in the fields of Scotland. He is especially noted for having excommunicated the King and the King's officers in 1680. In October of that year, the state placed a bounty on his head, and he was captured in 1681. He was brought before the Council, tried, found guilty, and executed the next day. Below is his written testimony:

This is the most joyful day that ever I saw in my pilgrimage on earth; my joy is now begun, which I see shall never be interrupted. I see both my interest, and His truth, and the sureness of the one, and the preciousness of the other. It is near thirty years since He made it sure; and since that time, (though there has fallen out much sin, yet) I was never out of an assurance of mine interest, nor long out of sight of his presence. He has handled me, and kept me lively, and never left me behind, though I was oft-times turning back.

O, He has showed the wonderful preciousness of his grace, not only in the first receiving thereof, but in renewed and multiplied pardon! I have been a man of great sins, but he has been a God of great mercies. And now through his mercies, I have a conscience as sound and quiet, as if I had never sinned. It is long since I could have adventured on eternity, through God's mercy and Christ's merits; but death remained somewhat terrible, and that is now taken away; and now death is no more to me, but to cast myself into my husband's arms, and to lie down with him.

And however it be with me at the last, though I should be straightened by God, or interrupted by men, yet all is sure, and shall be well. I have followed holiness, I have taught truth, and I have been most in the main things; not that I thought the things concerning our times little, but that I thought none could do any thing to purpose in God's great and public matters, till method, for them there had been fewer apostasies.

The religion of the land, and zeal for the land's engagements, are coming to nothing, but a supine, loathsome, and hateful formality; and there cannot be zeal, liveliness and rightness, where people meet with persecution, and want heart-renovation. My soul trembles to think, how little of regeneration there is amongst the ministers and professors of Scotland.

O, the ministers of Scotland, how have they betrayed Christ's interest, and beguiled souls! They have not entered in themselves, and them that were entering in, they hindered. They have sold the things of Christ, and liberties of his church, for a short and cursed quiet to themselves, which is now near an end; and they are more, one and at peace, with God's enemies, after they have done all their mischiefs, than they were at first, when they had put hand to them. And I much fear that though there were not one minister on all the earth, He would make no more use of them; but there will be a dreadful judgement upon themselves, and a long curse upon their posterity. As to our professors, my council to them is, that they would see well to their own regeneration, for the most part of them has that yet to do; and yet let never one think that he is in the right exercise of true religion, that has not a zeal to God's public glory.

There is a small remnant in Scotland, that my soul has had its greatest comfort on earth from. I wish your increase in holiness, number, love, religion and righteousness; and wait you, and cease to contend with these men that are gone from us, for there is nothing that shall convince them but judgement. Satisfy your consciences, and go forward; for the nearer you are to God, and the further from all others, whether stated enemies, or lukewarm ministers and professors, it shall be the better. My preaching has occasioned persecution, but the want of it will, I fear, occasion worse. However, I have preached the truths of God, to others, as it is written, "I believed, and so I preached;" and I have not an ill conscience in preaching truth, whatever has followed; and this day I am to seal with my blood all the truths that ever I preached: and what is controverted of that which I have been professing shall, ere long, be manifested by God's judgements in the consciences of men.

I had a sweet calmness of spirit, and great submission as to my taking, the providence of God was so eminent in it; and I could not but think, that God judged it necessary for his glory, to bring me to such an end, seeing he loosed me from such a work. My soul would be exceedingly troubled for the remnant, were it not that I think the time will be short. Wherefore hold fast, for this is the way that is now persecuted.

As to the causes of my suffering: the main is `Not acknowledging the present authority, as it is established in the Supremacy and Explanatory Act.' This is the magistracy that I have rejected, that was invested with Christ's power. And seeing that power taken from Christ, which is his glory, and made the essential of the crown, I thought this was, as it I had seen one wearing my husband's garments, after he had killed him. And seeing it is made to the essential of the crown, there is no distinction we can made, that can free the conscience of the acknowledger, from being a partaker of this sacrilegious robbing of God, and it is but to cheat our consciences, to acknowledge the civil power, for it is not civil power only that is made of the essence of the crown; and seeing they are so express, we ought to be plain; otherwise it is to deny our testimony; and consent to this robbery.

The foregoing testimony is reprinted from James Stewart's Naphtali (1667). A special thanks goes to Charles Roberts for his efforts in providing us with this material.

Copyright © by Covenant Community Church of Orange County 1991
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