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Full text of "Memoirs of the life, time, and writings, of the reverend and learned Thomas Boston, A.M. : Divided into twelve periods, to which are added some original papers, and letters to and from the author"












George A, Starr 









'7'- tJ'C?lAt/fl4i . ^^^4m-^S.Zul- 








Written by Himself, and Addressed to his Children 






Rev. GEORGE H. MORRISON, M.A., Dundee 










The issue of this scholarly and artistic edition of 
Thomas Boston's Autobiography is an event of 
national importance. His sound and commanding 
commonsense, his immense industry, his great learn- 
ing attained to amid unparallelled difficulties, his 
sometimes Shakespearean style, his life of faith 
and prayer, and his pulpit and pastoral efficiency 
and success, all combine to make Boston's Memoirs 
of his Life, Time, and Writings a book to be always 
at hand in every Scottish Manse, as well as in 
every well-read, patriotic, and pious Scottish home. 



In the preparation of this edition I have been much helped by the 
kindly interest of many friends and strangers. I return hearty 
thanks to all who have so willingly and generously assisted me. 
The minister of Ettrick, Eev. George Mackenzie, B.D., and the 
minister of "Swinton and Simprin, Eev. D. D. F. Macdonald, M.A., 
have given me invaluable help ; and I owe a great deal to Eev. 
D. A. Mackinnon, M.A., of Marykirk, and Mr. W. Cunningham, 
Dundee, both of them lineal descendants of Boston. Mr. Hew 
Morrison, Edinburgh, with his usual courtesy, has placed many 
valuable and rare books at my disposal, and the Eev. Arthur 
Gossip and Dr. Ballantyne, of the same city, as well as the 
Eev. James Kerr, D.D., of Glasgow, have spared no pains in 
helping me. To my friend and elder, Mr. Colin Sharp, 
Dundee, and to Mr. G. B. Downie of Selkirk, I am indebted 
for skilled guidance through the Boston country. And in 
this, as in all my work, I owe much to my wife, who has 
wrought with me in it from the beginning. Only those who 
have trodden one of the byways of Scottish church history, 
know how much local help is needed. I would ask all who 
have aided me, and whom it is impossible to name here, to 
believe that I am deeply grateful for their co-operation. 

The text of the Memoirs has been slightly abridged. I 
have modernised the spelling, but left the proper names 
as Boston wrote them. The notes in brackets are peculiar to 
this edition. Those unbracketed are found in the first edition 
of 1776. G. H. M. 



THE author's address TO HIS CHILDREN .... 1 

PERIOD I.— 1676-1689 


PERIOD II.— 1689-1694 


PERIOD III.— 1694-1097 


PERIOD IV.— 1697-1698 



PERIOD v.— 1698-1699 



PERIOD VI.— 1699 



PERIOD VII.— 1699-1700 


PERIOD VIII.— 1700-1707 






I PERIOD IX.-1707-1712 

BY HIM ........ 

PERIOD X.— 1712-1717 

ASSEMBLY ........ 270 

PERIOD XL— 1717-1724 



PERIOD XII.— 1724-1731 





No. I 


ETTRICK ........ 483 

No. II 



No. Ill 

AND DEBARRING PROM IT . . . . . 487 

No. IV 

OCTOBER 1721 ....... 489 





No. V 


No. VI 



No. VII 




No. IX 



No. X 


No. XI 


SEPTEMBER 1899 . . . . . • .515 

INDEX .... .... 517 





Facing page 6 




„ 212 






„ 402 




THE little town of ] Juris is pleasantly situated on the skirts 
of the Lammermuirs. The neighbourhood is rich in 
Covenanting memories, and on the summit of Duns Law, wliich 
rises to the north of the town, are still to be seen the vestiges 
of a camp, occupied by General Leslie and the Covenanters in 
1639, under the threatened invasion by King Charles.^ Tradition 
lias it that Jolm Duns Scotus, the mediai'val doctor subtilis, was 
a native of the parish.^ Nor has it been without distinguished 
sons in modern times. It is the birthplace of an Oxford professor, 
famous enough in his day ; of the biographer of Melville and 
of Knox ; and of at least one noteworthy and beloved minister 
of the Presbyterian Church."^ 

Here on the 17th March 1676 — three years before the 
country rang with the death of Archbishop Sharp — Thomas 
Boston was born, in a tenement in Newtown Street which is still 
shown. Eraser of Brea was then a man of thirty-seven. Thomas 
Halyburton was a child of two. And four years were to elapse 
before the birth of Ebenezer Erskine — three men who, like Boston, 
served and suffered much, and like him have enriched our literature 
with imperishable memoirs. 

The Boston stock, which came originally from Ayr, was 
staunchly Presbyterian, and sometime about 1680 John Boston, 
Thomas's father, had been cast into the Duns prison for non- 
conformity. Here Boston kept his father company for one night 
at least. And in the after days, when he himself had strong 
forebodings of imprisonment, on his refusal to sign the Abjuration 
Oath, these childish memories of the jail revived with peculiar 

^ See article on the Law in Border Mag. III. 48. 

' Boston, like a true Duns man, believed this : Ecelesia quae est Dunsi Johannis 
Duns Scoti natalis oppidi. Tract. Sti(/)n. I. iv. p. 11. 

^ See article on Dr. Hood Wil.son in Border Mag. I. 201. 


About his schooldays we have little information. He learned 
to read in a dame's school, kept in the upper storey of his father's 
house. He attended the Duns grammar school, and made rapid 
progress from the age of eight till he was thirteen. He was a 
quiet and somewhat timorous boy, unduly eager, as the timorous 
often are, to finish any task once started ; of no great physical 
strength, and more fond of reading than of sport. From the 
first he seems to have had a retentive memory — a priceless 
possession for one whose books were to be few till late in life. 
And how he used and trained his memory will be most apparent 
to those who are best acquainted with the amazing wealth of 
scriptural quotation in his works. No system of commonplacing, 
however perfect, could furnish the apt and beautiful citations that 
abound everywhere in his books. 

It was at the age of eleven that Boston was spiritually 
awakened, under the ministry of one whose family name was yet 
to rank among the most honoured in Scotch religious history. 
The Eev. Henry Erskine,^ father of Ebenezer and Ealph Erskine, 
had been ejected from his charge at Cornhill just across the 
border, by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, and from that time 
onward he had resided mostly at Dryburgh, his native town. 
But in 1687, when Boston was a lad. King James granted the 
Presbyterians liberty to worship in their own way in private 
houses and chapels, and almost immediately the Presbyterians of 
Whitsome, a parish a few miles to the south-east of Duns, gave 
Mr. Erskine a call to come and minister to them. John Boston 
was not the man to listen to the curate in the parish church of 
Duns when a sufferer and a saint like Henry Erskine was preach- 
ing four miles from his door. And we can see him yet, as he 
steps out on Sabbath mornings with his sons, and not a few of 
t!ie more earnest townsfolk in their company, for the hamlet of 
Bivelaw in Whitsome, where Mr. Erskine preached. It was at 
these meetings, and under that preaching, that Thomas Boston 
M^as awakened. And twelve years afterwards, when penning his 
noble soliloquy on Man-Fishing, he has not forgotten the skill 
that cast the line so cunningly in "Whitsome. " Little wast thou 
thinking, my soul," he writes, " on Christ, heaven, or thyself, 
when thou went to the Newton of Whitsome to hear a preach- 
ing, when Christ first dealt with thee ; there thou got an un- 
expected cast." 2 

1 Memoir, prefixed to 1831 Fraser, lA.fe of Eh. Erskine. 

2 Man-Fishing, III. 4, Works, V. 11. 


John Boston had doubtless by this time resolved that hi.s 
youngest son should be a minister, and the son himself, before 
his schooldays were well over, had secretly set his heart on the 
same calling. But there were difficulties in the way. The 
Bostons were not rich, and a three-years' college course involved 
no little outlay. So hopeless indeed at one time did the prospects 
seem, that young Boston seriously thought of turning to a trade ; 
but his father — to his honour be it told — would not hear of it. 
At length, after two anxious years, spent partly in the office of 
the Duns notary, and partly in the study in the malt-loft, the 
way opened, and Boston entered J'^dinburgh University in 1G91. 
Of his life tliero we know but little. He studied unweariedly, 
and seldom went into company. He passed through the regular 
curriculum. He learned shorthand, and had lessons in music. 
Ever fearful of exhausting his father's slender purse, he practised 
an economy that is notable even in a Scotch student. Por when 
he graduated in 1G94 his college expenses — fees, maintenance, 
and all — liad only mounted up to some £11.^ We cannot 
wonder that he often swooned, nor that he suffered much from 

In the summer of 1694 Boston received the bursary of the 
Presbytery of Duns, and after an autumn spent in the private 
study of divinity, he entered on his theological course in 
Edinburgh at the beginning of 1695. One short session there 
was all that he enjoyed. It was allowable, and at that time not 
uncommon, for a student who had taken one session of theology 
with credit, and who desired to support himself by teaching, to 
complete his studies under the superintendence of the Presbytery 
within whose bounds he lived. For economical reasons, Boston 
determined on this course. And after a month's unhappy 
experience in the beautiful parish of Glencairn, he found himself 
settled, early in 1696, as tutor to the stepson of Lieut.-Col. Bruce 
of Kennet, at the salary of a hundred merks per annum. 

The estate of Kennet, within a mile of Clackmannan, has 
been for more than five hundred years in the possession of the 
Bruces of Kennet, a branch of the Bruces of Clackmannan, who 
are of royal lineage. The last Bruce of Clackmannan died 
about the beginning of the present century, but Bruce of Kennet 
still remains, hidden under the name of Lord Balfour of Burleigh.- 

^ One has, of course, to bear in mind the altered value of money — and so through- 
out the Memoirs. 

^ The father of the present Lord Balfour, the late Kobert Bruce of Eennet, made 


With this family Boston lived about a twelvemonth, and no part of 
the Memoir is richer in spiritual interest than the narrative of the 
trials and triumphs of that memorable year. Boston learned 
much at Kennet that no class lectures could have taught him. 
And the house of Kennet had many a lesson from Boston that 
had never been mentioned in the bond. Sometimes the youth 
of twenty was indiscreet. And sometimes the military house- 
hold fretted and chafed at this embodied conscience. But it is 
clear that by the time he left, Boston had inspired all with a 
deep respect for him. And in the ancient house of a dis- 
tinguished soldier, it is not every student of divinity, of humble 
birth and naturally timid, who could do that. Above all else 
there was ample leisure and there were quiet spots at Kennet 
for intercourse with God. And to the end Boston looked back 
upon the year there as a thriving time for his soul. He left 
Kennet in February 1697, and on the 15th June of the same 
year was licensed by the united Presbytery of Duns and 

Eeading the story of his inward life, we do not wonder that 
his preaching soon began to attract attention. There was a 
force and freshness in it that arrested the common people. 
There were gleams of vision in it such as are only granted to 
those who daily are near God. There was a grip in it that no 
preacher wins who is a stranger to his own heart. And there 
was in it a scriptural fulness that nothing but passionate 
devotion to the Bible gives. Everywhere Boston preached, the 
word came with power. And if at first he dealt too largely in 
denunciation, and here and there was roundly abused as a railer, 
he was soon to find, as many a noble preacher besides Boston 
has found, that the thunders of Sinai are not so mighty against 
abounding sin as is the sweeter message of the cross. How 
lofty his conceptions of the preacher's art and office were, is 
evident in the Soliloquy of Man- Fishing — that scribble, as he 
calls it — which he wrote in 169 9.^ 

One would have thought that such a preacher would have 
been settled soon. And if the people's voice had been 
determinative, Boston would not have been long without a 

good his claims to the Burleigh title through an ancestress — daughter of Lord 
Burleigh in Fife. 

^ From 7th August 1690 till 19th Octoher 1698, the Treshyteries of Duns and 
Chirnside were united. 

^ A heautiful and compact edition, edited by the Rev. D. D. F. Macdouald, of 
Swinton, has been recently published (Gardner, Paisley). 


charge. As a matter of fact, he was a probationer over two 
years. These were the times when heritors were still all- 
powerful, and Boston had no liberty of conscience to bring 
pressure to bear upon the heritors. He would not court them. 
He would not bow to them from the pulpit. He would not 
spend the Sabbath evening with them. And he knew well that 
his preaching strain could never be acceptable to such of them 
as had sat and slept under the curates' homilies. At Foulden, 
at Dollar, at Clackmannan, among other places, his hopes were 
dashed when things seemed ripening to a call. And how he 
bore himself under these disappointments, and turned his deepen- 
ing experience to noble uses, is familiar to every reader of these 
Memoirs. At length, in 1G99, the people and heritor of one 
small parish were found to be agreed. And on Thursday 2 let 
September, Boston was ordained to the ministry in the parish of 

The parish of Simprin has long ceased to exist. In the 
autumn of 17G1 it was united to the adjacent parish of 
Swinton,^ and from that date onwards the united flocks have 
worshipped God in the old and beautiful parish church at the 
cast end of Swinton village, where sleep not a few of those 
gallant Swinton knights, whose line runs back unbroken to the 
times of the Heptarchy. About a mile and a half southwards from 
Swinton village, and so about eight miles south-east of Duns, 
nestling in a clump of elm and ash trees, and surrounded by a 
graveyard not a few of whose stones carry us back to Boston's 
time, are the ruins of the little church of Simprin where Boston 
preached. It would be difficult to picture a sweeter situation 
for any house of God. To the north the eye catches the slopes 
of the Lammermuirs. Southward the country rolls away, by 
riodden field, into the heights of Cheviot. A few miles ofif rise 
the towers and battlements of Twizel Castle ; while all around 
is the rich country of the Merse, with here a farm and there a 
manor-house, " bosomed high mid tufted trees." Of the church 
itself little is standing to-day but the east gable. The roof is 
gone. The walls are crumbling away. Nettles and thorns, with 
here and there the seedling of a plane tree, ramble and root 
among the corner - stones. And the whole structure is on a 
scale so diminutive, that five short paces carry one from wall to 
wall, and twenty from end to end. When we remember that on 

* It was united to Swinton by the Lords Commissioners of Plantation, 5th August 
17C1, and suppressed •27th September the same year. 


his first round of visitation Boston discovered but eighty-eight 
examinable persons; and when M^e find that in 1751 the total 
population of the parish was 143,^ we cease to wonder at the 
modest proportions of the ruined sanctuary. 

Eeaders of the Memoirs will recall that for the first three 
years of his ministry in Simprin, Boston tenanted an old house 
at the west end of the farm-town. It was not till 1702 that a 
new manse was built ; and this new manse, so hallowed in the 
after years by prayer, may probably be identified with a very 
humble dwelling, still to be seen a few yards westwards from 
the church, and still inhabited.^ When the manse was finished, 
Boston tells us, he formed a large garden and built the dyke. 
And between this cottage and the churchyard still stretches a 
piece of garden ground, bounded by a wall, and pierced by an 
old gateway that would afford immediate access to the church. 

The first few years of any ministry are always years of large 
significance. And it is not difficult to see that the pastorate in 
Simprin was the formative period in Boston's life. It was in 
the quiet of that secluded charge, and in the exercise of his 
calling among his handful, — as he often terms his flock, — that he 
first found how different are the stern realities of ministering from 
all anticipative dreams, and first formed those habits of public 
work and private study from which he never deviated till the 
end. Before the first year had run, his little parish was 
thoroughly organised. There was a forenoon and an afternoon 
sermon every Sabbath, with a lecture on the chapter at the 
former diet, and an address by way of preface to the whole. 
There was a Sabbath evening meeting for the study of the 
catechism. Every Tuesday evening in the manse there was a 
friendly gathering for praise and prayer. And every Thursday, 
in winter in the evenings, and in summer in the daytime, there 
was a week-day service. Diets of catechising were held at 
stated intervals throughout the parish. Every household was 
regularly visited. And these pastoral offices were fulfilled, not 
lightly, but with a faithfulness which is one of the quietest and 
noblest of all heroisms. All this, be it remembered, in a parish 
that could furnish but eighty - eight examinable persons, and 
where for some considerable time strange faces were of the 

^ New Stat. Acct. II. (Berwicks.) 193. 

^ Rev. Mr. Macdonald informs me that old inhabitants of Swinton village used to 
hear this called " Boston's house" in their childhood. A ruined dwelling hard by 
may well have been the old manse. 

IISITR on UCTIO^ xvii 

rarest. No wonder Boston had long periods of deep dejection. 
A shallower man would have scamped his work. Boston 
deliberately gave his best to his handful. And what a noble 
best it was, Scotland was vet to know, when the substance of 
it, reset and rich with the prayer of after years, was given to the 
world in the Fourfold State. 

Nor were those years less memorable for their influence 
upon Boston himself. In the interior life every man comes to 
his own through manifold experiment. And before Boston left 
Simprin for Ettrick his chief experiments had been made, and 
his methods of devotion and study fashioned for good. It was 
here he found how the tone of the week is lowered by plunging 
into worldly business on the Monday morning, and it was here 
he formed the lifelong habit of spending the first hours of 
every Monday in prayer. It was here that he first systematically 
prepared himself for family worship, and expounded the chapter 
that was read in the ordinary course at night. At Simprin, too, 
began those family fasts that played a part in his household 
economy until the end. And above all, perhaps, it was at 
Simprin Boston awoke to the sanctifying power of dogged work. 
It shames us yet to read of his passion for study, that no 
broken weeks and no scarcity of books could quench. He 
struggled through the psalms in Hebrew. He set himself to 
master French from a paper of rules lent by a neighbouring 
tutor. With little help from any summa or commentary, he 
faced some of the stifiest questions in theology, and answered 
them with a surprising depth and fulness. A life like that is 
bound to tell. No pulpit work won by such prayer and fasting 
and study can long be powerless. Nor was it powerless in the 
Merse. We trace in the pages of the Memoir a growing 
interest and widening response, until at last the little churcli 
was quite unable to accommodate the throngs who crowded, 
especially on Communion seasons, to hear the gospel preached 
by the young minister of Simprin. 

Here, too, first fell on Boston's life the lights and shadows of 
the home. In 1697, when on the point of leaving Kennet, he 
first met Catherine Brown of Barhill, in Culross. The meeting 
was but momentary, and Catherine was some two years the 
elder ; but we may fairly gather from the guarded expressions 
in the diary, that it was a genuine instance of love at first sight. 
" Whenever I saw her," says Boston, " a thought struck through 
my heart about her being my wife." And " both of us were in 


great distress." For the next year the two saw nothing of each 
other. But when in the spring of 1698 Boston returned to the 
Presbytery of Stirling, and took a lodging with Catherine's 
brother-in-law, the acquaintanceship of a day was soon renewed, 
and speedily ripened into a pledge of loving companionship for 
life. Perhaps neither thought that two years must elapse before 
they could be married. They had not laid their reckoning with 
stubborn heritors, nor with the miserable stipend at Simprin. 
And it is easy to see the sore perplexities of both in carrying 
the matter of their engagement rightly. At length, on the 
17th July 1700, they were married at Culross, by Mr. Mair, 
and Boston brought his bride home to Simprin. It was the 
beginning of a wedded life that was to be chequered by the 
sorest griefs. Of the five children born at Simprin two were 
soon laid in the churchyard. In later years Mrs. Boston fell 
under a mysterious and racking disorder of the intellect. Yet 
Boston felt to the end that his marriage was of God. Two 
years before his death, writing his narrative, and looking 
backwards through the sunshine and the storm of the two-and- 
thirty years since they first met, Boston recorded of his wife 
one of the tenderest and noblest tributes wherewith a wife was 
ever honoured, and blessed God that he had been made acquainted 
with her. So enriched by love and sorrow, and so sanctified by 
fellowship with God and work, was Thomas Boston, when on the 
1st of May 1707, in the thirty-second year of his age, he was 
translated from Simprin to the parish of Ettrick, where the 
remainder of his life was to be spent. 

The parish of Ettrick,^ in Selkirkshire, is a large one. It 
stretches about ten miles every way, and embraces the upper 
courses of the Ettrick PJver, taking within its sweep the 
tributaries of Tinia and Eankleburn on the south, and crossinfj 
the hills northward to the Loch of the Lowes in Yarrow. From 
Simprin to Ettrick church is only some forty - five miles, as 
Boston would have ridden it ; but to pass from one parish to 
the other is like passing from the Lov/lands into the midst of 
Highland scenery. Around the little church of Simprin lie the 
rich lands of Berwickshire. The towns of Coldstream, of Kelso, 
and of Duns are none of them far away. But the church and 
manse of Ettrick nestle at the foot of lofty hills, where they 
begin to draw together with increasing height and grandeur 

1 The Forest, as Boston often calls his parish, was a name originally applied to 
the valleys of Yarrow aiul Tweed, as well as to that of the Ettrick. 


towards the valley-head. And Ettrick Eiver, siiringing from the 
rushes between two of these highest Fells, and falling like a 
thread of silver into the valley, will have good eighteen miles to 
travel past Ettrick church before it reach the county town of 
Selkirk. Across the hills to the north lies the valley of the 
Yarrow — that chosen home of song and legend. And though 
Ettrick can never match its famous sister in the spell it casts on 
the poet's imagination and the people's heart, it too is rich in 
legend, and has not been entirely unsung. It has inspired 
some of the finest of the older ballads. It teems with romantic 
memories of the Border feuds. One of its loneliest cleuchs has 
given the title to the ducal family of Buccleuch. Here Michael 
Scott, the wizard, had his last home. And here, within a stone- 
cast of the church, the Ettrick Shepherd — that true interpreter 
of Border wizardry — was born thirty-eight years after Boston's 

It is not easy to determine what the population of Ettrick 
was in Boston's time. To-day in the whole valley there are 
about a thousand people, and in the parish itself about four 
hundred, and we have really no valid ground for holding that 
the population was much larger two centuries ago. It is true 
that here and there, as on the south side of the river opposite 
the church, may be traced the ruins of considerable hamlets 
where now there is not one house ; but the earliest statistics 
of the parish — of the date 1755 — give the population at 397, 
a, number slightly less than that of the present day.i 

But if the population has been stationary, and if the green 
hills look down on farms and homesteads still bearing the names 
familiar to lovers of these Memoirs, the* Ettrick of to-day is 
different in many ways from the Ettrick where Thomas Boston 
wrought. The upper valley must always be a lonely region, 
and now as then the snow will sometimes lie for weeks upon 
the hills. But the good roads that stretch away from the 
church door, and the line of telegraph that threads the valley, 

' See Stat. Acct. (1792) III. 296. The numbers at the Ettrick Sacrament in 
Boston's later years have led writers to infer a larger population. Cf. Duncan 
Fraser in Bonier Mag. II. 47, col. 2. Those who have seen the crowds at a High- 
land Sacrament will hesitate so to judge the resident population. In 1728 Eben. 
Lrskine at Portmoak commissions wine for 2067 oonimunicants — population about 
1000. Fraser's Life, 202 note. Rev. Mr. Mackenzie of Ettrick finds from the old 
Minutes of Session (of which he is a diligent student), that between 1707 and 1724 
there were fourteen baptisms out of church (none noted in church), three proclamations 
of marriage per annum, and about five deaths per annum. This points to a small 


and the daily post that brings the news of the great world 
without, all make it hard for us to realise the isolation of 
Thomas Boston's Ettrick. So late as 1792 the writer of the 
Statistical Account supplies a somewhat doleful description of 
his parish. " This parish," he says, " possesses no advantages. 
The roads are almost impassable.^ The only road that looks 
like a turnpike is to Selkirk, but even it in many places is so 
deep as greatly to obstruct travelling. The snow also, at times, 
is a great inconvenience ; often for many months we can have 
no intercourse with mankind. Another great disadvantage is 
the want of bridges. For many hours the traveller is obstructed 
on his journey when the waters are swelled. In this parish 
there are twelve ploughs and twenty carts, but no carriages or 
waggons." Such, then, was Ettrick — a parish possessing no 
advantages. It was for Boston to discover what might be done 
through work and prayer in this disadvantageous spot.-- 

For a long time it looked as if nothing could be done. 
Work and prayer seemed to be well-nigh powerless. Amid that 
sea of hills, as Ettrick has been called, Boston had taken arms 
against a sea of troubles, and nothing but the deep conviction 
that his call had been of God could have upheld him through 
his earlier ministry. The little flock at Simprin had been 
ignorant, but, at least, they had received with meekness the 
engrafted word. Ettrick was very liberal to its poor, and 
very hospitable to the passing stranger ; but it was full of 
pride, and self-assurance, and conceit — the frequent offspring of 
an isolated life ; and how that self - assurance and conceit 
hampered the work of ministering, and how it plagued the 
minister, is frankly told in these truly human Memoirs. And 
then it was a sorely broken parish. The smouldering discontent 
with the Eevolution Settlement had been fanned into a flame by 
Cameronians from the west. Every hamlet in the upper valley 
had its separatist. The common talk was all of separation, and 
of the lawfulness of attending service in the parish church ; 
till Boston, ever eager to get to personal dealing with his 
people, was like to be wrestled out of breath with them, and 
almost dreaded his pastoral visiting. Nor were things better 
on the Sabbath. A four years' vacancy had wrought its natural 
effects. Men had grown careless. They had lost the art of 

^ " At the beginning of this century it was common to see a driver going before 
his horses with a spade in his hands to fill up the ruts." — Angus, Ettrick and 
Yarrow, 3. Cf. Scott's ^'l]-^ -pathless Ettrick and on Yarrow." 


decent attention during service. They gossiped and chaffered 
so noisily in the churchyard in time of sermon, that one of the 
elders had to be told off to keep order there.^ Worse, too, than 
any inattention was the so lax morality. The vice of swearing 
was widespread. And one has but to turn the pages of the old 
Session Eecords to be ashamed at the prevalent uncleanness. 
No wonder Boston was made to go with a bowed -down back. 
No wonder that after eight years of it he said to his wife, " My 
heart is alienated from this place." At times he was filled with 
the longing to be gone. And it is characteristic of his large and 
loyal heart, that nothing so speedily subdued that longing as the 
thought of the sad plight of Ettrick if he went. 

But in the long-run faith and prayer and study will tell. 
And as they had told in Simprin they were to tell in Ettrick 
too. It is not every minister who grows and deepens amid an 
unsympathetic people. It is not every father who abounds in 
thankfulness when called to meet the bitterest sorrows of the 
home. Boston did both. And the artless story of his study and 
his preaching and his daily wrestling with God, surrounded and 
shadowed as he was, is one of the noblest records that was ever 
penned. Slowly and surely his influence grew. Gird as they 
would, men felt the thrust and power of his preaching, and 
knew the Holy Ghost was in it. One of his action sermons had 
been published, and word began to steal into the valley that it 
was making a deep impression in Edinburgh. Strange faces 
became common in the church. Then came the inevitable calls. 
And Ettrick grew convinced at last — and the conviction had 
taken ten years to ripen — that in losing Boston they would 
lose an incomparable minister. It is touching to note the 
outbreakings of a rough affection, and to find a congregational 
fast appointed by the Session, when in 1716 Boston came under 
call to Closeburn. It is touching, too, and something more, 
when we remember what the past had been, to mark how 
Boston, in Presbytery and Synod and Assembly, battled against 
the call, and how at last he won. It was the turning-point in 
the parish life. Henceforth he was to minister with a new 
authority, and to be the instrument of far larger blessing. 

How these ten years of difficulty enriched Boston it is not 
hard, reading the Memoirs, to see. Nor is it hard to see how 
they enriched the world. It is to them we owe the Fourfold 
State. The substance of that work had been already preached 

^ Session Minutes, 1707. 


at Simprin. In 1708 and 1709 it was recast and amplified, 
and given from the Ettrick pulpit. And when, some two years 
later, Boston was urged by his beloved physician, Dr. Trotter, 
to publish, it was these notes that seemed the likeliest venture. 
But Boston dared not move till he was certain of the call of 
God. And of all the signs that pointed to a call, none was 
more patent than his divided parish. These sermons had been 
greatly blessed to those who heard them. When printed, 
might they not reach the many who never darkened Ettrick 
kirk? JJoston would almost have been content with that. It 
was a lowly prospect, but it determined him. He did not know 
what scattered multitudes were to be found and fed by the 
reading of the Fourfold State. 

And if ever a book was steeped in prayer, it was that 
Fourfold State. From the Tuesday in January 1712 when 
Boston first put pen to paper for the final draft, it was daily 
spread before a throne of grace, and found its place in every 
family fast. At times it looked as if the book would never 
see the light. It was delayed by the Eebellion of the '15. It 
was. almost strangled in the birth by the well-meant meddling 
of an Edinburgh Treasurer — one of the most amazing and 
ludicrous incidents in the whole history of literature. And it 
was not till November 1720 that Boston handled a bound copy 
of his work. Almost immediately it took a hold. New editions 
were called for, and testimonies of its usefulness came pouring 
in. It v\as discussed in Edinburgh drawing-rooms. The 
shepherd read it on the hills. It made its way into the 
Highland crofts, where stained and tattered copies of the earlier 
editions may still be found. For more than a hundred years 
its influence upon the religious life of Scotland was incalculable. 
And though the interests and the outlook are very changed 
to-day, and the book itself is very little read, there are great 
parts of Scotland in which one cannot move among the people, 
and catch the accent of their more serious talk, and listen to 
their prayers, without perceiving, howsoever dimly, that the 
influence of Boston's masterpiece is unexhausted yet. Nor need 
one wonder at the power of it. It is so orderly and clear, so 
rich in just and beautiful citation, so searching, and here and 
there so softening ; it is so strong in its appeals, so full, for all 
its doctrine, of warmth and human life ; it is so couched in 
language of the homeliest and truest ring, rising at times into 
unquestionable eloquence, that the secret of its acceptance is 


not far to seek. And yet to Boston himself that was not all 
the secret. " When I have considered the acceptance that 
book met with," he writes in 1730, "I could not but impute 
it to an over-ruling hand of kind Providence, that would needs 
have it so." 

Boston was no ecclesiastic. He makes t!ie quaint confession 
that he was defective in ecclesiastical prudence. One could 
scarcely conceive a greater contrast than that between the 
author of the Fourfold State — the leader of the people's thought, 
and the courtly Carstares — the leader of the people's church. 
Still, when the question in church courts was one of principle 
or doctrine, Boston was always ready to declare himself. And 
at throe points especially he touched the larger church life of 
his day. 

The first was in that now forgotten controversy that raged 
around the Abjuration Oath. Early in 1712 the British 
Parliament had passed an Act,^ imposing the Oath of Abjuration 
upon all the ministers of Scotland. The title of that oath 
explains itself. It was an oath abjuring the Pretender. It 
aimed at the safeguarding of the Queen, and made the Protestant 
succession to the crown secure.^ 

So far, however offensive were the circumstances of its 
imposition, there might be little real objection to the oath, for 
certainly no men in Scotland were more eager to repudiate 
King James the Eighth, with all his spurious rights and titles, 
than were the Presbyterian ministers. Unhappily, the oath 
made mention of, and indeed was based upon, two Acts of the 
Englisli Parliament, that had been passed before the Union, and 
in these Acts it was expressly stipulated that the reigning 
sovereign should belong to the communion of the Church of 
England. This was the rock of stumbling.^ It was impossible 
for Presbyterian ministers to pledge themselves to the upholding 
of Episcopacy. It was unjust, and wholly inconsistent with 
the Treaty and Articles of Union, to force upon them any such 
acknowledgment, on pain of extraordinary penalties if they 
refused. Once perhaps the Church of Scotland would have 
risked the inevitable charges of disloyalty, and scorned subscrip- 

^ "An Act to prevent the disturbing of those of the Episcopal communion in 
Scotland, in the exercise of their religious worship." — Struthers, Hist. I. 154. 

" The text of the oath will be found in full in AVodrow, Corrcsp. I. 153, etc. 

* See the objections in full in the draft of the Xon-jurauts' declaration, Wodrow, 
CoiTesp. I. 641. 


tion. But the Assembly of 1712 had lost the faith and daring 
of an older day, and it was left to individual ministers to take 
the oath or not at their discretion. 

It is hard for us, after the long interval of years, to realise 
how deeply this matter of the oath moved the whole Church. 
It brought her to the verge of a disruption. It broke old 
friendships, and became a term of ministerial communion. In 
numberless cases it impaired, and in not a few entirely dissolved, 
that so unique and sacred tie that binds the pastor and his flock 
together. Perhaps no subscription in the long history of the 
Church was ever the cause of such abounding bitterness. Some 
signed without a scruple. Many — and in their number not a 
few of the saintliest and wdsest — complied under a sorrowful 
protest.^ But some three hundred refused to sign on any terms, 
and among these was Boston. It was no light thing to incur a 
fine greater than all the stipend he had ever handled.^ It was 
no easy thing to hold communion with his jurant friends when it 
set all Ettrick snarling.^ But Boston was convinced, and his 
convictions in the matter never changed. Seven years later the 
oath was reimposed. It was so altered then, and freed from all 
reference to the objectionable Acts, that the great body of non- 
jurors signed at last. Boston had still no liberty to sign, and he 
remained a " Non " until the end. It is a noble instance, at the 
very least, of how a naturally timid man, set in a lonely parish, 
and far from the quickening intercourse of kindred souls, may 
school himself into the heroism of high moral courage. 

Boston's position in this matter of the oath was shared by 
many. He was not solitary in his sustained defiance of the 
Government. But shortly after the first imposition of the oath 
a case began deeply to agitate the Church, and this time, at 
one stage in the proceedings, Boston was to stand alone. It 
was the case of Professor Simson. 

Eeaders of Wodrow's Letters — that very precious and some- 
times very tedious correspondence — grow painfully familiar, 
before they close the last of the three bulky volumes, with the 
name of Simson. The conscientious minister of Eastwood was 
in the habit of writing daily letters from the Assembly to his 

^ How the world viewed this is trenchantly told in Lockharb Pajmrs, I. 384-5. 

- £500. The penalty was never exacted, though often threatened. 

^ "My father was very tenacioi;s of what he juilged truth, while at the same time 
he could love, esteem, and honour his brethren who differed from him, and very 
freely hold communion with them." — T. Boston, junr. Preface to his father's 
sermon on Schisvi. 


wife, and he was present, though not always as a member, at 
every Assembly in which the Simson case came up. One 
would have thought that Mrs. Wodrow might have been 
furnished with livelier news from Edinburgh than these 
interminable wranglings. But my Lord Pollok of Eastwood 
was at home, too frail to come up to the Assembly now, but 
just as keenly interested in its work as ever, and the daily 
letters directed to the manse were doubtless intended for the 
castle too. Whether or nut, Wodrow so narrowly watched the 
Simson case, and followed it so closely through all its windings 
to the end, that we have no ampler commentary on the 
relative portions of this diary, than these so circumstantial 

John Simson was Professor of Divinity at Glasgow, and if he 
was not an inspiration to his students, for fifteen years at any- 
rate he was an irritation to his Church. He was a keen and 
subtle thinker, with liis chief interest in metaphysics. But he 
was an unsettled and ill-balanced man, with little depth or 
dignity of character. And he conspicuously lacked the compre- 
hensive mind that is so needful for a teacher of theology. 

First he was charged with teaching Arminian doctrine, and 
after much debate and much delay was very gently reprimanded. 
Nine years later the cry got up that he was tainted with the 
heresies of Dr. Clarke, and that he was inculcating Arian tenets 
now — impugning the accepted doctrine of the Trinity, and 
denying the necessary existence of our Lord Jesus Christ. No 
charges could be graver, but to prove the charges was supremely 
difficult. The lectures complained of had been in Latin. The 
nicest terms may be equivocal. And the Professor not only 
was a master in the art of teaching heresy orthodoxly,^ but was 
so feverishly eager to concede, and to reiterate his adherence to 
the standards, that honest men, who had no learning to dispute 
his doctrine, began instinctively to doubt his character. Through 
four Assemblies, and countless meetings of committee and of 
Presbytery, the matter was debated. Side issues caused delay. 
The finest points were argued at unconscionable length, and 
with a mighty show of learning. And it was not till the 
Assembly of 1729 that the case was finally disposed of. The 
charges were found proven. Would, then, the culprit be excom- 
municated ? or would he be deposed ? or would he be merely 
suspended from the work of teaching ? Professor Simson was 
' The phrase is Lord Grange's, Wodrow, III. 261. 

XX vi I.yi-R on UC TION 

perpetually suspended, still to enjoy the emoluments, without 
fulfilling the duties, of the chair. 

And it was then that Boston, like Athanasius contra totum 
orbem, stood alone. Boston was clear that if the charges had 
been proven, Simson should be deposed. He could not tolerate 
the unfaithful gentleness of the Assembly. When the report 
of the committee recommending the suspension was brought in, 
the house was crowded. The case was drawing to a close at 
last, and the great strain was nearly oxqv. The Act was read ; 
the Moderator asked if the Assembly acquiesced in it, and for a 
moment there was profound stillness. Then Boston rose. 
" Moderator," lie said, " I dissent in my own name, and in the 
name of all that shall adhere to me ; " then looking round the 
house, " with an air of majesty," as an eye-witness has it, " that 
I shall never forget," and finding none had risen, he added, 
" and for myself alone if nobody shall adhere." " Sir," said the 
Moderator, a very solemn, grave man, " will yon tear out the 
bowels of your mother ? " " If that were the tendency of this," 
said Boston, pointing to the paper in his hand, " rather would 
I take it, and tear it in a thousand pieces." At length, in the 
sole interest of the Church's peace, Boston agreed not to insist 
on the recording of his protest, and the Simson case was at an 
end. Boston had acted with a quiet and courageous dignity 
that made a deep impression on the house, and greatly raised 
his reputation in the Church. And it was all wonderful to him. 
In his v\^hole management of the affair he traced a higher wisdom 
than his own. lie was a richer man, in things more heavenly 
than reputation, when he turned his horse's head out of the 
crowded Edinburgh street and made towards the solitude of 

The Abjuration question and the Simson case, however 
engrossing in their day, have long been forgotten. But there 
was one other controversy of the time, which may not have 
commanded the intense interest of the others, but which was 
destined to be far more powerful for good. The echoes of it 
have not yet died away. The influences of it are still not 
altogether indiscernible. It was the Marrow controversy. And 
among all the ministers so honourably concerned in that, none 
was more deeply engaged than Boston. 

At the commencement of his ministry, Boston, like many 
another regenerate and able preacher, was still intellectually 
groping in no little darkness towards right uptakings of the 


grace of God. Trained in tlie covenant theology, he was soon 
face to face with the tremendous difficulties whicli that theology 
offers to the thinker. And it is characteristic of the man that 
he made no attempt to shirk these difficulties. He preached 
according to his knowledge, and out of his growing experience 
of Christ. But always, with abounding prayer, he was studying, 
comparing, writing, and longing for the breaking of a fuller light. 

And if that saying of Duncan Matheson's — that we aye get 
what we gang in for — was ever true, it was true in Boston's 
case. Some time in 1700, sitting in an old soldier's cottage at 
Simprin, he spied above the window-head two little books. One 
proved to be a work by Saltmarsh, that Boston did not relish. 
The other was titled The Marrow of Modern Divinity. It was a 
new name to Boston. Neither at Kennet nor in the Merse had 
he ever hoard a whisper of the book. It is not likely that any 
minister of his acquaintance had ever seen it, save Fraser of 
Brea,^ and he had never mentioned it. But it so suited Boston's 
case and met his difficulties, so cleared him in the matter of the 
covenants, and gave him boldness in his full offers of salvation, 
that it became, and to the end remained, the choicest volume on 
his not-overburdened shelf. " It speedily gave a tincture to my 
preaching," says Boston ; but it did more than that. Little could 
he foresee what consequences for himself and for his church were 
still to flow from that bookish glance at the old soldier's window- 

And what, then, was this book ? It was a little treatise by 
an English gentleman, Edward Fisher, M.A., of Brazenose College, 
Oxford, and it first saw the light in 1646,^ the memorable year 
of the Westminster Confession. As its name indicates, it does 
not claim originality. It is a gathering together of the most 
marrowy passages of the acknowledged masters of divinity. But 
the selection is so skilful, and the progress of the argument so 
clear, and the whole is thrown into such an interesting form, 
that the book is far from being a mere catena. Students of the 
religious history of England are well aware of the countless 
sects and heresies that sprang up during the Civil War. They 
know, too, that among all the questions in debate, none were 

^ Fraser had been helped by tlie Marrow. See Memoirs (1891 Invern.) 232. 

- Strictly, this applies only to the first part of the Marrow. A second part, 
dealing with the Ten Commandments, was published in 1648. Boston's edition 
contains both parts ; but it was tlie first part only that he found at Simprin, and 
the first part that was edited by Hog, and excepted against by the Assembly. In 
general references to the Marrov\ it is the first part that is commonly intended. 


more eagerly pursued in press and pulpit than those which turn 
on the relationships of law and grace. It was in these that 
Fisher was most deeply interested. Like a clean English gentle- 
man, he saw and scorned the unworthy licence that men were 
calling the liberty of Christ. On the other hand, he had him- 
self, for twelve weary years, been fettered by a legal spirit, and 
ignorant of the secret of free grace. And when he found the 
light, and grasped, through conference and prayer and most 
exhaustive reading, the mutual bearings of the older law and of 
the newer liberty, nothing would serve but he must tell the 
news. So came the Marrow. It is no dry compend of theology. 
It is the earnest effort of a Christian and a scholar to solve 
some of the problems of his time. It is the endeavour of a 
" middle man " to take the " middle path," and the middle path 
— the only path to heaven, says Boston in his note — was Jesus 
Christ truly received by faith, and walked in answerably by 
holiness of heart and life. 

To some who read these pages it may seem not a little 
strange that such a thesis should ever call for vindication. 
They must remember that they were never trained to think 
in terms of that noble system of covenant theology. Every 
theology has its point of strain. And in the covenant-system, 
so rich in intellectual satisfaction, one point of strain must 
always be the inter-relations of the covenants. Was the moral 
law the covenant of works ? What, then, is the standing of the 
moral law in the covenant of grace ? Was the covenant between 
God and Christ the very same as that between God and Adam ? 
And does the believer accept the moral law out of the hand of 
God the Creator or God the Eedeemer ? Such questions seem 
very far away to us. They sound unpractical. They speak a 
language we hardly understand. But sooner or later they must 
be asked and answered by every student of the covenant theology. 
And they were never better answered than by Fisher. At times 
his expressions are not a little harsh ; and there are paragraphs 
that lend themselves most admirably to misrepresentation. But 
how a Scotch Assembly could condemn the book, as it was yet 
to be condemned, and could deliberately find in it an antinomian 
bias, must surely remain a mystery for ever. 

Boston had been a student of the Marrow for a score of 
years, before the book began to make a stir in Scotland. And 
all the stir, though Boston did not know it at the time, sprang 
from his find on the Simprin window-head. In 1717, when the 


first case against Simsou had been closed, the Assembly was 
called upon to give its judgment on the famous Auchterarder 
Creed. This so-called creed was a proposition framed by the 
Presbytery of Auchterarder, and put to a student when applying 
for licence, and it ran in these terms : " It is not sound and 
orthodox to teach that we must forsake sin in order to our 
coming to Christ, and instating us in covenant with God." That 
certainly has got an ugly sound. We cannot wonder that it was 
widely misinterpreted. To those who could receive it, it was 
but the harsh expression of the thought — 

" Just as I am, and waiting not 
To rid my soul of one dark blot, 
Lamb of God, I come." 

but to many it seemed a direct incentive to a lawless life, and 
as such it was condemned by the Assembly. 

Now it was just on points like these that Boston had been 
so aided by the Marroiv. And it was of the Marrow that 
Boston's mind was full during the progress of that Auchterarder 
diet. He did not speak in the debate, but he did better. He 
spoke of the Marrow to his neighbour in the house. His 
neighbour — the minister of Crieff — searched through the 
Edinburgh bookshops until he got a copy. It passed from his 
hands into those of Mr. Webster. From Mr. Webster it was 
hurried on to James Hog, minister of Carnock. And early in 
1718 Hog published a new edition of the book. 

And then the stir began. Following so hard upon the first 
Simson case, and on the question of the Auchterarder Creed, the 
book became at once the source of violent debate. It was 
attacked in Synod sermons. It was defended in explanatory 
pamphlets. It was complained of to the next Assembly. A 
committee of the Commission sat in judgment on it. And the 
end of all the scrutiny was this, that by an Act of Assembly of 
20th May 1720 the Marroiv was condemned.^ 

That year Boston was not a member. But we can well 
conceive how sorely he was wounded when he heard of the ban 
upon his precious Marrow. Had he owed little to the book, he 
might have had a day of fasting for the condemning Act, and let 
things be. But the Marroiv had come to him with the counter- 
sign of God, and it was impossible for Boston to be silent. At 

^ See the full text of the Act in Struthers, Hist. Scot!. I. 480 : Brown's Gos2}el 
Truth {ISBl), 171. 


Presbytery and in Synod he sought redress in vain. Nothing 
was left but to petition the Assembly. And it was that petition, 
drawn up by Boston, and perfected by the counsels and the 
prayers of eleven likeminded ministers, that was laid before the 
Assembly of 1721, and is known in history as the Representation.-^ 
It is a lengthy document, rebutting the several charges of the 
Act, and here and there, in the homely vigour of its style, 
betraying the hand that drafted it. And it was handed in to 
the Committee of Bills by Mr. Kid of Queensferry, " a man of 
singular boldne.ss," on Friday, 12th May 1721. 

But if the Eepresenters hoped that the Assembly would 
take action, their hopes were doomed to disappointment. John, 
Earl of Eothes, was the King's Commissioner ; and the day 
before the Assembly met we have Wodrow writing to his wife 
that the Commissioner is not well. The following Tuesday 
"the Commissioner is really ill; he has a most violent cough, 
and is blue and ill-coloured. . . . Some think him a-dying, and 
that we will rise to-morrow." And tliis the Assembly actually 
did. On Wednesday the 17th it was dissolved, and the 
Eepresentation was referred to the Commission. 

And how the Commission dealt with the twelve Marrowmen, 
and how it wearied them and worried them, students of these 
Memoirs will discover. But students will pardon the Commis- 
sion everything for the one service it rendered to theology. It 
set the Marrowmen twelve posing questions. It gathered up 
the points at issue into a dozen queries, and bade the petitioners 
answer them in writing. And the answers, submitted to the 
March Commission, form one of the noblest pieces of theology 
that ever enriched the English tongue. One would fain trace 
the hand of Boston in them, but it cannot be. They were 
begun by Ebenezer Erskine, and perfected by Gabriel Wilson, 
minister of Maxton. We do not wonder that the latter was 
Boston's dearest friend, nor that the former bears a venerated 
name, if this was the manner of their handiwork. Every votary 
of the queen of sciences would be a debtor to the Marrow con- 
troversy, if it had left us nothing but these so strong and 
luminous replies." 

But neither the answers of the Marrowmen, nor the 
awakening interest of the common people, moved the Com- 

' Full text in Struthers, I. 498 : Brown's Gosi^el Truth (1831), 176. 
- Tliey are appended in full to many editions of the Marrow : as in Works, VII. 
466. Al.-io in Brown's Gosjjcl TrulJi (1831), 189. 


mission. Its overture was adverse. And on the 21st of 
May 1722 the General Assembly ratified the overture, and 
admonished and rebuked the Eepreseuters. " 1 received the 
rebuke," says l!oston, " as an ornament, being for the cause of 
truth." A Protest, drawn by Boston and signed by all, was 
handed in. It was received, but was not read. And so the 
Marrow controversy ended. Four years later, spite of the 
prohibition of his Church, Boston put forth a new edition of the 
Marroiu with very ample notes. And spite of the prohibition 
of the Church, or perhaps in part because of it, the book had a 
rapid and extensive sale. 

It would be an interesting, though by no means an easy 
task, to trace the influences of the Marroio, and of the Marrow 
controversy, upon religious Scotland. Weighted with the 
authority of saintly names, and rich in the added interests of 
church debate, the book was read by multitudes, and proved to 
many " a light struck up in darkness." It was interpreted in 
some of Boston's most familiar writings. Men caught the 
echoes of it in the preaching of George Whitefield.^ It was a 
silent witness against the dry morality of countless pulpits. 
And if the nation was at all in readiness for the evangelical 
revival of the succeeding century, directly and indirectly the 
Marrow had played its part in that. But there was more than 
that. It w^as in the Marrow controversy, for the first time 
since the Eevolution, that the country saw a little band of 
venerated ministers united to oppose the Church's will, for 
conscience' sake. And though that controversy issued without 
rupture, it made the strained relationship so evident, and 
brought the possibilities of separation so home to ministers and 
people, that none were wholly unprepared for the notable 
secessions of the next forty years. 

The Marrow controversy over, — " that plunge into public 
affairs that filled both my head and my hands," — Boston was 
free to resume his parish work, and to ply his beloved and 
sorely broken studies. His health was frail, and his wife's case 
was yearly becoming more tragical. He had a presentiment 
that the end was not very far away. We might have thought 
that one so prematurely old, and so afihcted in his wife's 
affliction, had earned a little rest. But Boston could not rest. 
No period of his life is stored with labours like these last 
ten years. " The little that is done," says Goethe, " seems 

^ Cf. Tliomson's ffist. Secession CJ„urch (1S4S), IG note. 


nothing, when we look forward and see how much we have yet 
to do." 

His duties of catechising were resumed. His stated meet- 
ings with the young were continued till very near the end. He 
visited the sick in the remotest corners of the parish, not 
seldom fighting his way to them through storm and under 
grievous bodily distress. He wrote his treatise on the Covenant 
of Grace ; prepared an Explanation of the first part of the 
Catechism ; completed his admirable Memorial on Fasting ; 
translated and annotated a great part of Genesis. And all the 
time his pulpit was his throne. His preaching was never more 
fragrant nor more full than in that last decade. It was then 
he delivered those notable discourses on the Mystery of Christ 
in the Form of a Servant. It is to that period we owe the 
sermons that were published posthumously as the Crooh in the 
Lot. And nothing could give a better idea of the compass, and 
the intellectual power, and the comforting strength of Boston's 
later ministry, than these examples of his pulpit work. We 
cannot wonder that such work was owned. Preaching like that 
will win its way and draw its audience even among the hills of 
Ettrick. In 1710 Boston for the first time had dispensed the 
Sacrament in Ettrick, and some sixty persons had partaken. 
In 1731 he celebrated his last Communion, and the tokens 
distributed numbered 777. 

But that decade was memorable for another study to which 
a pathetic interest attaches. As a student of divinity in 
Edinburgh, Boston had learned the rudiments of Hebrew, and as 
a young minister at Simprin he had begun his study of the 
Hebrew Bible. That study he plied, with all his wonted 
enthusiasm, till the last ; and there can be little question that 
in the course of years he wrought himself into one of the 
profoundest Hebraists in Scotland. 

But it is one thing to understand the Hebrew text and 
another thing to understand the Hebrew accents — those 
mystical scatterings of dots and dashes that variegate the 
Hebrew page. These accents are guides to the pronunciation, 
and form a kind of commentary on the true sense and recitation 
of the text, and scholars tell us that they were invented by the 
Jewish doctors in the earlier centuries of our era. They form 
no part of the original Hebrew text ; they are not found in the 
Old Testaments of the Jewish synagogue, nor in the citations of 
the first Christian Fathers. All this we know now, but much 


of it was unknown to Boston. And an eager mind like his 
could never rest while every page of his beloved Hebrew was 
intricate with mysteries like these. 

It was in 1713 that Boston began the study of the accents, 
and for three years he groped and stumbled in Cimmerian dark- 
ness. He read, and wrote, and prayed, and meditated, but the 
perplexities remained. Most men would have given over. 
Most ministers would have found it all telling adversely on 
their public work. Boston held on, and by abounding prayer 
sanctified both his accents and himself. After three years of 
wandering, the light began to break. The meaning of the 
accents became plainer ; they settled down into something of 
function and of law ; until at last they threw such a flood of 
light upon the sacred text, and gave him such an insight into 
debated passages, that Boston grew convinced the accents were 
divine, and the true key to the genuine sense of Scripture. It 
was a great discovery to Boston. It came to be his passion. 
It took possession of him, heart and soul. He had been called 
to preach the everlasting gospel, and he w'ould preach it to the 
end. But next to that the greatest business of bis life must be 
his work on the Accentuation. 

And how that work progressed, and how he wrestled with 
its difficulties, and how the publication of it baffled him — all this 
is one of the touching passages in these Memoirs. It took him 
three years to write his book. It cost him the labour of another 
year to turn it into Latin. Lord Grange was interested. Sir 
Eichard Ellys was ready to befriend. The Ettrick messenger 
brought letters in his wallet from famous scholars at con- 
tinental imiversities. But the difficulties in the way of 
publication were insuperable, and Boston died with his hope 
unrealised. The book was published in 1738 at Amsterdam. 
It bears the title Tradatus Stigmologicus, and has a Latin 
dedication to Sir Eichard Ellys, written by Boston's son. And 
surely it is the most curious and recondite work that ever 
issued from a Scottish manse. We do not find that it influenced 
Hebrew scholarship. The divine authority of the accents was a 
dream. Yet he who knows how the world has progressed 
through its errors, and he who has learned the matchless 
discipline of exact and unremitting toil, will be the last to 
deplore Boston's beloved study. It is not often that the writers 
of a people's books bear honoured names among the learned. 
It has never been a very common thing to find in the evan- 


gelical minister tlie lipeued scholar. And Scotland has not been 
ignorant of popular theologians, who would have been far less 
popular if they had been truer students. It is something then 
to know, and it is worthy of remembrance, that the evangelical 
minister of Ettrick, whose works were treasured by the cottar 
and the herd, was welcomed as an equal by the finest Hebrew 
scholars in the world. 

Boston was never a robust man, although he sets it down 
with thankfulness that he never spent a silent Sabbath through 
ill-health. Early in life he feared consumption, and all his life 
lie seems to have been troubled witli a painful binding in the 
breast. In 1724 he had a first attack of gravel. Two years 
later he noticed a palsied shaking of the head, which spread 
in time to his whole body. With the New Year of 1732 it 
became plain his work was nearly done. His sufferings had 
increased. His strength was very low. He could not think to 
leave off preaching while it was possible to preach at all ; but 
he was forced to sit during the delivery of the short discourse. 
When April came, with its message of the returning life of 
spring, he was too feeble to make out the pulpit. But on the 
first two Sabbaths he preached from the manse window, 
choosing most .characteristically — the ruling passion strong in 
death ^ — the theme of self-examination. These were his last 
discourses to his people. In great weakness he lingered for 
a little, and on the 20 th of May, a Saturday — the day he 
commonly rested from his studies — he died, at the age of fifty- 

He was buried in the beautiful churchyard of Ettrick, that 
had so often echoed with his communion-message of eternal life. 
Until the beginning of this century the spot was marked by a 
small stone, on one half of which was graven his name, and on 
the other half his wife's. But in 1806 a monument was 
erected to his memory, and it still stands unharmed by the 
storm and sunshine of these ninety years.^ On every side, 
graven in stone, we read the names that have grown familiar in 
these Memoirs. Bryden and Biggar and Linton, Crosslie and 
Thirlstane, all are here. Here rest the children Boston baptized. 

^ The first proposal for this monument was made in the Monitor, April 1804. 
An interesting letter hy Rev. Wm. Brown of Eskdalerauir (who wrote the 
inscription) giving full particulars of the erecting will lie found in 1827 Life of 
Boston (01i[diant), 281. Since the fine sketch engraved in this edition was made, 
the churchyard has been much altered. 


There sleeps a wandering sheep who gave his minister many a 
weary hour. And yonder is the grave of one who for conscience' 
sake could never enter Ettrick church. But all have come to 
the one quiet churchyard. The separations are forgotten here. 
In death and in the dust pastor and people are at last united, 
until the day break and the shadows flee away. 

Mrs. Boston lived for a few years after her husband's death. 
Of the ten children born of the marriage four only survived 
their father. John, the eldest son, became factor to the Duke of 
Buccleuch at Langholm Lodge, and was the father of Admiral 
Boston.^ Jane became Mrs. Eussell of Ashiestiel.- Alison 
married Mr. Anderson of Altrive, a name familiar in the life- 
story of the Ettrick Shepherd. She died Gth January 1765, 
and lies with her husband in Ettrick churchyard. Thomas, the 
youngest son, was a lad of 19, and still a student of divinity, 
at his father's death. But so great were his attainments, and 
so strong was tlie desire of Ettrick to have him in his father's 
pulpit, that he was licensed and presented to the parish that 
same year, and in April 1733 ordained. His after-life is 
written large on the page of our church history. He left the 
Establishment, and was one of the founders and the first 
Moderator of the Presbytery of Relief, a body that lived and 
flourished in sturdy independence for well-nigh a hundred 

Such are the outlines of the life whose inner movements 
Boston has given in this book. He wrote these Memoirs 
chiefly for his children ; but in the writing of them he was 

' The admiral, then living at Eton, defrayed the cost of the marble tablet on 
his grandfather's monument. 

- [The following marriage connexion is of some interest : — 

Eev, Thos. Boston (Ettrick) Rev. John Rutherford (Yarrow) 

Jane in. James Eussell, 2nd of Professor Rutherford 


Col. "Will. Russell in. Jean Anne m. W. Scott, W.S. 

I I 

General Sir Jas. Russell, K.C.B. Sir Walter Scott 

Helen J. M. Russell (present proprietrix).] 

^ Local tradition has it that Boston senr. laid two coTumands upon his son. 
One -was not to leave Ettrick. The other, not to marry into the family of 
Tushielaw. Thomas Boston junr. did both. On 26th April 173S he married 
Elizabeth Anderson of Tushielaw. On 10th May 1749 he was admitted minister of 
Oxnam. Adas parentuvi . . . tulit nos ncjuiores. 


making every lover of good men his debtor, and was adding 
unwittingly another book to the choicest literature of 
autobiography. These pages abound in the deepest and most 
varied interests. They are full of glimpses of a bygone day. 
They throw fresh light upon the story of the Church of 
Scotland. They make us feel the heats and bitterness that every- 
where followed the Union of the Kingdoms. They call us back, 
as no more formal history could do, into the stir of Jacobite 
alarms. But it is not the light the Memoirs cast upon 
contemporary history that gives them their imperishable charm. 
It is their revelation of a soul whose lifelong struggle and 
whose consuming passion was to be true to the highest and the 
best. Scotland has had far greater sons than Boston, but if 
ever a man made himself truly great through faith, and 
fellowship with God, and work, it was this evangelical minister 
of Ettrick. And here we have the story of his heart. 

Theue has been no little confusion concerning Boston's likeness. In M'Kerrow's 
Hist. Sec. Ch. Intiotl. Narrative (184.5), 33, and in Dr. Andrew Thomson's 
Life of Boston, frontispiece, a likeness is given of Thomas Boston of Ettrick. 
It seems highly probable that that likeness is that of Thomas Boston junior, 
and that another ]>ortrait (of which a copy hangs side by side with the former 
in the vestry of the Boston U.P. Church, Jedburgh) is Boston senior. This 
latter appears as frontispiece to the 1813 edition of Boston'.s Communion Discourses, 
etc., and it is reproduced in this edition of the Memoirs. All Boston authorities 
are agreed that this is Boston senior. Ettrick tradition points to the same 
conclusion. And such of Boston's descendants as have interested themselves in 
tlie matter have been convinced that the likeness we give is the right one. 
This likeness, too, seems to answer to such accounts as we have of Boston's appearance 
(cf. the original preface to Crooh in tlic Lot, by Messrs. Golden, Wilson, & Davidson ; 
M'Crie, Story of Sc Ch. 454, etc.), and one cannot but think that it better 
expresses the refined and sensitive character of the father, as tlie other and fuller 
face speaks of the bolder and more practical cliaracter of the son. It may be 
noted, though no weight can be laid on this, that an oil-})ainting of the daughter 
of Boston junior, who became Mrs. Simpson (in the jjosscssion of Rev. Mr. 
Mackinnon, Mary kirk) bears marked resemblance to the features which we regard as 
those of her father. Let it be added that the anonymous author of 1827 Life of 
Boston (Oliphant), Advertisement vii., says " It was intended to have given . . . 
a likeness of Mr. Boston, but upon inquiry it was found that no portrait had 
ever been taken, and that anything of the kind which has appeared was 
merely ideal." 



"V/FY DEAE CHILDEEN, — I apprehend, that by the time it 
--*-''- is designed, under the conduct of all-disposing Providence, 
this should come into your hands, ye may be desirous to know 
your father's manner of life, beyond what ye saw with your 
eyes : and it is very pleasing to me, that, as to that point, I am 
capable, in some measure, to satisfy you, by means of two 
manuscripts, which I leave unto you, committing them to the 
Lord my God for preservation, and a blessing on them. 

The one is a bound book in quarto, entitled. Passages of my 
Life, at writing hereof, consisting of three hundred and sixty- 
two written pages, beginning from my birth, ending 19th 
October 1730, and signed.^ I was not arrived at twenty years 
of age, when, without a prompter, so far as I know, I began 
collecting of these passages, for my own souf s benefit : and they, 
being carried on, have often since that time been of use to me. 
For which cause I recommend the like practice to you ; 
remembering the promise, Ps. cvii. 43, "Whoso is wise, and 
will observe those things, even they shall understand the 
loving-kindness of the Lord." 

The other is the following general account of my life, at 
writing hereof, consisting of two hundred and seventy-nine 
written pages,^ beginning from my birth, ending 24th October 

^ The author, before his death, added some pages more. 

- In the years 1730 and 1731 the author added a good many pages more. The 
first MS. consists in whole of 371 pages, and the latter of 342. 


1730, and signed. How I was led thereto, much contrary to 
my inclination, you will find in the manuscripts themselves. 
But, now that it is done, I am obliged to say, " The foolishness 
of God is wiser than men : " and I bless the Lord, who gave 
me counsel. It was in obedience to His call that I did 
it : " Let the Lord do with it what seemeth Him good." 
Ye will not readily have meaner thoughts of that matter than 
I myself had. 

I presume, you will judge that it had been more natural to 
have made one continued history of both : and I, being of the 
same mind, would indeed have so done, had I thought it worth 
my pains, in this decline of my age and strength. But not 
seeing myself called thereto, I am satisfied as to the design of 
Providence, which hath modelled that matter as said is.^ 

You will not therein find yourselves descended, by me at 
least, from any ancient or honourable family in the sight of the 
world ; which is a matter of some significancy, I own, before 
men, for a few passing years : but you will find yourselves 
children of the covenant, devoted unto the God and Father of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, my God, by me having power over you 
for that effect : whom therefore I charge to ratify the same 
with your own consent, and personal acceptance of the covenant ; 
and to cleave to this God as your God, all the days of your 
lives, as being His only, wholly, and for ever : so shall that be 
to you a matter of eternal value and significancy, before the 
Lord ; of value to you in this and the other world. 

If some things in these manuscripts appear trifling, bear 
with them. Had I thought it worth time and pains, to have 
written them over a second time, it is likely, several things now 
found in them had been dropped. Meanwhile it may reasonably 
be allowed, that some things now appearing trifling to you, 
might have been of some weight to me ; and may be so to you 

1 In preparing this work for the press, it was judged absolutely necessary, 
in order to prevent repetitions, and references from the one volume to the other, to 
reduce both into one continued narrative or history, taking care all along to insert the 
passages of his life in the general account, in their proper jilaces, according to their 
respective dates and years, and as the nature of the subjects treated of required. 
[This combination of the two narratives probably accounts for one or two errors of 
date and days of the week. These are corrected where they occur.] 


afterwards ; and if never to you, yet some one time or other to 
yours after you. 

I hope you will find some things in them worthy of your 
imitation : the which I was the more willing to record, that I 
did not think I ever had the art of education of children ; but 
might thereby do somewhat toward the repairing of the loss you 
by that means sustained. It is my desire and will, that, while 
the Lord is pleased to preserve them, and that in the power of 
my offspring, any of them whosoever be allowed free access 
unto them : yet so that the property thereof be vested from 
time to time, in such an one of them, if any such there shall be, 
as shall addict himself to the holy ministry. And in case I be 
allowed, by Him in whose hand is my life and breath, and all my 
ways, to make any continuation of the purpose of these 
manuscripts, the same is to be reckoned as here included. 

I hope you will use no indecent freedoms with them ; 
considering that, for ought you or I know, there is ay?<s tertii, a 
right of a third party, in the matter, whom also I have a view 
to, with an awful regard to the sovereign disposal of holy 
Providence, to which I desire to submit all. Some few things 
which I saw meet to delete, I have signified and signed on the 

And now, my dear children, your lot is fallen in a sinning 
time, beyond the days of my fathers : and I am mistaken, if it 
issue not in a time proportionally trying, by " the Lord's coming 
out of His place to punish the inhabitanj;s of the earth for 
their iniquity." I obtest and beseech you, as you regard your 
eternal welfare, " save yourselves from this untoward generation." 
See the absolute necessity of regeneration, the change of your 
nature, by union with Jesus Christ the second Adam ; as it was 
corrupted by means of your relation to the first Adam fallen. 
Labour for the experience of the power of religion in your own 
souls, that you may have an argument for the reality of it, from 
your spiritual sense and feeling : and cleave to the Lord, His 
way of holiness, " (without which ye shall not see the Lord)," 
His work also, His interests, and people, on all hazards ; being 
assured, that such only will be found wise in the end. If vour 


mother, undoubtedly a daughter of Abraham, shall survive me, 
let your loss of a father move you to carry the more kindly and 
affectionately to her, supporting her in her desolate condition. 
Let the same likewise engage you the more to be peaceful, 
loving, and helpful, among yourselves. 

The Lord bless each one of you, and save you, cause His 
gracious face shine on you, and give you peace ; so as we may 
have a comfortable meeting in the other world ! Farewell. 


Fkom my Study in Ettrick Mansk, 
IZtli October 1730. 




rriHAT my life may be more fully known unto my posterity, 
I for their humiliation on the one hand, and thankfulness 
on the other, upon my account ; for their caution also in 
some things, and their imitation in others ; and that they may 
set their hope in God, and not in the empty creation, — I have 
thought it meet to give the following general account of the 
days of my vanity, in the several periods thereof. 



I WAS born of honest parents, of good reputation among 
their neighbours, in the town of Dunse,^ on the 17 th, 
and baptized on the 21st, of March, in the year 1676; being 
the youngest of seven childreu, four brothers and three sisters, 
procreated betwixt John Boston, and Alison Trotter, a woman 
prudent and virtuous. I was born at a time when my mother 
was thought to have left bearing ; for which cause a certain 
woman used ordinarily to call me God's send. The youngest of 
my sisters I saw not : but the rest lived, and had all of them 
several children ; many of whom have now children of their 

^ [The original spelling was Duns. For long the spelling of the text was the 
recognised one. A tow years ago it was oliicially altered back to the original form. ] 


own. Meanwhile my brothers and sisters arc all of them gone, 
several years ago, into the other world, which I have now in view. 

Andrew Boston, my grandfather, came from Ayr to Dunse, 
and possessed the tenement given afterward by my father to my 
eldest brother, and belonging to his heirs to this day. But 
before him had come William, his brother, as I suppose; whose 
name the tenement next on the west side, to that which my father 
gave me, bears. When I was a boy, I saw a granddaughter 
of his from England, by his son Mr. William, a churchman 
there ; a very devout woman in her way, and married to one 
Mr. Peter Car wain, another churchman ; but I suppose childless. 

My father was a knowing ^ man, having in his youth, I think, 
got good of the gospel. Being a nonconformist during the 
time of Prelacy, he suffered upon that head, to imprisonment, 
and spoiling of his goods. When I was a little boy, I lay in 
the prison of Dunse with him, to keep him company : the wliich 
I have often looked on as an earnest of what might be abiding 
me ; but hitherto I have not had that trial. My mother once 
paying, to one Alexander Martin sheriff-depute, the sum of £50'^ 
as the fine of her imprisoned husband, for his nonconformity, 
desired of him an abatement ; whereupon he, taking up a pint- 
stoup standing on the table, therewith broke in pieces a part 
of a tobacco-pipe lying thereon ; bidding the devil beat him as 
small as that pipe-stopple, if there should be ought abated of 
the sum. And once walking through the street, while my 
father was with the masons that were building his house, he 
looked up, and said to him, that he would make him sell that 
house yet. Nevertheless he and his posterity were not long 
after rooted out of the place; and that house was not sold, 
until I, not for need of money, but for my own conveniency 
otherwise, sold it some years ago. May all my offspring be 
saved from ever embarking with that party ; of whom I say 
from the heart, " my soul, come not thou into their secret ; 
mine honour, be not thou united with them." 

^ [Well-instructed ; almost obsolete in this good sense.] 

^ [Pounds sterling. Rat references to Scots money are so frequent tlironghout 
the book, that we may give the table of couijiarison once and for all : — 

1 penny Scots .... 

1 groat , , . 

1 shilling ,, . 

1 mark ,, . 

£1 ....... 






Is Hd. 

Is 8d. 

= £8 6s Sd. 













i676-i6Sg-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 7 

The schoolmistress having her chamber in my father's house, 
I was early put to school ; and having a capacity for learning, 
and being of a towardly disposition, was kindly treated by her ; 
often expressing her hope of seeing me in the pulpit. Never- 
theless, for a considerable time, I wept incessantly from the 
time they began to put on my clothes till I was upstairs in 
the school. Thus my natural temper of spirit appeared, being 
timorous and hard to enter on, but eager in the pursuit when 
once entered. 

By the time I was seven years old, I read the Bible, and 
had delight in reading it ; would have read with my school- 
mistress in the winter-nights, when the rest of the children were 
not present ; yea, and got the Bible sometimes to the bed with 
me, and read there. Meanwhile I know nothing induced me to 
it, but the natural vanity of my mind ; and curiosity, as about 
some scripture-histories. However, I am thankful, that it was 
at all made my choice early ; and that it hath been the study 
of my ripest years, with which I would fain close my life, if it 
were His will. 

Sometime in the year 1684, or at farthest 1685, I was 
put to the grammar-school, under Mr. James Bullerwall, school- 
master in the town, and continued at it till the harvest 1689, 
save that one summer I w^as kept at home, while the rest of my 
class were going on in the grannnar. 

When I was very young, going to a neighbour's house, with 
a halfpenny, or some such reward of divination, in my hand, 
to a fortune-teller ; after entering the outer door, I was suddenly 
struck in my mind, stood musing a little between the doors, 
durst not go forward, but came stealing away again. Thus the 
unseen Counsellor preserved me from that snare. 

I remember some things which I was, by hearing or seeing, 
in persons come to years, witness to, in these days, leaving an 
impression on me to their disadvantage. Wherefore care should 
be taken, that nothing should be done or said, sinful or indecent, 
before children ; for their memory may retain the same, till 
they are capable to form a right judgement of it, to the staining 
of the character of the party with them afterward. 

By means of my education, and natural disposition, I was 
of a sober and harmless deportment, and preserved from the 
common vices of children in towns. I was at no time what 
they call a vicious or a roguish boy ; neither was I so addicted 
to play as to forget my business; though I was a dexterous 


player at such games as required art and nimbleness : and 
towards the latter end of this period, having had frequent 
occasion to see soldiers exercised, I had a peculiar faculty at 
mustering and exercising my schoolfellows accordingly, by the 
several words and motions of the exercise of the musket; they 
being formed into a body, under a captain. The which exercise 
I have managed, to as much weariness and pain of my breast, 
as sometimes I have preached. 

During the first years of my being at the grammar-school, 
I kept the kirk punctually, where I heard those of the Episcopal 
way ; that being then the national establishment : but I knew 
nothing of the matter, save to give suit and presence within the 
walls of the house ; living without God in the world, unconcerned 
about the state of my soul, till the year 1G87. Toward the 
latter end of summer that year, the liberty of conscience being 
then newly given by King James, my father took me away with 
him to a Presbyterian meeting, in the Newton of Whitsome. 
There I heard the worthy Mr. Henry Erskine,^ minister of Corn- 
hill before the restoration, by wdiose means it pleased the Lord 
to awaken me, and bring me under exercise about my soul's 
state ; being then going in the twelfth year of my age. After 
that, I went back to the kirk no more, till the Episcopalians 
were turned out : and it was the common observation in these 
days, that whenever one turned serious about his soul's state 
and case, he left them. The which experience in my own case, 
founded my aversion to that way, which hath continued with 
me all along to this day. 

But how blameless and harmless soever my life was before 
the world during my childhood, and while I was a boy, whether 
before or after I was enlightened, the corruption of my nature 
began very early to show and spread forth itself in me, as the 
genuine offspring of fallen Adam. And this, not only in the 
vanity and ungodliness of the general course of my life before 
I was enlightened, living without God ; bvit in particular 
branches thereof, which I remember to this day with shame 

HHem-y Erskine, M.A. (Ediii.), father of Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine, born at 
Dryburgh ]624. Ordained at Cornhill in Northnmberhnnd (?) 1649 and ejected 
1662, he retired to Dryburgh. Sept. 1, 1687, in terms of the Act of Indemnity, 
lie was called to be Presbyterian minister in the parish of "Whitsome. Translated 
to Chirnside 1688, where he died 1696. The Latin epitaph on his tombstone is 
by Mr. Dysert of Coldingham, Avhose name occurs so often in these memoirs. 1831, 
Eraser Memoir, prefixed to Life of Eb. Erskine, pp. 3-57. Cf. 1889, Drj^sdale, Hid 
Preshyt. Engl. 571.] 

1676-168(^1 MR. THOMAS BOSTON 9 

and confusion before the Lord. And indeed in this period were 
some such things as I have ever since looked upon as special 
blots in my escutcheon ; the which, with others of a later date, 
I have been wont, in my secret fasts all along, still to set before 
mine own eyes, for my humiliation, and lay before the Lord, 
that He may not remember them against me ; though I hope 
they are pardoned, being washed away by the blood of Christ 
my Saviour. I remember my gross and unbecoming thoughts 
of the glorious, incomprehensible God ; keen hatred of my 
neighbour, upon disobligations received ; and divers loathsome 
sproutings of the sin which all along hath " most easily beset 
me," as the particular bias of my corrupt nature. Two snares 
I fell into in that period, which have been in a special manner 
heavy to me, and have occasioned me many bitter reflections ; 
and, I think, they had been after the Lord had begun to deal 
with my soul, and enlighten me. The one I was caught in, 
being enticed by another boy to go to Dunse-law with him on 
a Lord's day, and, when on the head of the hill, to play pins ^ 
with him. The other I narrowly escaped, being put into the 
snare by the indiscretion of one who then had the management 
of me : all circumstances favouring the temptation, God alone, 
by His Spirit, working on my conscience, delivered me as a bird 
out of the snare of the fowler. The particular place I well 
remember, whither after the escape I went, and wept bitterly, 
under the defilement I had contracted, in tampering with that 
temptation. Such is the danger of ill company for young-ones, 
and of indiscreet management of them. However, that they 
were the genuine fruits of my corrupt nature I do evidently see ; 
in that, however bitter both of these had been to me, I did some 
years after run, of my own accord, into two snares much of the 
same kinds, narrowly also escaping one of them, but so as it 
occasioned to me crreat bitterness. 

Two of Mr. Erskine's first texts were, John i. 29, "Behold 
the Lamb of God," etc., and Matt. iii. 7, " generation of 
vipers, who hath warned you to flee," etc. I distinctly re- 
member, that from this last he ofttimes forewarned of judge- 
ments to come on these nations, which I still apprehend will 
come. By these, I judge, God spake to me; however, I know 
I was touched quickly after the first hearing, wherein I was 
like one amazed with some new and strange thins;." 

^ [Probably nine-pins.] 

^ [See the reference to this in Man- Fishing, I. iii. 1, Works, V. 11.] 


My lost state by nature, and my absolute need of Christ, 
being thus discovered to me, I was set to pray in earnest ; but 
remember nothing of that kind I did before, save what was done 
at meals, and in my bed. I also carefully attended for ordinary 
the preaching of the word at Eevelaw,^ where Mr. Erskine had 
his meeting-house, near about four miles from Dunse. In the 
summer-time, company could hardly be missed ; and with them 
something to be heard, especially in the returning, that was for 
edification, to which I listened ; but in the winter, sometimes 
it was my lot to go alone, without so much as the benefit of a 
horse to carry me through Blackadder water, the wading where- 
of in sharp frosty weather I very well remember. But such 
things were then easy, for the benefit of the word, which came 
with power. 

The school-doctor's son having, in his childish folly, put a 
pipe-stopple in each of his nostrils, I designing to pull them out, 
happened so to put them up that he bled. Whereupon his 
father, in great wrath, upbraided me ; and particularly said. Is 
that what you learned at Eevelaw ? which cut me to the heart, 
finding religion to suffer by me. 

In these days I had a great glowing of affections in 
religion, even to a zeal for suffering in the cause of it, which 
I am very sure was not according to knowledge; but I was 
ready to think, as Zebedee's children said, Matt. xx. 22, "We 
are able." I was raw and unexperienced, had much weakness 
and ignorance, and much of a legal disposition and way, then, 
and for a good time after, undiscerned. Howbeit I would fain 
hope, there was, under a heap of rubbish of that kind, " some 
good thing toward the God of Israel " wrought in me. Sure 
I am, I was in good earnest concerned for a saving interest in 
Jesus Christ ; my soul went out after Him, and the place of His 
feet was glorious in mine eyes. 

Having read of the sealing of the tribes, liev. vii., Satan 
wove a snare for me out of it, viz.. That the whole number of 
the elect, or those who were to be saved, was already made up ; 
and therefore there was no room for me. How that snare was 
broken, I do not remember ; but thereby one may see, what 
easy work Satan, brooding on ignorance, hath to hatch things 
which may perplex and keep the party from Christ. 

^ [" This liamlet . . . seems to liave almost entirely disappeared : but if we are 
not niisiaformed, there is still at least one inhabited house that bears the name of 
Rivelaw." 1831, Eraser, 23.] 

1676-1689^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 11 

At that time there was anotlier boy at the school, Thomas 
Trotter of Catchilraw, whose heart tlie Lord had also touched : 
and there came to tlie school a third, one Patrick Gillies, a 
serious lad, and elder than either of us ; but the son of a father 
and mother, ignorant and carnal to a pitch ; which made the 
grace of God in him the more remarkable. Upon his motion, 
we three met frequently in a chamber in my father's house, for 
prayer, reading the Scriptures, and spiritual conference ; whereby 
we had some advantage, both in point of knowledge and tender- 
ness. It was remarkable concerning the said Thomas, that being 
taken to the first Presbyterian meeting that was in the country 
after the liberty; where I suppose, the worthy and famous Mr. 
James Webster,^ afterwards a minister in Edinburgh, preached ; 
he, upon his return from it, giving an account in the school 
concerning his being there, ridiculed the Whigs ; the which I, 
who nevertheless was not there, was very sorry for, on no other 
account, I reckon, but that my father was one of that sort of 
people. But going afterward to the like meetings, he turned a 
very devout boy. 

To bind myself to dihgence in seeking the Lord, and to stir 
me up thereto, I made a vow, to pray so many times a day : 
how many times, I cannot be positive ; but it was at least thrice. 
It was the goodness of God to me, that it was made only for a 
certain definite space of time ; but I found it so far from being 
a help, that it was really a hinderance to my devotion, making 
me more heartless in, and averse to, duty, through the corruption 
of my nature. I got the time of it driven out accordingly : but 
I never durst make another of that nature since, nor so bind up 
myself, where God had left me at liberty. " And it hath been of 
some good use to me, in the course of my after life. 

The schoolhouse being within the churchyard, I was 
providentially made to see there, within an open cofhn, in an 
unripe grave opened, the consuming body just brought to the 
consistence of thin mortar, and blackiKli : the which made an 
impression on me, remaining to this day ; whereby I perceive, 
what a loathsome thing my body nnist at lengtli become before 
it be reduced to dust ; not to be beheld with the eye but witli 

^ [The Rev. James Webster, repeatedly iniprisouecl in his younger years, as at 
Dundee 1678-9, was c. 1700 translated from Whitekirk to the Tolbootb Church, 
Edinburgh. He was the father of Ebenezer Erskine's second wife. His son was 
the well-known founder of the AVidows' Scheme,] 


In the course of years spent at the grammar-school, I learned 
the Latin rudiments, Despauter's grammar,^ and all the authors, 
in verse or prose, then usually read in schools; and profited 
above the rest of my own class, by means of whom my progress 
was the more slow. And before I left the school, I, generally, 
saw no Eoman author, but what I found myself in some capacity 
to turn into English : but we were not put to be careful about 
proper English. Towards the end of that time, I was also 
taught Vossius's Elements of Pihctoric;'^ and 15th May 1689, 
began the Greek, learned some parts of the New Testament, to 
wit, some part of John, of Luke, and of the Acts of the Apostles. 
And helping the above-mentioned Patrick Gillies, in the Koman 
authors, in our spare hours, I learned from him, on the other 
hand, some of the common rules of arithmetic, being but a sorry 
writer. And this was the education I had at school, which I 
left in harvest 1689, being then aged thirteen years, and above 
five months. 

^ [Had been reprinted in Edinburgh four years before (1684). Now a very scarce 
book. Despautere died in l.'»20.] 

^ [Vossius (1577-1649) -wrote various -works on rhetoric, -which -were widely 
studied. Even Hallam, that niggard of applause, is emphatic in his praise of him. 
Lit. Hhf. II. 384.] 





BETWEEN my leaving of the grammar-school, and my enter- 
ing to the college, two years intervened. And here began 
more remarkably my bearing of the yoke of trial and aftiiction, 
the which laid on in my youth, has, in the wise disposal of holy 
Providence, been from that time unto this day continued, as my 
ordinary lot ; one scene of trial opening after another. 

Prelacy being abolished by Act of Parliament, 22nd July 
1689, and the Presbyterian government settled, 7th June 1690, 
and the curate of Dunse having died about that time, the 
Presbyterians took possession of the kirk, by the worthy Mr. 
Henry Erskine's preaching in it on a Wednesday, being the 
weekly market-day ; the soldiers being active in carrying on 
the project, and protecting against the Jacobite party. The 
purity of the gospel being new to many, it had much success in 
these days, comparatively speaking; and in the harvest that 
year, my mother fell under exercise about her soul's case, and 
much lamented her misspent time ; and there was a remarkable 
change then made upon her. 

My father, as well as myself, inclined that I should proceed 
in learning ; but apprehending the expense unequal to his 
worldly circumstances, was unwilling to bear the charges of my 
education at the college : whereupon he tried several means for 
effectuating the design otherwise, particularly in the year 1690 ; 
but prevailed not. Hereby I was discouraged, and had some 
thoughts of betaking myself to a trade ; the which being 
intimated to him, he slighted, as being resolved not so to give 
it over : and I entertained them not, but as the circumstances 
seemed to force them on me. 

In the end of that year he took me to Edinburgh, and essayed 
to put me into the service of Dr. Eule, principal of the college, 
not without hope of accomplishing it ; but one who had promised 


to recommend me to the Doctor, having forgot his promise, that 
essay was made in vain ; and I returned home, having got 
that notable disappointment on the back of several others. 

Meanwhile the difficulties I had to grapple with, in the way 
of my purpose, put me to cry to the Lord in prayer on that 
head, that He Himself would find means to bring it about. And 
I well remember the place where I was wont to address the 
throne of grace for it, having several times thereafter had 
occasion to mind it, in giving thanks for that He had heard the 
prayers there put up for that effect. 

About, or before this time, was the melancholy event of 

Mr. J. B 's ^ falling into adultery. He was born in Dunse, 

and so an acquaintance of my father's ; and he was minister of 
the meeting-house at Mersington, and not young. This dreadful 
stumbling-block, laid especially at such a critical juncture as the 
Eevolution, filled the mouths of the ungodly with reproach 
against the way of religion, and saddened the hearts of the 
godly to a pitch. I well know, that many a heavy heart it 
made to me, and remember the place where I was wont heavily 
to lament it before the Lord in secret prayer. 

On the 1st day of February 1G91, it pleased the Lord to 
remove my mother by death, not having lain long sick. To the 
best of my knowledge, she was not above fifty-six years of age, 
my father and she having lived together, in the state of marriage, 
from their youth, about thirty years. While she died in one 
room, my father was lying in another sick, as was supposed, 
unto death ; and heavily received the tidings of her departure. 
Eeturning from bidding some friends in the country to her 
burial, I met on the street one whom I asked concerning my 
father, that told me, in all probability he would never recover. 
This so pierced me, that getting home, I went to the foot of the 
garden, and cast myself down on the ground, where, according 
to the vehemency of my passion, I lay grovelling and bemoaning 
my heavy stroke in the loss of my parents, looking on myself as an 
absolute orphan, and all hopes of obtaining my purpose now gone. 
Thus I lay, I think, till my eldest brother, a judicious man, came 
and spoke to me and raised me up. But it pleased the Lord that 
I was comforted in the recovery of my father some time after. 
About this time, I suppose, I myself was sick about eight days. 

^ [Rev. Jas. Balfour, M.A., minister of Eccles since 1687. He was deposed 17th 
Feb. 1691. In 1700 lie was proposed as eatecliist at Duns, but the appointment 
did not take place.] 

i68g-i6g4\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 15 

Some time after, my father, in pursuance of what had 
passed betwixt him and the town-clerk, sent me, at his desire, 
to write with him. But whatever way they had concerted their 
business, he drew back, took no trial of me in the matter, and I 
returned. And that project was blown up. 

But being, it would seem, put in hopes by my father of 
proceeding in learning, towards the middle of June I betook 
myself to my books again, which I had almost given over ; and 
I applied myself to the reading of Justin at that time, the malt- 
loft being my closet: but beginning thus to get up my head, my 
corruption began to set up its head too ; so necessary was it 
for me to bear the yoke. 

Meanwhile I was, that year, frequently employed to write 
with Mr. Alexander Cockburn, a notary. The favourable design 
of Providence therein, then unknown to me, I now see, since it 
could not be but of some use to help me to the style of papers ; 
the which, since that time, I have had considerable use for. 
And thus kind Providence early laid in for it. 

But here I was led into a snare by Satan and my own 
corruption. Mr. Cockburn being in debt to me on the foresaid 
account, I saw Dickson on Matthew ^ lying neglected in his 
chamber ; and finding I could not get the money due to me out 
of his hand, I presumed to take away the book without his 
knowledge, thinking I might very well do it on the foresaid 
account. I kept it for a time ; but conscience being better 
informed, I saw my sin in that matter, and could no more 
peaceably enjoy it, though he never paid me ; so I restored it 
secretly, none knowing how it was taken away, nor how 
returned ; and hereby the scandal was prevented. This, I think, 
contributed to impress me with a special care of exact justice, 
and the necessity of restitution in the case of things unjustly 
taken away, being like a burnt child dreading fire. 

My father being fully resolved to put me to the college on 
his own charges, I began, on the 15th of October, to expound 
the Greek New Testament ; which, I think, I completed 
betwixt that and the first of December ; at which time he took 

^[Had Dickson on Matthew been better studied, Boston would liave been better 
paid. Tliis " Brief Exposition," published 1651, is singularly ricli and full. We 
may say of this book and incident what B. himself says of the Bible. ' ' One that has 
a love to the Bible . . . will make many shifts ere they want one. But they must 
be lawful shifts : for stealing of Bibles, or kee})ing them up from the owners, is like 
a thief stealing a rope to hang himself in. But spare it ofl" your bellies or your 
backs, and procure one rather than want." — Body of Dir. Works, I. 67.] 


me to Edinburgh, where being tried in the Greek New Testament 
by Mr, Herbert Kennedy regent, I was entered into his semi- 
class, my father having given him four dollars, as was done 
yearly thereafter,^ paying also all other dues. 

Thus the Lord, in my setting out in the world, dealt with 
me, obliging me to have recourse to Himself for this thing, to do 
it for me. He brought it through many difficulties, tried me 
with various disappointments, at length carried it to the utmost 
point of hopelessness, seemed to be laying the grave-stone upon 
it at the time of my mother's death ; and yet after all He brought 
it to pass ; and that has been the usual method of Providence 
with me all along in matters of the greatest weight. The 
wisdom appearing, in leading the blind by a way they knew not, 
shined in the putting off that matter to this time, notwith- 
standing all endeavours to compass it sooner ; for I am perfectly 
convinced I was abundantly soon put to the college, being then 
but in the fifteenth year of my age : and the manner of it was 
kindly ordered, in that I was thereby beholden to none for that 
my education ; and it made way for some things which 
Providence saw needful for me. 

During the whole time I was at the college, I dieted myself, 
being lodged in a private house, to which I was led by kind 
Providence, as fit for my circumstances. 

1692. The first year, being somewhat childish, but knowing 
with what difficulty I had reached what I had obtained, I lived 
sparingly, and perhaps more so than was needful or reasonable. 
Being dejected and melancholy, I went but little out of my 
chamber, save to the class ; and thus my improvement was 
confined in a manner to my lessons. 

1693, The second year I attended the college, I had an 
entire comradeship with Andrew (afterwards Mr. Andrew) Elliot, 
a minister's son, and now minister of Auchtertool in Fife, which 
several ways contributed to my advantage, and lasted during 
the rest of the time we were at the college. Meanwhile I still 
lived sparingly. 

In the spring that year began a breach of my health, 
whereby I became liable to swoonings, which continued for 
several years after. It was, I think, in the month of April, 
when being on my knees at secret prayer, my heart began to 
fail, and I rose up, and fell on my back on the floor, and lay a 

^ [Till 1708 each regent or professor in Edinburgh University taught the same class 
during the whole period of the course. — Ency. Brit. (1860), XXI. 483,] 

i6Sg-i6()4'^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 17 

while in a swoon. Hecovering, I called tlie landlady : then I 
went to bed, but fainted a second time, in which she took care 
of me. Afterwards she unwarily suggested to me, that it might 
be the falling sickness, which occasioned me several thoughts of 
heart. Wherefore, as I came home in the middle of May, I 
consulted it ; and was delivered of tliese fears, which were 
groundless ; but being at home, I was, on the 2nd of June, 
overtaken with another fainting-fit, in which beckoning with my 
hand I fainted away ; and while they were lifting me into the 
bed, I heard my sister say, that I was gone. In a little I 
recovered, and my father went to prayer at my bedside. 

The first or second winter I was at the college, being in 
company with a dumb man, I was urged by some to ask him 
a question about my brother \Villia]n. He answered me in 
writing, as it is Deut. xxix. ult., " Secret things belong unto the 
Lord our God," etc. ; and, moreover, that there is no such thing 
communicated to the dumb, but that through importunity he 
himself had sometimes spoke what he knew not. Thus was I 
reproved. And I desire that all who may read this or such 
like my failings, may beware of splitting on the same rocks, 
so heavy to me. 

About 20 th December I gladly went to Edinburgh again 
for the last year, thinking that course of difficulties near an 
end. I was therefore more cheerful, and in point of diet 
managed more liberally. 

1694. About the latter end of February, I came home 
with John Cockburn, a comrade, son to John Cockburn in 
Preston.^ I could not get him out of the town till a good 
part of the day was spent ; and when we were come out, he 
expended a little money he had left, without asking questions 
till it was done. Then finding there was no money with us but 
what I had, which could scarcely procure us both a night's 
lodging, we resolved to hold on our way, though our journey 
was in all twenty-eight miles long. Night drawing on, we were 
twelve miles from home, and got nothing in the inn but bread 
and water ; there being no ale in it, it seems. Then under 
night we went on our way, in the moonlight : but on the hills 
we began to fail, travelling a-foot, and having had but sorry 
refreshment at the inn. Meanwhile, as we lay on the high- 
way to rest our weary limbs, a farmer came up to us, who 

^ [In the near ueiglibourhood of Duns, on the north-east. The parish of Preston 
■was annexed to that of Bunkle in 1621.] 


offered to lodge us with him near by ; which was gladly 

That youth and I had been schoolfellows at Dunse, and so 
much resembled one another in face and stature, as if we had 
been twins ; the which being noticed by our fellows, made a 
most entire friendship between us at school. It lasted for a 
while ; but was at length, upon some childish controversy, quite 
blown up, and was never recovered. For at the college, being 
more liberally furnished, he overlooked me, and gave himself to 
diversions; so that there was no communication, but what was 
general, betwixt him and me, as I remember, till the last of the 
three years. At what time, being once in company with him, 
I was like to have a plea to rid betwixt him and another ; and, 
to the best of my knowledge, left them at length. And then 
again I came home with him as aforesaid. He and I both were 
designed for the study of divinity ; but in a little time he gave 
up with it, went to London, applied himself to book-keeping, 
and went abroad, I suppose, and died. Wherefore, when I was 
honoured of God to preach the gospel of Christ, I was often a 
moving sight to his sorrowful father. Whence I must needs 
conclude, that " it is good for a man to bear the yoke in his 
youth : " and surely it was good and necessary for me. 

Being allowed only £16 Scots by my father for the laurea- 
tion, I borrowed 20 merks from one of my brothers, and so went 
to Edinburgh for that end in the summer. But the day signified 
to me not being kept, I returned without my errand. This 
disappointment, with other discouragements I had met with in 
prosecuting my studies, furnished my evil heart, when going in 
a second time that season to the laureation, the occasion of that 
unbelieving thought, that I would never believe I could obtain 
it till I saw it. For this thought I presently smarted, meeting 
suddenly on the back of it with a dispensation which threatened 
to lay the grave-stone upon all that I had hitherto attained ; for 
some officers took me up by the way to be a soldier : but the 
Lord delivered me quickly. 

Thus holy wise Providence ordered my education at the 
college; the charges whereof amounted in all but to £128, 15s. 
8d. Scots ; of the which I had 20 merks as aforesaid to pay after- 
wards. Out of that sum were paid the regent's fees yearly, and 
the college-dues, and also my maintenance was furnished out of 
it. By means thereof, I had a competent understanding of the 
logics, metaphysics, ethics, and general physics ; always taking 


pains of what was before me, and pleasing the regent : but I 
learned nothing else, save short-hand writing, which an acquaint- 
ance of mine taught me, namely, a well-inclined baker-lad. My 
design in acquiring it was to write sermons ; but I made little 
use of it that way, finding it to mar the frame of my spirit 
in hearing, which obliged me to quit that use of it. But kind 
was the design of Providence in it notwithstanding ; for besides 
its serving me in recording things I designed to keep secret, and 
otherwise, it has been exceeding useful to me of late years, in 
making the first draughts of my writings therein. " Known 
unto God are all His works from the beginning." ^ 

^ [111 some MSS. of Boston's early sermons, in my liaiuls, a page here and there is 
in minute and beautifully-written shorthand characters.] 




THAT summer the bursary of the presbytery of Duuse was 
conferred on me, as a student of theology ; as was that of 
the presbytery of Churnside on my comrade John Cockburn. 
And after the laureation, some time before the harvest, I entered 
on the study of theology : Mr. James Eamsay,^ minister then at 
Eyemouth, now at Kelso, having put the book in my hand, viz. 
Parens on Ursin's catechism ; ^ the which I read over three or 
four times ere I went to the school of divinity. Among the 
first books of that kind which I had a particular fondness for, 
was Weems's Christian synagogue.^ 

I went, on invitation, to F s, and spent some weeks there, 

after the harvest, with his two sons, and James (after Mr. James) 
Ridpath, students in philosophy, to whom I was there helpful in 
their studies. And that I may reckon the only time in my life 
in which I had a taste of the youthful diversions ; whereof I 
soon saw the vanity, and wherein I drove but heavily, the family 
being altogether carnal. But while I was there, I kept up the 
worship of God in the family : nevertheless I found that manner 
of life ensnaring. 

1695. About 20th January 1695 I went to Edinburgh 
to the school of divinity, then taught by the great Mr, 
George Campbell.* There was then a great storm of snow on 

^ [The Rev. James Ramsay, M.A., ordaiued to Eyemouth iii 1693, and translated 
to Kelso in 1707, was a noted church-leader of his day. He was twice Moderator of 
Assembly, and died, the Father of the Church, in 1749, in the filty-seventh year of 
his ministry. ] 

' \Tlic Smnme of Christian Religion, by Zach. Ursin, was annotated and ex- 
panded by Dr. David Parens, a Heidelberg professor. This catecliism of Ursinus 
was the basis of the Westm. Shorter Cat.] 

^ [Rev. Jn. Weemes, M. A., of Lathocker, was minister of Duns from 1613 till 1636. 
His Christian Synagogue was published in 1023, 4to. It was a popular treatise : my 
copy, of date 1633, being the fourth edition. See also Works, Lond. 1636, 4 vols. 
Boston loved this book till the end. — A^emius nostras (Weemes of ours) is cited in 
Trad. Stigm. 11.] 

* [Dr. Geo, Campbell filled the theological chair from 1690 till 1701, when he 

i6g4-i697'\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 21 

the ground. By the way, being extremely cold, I alighted off 
my horse, (I think it was betwixt liidpath-edge and Eedstone- 
ridge), and walked. Having walked a while, a swoon began to 
seize me, and I could walk no more. I took horse, but was 
scarcely able to sit on it. My brother, who by good Providence 
was with me, put a bit of bread in my mouth ; and I had scarcely 
as much strength left as to lift my jaws and chew it. It would 
have been desireable to me to have been near the meanest 
cottage. And I recovered. At that time I took a chamber, 
and dieted myself again, about the space of a month : but weary 
of that way, Mr. llidpath aforesaid and I tabled ourselves, as 
most convenient.^ He being a smart youth, and disposed to 
profit in philosophy, I did good to myself, by being serviceable to 
him in the matter of philosophy, which was his only study at 
that time. Having some taste of music before, we went to a 
school one month, and made good proficiency ; pressing forward 
our teacher, and pursuing it in our chamber : so that by that 
means we had the tenors, trebles, and basses, of the common 
tunes, with some other tunes, and several prick-songs. IMy voice 
was good, and I had a delight in music. 

A few of us, newly entered to the school of divhiity, were 
taught for a time Eiissenius's compend, in the professor's chamber. 
Publicly in the hall he taught Essenius's compend. I was also for a 
while, at that time, I suppose, with Mr. Alexander Rule, professor of 
Hebrew ; but remember no remarkable advantage I had thereby.^ 

About the latter end of April, I returned home, clothed with 
testimonials from Professor Campbell, bearing, that I had dili- 
gently attended the profession, dexterously acquitted myself in 
several essays prescribed to me, behaved inoffensively, gravely, 
and piously. He was a man of great learning, but excessively 
modest, undervaluing himself, and much valuing the tolerable 
performances of his students. 

Mr. James Murray, minister of Penpont,^ whose schoolfellow 
I had been at Dunse a little while, having engaged me to 

died. He founded the library attached to the Divinity Hall, which at his death 
consisted of 906 vols. Not to be confounded with his greater eighteenth century 
namesake at Aberdeen.] 

^ [/.e. weary of taking his meals alone in his chamber, he and Mr. R. took them 
at any convenient (public) table.] 

- [Mr. Alex. Rule, son of the Principal, was Hebrew Professor from 1694-1702. 
Hebrew was yet to become. Boston's "beloved study."] 

^ [Rev. James Murray, M.A., whose name occurs so often in the Memoirs, was a 
native of the Merse, and minister of Pcnpont from 1693 till 1735. Cf. too, New 
Stat. Acct. IV.] 


embrace the grammar-school of Penpont, came to the Merse 
about the harvest, and invited me to go with him, showing 
considerable encouragement. I could not then go along ; but 
afterwards I made ready for it, and exhausted what remained 
of my burse, which was in all £80 Scots, in fitting out 
myself. Upon this view, showing a minister of the presby- 
tery, a wise man, that I minded not to desire the burse 
again, he bid me fasten one foot before I loosed the other : 
An advice which I had frequent occasion of minding there- 

In September, Mr. Murray having sent his horse for me, 
but withal in a letter signified his fears of the miscarrying of 
that project, but that in that case I might have another school ; 
I, not a little troubled at the sudden change, did notwithstanding 
go to Penpont, in company with the worthy Mr. Henry Erskine 

There I continued with Mr. Murray about a quarter of 
a year, in suspense with reference to that project : in which 
time, Mr. G. B., minister of Glencairn,^ desired me to take 
the school of that parish ; whicli I was unwilling to accept. 
All hope of the school of Penpont being at length cut off, and 

I ashamed to return home, Mr, B was wrote to, for what 

was before refused ; and he made return, that he could not be 
positive as to the matter. Under this trial, which I was brought 
into by precipitant conduct, I was helped in some measure to 
trust God. 

After this, Mr. Murray being in Edinburgh, Mr. B sent 

for me, and agreed with me to teach the school there for 
100 merks of salary. Thereafter came to my hand a letter 
from Mr. Murray, desiring me to come in to Edinburgh for a 
pedagogy provided for me. Whereupon I earnestly dealt with 
Mr. B to quit me, while I was not yet entered ; which never- 
theless he would by no means agree to. 

1696. On the first day of the new year 1696, being in his 
house, his manner was most grievous and loathsome to me ; so 
that I feared I might there come to be hardened from God's 
fear. On the 9th, much against the grain, I took up the school, 
having never inclined much to that employment, but being quite 
averse to it there. I was kindly and liberally entertained in 
Mr. B 's house, and that freely ; but the vanity and un- 

^ [The Rev. Geo. Boj^d, A.M., minister of Glencairn from 1693 to 1700, when 
he demitted.] 

i6g4-i697\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 23 

tenderness ^ of his carriage, and of his wife's, I was not able to 
digest. He was wont, among other pieces of conduct very 
unacceptable to me, to go to an alehouse, taking me along with 
him, much against my inclination, under pretence of discoursing 
with an old gentleman. Tliere we were entertained with warm 
ale and brandy mixed, and with idle stories ; I obtaining by 
his character not to be pressed to drink. These things made 
me earnestly to cry unto the Lord, that he would rid and 
deliver me, and dispose of me so as I might be freed from them 
and their society. He was a young man, his wife an old woman : 
they had no children ; and there, I think, was their snare. Being 
sunk in debt, they left the country at length. 

After I had kept the school a little while, the Lady 
Mersington wrote a pressing letter to Mr. Murray, that I should 
take the charge of her grandchild Aberlady, as his governor. 

Whereupon Mr. B • was again addressed to quit me ; but 

could not be prevailed with. I committed the cause to God, 
to be by Him determined what to do. And considering that 
no time of my continuance there had been condescended on, 
that the scholars were but few, and that the presbytery was 
clear for my going away ; and above all considering that God, 
according to my earnest prayer, had opened an outgate from 
the heavy situation I found myself in, as above said, I began 
to question if I could, without sin, let such an occasion of 
riddance from it slip : so being at length fully determined, I 
gave up the school on the 8th of February, much against Mr. 

B 's will, having kept it a month. At Candlemas the boys 

had gifted me about 1 Os. sterling, which I took from them with 
the usual civilities, but immediately returned each one his own : 
so that I had nothing by them. 

While I was in that country, I had advantage of converse 
with Mr. Murray, a learned and holy man; the meeting of 
which two in a character was not very frequent there ; as also 
of Janet Maclaunie, an old, exercised, godly woman. She 
obliged me to take from her about half a dollar ; which, as a 
token of that woman's Christian love, I do to this day value 
more than gold. I remember not but another instance of that 
nature, which I shall also mention in the due place.- I bless 
the Lord, who gave me counsel then and afterwards, to seek 

1 [This fine and forgotten usage of the word might well he revived. Cf. Haly- 
hurton, Memoirs, 239. The great evil of this day ... is an untenderness in the course 
of our walk.] = [P. 80.] 


and value conversation with serious Christians, in the places 
where my lot was cast ; being confident, I had much advantage 
thereby towards my preaching of the gospel. But the small 
number of hearers I often saw in the kirk of Penpont, and the 
thronging away to separate meetings, kept, I think, by Mr. 
Hepburn,^ with other things respecting ministers and people, 
made a lasting bad impression of that country on me. Mean- 
time it was my endeavour to live near God, and I was helped, 
while there, in some measure to live by faith. And there it 
was, that I first of all began to record passages of my life ; the 
which I did on loose papers. 

Having gone to Edinburgh, in pursuance of the proposal 
above mentioned, I did on 18th February take the charge of 
my pupil, Andrew Fletcher of Aberlady, a boy of about nine 
years of age ; whose father having died young, his mother 
was married again to Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce of Keunet,^ in 
tlie parish of Clackmannan. The boy being at the high school, 
with a servant waiting on him, I waited on the school of divinity ; 
which advantageous occasion proposed, had been a great induce- 
ment to me to engage in that business. And there I had a homily 
on Mark x. 27, delivered 6th March, which is in retentis; but 
to my great disappointment we were removed from Edinburgh 
to Kennet, whither we came on the morrow after, viz. 7th March, 
and where we continued all along till I parted with him. 

At Kennet, my pupil going to the grammar-school at 
Clackmannan, with the servant attending him, and being of a 
towardly and tractable disposition, my business with him was 
no burden ; taking notice of him at home, and sometimes visiting 
liim in the school But my business was increased toward the 
latter end of the year, teaching two boys of Kennet's to read. 
My pupil died afterward in his youth, while I was at Simprin. 

I gave myself to my study, kept a correspondence with the 
neighbouring ministers, there being an Episcopal incumbent in 
the parish when I went thither, and conversed much with some 
serious Christians about the place. 

^ [The Rev. Ju. Hepburn, licensed privately in London dui'ing tlie persecution, 
was after the Revolution settled in Urr in the Presbytery of Dumfries. His de- 
termined and vehement disapproval of the Revolution Settlement led to his suspension 
(in absence) in 1696, imprisonment, and deposition in 1705. He died at Urr in 1723. 
" Old Mr. Hepburn is a-dying, and they say presses union and peace nmeh. Praestat 
sero quavi nunquavi." — Wodrow, 8th Feb. 1723, Corresp. III. 14. His name 
frequently occurs in the Memoirs.] 

^ [See' Introduction.] 

i6g4-i6g7\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 25 

Though I was not properly tlie chaplain of the family, nor 
had, that I remember, any particular order from the master of 
the family, and neither laird nor lady were at home for a 
considerable time after I went thither; yet finding myself 
providentially settled there, in the character I bore, I judged 
myself obliged in conscience to seek the spiritual good of the 
family, and to watch over them, and see to their manners. 
Accordingly I kept up family-worship, catechised the servants, 
pressed the careless to secret prayer, reproved and warned 
against sinful practices, and earnestly endeavoured the reforma- 
tion of the vicious. 

This course not having tlie desired effect on some, created 
me a great deal of uneasiness for the most part of the time I 
was there : the which arose especially from an ill-disposed and 
incorrigible woman, who was steward, and so did of course 
sometimes extend itself to my entertainment ; which I bore 
with, that I might not mix quarrels on my private interest 
with those I was engaged in for the honour of God. And this 
principle I have all along, in the course of my ministry, aimed 
to walk by. 

Meanwhile the united presbyteries of Stirling and Dumblane ^ 
meeting at Tulliallan, a neighbouring parish, 22nd June, a 
motion was made to give me a piece of trial ; which I refused : 
but afterward Mr. George Turnbull, a grave learned man, then 
minister at Alloa, now at Tinninghame,'^ gave me a text, John 
viii. 32, which I received, declaring it to be without viev/ unto 
my entering on trials before the presbytery, being convinced I 
was not ripe for it. On that text I wrote a discourse, and gave 
it him. Afterward he showed me, by a letter, what he judged 
amiss in it ; but was jjleased to add, that he observed a very 
promising gift in it. Thereafter Mr. Thomas Buchanan, then 
minister at Tulliallan, afterward at Dunfermline, gave me 
another text, viz. Acts xx. 28, on which also I wrote a discourse, 
not unsatisfying to him. Both these discourses are in rctentis. 

My circumstances continuing uneasy through the means 
aforesaid, Mr. Turnbull did, on the 7th of September, by 
appointment of the presbytery, desire me to wait on them, 
bringing my testimonials along with me, on design to enter 
me on trials. He also spoke to Kennet about my removing out 

1 [From 2nd Oct. 1688 to 26th April 1698 the two presbyteries were united.] 

2 [See the quaint and curious "Diary of the Rev. George Turnbull, minister 
of Alloa and Tyninyhamc, 1657-1704," recently issued by the Scottish History Soc] 


of his family ; an opportunity of my going into the family of 
Colonel Erskine,^ then governor of Stirling castle, offering at 
that time : but Kennet showed an unwillingness to part with 
me ; in which I believe he was very ingenuous, being a man 
that had some good thing rooted in him. Wherefore, though 
I inclined to, I could not insist for the removal : but the entering 
on trials I was not clear for, and so could not promise to go 
to the presbytery. Howbeit, being afterward persuaded to go to 
their meeting, I was minded to do it; but was providentially stopt. 

But on the 23rd I waited on them at Stirling, leaving my 
testimonials at home, of set purpose. Notwithstanding they 
appointed me to give in my thoughts on Phil, ii, 12, the follow- 
ing presbytery-day, producing my testimonials. This I could 
not undertake, having no freedom to enter on trials as yet ; and, 
I think, I saw them no more till I was going out of the country. 
But these things obliged me to lay that matter to heart, for light 
from the Lord therein, to know what I was called of Him unto. 

I had in the summer represented to the lady the careless 
and ungodly lives, cursing and swearing, of the steward and 
another servant, persisted in after many admonitions ; and 
hinted to her, that it was her duty to reform them ; and if they 
would not be reformed, to dismiss them from her service. The 
answer was favourable : but the term drawing near, she gave 
over the only two common servants who had any shew of 
religion, keeping the rest. This was very grievous to me ; I 
told her the evil, and at large testified my dislike of that 
manner of management ; and it was received civilly, but 
prevailed nothing. Meanwhile I was still acceptable to 
Kennet ; who, when again I had an occasion of entering into 
Colonel Erskine's family, still refused to part with me. But by 
reason of his post in the military he was not much at home. 

I held on, as new occasions offered, to discharge my conscience, 
until I left the family. And though it prevailed not according 
to my desire ; yet, by the good hand of God fencing me, my 
struggle had an awe with it, and was not openly treated with con- 
tempt : though their words of me were like sharp swords, yet to 
me they were smooth as butter. I remember, that one Saturday's 
night they had set on a fire in the hall, for drying their clothes 
they had been washing, not to be removed till the sabbath was 
over. Grieved with this as a profanation of the Lord's day, I 
spoke to the gentlewoman ; who insinuating, that she had not 

^ [For a brief life of the Colonel, sec Wodrow, Corrcs]). II. 65.] 

16^4-1(^7^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 27 

done without orders what she had done, refused to remove them : 
whereupon I spoke to the lady, who soon caused remove the 
clothes, and dispose of them otherwise. In like manner, on a 
Lord's day, word being sent me that my pupil was not going to 
church that day, I went and inquired into the matter, and he 
was caused to rise out of his bed ; and both the mother and son 
went to churcli that day. 

On the 6th of June, there was a sacrament at Culross, which 
I had no mind to go to, upon the account of a carnal reason. On 
the Saturday night, God reached me a reproof by one of the 
servant- women ; which filled me with confusion, set me to 
prayer, and to re-examine my reasons, which I found to be but 
consulting with flesh and blood. I went away therefore on the 
Lord's day, was deeply humbled, and had very much ado 
with unbelief, struggling to get my feet fastened. But at the 
table my soul, I thought, met with Him in such measure, that 
ofttimes I have remembered my God from Culross and 
Tulliallan, when He has hid His face from me. On the 
Thursday before I had kept a secret fast. 

July 26. The Lord's day after the sacrament at Tulliallan, 
where the Lord was very kind to my soul, a godly family that 
had been at the same sacrament, had forgot it was the Lord's 
day ; so that they told me afterward, they had fallen to their 
work, had I not come to their house, and asked them if they 
would go to the church. 

On the 2nd of August, I was at a sacrament, where I 
thought myself sure of great things, from the Lord's former 
kind dealing with me, I think : but before I went to the table, 
I was deserted, tempted, perplexed with doubts whether to par- 
take or not ; yet I thought it duty to go forward. I endeavoured 
to take hold of the Lord ; but staggered sore, came away with 
that it had been better I luid not froue. But there I saw how 
little I could do without Christ, thought the Lord would come 
back again, and I had a longing to be in heaven. Betwixt 
sermons I went to a place I will ever mind, and would have 
been content there to have ventured on eternity as I was ; 
desertion, a body of sin, etc., being very heavy, and recommending 
heaven to me. 

On the 30th of November, having prayed with confidence to 
the Lord for light and direction concerning my passing trials 
before the presbytery of Stirling, which they had been for some 
time urging, as I have noticed above, I took up my Bible, and 


going to turn to my ordinary/ there cast up to me Job xxii. 28, 
" Thou shalt decree a thing, and it shall be established unto 
thee : and the light shall shine upon thy ways." This passage 
was very refreshful, coming so surprisingly, while I was turning 
to another place. 

The space of a year being near expired, without any motion 
of a new bargain, on 25th January 1697 I wrote to Kennet, 
signifying that I desired not to stay, being useless, and in a sort 
noxious, in his family. This letter I shewed to the lady before 
I sent it off, and she quarrelled^ nothing in it; we being both, I 
believe, weary. This done, finding my heart disposed to sing, I 
sung in secret Ps. xxxvii. near the latter end ; whereby I was 
much cleared, and prayed cheerfully after. I was then, as it 
were, in sight of the shore of that troublous sea. 

A little after that, I found there was no hope of entering into 
Col. Erskine's family; and on 17th Feb., just the day before 
the year's expiring, I was told that Coulter had no mind to 
keep a pedagogue for my pupil. And thus Providence shuttled 
me out of business of that kind, being entangled there, when a 
door was opened elsewhere ; which again was shut when I was 
disentangled ; thus working towards the leading me into business 
of another kind. So on Monday, 22nd Feb., I took leave of 
my pupil, and that family. The day before, I thought it my 
duty to speak some things to the servants before I left them. I 
prayed to God for light ; but was deserted, and could get nothing. 
I lay down on my bed in great heaviness, and thought with 
myself. What folly is it for me to think of passing trials to 
preach the gospel, seeing I cannot buckle two sentences of good 
sense together in my own mind ? In this perplexity I went 
out to the field, and prayed earnestly ; came in again, had no 
time longer to think ; but was helped of God to speak without 
confusion, and with great facility, to my own wonder. This wus 
useful to me afterwards, and did drive the bottom out of a grand 
objection I had against passing my trials, taken from my unreadi- 
ness in ordinary discourse. 

The time I was at Kennet, continues to be unto me a 
remarkable time among the days of my life. Once I fainted 

^[Ordinary, i.e., what caiiie in the usual course; sometimes applied to the 
passages of Scripture that fell to be read in course, and sornetiines to the text or 
topic which the preacher handled for a succession of SabViaths. In both senses the 
word occurs j)r'.ss/«i.] 

- [I.e. found fault with nothing in it.— Sc] 

i6g4-i(>97'^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 29 

there, being on my knees at evening secret prayer ; and coming 
to myself again, was eased by vomiting. Another time praying 
in the Ferrytown,^ in Thomas Brown's family, I found my heart 
beginning to fail ; which obliged me quickly to break off, and go 
to the door, where I was eased the same way as before. It was 
a time of much trouble to me, yet in the main a thriving time for 
my soul. My corruption sometimes prevailed over me ; but it 
put me to the using of secret fasting and prayer ; whereuuto I 
was also moved by the case of the poor, it being one of the 
years of dearth and scarcity that the Lord was then contending by 
year after year. And this I did not without some success. Then 
it was that on such an occasion I drew up a catalogue of sins, 
which, with many unknown ones, I had to charge on myself ; the 
which hath several times been of use to me since : there I 
had some Bethels, where I met with God, the remembrance 
whereof hath many times been useful and refresliful to me, 
particularly a place under a tree in Kennet orchard, where, 21st 
Jan. 1697, I vowed the vow, and anointed the pillar. That 
day was a public fast-day ; and the night before, the family being 
called together, I laid before tliem the causes of the fast, and 
thereto added the sins of the family, which I condescended on 
particularly, desiring them to search their own hearts for other 
particulars, in order to our due humiliation. After sermons, 
going to the Garlet ^ to visit a sick woman, I was moved, as I 
passed by the orchard, to go to prayer there ; and being helped 
of the Lord, I did there solemnly covenant with God under a 
tree, with two o-reat boughs coniins^ from the root, a little north- 
west from a kind of ditch in the eastern part of the orchard.^ 

Though it was heavy to me that I was taken from the 
school of divinity, and sent to Kennet ; yet I am convinced God 
sent me to another school there, in order to prepare me for the 
work of the gospel, for which He had designed me : for there I 
learned in some measure what it was to have the charge of souls ; 
and being naturally bashful, timorous, and much subject to the 
fear of man, I attained, by what I met with there, to some bold- 
ness, and not regarding the persons of men when out of God's way. 

^ [Now a few straggling huts a quarter of a mile from tlio riverside. lu B.'s 
time it would be a ferry village by the Forth.] 

- [The Garlet or Gartlet on the Kemiet estate, about 800 yards from the 
Mansionhouse, now consists of some seven houses. Once it was a considerable 
little village.] 

^ [The orchard is still there. The parish minister of Clackmannan tells me that 
"ditches, and deep ones too, abound in that region."] 


There I learned, that God will countenance one in the faithful 
discharge of his duty, though it be not attended with the desired 
success ; and that plain dealing will impress an awe on the party's 
conscience, though their corruption still rages against him that 
so deals with them. It was by means of conversation there that 
I arrived at a degree of a public spirit which I had not before ; 
and there I got a lesson of the need of prudent and cautious 
management, and abridging one's self of one's liberty, that the 
weak be not stumbled, and access to edify them be precluded ; 
a lesson I have in my ministry had a very particular and 
singular occasion for. 

On the Friday before I left Kennet, it was proposed to me 
by Messrs. Turnbnll and Buchanan, that I should now enter on 
trials ; and withal, that the elders of Clackmannan being unwilling 
I should go out of the country, it was desired, that I should take 
for myself, or allow to be taken for me, a chamber in the town 
of Clackmannan ; and they desired me to give my answer on the 
Tuesday, and go along to the presbytery on the Wednesday 
thereafter. Having taken these things under consideration, I 
was that same night almost resolved to comply with the call 
of that presbytery for entering on trials before them. But just 
next morning I received a letter from Mr. Murray, desiring me 
to come with all speed, and pass trials before the presbytery of 
Penpont ; withal shewing, that if I pleased I might in the mean- 
time keep the school of Penpont, it being then vacant. Thus 
Providence opened a door for my entering into another station, 
and doubled the call thereto. But then I was in doubt, racked 
betwixt these two, whether to address myself to the presbytery 
of Stirling or Penpont ; which I endeavoured to table before the 
great Counsellor for His determination. In this suspense, I 
went, on Wednesday, 24th Feb., to the presbytery at Stirling, 
where I obtained their testimonial, having promised to return to 
them if my circumstances would permit. Having spent some 
days more in that countr}^ I came to Edinburgh by sea on the 
4th of March, having got an edge put on my spirit for passing 
my trials, by the dishonour I heard done to God on the shore of 
Leith, where we landed. The case is as follows. Sailing by the 
shore, I heard such cursing, swearing, etc., as made me to wonder 
at the patience of God towards sinners, and to think I would be 
very willing to do anything I could for suppressing these horrid 
sins or the like. This was useful to clear me in that point, 
which was now, and had been, my exercise for a good time. 

i6g4-j6g7-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 31 

About this time twelvemonth there came a young gentle- 
woman to see my pupil, with her face bespattered with patches ; 
and drawing liim to her to salute him, he endeavoured to pull 
off her patches. She put back his hand, that he could not reach 
her face : but he pulled a paper out of his pocket, giving an 
account how the devil murdered a gentlewoman for pride, and 
gave it her; which did much confound her. 

While I was at Kennet it was a time of much trouble to 
me, but a time wherein the Lord was very kind to me. I w\as 
helped of God in some measure to my duty, as has been observed, 
and it was that which enraged them against me. The lady was 
my great enemy ; but professed great kindness to me when she 
spoke to me, or to the ministers of me. One of those profane 
servants whom I could not induce her to put away, she was 
afterwards obliged to discharge with disgrace. I have often 
looked on the Lord's sending me thither, as done in design to 
fit me for the work of the ministry, to which it contributed 
many ways, as I have already noticed. 

At Edinburgh I received my wages, being 100 merks ; 
wrote a letter of excuse to Mr. Murray, and another letter to 
the place whence I had come, bearing my design to return 
thither shortly. And indeed, when I came to Edinburgh, I was 
not fully resolved to go home at all ; and having writ to my 
father, I signified the same to him, who being, unknown to me, 
in terms of a second marriage, gave me an answer, advising me 
to return to Stirling, as I had said. Howbeit I afterwards saw 
a necessity of going home, to procure money for my maintenance, 
during the time of passing my trials before the presbytery of 
Stirling, being unwilling to accept of the offer of the elders of 
Clackmannan aforesaid, and the money received not being 
sufficient for that and other necessary uses. Accordingly, just 
upon that design, I went home to Dunse, 13th March; but He 
who " leads the blind by a way they knew not," led me thither 
on two material designs hidden to me ; namely, the diverting of 
the marriage, which was unknown to me, and the passing of my 
trials there, which I was far from having in view. 

The week after I went home, being still bent to return to 
the presbytery of Stirling, and there being no small hope of 
getting the money for which I had come, I received another 
letter from Mr. Murray, wherein, having answered all my excuses, 
he still insisted on my coming to Penpont to pass trials. Thus 
I was again put upon the rack between the two ; and not knowing 


whither to go, I earnestly desired counsel of God, both as to the 
main thing, and the circumstance of place : and shewing my 
situation to Mr. Alexander Golden,^ then minister at Dunse, now 
at Oxnam, lie proposed, and persuaded me, to enter on trials 
before the united presbyteries of Dunse and Churnside. Con- 
sidering the course of Providence, and finding myself by his 
proposal freed from the former perplexity, which I could no 
otherwise get over, I yielded. And certainly it was a kind 
conduct of Providence that led me to pass trials in the place of 
my nativity ; though, for that very reason, it would seem, that 
it was my native country, I had no thoughts of passing there : 
for it was most for my reputation to pass trials where I was 
knov/n from my childhood ; and besides, it was the more 
convenient for me in my then circumstances, having my father's 
house to remain in. 

Accordingly, on the 23rd of March 1697, I being, just the 
week before, twenty-one years of age complete, Mr. Colden went 
to the presbytery, sitting at Churnside ; and having proposed 
their taking me on trials, they appointed me a piece of trial 
on James i. 5, and that to be delivered at their next meeting in 
Dunse. The which being reported to me by Mr. Colden, I 
addressed myself to that work, kind Providence having, on the 
Friday after, prepared me a private chamber in m}^ father's 
house, which had been occupied by another when I came home. 

On the 2nd of April I spent some time in fasting and 
prayer, for the divine assistance in what I was called to, and 
was going about ; and in the time I found myself helped, in 
prayer, to particular trust and confidence, that God would 
actually grant what I sought. The presbytery meeting at 
Dunse on the 6th, I delivered before them a homily on the 
foresaid text, and was helped of God therein accordingly. They 
appointed me then a common head, Dc virihus liberi arhitrii 
circa honum spiritualc. 

I delivered an exegesis on that head, after prayer made, 
both in Latin, 11th May, at Churnside. Much time being 
spent ere they called for that piece of trial, I went out a little 
to revise it : but by the time I had come the length of what I 
reckoned myself least master of, I was called to deliver it ; but 
withal, by the kind conduct of Providence, when I was coming 

1 [Rev. Alex. Colden, M.A. (Edin.). ordained 1690 to Bunlcle Parish, was trans- 
lated in 1693 to Duns, and in 1700 to Oxnam. lie died 1738. He is one of the 
writers of the preface to B.'s Crook in the Lot, published 1737.] 

i6g4-i6g7-\ AfR. THOMAS BOSTON t,z 

on to that part of it, they stopped me. I distributed my thesis 
on that head, and was appointed to exercise and add next 
presbytery-day on Jude 15. 

On the 1st of June they met at Dunse. The day before it 
was the great fair in that place: but I was earnest with God 
for His assistance in the work before me ; and was helped of Him 
to seek His help. In the morning, before I went to the kirk, I 
renewed covenant with God in my chamber ; and I had much 
encouragement from the help of the prayers of my godly friends 
in Clackmannan, who, I trusted, were concerned for me. By a 
peculiar kind disposal of Providence, when I went to the pulpit, 
the precentor, who used to keep an ordinary, was not come : so, 
according to my own desire, I pitched on Ps. xviii. 25—29, and 
precented myself ; and was greatly strengthened by the singing 
thereof. I delivered the exercise and addition on the foresaid 
text, being well helped of the Lord therein. I have still a 
peculiar remembrance of that part of that psalm, as occasionally 
it comes in my way. I admire the indulgence of Providence in 
that matter ; for the precentor should have been singing when I 
went into the pulpit. And withal I have often wondered, how, 
considering my temper, I got confidence to give out that psalm 
on that occasion : but the obvious difficulty on that head was 
then, for anything I know, hid from mine eyes, which were 
fixed depending on God alone, according to His word. They 
appointed me a popular sermon on John i. 16, against their 
next meeting, with the rest of my trials, if I could get them 

At Churnside, 15th June, I delivered my popular sermon on 
the foresaid text, as also a chronological discourse in Latin ; 
which, with the other discourses aforementioned, are yet in 
refeniis. The same day, all the rest of my trials, viz. in the 
languages, and catechetics, were taken ; the which last are now, 
and have been for many years, taken first, with more reason. 
Thus all my trials being expeded, I was that day licensed to 
preach the gospel, as a probationer for the holy ministry, near 
about three years from my entering on the study of divinity. 
And looking on myself as a child of Providence, and considering 
the manner of my education, I cannot but observe the kind 
conduct of that Providence in carrying me through sundry states 
of life, and parts of the country, in that short time allotted for 
me, in the character of a student. 




• EING licensed to preach the gospel, I passed two years and 
three months in the character of a probationer ; the first 

part of the same in my native country, the second in the 
bounds of the presbytery of Stirling, and the third in my native 
country again, where I was settled. These years brought in 
continued scenes of trial to me ; being, through the mercy of 
God, generally acceptable to the people ; but could never fall 
into the good graces of those who had the stroke in the settling 
of parishes. 

Having, on the 18th of June, studied, and once mandated, 
the first sermon I preached, and having gone to a fellowship- 
meeting, and upon my return fallen again to work, I was so 
confused, that I lay grovelling on the ground for some time in 
great perplexity, wishing I had never undertaken that work. 
But recovering myself, I betook myself to prayer ; and thereafter 
it came so easily to hand, that I saw the finger of God in it. 

According to the impressions wherewith I was prompted to 
enter on trials, I began my preaching of the word in a rousing 
strain ; and would fain have set fire to the devil's nest. The 
first text I preached on, the Sabbath after I was licensed, was 
Ps. 1. 22 ;i the second. Matt. vii. 21. Thus I went on for the 
first two months. But speaking with Mr. John Dysert ^ 
minister at Coldinghame, of the strain of preaching I had con- 
tinued in, he said to me to this purpose : But if you were 
entered on preaching of Christ, you would find it very pleasant. 
Tliis had an effect on me so far, that im.mediately I did somewhat 

* ["Now consider this, ye tliat forget God, lest I tear you iu pieces, and there be 
none to deliver."] 

-[Rev. Jn. Dysart, M.A. (Glasg.) was minister of Langton from 1691 to 1694 
when translated to Coldingham. It is reported that at Coldingham, where most of 
his parishioners were Episcopalians, he cowed opposition by carrying his pistols to 
the pulpit, and disposing of tlieru there somewhat ostentatiously.] 

i6g7-i6gS\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 35 

change my strain ; where I had occasion to enter on a new 
text: and then I preached, first, on Isa. Ixi. 1,^ and next, on 
1 Pet. ii. 7. I have often, since that time, remembered that 
word of Mr. Dysert's, as the first hint given me, by the good 
hand of my God, towards the doctrine of the gospel. 

Tlie first Sabbath I preached, being timorous, I had not 
confidence to look on the people ; though I believe I did not close 
my eyes : yet, as a pledge of what I was to meet with, an heritor 
of the parish, on that very sermon, called me afterwards, in 
contempt, one of Mr. Henry Erskine's disciples. In which he 
spoke truth, as Caiaphas did, that worthy minister of Christ 
being the first instrument of good to my soul : but the thing he 
meant was, that I was a railer. The second Sabbath I had 
more confidence ; and the next again more, till very soon I had 
enough ; and was censured as too bold, particularly in meddling 
with the pubKc sins of the land. The truth is, my God so far 
pitied my natural weakness, indulging me a while after I first 
set out to His work, that, whatever fear I was liable to ere I 
got into the pulpit, yet when once the pulpit-door was closed 
on me, fear was as it were closed out, and I feared not the face 
of man when preaching God's word. But indeed that lasted not 
long, at least after I was a minister. 

Soon after I was licensed, I was peremptorily resolved not 
to continue in the Merse, though there was appearance of 
encouragement : and I received a letter from the presbytery of 
Stirling, inviting me to their bounds, whither it was my own 
inclination to go. So, on 27 th July I craved of the presbytery 
an extract of my licence. But they, designing to have me 
settled in Foulden, would not grant it. By this time I had 
preached once in that parish, and they were inclined to have me 
to be their minister ; but I was not fond of it. Their Episcopal 
incumbent had newly removed from them ; ^ and when I was 
to go thither, I foresaw a strait, in allowing his precentor to 
officiate as such to me, without a judicial acknowledgement, 
which I, not being a minister, could not take. Consulting it 
with Mr. Colden, he would not urge me against my light ; but 
told me, he feared the bailie, being Episcopal, would take it ill. 
I resolved to venture on that. So when the precentor came 

' ["The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me ; because the Lord hath anointed Me 
to preach good tidings unto the meek," etc.] 

^ [The Rev. Thomas Thomson, M.A., who. in August 1G96, under sus]iicion of 
immorality, deserted his charge, and went to England.] 


to me, in the Sabbath morning, I told him, I myself would 
precent ; but shewed him no reason why. This I took to be 
the most reasonable course in my circumstances, having no 
authority. Nevertheless the bailie was favourable. Thereafter 
I preached frequently in that parish while I continued in the 
country ; had many good days in it, the meetings frequent, and 
people very desirous to hear the word. Meanwhile I still 
precented there, till about two Sabbaths before I left the 
country ; by which time the presbytery had confirmed the 
precentor in his office. 

I was still detained in the country by the presbytery, that 
I might be settled in that parish aforesaid. But that could 
not be done without my Lord Eoss's ^ concurrence. Wherefore 
the presbytery appointed Mr. Golden and Mr. Dysert to speak 
to him at Edinburgh for that effect. And the former, upon 
his return from Edinburgh, told me, on 10th September, that 
my Lord Eoss did not refuse his concurrence ; only he desired 
me to come to Paisley to see him, that he might go on with 
the greater clearness : and hereto he withal advised me. But 
I had no freedom for it. So, 5 th October, I desired of the 
presbytery my liberty to leave the country, which I had in 
vain desired of them three several times before. In answer to 
which, Mr. Golden afterwards told me, that the presbytery 
would let me go, providing I would go to Paisley to see my 
Lord Ross. I would have been content to have been provi- 
dentially led to have preached in my Lord's hearing : but to 
go to him directly on that purpose, was what I could never 
digest, though I was dunned with advice for it, and had no- 
body to bear with me in resisting it, but the unhappy Mr. 
J B , then living a private man in Dunse. I con- 
sidered, that I had done all that lay in my road in the matter, 
having preached several times in the parish which in the 
designed event was to have been my charge : they were satisfied, 
and should have had their Ghristian right to choose their 
minister : I looked on the method proposed, as an interpretative 
seeking a call for myself ; a symbolising with patronages, and 
below the dignity of the sacred character : and I never durst 
do anything in these matters which might predetermine me ; 
but behoved always to leave the matter open and entire, to 
lay before the Lord for light, till He should please to determine 

^ [Of Hawkliead, Paisley. Tlie i>eerage became extinct on tlie deatli of William, 
14th lord, in 1754. Wodrow writes to him. See Corrcs2>. II. 413.] 

i6g7-i6gS\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 37 

me by the discovery of His mind therein; and I could not look 
on the matter of my compliance with the call of Foulden as 
entire, after I should have done as I was advised. 

Wherefore, upon the 13 th, I insisted as before, and the 
presbytery granted my desire: but withal demanded of me, 1. 
That I should preach a day at Abbay ^ before I went away ; 2. 
That I should go by Paisley, and see my Lord Ross ; 3. Tliat 
my licence should bear, that I should not, without their advice, 
engage with any parish. To the first and last I readily yielded ; 
but the second I could by no means comply with. 

Being resolved to take my journey for the bounds of the 
presbytery of Stirling on the Tuesday after the October synod, 
now at hand, I sent to the presbytery - clerk for my licence 
accordingly : the which I received ; but so very informal, that 
it could not well be presented to a presbytery. Whereupon I 
was persuaded to go to Kelso to the synod, that I might get 
it drawn there in due form ; resolving to go straight from 
thence, without returning to Dunse. But Providence had more 
work for me to do at home. 

The presbytery having appointed me nowhere, for the 
third Sabbath after I was licensed, I was invited to preach 
that day in the parish of Abbay, one of the four kirks of 
Lammermoor ; the which invitation I accepted, and studied a 
sermon for that end on Eev. iii. 20, which I believe was never 
delivered. But Mr. Golden being on the Saturday called to a 
communion at Earlston on the morrow, I was obliged to preach 
for him at Dunse that Sabbath. The presbytery would never 
send me to the said parish of Abbay till I was just going out 
of the country, as said is ; they having a design to transport 
imto it the Laird of Abbay, minister of Alton, wdiom they 
looked on as unfit for that public post.- But he being both a 
weak and an un tender man, was unacceptable to the parish of 
Abbay, as well as to his brethren. By their appointment fore- 
said, I preached there the Sabbath before the synod, 17th 
October. There had been before that an inclination in that 
parish to me to be their minister ; the which was first moved 
to me by Abbay himself, and afterward by an elder with much 
affection. After being appointed to preach there, they shewed 
themselves very cordial for my settlement among them, very 

^ [I.e. Abbey St. Batlians.] 

- [Rev. Geo. Hume of Abbey St. Batlians was ordained minister of Ayton in 
1C94. In January 1707 he was translated to Abbey parish. He died 1718.] 


affectionate to me, and unwilling that I should go out of the 

Having come to Kelso as aforesaid, the drawing up of my 
licence in due form was shifted and put off. It was represented, 
that a lady had engaged to write to Lord Koss in my favour : 
I was urged to fall from my intended departure; and Mr. 
Golden, whom I particularly regarded, told me, he thought 
Providence lay cross to it. So I behoved to return home again 
without my licence, unexpected, to my friends. 

Being thus locked in at home for that season, I preached 
several times at Abbay during the winter, lodging ordinarily in 
Blackerstone ; where, at family-prayer, 14th December, I fainted 
away, not having got the prayer formally closed, as they after- 
wards told me. There was an appearance of my settling there ; 
the people were knit to me ; and that was the only parish, I 
think, that ever I was fond of. But 1 smarted for the loose 
I foolishly had given to my heart upon it. I proposed to 
myself to be very happy in such a small charge, being told 
that they would be but about fourscore of people : ^ but then 
there appeared to be an occasion of diffusive usefulness in that 
hill-country, the other three kirks thereof being still possessed 
by curates. The stipend was about 700 merks, the place 
retired among the hills, the manse pleasantly situate on 
Whitwater,^ and within three or four miles of Dunse. But the 
presbytery was still against settling me there. 

1698. — On 16th January 1698, the elders, who twice before 
that had desired a minister to moderate in a call there, but were 
repulsed, applied to them again for the same end, and were 
repulsed as formerly. 

About the latter end of that month, Abbay being in Dunse, 
told me, that sometime he had a mind for that parish himself, 
but now he had changed his resolution, and would join with 
the elders, in order to my settlement there. And about the 8th 
of February, the elders appearing again before the presbytery, 
renewed their address for a minister to moderate in a call 
there : and Abbay himself joining them accordingly, as an 
heritor, the presbytery could no longer refuse it ; but, in the 
meantime, they took a long day for it, purposely it would seem, 
and appointed the 10th of March for that effect. As we came 

^ [In 1S34 there were twenty-three families in the parish. New Stat. Acct. 
(Berwicks.) 110.] 

-{I.e. Whitadder Water.] 

i6g7-i6gS] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 39 

out of the presbytery, Abbay told me, according to his manner, 
he would preach my ordination-sermon. 

Now the poor parish thought themselves secure ; and things 
seeming to go according to my heart's wish, I was much com- 
forted in the thoughts thereof. But, behold, in a few days Abbay 
changed his mind, and all endeavours were used to turn about 
the call for him ; which with the heritors was easily obtained, 
none of them residing within the parish. The point on which 
it seemed to turn was, that now or never was the occasion of 
consulting his interest ; which missed, the presbytery would 
by some means get him turned out of Alton. This, I was 
informed, some ministers did put in the head of his friends, 
by whose persuasion he changed his mind and course again 
in that matter. 

Observing the matter to be going thus, I fell under great 
discouragement, by means of the disappointment, having foolishly 
judged that place the fittest for me. Then it was my exercise, and 
a hard one, to get my heart brought to a submission to Providence 
in that point ; the which submission I desired, if my heart 
deceived me not, more than the removal of the stroke. Being 
sore broken by the disappointment, I took hold of an occasion 
to preach, for my own ease, a sermon on 1 Sam. iii. 18,^ on a 
week-day at Dunse. After sermon, one of the hearers came to 
me, and thankfully acknowledged God's goodness in bringing 
her to that sermon, so suited to her case. She was a godly 
woman of Polwarth parish, who shortly before had lost her 
husband. This sermon was not without advantage to myself in 
the point I was aiming to reach. Howbeit, that discouragement 
and the spring-season trysting together, there was a notable 
breach made in my health, which continued for a long time 
after, the which I dated from the besinnincr of that month of 

O O 

March. When I had near studied that sermon, I was in hazard 
of fainting away ; but being taken care of, and laid to bed, I 

Wi March. — Preaching in Dunse, such an indisposition of 
body and faintness was on me, that I thought either to have 
swooned in the pulpit, or to have been obliged to go out 
abruptly : but, by good Providence, there was opposite to the 
pulpit an aisle wanting some of the roof, by which came a 
refreshing gale that supported me, and the Lord carried me 
through, giving me a taste of His goodness, of which I was 
' [" It is the Lord : let Him do what seenieth Him good."] 


preaching. The same day eight days, after preaching in the 
same place, the indisposition recurred ; and as I was going 
into the kirk very pensive, and thinking of the hazard of 
swooning in the pulpit, and how it would be matter of 
reproach, I heard the precentor reading, and found them 
singing Ps. Ivii. 3, " From heaven He shall send down, and 
me from his reproach defend," etc., which was sweetly seasonable 
to my soul. 

Having been for some time very indisposed, I was under 
some apprehensions of death, but very unwilling and afraid to 
die : in which case I had occasion to ride by that spot of 
ground where I was formerly so content to die, which let me 
see a vast difference in the frame of my spirit now from what 
it was then. 

\^th March. — The call was drawn up for Abbay himself, my 
Lord Mersington, a good-natured, well-inclined man, being the 
main agent in the affair ; at whose door the poor people, among 
whom there were wet cheeks on that occasion, laid the blood of 
their souls ; but it prevailed not with him. One of the elders, 
Abbay's own tenant, was brought to subscribe the call. It was 
brought before the presbytery on the 15th; and Mersington 
having a commission from Abbay, had signed it for him in his 
name as an heritor. Two elders and a parishioner appeared 
that day before the presbytery, and reclaimed, earnestly 
entreating them to consider, that they behoved to answer to 
God for what they did. But the presbytery sustained the 
call. ]\Ir. Golden would say nothing in the matter, but went 
out in the time. They appointed him to write to Lord 
Eoss, and to the minister of Paisley, to deal with my 
Lord on my account with respect to Foulden. This was the 
ungospel-like way that even then much prevailed in the case 
of planting of churches ; a way which I ever abhorred. 
I had been named by the commission of the assembly to go 
to Caithness, a few days before the moderating of that 
call : but Mr. Golden telling them, that, on the Thursday 
after, a call was to be moderated for me, it was dropped. So 
by it Providence diverted that mission of me, which would 
have been very heavy. 

On the 29 th, the writing of the letters aforesaid having 
been forgot, a letter from Mr. Wilkie, bailie of Foulden, was 
read coram, bearing, that he would cordially concur for my 
settlement in Foulden ; but thought reason and good-breeding 

,bg7-i6gS\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 41 

required that I should go to Lord Boss. Whereupon they 
peremptorily enjoined me to go to him : and Mr. Colden told 
me, I would be out of my duty if I went not. Nevertheless, 
having no clearness for it in my own conscience, I continued 
unmoved in my resolution ; though it troubled me that they 
should have appointed me. 

At the April synod I was invited to the presbytery of 
Kelso ; but being advised to wait till the following presbytery- 
day, I preached at Foulden : and, 1st May, hearing there that my 
Lord Boss was to send them another man,^ I resolved forthwith 
to go to the presbytery of Stirling, having given over thoughts 
of Kelso. 

Accordingly having got up the extract of my licence, and 
testimonials, on the 10 th, I went away on the 15th; and 
having come to my quarters at Edinburgh, I was overtaken 
with a fainting-fit. On the 17th I arrived in the bounds of the 
presbytery of Stirling. 

Providence having thus tried me in my native country, 
especially in the affair of Abbay, I was so taught, that 
no place did ever after get so much of my fond affection. 
But, notwithstanding all the bustle made for the Laird's 
transportation to that place, it did not at this time take 
effect : but, after I was gone, Mr. George Home minister 
of Selkirk was planted in it, he having been uneasy in 
that public post. And afterward, when I was a member of 
the presbytery of Churnside, a process of drunkenness was 
commenced against Abl)ay, which yet proved ineffectual for 
his removal out of Aiton. But Mr. Home being dead, he 
was at length, I think before I came to Ettrick, transported 
thither ; the people by that time being taught more tamely to 
bear the yoke. 

1 [The Rev. Rob. Park was ordained 19tli September 1699.] 






HAVING come into the bounds aforesaid, I took up my 
lodging with Thomas Brown of Barhill in Ferry town, 
with whom I had contracted a particular friendship when 
I was at Kennet, he being a good man. I was once and 
again invited to Keunet's family to lodge there, but declined 
it ; a plain evidence of no real inclination to settle in Clack- 
mannan parish. I continued with Tliomas Brown while I 
remained in that country, which was near about a year : and in 
these days that text had weight with me, " Go not from house 
to house ; " judging that course unworthy of the sacred character. 
About the beginning of August, Mr. Wylie ^ wrote to the 
presbytery of Stirling, in name of the presbytery of Dunfermline, 
desiring them to allow me to come a day or two to them ; tlie 
which they absolutely refused : and that day, or soon after, I 
perceived the presbytery had a design on me for Clackmannan. 
That their refusal I did not take well : but they never asked 
my inclination, and I had no freedom to urge their letting me 
go. However, afterward, on a letter from Mr. James Eraser of 
Brea,- minister of Culross, inviting me to assist by preaching at 
the communion there, on the 21st, I went and preached there 
accordingly in the churchyard ; Mr. Turnbull having allowed, 
that if there was such a necessity as was alleged in the letter, 
it could not well be refused. At this time began my acquaint- 
ance with the worthy Mr. George Mair,^ Brea's colleague, whose 

^ [Minister of Saline, near Carnock.] 

"^ [See Sketch by Dr. Aiid in Memoirs (1S91 Inverness).] 

' [Rev. Geo. Mair first settled at Airth was afterwards translated to Culross, 
where Fraser of Brea was his colleague till September 1698. In 1714 he accepted 
a call to Tulliallan, where he laboured till his death. It was at Mr. Mair's suggestion 
that Boston kept his large diary, 1698-9. Probably we owe Ebenezer Erskine's 
diary to the same advice. Fraser, Life, 174.] 

i69S-i699^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 43 

conversation was afterwards of good use to me, in regard of the 
spirituality of it, and the insight he had into the doctrine of 
the gospel. I think, that holy and learned man Brea died not 
very long after. 

On the 14th of August I communicated at Larbert, and 
was not altogether deserted in it : but I think, as 1 was walking 
alone to my lodgings, I got my communion indeed. Two or 
three days before, I did endeavour to examine myself thus : 
They that have a sincere desire of union and communion with 
Christ, have true faith (Matt. v. 6 ; 2 Cor. viii. 12): and such 
are those who, 1. choose and desire Christ, without desire to 
retain sin ; tliat choose Christ whatever may follow (Heb. xi. 
25); 2. that are not carried forth after spiritual good things 
merely as profitable to themselves, but as things in themselves 
good and desirable (Ps. Ixxiii. 25); 3. who desire a whole 
Christ, as well for sanctification as justification (1 Cor. i. 30); 
4. who esteem Christ above all (1 Pet. ii. 7); 5. who have a 
sense of sin pressing the conscience, and serious displeasure with 
it (Matt. xi. 28); 6. who make suitable endeavours after Christ 
(Prov. xxi. 25). But I (I appeal to God's omniscience) have 
such a desire. For, 1. I desire Christ without exception of any 
sin, or the cross : I am content to part with all sin, and take 
Christ, to follow Him in His strength whithersoever He goes. 
2. I desire union and communion with Christ, though there were 
no hell to punish those who are united to their sins. 3. I 
desire a whole Christ, and would as fain have sin subdued and 
mortified, as guilt taken away. 4. I esteem Christ above all : 
Give me Christ, and take from me what thou wilt. 5. Sin is a 
burden to me, especially my predominant lust. 6. I endeavour, 
in some measure, to seek after Christ : Lord, Thou knowest. 
Therefore I have true faith. 

The week after the communion at Culross, my acquaintance 
with Katharine Brown, now my wife, was carried on to a direct 
proposal of marriage made to her. She was fifth daughter to 
Eobert Brown of Barhill, in the parish of Culross ; her mother, 
then a widow, and her eldest sister, who had been married to 
Thomas Brown above mentioned,^ being dead more than a year 
before. I had, while I was at Kennet, heard a very savoury 
report of her; and from the first time that I saw her, which 
was 3rd March 1697, the day on which I left that country, 
something stuck with me. A few days after I returned, as said 

1 [P. 42.] 


is, she had occasion to come and tarry some time with her 
brother-in-law. And my health being broken as above 
mentioned, I was valetudinary, and particularly subject to 
faintings ; with one of which I was seized 3rd June, she being 
present : but by her advice, whose father had been a practitioner 
in physic, I used wormwood^ boiled, and applied to my stomach 
in linen bags, that month, and was much relieved of these 
faintings. Howbeit, when they left me, I was seized with a 
binding at my breast ; and for a long time that year I used 
Lucatellus's balsam - by the same advice. What engaged me to 
her, was her piety, parts, beauty, cheerful disposition fitted to 
temper mine, and that I reckoned her very fit to see to my 
health. I never was in a mind to marry before I should be 
settled : but I judged both the one and the other requisite for 
my health. But though I made choice of a most worthy woman, 
I was afterwards obliged to confess, before God, my sin, in that 
I had not been at more pains to know His mind in the matter 
before I had proposed it. And howbeit I did frequently that 
summer lay it before the Lord, and consider it ; yet I can never 
forgive myself, though I hope my God hath forgiven me, that I 
did not set some time or times apart for fasting and prayer for 
that end, before I made the proposal. But God did chastise 
my rashness, partly by my finding that process very entangling 
to me in my vagrant circumstances, partly by suffering perplexing 
scruples to rise in my mind about it ; while yet He did, in the 
issue of them, convincingly shew the matter to be of Himself, 
and bound it on my conscience as duty ; which cleared, my 
difficulty was not to get love to her, but rather to bound it. 

In the beginning of September I had a letter from Mr. 
Wylie, desiring me to preach a Sabbath-day, either at Saline 
or Carnock, or on a week-day at Carnock, In answer to which, 
I promised to preach a Sabbath-day at Saline if they would 
procure the day from the presbytery ; but declined seeking it 
for myself. 

About the middle of that month, I received a letter from 
Mr. Murray, inviting me to Nithsdale ; and had thoughts of 

^[Cf. p. 473.] 

' [In a MSS. vol. of recipes in Libr. Coll. Phys. Edinb., date"_17l7, the composi- 
tion and virtues of " Lucatello's Balsam " are set forth. Its ingredients were Venice 
Turpentine, Oyle of Olives, Sack, yellow Wax, and ponder of red Saunders (Sandal 
wood) and Naturall Balsom. Cf., too, Arcana. Fairfax. MSS. c. 1640, ed. 1890, 
Weddell. Luigi L. Locatelli was a sixteenth century Italian physician. 1886, 
Hirsch, Lex. IV. xviii. ] 

i6gS-i6go-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 45 

complying with it. On the 11th, being a national fast-day, I 
had preached at Clackmannan, the Lord helping me ; and that 
night going to bed, weakened and wearied, I found myself, not- 
withstanding, able to lie on my back ; a posture which for a 
long time before I could not place myself in, without being in 
hazard of fainting. Some were much offended at that day's 
work, others much endeared to me. But about this time the 
business of my settlement there being still in agitation, and the 
elders not speaking of it to me, till they might see the matter 
brought to a bearing, I tliought it meet to shew one of them, 
that it was needless to make a bustle between heritors and 
elders on my account, in regard, for anything I knew, I should 
never accept of a call to Clackmannan. 

So, on oth October I went to the presbytery, with an inten- 
tion to crave my testimonials, in order to leave that country ; 
but ere I got it moved, there was produced and read a letter 
from Kennet, desiring, that in regard the parish of Clackmannan 
had a desire for me to be their minister, they would interpose 
with me not to leave the bounds, and appoint me to preach 
three Sabbaths at Clackmannan, in regard some of the heritors 
had not heard me. Whereupon the presbytery urged me to 
stay till the next presbytery-day at least, and appointed me two 
days at Clackmannan ; whereto I at length yielded ; though it 
troubled me somewhat after, that I should have consented to 
preach there on that account. 

Having preached the two days at Clackmannan, the elders 
could not prevail with the heritors to join in a call to me. Mr. 
Inglis ^ set himself against me particularly, alleging for a reason, 
that I was young, and but a probationer. It was supposed, that 
my not bowing in the pulpit, and going with none of them on 
the Sabbath-nights, rendered me unacceptable : and I do believe, 
that they and I both agreed, that, in respect of my temper and 
way, I was not fit for the parish of Clackmannan. However, 
the said Mr. Inglis, who was a friend of Brea's, told me some 
time or other, while in that country (I apprehend it has been 
after this, when Brea was deceased), that there was something 
in my sermons so like Brea's, that one would have thought I 
had seen his notes, but that he knew I had no access to them ; 
which last was very true. 

By this time I had preached twice at Dollar, then lately 
become vacant through the removal of the Episcopal incumbent ; 
^ [Tacksman of the estate of Clack nianuan.] 


and an inclination towards me there was signified by some of 
them ; and thinking about settling in that country, I could 
scarcely be able to say in mine own heart, where I would desire 
to settle in it, if it was not in Dollar ; and hardly there either. 
But I went to the presbytery 2nd November fully resolved to 
have my liberty, thinking to go to Nithsdale. Accordingly I 
desired their testimonial, shewing that I could stay no longer. 
Mr. White,^ being moderator, did long press my stay : which, 
with all the modesty I could, I declined, representing, that if 1 
continued longer, I behoved to continue all the winter, in respect 
of the broken state of my health. (I was now using conserve 
of roses, by the advice aforesaid.) After they had urged me 
till I was ashamed, two ministers, whereof Mr. Turnbull was 
one, took me out to converse with me privately. In the mean- 
time a man from Dollar, with much concern, addressed himself 
to me, that I might not go away, shewing the inclination of 
that parish toward me ; and elders of the other vacant parishes 
urged me. Finding myself perplexed, and not knowing what 
to say, I left myself to the presbytery's disposal, and so received 
their appointments after. 

Being thus locked in there again, the tongues of many were 
let loose on me ; and my railing and reflecting, as they called it, 
came often to my ears. Preaching at Clackmannan on the 27th, 
some were vexed, and one in a rage went out of the church. 
When I came home to my lodging, I was much affected that 
my preaching was so stormed at ; and the rather, that I thought 
I had not the inward support requisite in such a case : but I was 
comforted at family-worship, singing Ps. Ixix. 7, and downwards 
That same week, it was uneasy to me to hear that some con- 
cluded I had an inclination for the parish of Clackmannan, from 
the zeal shewn for it by my most intimate acquaintance, thinking 
they could not have done so without encouragement from me. 
Upon which I find I made this reflection, setting that matter in 
a due light, viz. " But, Lord, Thou kuowest, that it was not my 
inclination, though in my own thoughts I would not be too 
peremptory, not knowing how God might call me." 

In the month of December, some of the elders of Dollar 
signified to me their inclination to give me a call, if they could 
get it done ; but withal I had an account of an appointment on 
me to go to the north; and, on the 27th, came to my hand the 
commission's letter, requiring me forthwith to go to Angus and 

^ [Minister of Larbert.] 

idgS-idgg^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 47 

Mearus, On the morrow I went to the presbytery, where Mr. 
John Forrester, one of the ministers of Stirling, keenly urged 
my going to the north : but I told them I could not go, in 
respect of the state of my health ; and they did not so much as 
recommend it to me to go. By this I judged, that Providence 
did not call me to that removal, and the rather that the motion 
had been made about a call to Dollar. Howbeit, the going to 
the north was, for a long time after, a sore exercise to me at 
times, as wnll be observed afterwards. That same day, the fast 
of 4th January 1699, being appointed, the land still groaning 
under dearth and scarcity, year after year, the said Mr. Forrester 
moved, that it should be recommended to the brethren to deal 
prudently in their preaching with respect to the causes of the 
fast, and hinted at some affecting singularity, which I knew 
very well to be directed against me ; but since he named me 
not, I said nothing on the head. That month also it was observed, 
that one Alard Fithie in Powside of Clackmannan, who being 
enraged with my sermons at Clackmannan, 11th September,^ 
was wont to go out of the parish after, when I preached in it, 
was then broken, and obligid to leave the parish, it not being 
known whither he had fled. 

On the 29th, I found that my friend Katharine Brown, who 
some time before had given a favourable answer to my proposal, 
had afterwards been much troubled about it, that it was not 
enough deliberate. Had 1 taken that way in my own case, 
which I ought to have done as aforesaid, it is likely I would 
have put her on the same method, whereby this might have 
been prevented. But one error in conduct makes way for 

For about fourteen months after this I kept a large diary, 
moved thereto by converse with Mr. ]\Iair. In that time I filled 
up the book I had then begun, and a whole second book, though 
I wrote in short-hand characters, till 7th July 1699. Several 
of the passages of that time are from thence transcribed into 
this account of my life. 

\st January 1699. — I had more than an ordinary measure of 
God's presence and help in preaching. In the morning in secret 
I was earnest with God for it, but had a temptation to think 
that God would leave me, which did perplex me sore. When 
I was coming home from the sermons, Satan fell to afresh again, 
the contrary way, tempting me to pride. It came three times 

i[P. ■1.''..] 


remarkably on me, and was as often repelled by that word, 
" What hast thou that thou hast not received ? " ^ 

Durhig the remaining time that I continued at Ferrytown, 
I wrote a soliloquy on the art of man-fishing, which was never 
finished, but is in rdcntis? The occasion thereof was this, 6th 
January 1699, reading in secret, my heart was touched with 
Matt. iv. 19, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." 
My soul cried out for accomplishing of that to me, and I was 
very desirous to know how I might follow Christ, so as to 
become a fisher of men ; and for my own instruction in that 
point, I addressed myself to the consideration of it in that 
manner. And indeed it was much on my heart in these days, 
not to preach the wisdom of mine own heart, or produce of my 
own gifts; but to depend on the Lord for light, that I might, 
if I could have reached it, been able to say of every word, 
" Thus saith the Lord." That scribble ^ gives an idea of the 
then temper of my spirit, and the trying circumstances I then 
found myself in, being everywhere scared at by some. 

2lst January. — When I arose this morning, I began to look 
for something to meditate on, and that word came, Jer. xxxi. 3, 
" I have loved thee with an everlasting love ; therefore with 
loving-kindness have I drawn thee." My soul grasped at it ; I 
meditated on it with a heart somewhat elevated ; yet I saw 
much unbelief in my heart, which was my burden. I thought 
I loved Christ; and then that word, 1 John iv. 19, "We love 
Him, because He first loved us," came. I saw love began on 
Christ's side ; yet I could not but with doubting assent to the 
conclusion, that God loved me. I went to prayer, poured out 
my soul, lamenting over my unbelief, which did then eminently 
appear and shew itself to me. I was called thereafter to 
breakfast, but that word, Jer. xxxi. 3, stuck with me, and yet 
does ; it is sweet as the honeycomb. When I was at prayer, I 
thought the Lord explained that word to me, " Therefore with 
loving-kindness have I drawn thee," that God's drawing me to 
Himself by the gospel in a loving way, was an evidence and 
token of His everlasting love. While I meditated on my sermon, 
that word, Ps. cii. 16, " When the Lord shall build up Zion, He 

^ [See this referred to in Man- Fishing, I. iii. 1, Works, V. 11.] 

- Tliis soliloquy was published in 1773, being prefixed to a collection of the 

author's sermons, entitled. The Distinguishing Characters of True Believers, etc. 
^ So the author modestly calls this soliloquy, though, since its publication, it 

has been universally admired, and considered as a masterpiece of the kind. 

[Works, v.] 

i6g8-i6gg] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 49 

shall appear in His glory," came again to me (for at this time it 
was much on my heart). I thought on it. My soul was deeply 
affected under the sense of Christ's withdrawing from ordinances, 
and my heart groaned under the sense of His absence. My soul 
longed for the day that the house should be built, and the 
rubbish taken away. It sent me to prayer. I began to this 
purpose, Why hast Thou forsaken Thine own house ? and it was 
presently suggested to me, that Christ doth as a man that hath 
his house a-buildiug ; he comes now and then and sees it, but 
does not stay, and will not come to dwell in it till it be built 
up. My heart and soul cried vehemently to the Lord for His 
return, and the grief of my heart often made my speech to fail. 
I cried to the Lord as the great Watchman, " What of the 
night ? " this sad night, when the sun goes down at noonday ? 
I was once going to say, Lord, what need I preach ? but I durst 
not bring it out ; so I was silent for a time. My soul desired, 
that either He would come to me in ordinances, or take me to 
Him in heaven, if it were His will. When I arose from prayer, 
I could get nothing but still that word, Ps. cii. 16. Lord, hasten 
the day then. When I went to bed this night, that word came 
into my mind : " AVhom shall I send ? Send me." I thought 
on going to the north, and was content to go any way, north, 
south, or where-ever. My heart began to wander (I think, 
falling asleep) ; and I said in my heart the words of a curse 
against myself used by rude ungodly people. They came like a 
flash of lightning, and immediately made my very heart to leap 
for dread. This, I saw, was one of Satan's fiery darts. To- 
morrow morning, being the Lord's day, I found my heart dull ; 
I endeavoured to apply that word, Hos. xiv. 5, " I will be as the 
dew unto Israel ; " and was somewhat revived. But in prayer 
thereafter He covered Himself with a cloud. I cried, that if 
there were any accursed stuff I knew not of. He would discover 
it to me ; and I had a sad prospect of this day's work. I would 
have been content of a sickbed, rather than to be carried hence 
without His presence to the pulpit. Intending to read, I prayed 
for a word that might revive me ; and reading in my ordinary, 
Matt, xvi., my heart moved and leapt, I thought, within me, 
when I read ver. 8, " ye of little faith, why reason ye among 
yourselves, because ye have brought no bread ? " I took it to 
myself ; I saw it was my unbelief, and that I behoved to depend 
on God, laying all the stress on Him. Afterward I got that 
word, " When I sent you out, lacked ye any thing ? " I poured 


out lay soul when in the manse, and suffered the bell to toll 
long : and when I was going out, and heard it tolling, I 
thought, it was now tolling for nie to preach, maybe ere the 
next Sabbath it may toll for me to the grave. This was useful. 
The Lord was sweetly and powerfully with me through the day. 
After the lecture we sung part of Ps. li. ; the last line of it, at 
which I stood up, was, " With Thy free Sp'rit me stay : " I stood 
up with courage, for I thought the Spirit of God was my stay ; 
and in the night when 1 awoke, I was still with God. 

On the 23rd, reading in secret Matt. xix. and coming to 
ver. 29, "And every one that hath forsaken houses," etc., I 
found my heart could give no credit to it. I would fain have 
believed it, but really could not. I meditated a while on it, 
with ejaculations to tlie Lord, till in some measure I overcame. 
I then w^ent to prayer, where the Lord gave me to see much of 
my own vileness, and particularly that evil and plague of my 
heart. I blessed the Lord for sealing ordinances, for then I 
saw the need of them to confirm faith. 

On the 24th came to me one of the elders of Carnock, and 
shewed me a letter they had from the Countess of Kincardine, 
desiring them to go to the presbytery of Stirling, to get me to 
preach two or three days with them ; and if they and I should 
be both pleased, she would concur in a call, and Sir Patrick 
Murray would join with her. But by means, I think, of a 
sister of my friend's living in their neighbourhood, I had been 
strongly impressed with a very hard notion of that parish, as a 
self-conceited people, among whom I would have no success : 
and tlio' I durst not forbid them to proceed, yet I told 
plainly, that I found my heart was not with them, thinking 
myself obliged, in justice to them, to declare the matter as it 
really was. Thus I stood in my own way with respect to that 
parish : but Providence had designed far better for them, the 
worthy Mr. James Hog ^ being thereafter settled there, where 
he continues to this day [1730], faithfully declaring the gospel 
of God. And there fell to my lot, several years after, a people 
fully as conceited of themselves as those of Carnock could be. 

On the 27th, I wanted to be determined what to preach, 
even after I had prayed to the Lord for His help ; I prayed 
again, but was nothing cleared ; and so was much cast down. 
I thought of praying again ; but, alas ! thought I, what need I 

^ [See sketch of his life in Brown's Gos2kI Truth (1831), 39-53. His name 
occurs frequently at a later period of the Memoirs.] 

iSgS-idcpg] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 51 

go to prayer ? for I can get no light. I urged my soul to 
believe, and hope against hope ; but I found I could not believe. 
Thus was my soul troubled. Sometimes I stood, sometimes sat, 
and sometimes walked : at length I went to my knees ; and so 
I sat a while, but not speaking one word. At length I broke 
out with that, " How long, Lord ? " — and, pausing a while 
again, I cried to the Lord to shew me why He contended with 
me. Whereupon conscience spake plain language to me, and 
told me my fault of self-seeking in speaking to a man yesterday, 
and writing to my brother ; for which I desired to humble 
myself before the Lord. In tlie issue I was determined what 
to preach. I had many ups and downs that day. This sermon 
was for Airth ; and on the morrow, when I was going there, I 
observed how I was two several times kept back by storm of 
weather from that place, and how these two last times I have, 
in my studies for it, been plunged deeply ; which made me 
wonder what might be the matter. But the storm was not yet 
over : for though the Saturday's night was a good time to my 
soul, and I think I will scarce ever forget the relish the 21st 
chapter of John, especially that word, " Children, have ye any 
meat ? " had on my soul, being the ordinary in the family- 
exercise ; yet to-morrow morning I was indisposed both in body 
and spirit. I thought I lay a-bed too long in the morning, and 
that gave me the first wound. The sweet word aforesaid I did 
reflect on ; but now the sap was gone out of it, as to poor me. 
The public work was heavy. I had much ado to drive out the 
glass ^ with the lecture : and so confounded and deserted was I, 
that I could not sing the psalm with my very voice. I could 
scarcely pray at all. I had neither light nor life in the first 
part of the sermon ; the little light I had in it went away by 
degrees, as ever the light of the sun did by a cloud's coming 
over it, till I thought I should quite have given it over. At 
that juncture of time, a word was given me to speak, and the 
gross darkness was dispelled ; and this continued till the end. 
In the afternoon I had some help from the Lord, which I had 
now learned to prize. As I was going to the afternoon's sermon, 
I thought the people in that place esteemed me too much, and 
took that as a part of the cause of this desertion. When I 
came out to my lodgings, one says to me. You need not shun 
to come to Airth, you are so well helped to preach there. 
When, said I, was I so helped ? Ans. In the forenoon (for 

' [J.c. to exhaust the hour-glass.] 


the speaker was not present in the afternoon). The rest said, 
it was a satisfying day's work to the souls of many. This was 
astonishing. The same thing I heard of it, next day, from 
another godly woman. The causes of this desertion I afterwards 
inquired into ; and found, 1. There was something of that 
former quarrel, because of self-seeking in the particular above 
said ; 2. My sleeping too long in the morning ; 3. The people 
of Airth's esteem of me, as noticed above, or to keep me humble ; 
4. That the Lord might let me see, it is not by might nor by 
power, but by His own Spirit, that souls are edified ; 5. To learn 
me to be thankful for a little. Several years after this, meeting 
with the minister of Airth at the assembly, he told me, that by 
conference with some of his parish before the administration of 
the sacrament, he found several persons there own me as the 
instrument that the Lord made use of to do good to their souls. 

There was at that time, for the encouragement of pro- 
bationers preaching in vacancies in that country, on the north 
side of Forth, a legal allowance of 18 merks a-sabbath, as in the 
north ; the which fell to me in Clackmannan, and I suppose also 
in Dollar. I had been appointed to preach at Clackmannan on 
the 8th of January, but was called to go to Airth that day, 
exchanging my post with another probationer who could not go 
thither. On that occasion I received a compliment of two 
dollars at Airth, being the first money I got in that country. 

The affair of Dollar was now in agitation. And coming up 
to the presbytery, 1st February, I found an elder of that 
parish there, who, it would seem, had been moving for their 
proceeding to a call, without having his commission in writing ; 
which was appointed to be seen to, in the case of any that 
should come to the next presbytery from thence. In a private 
conference I had with him at his desire, he shewed me, that 
Argyle, their superior, had signified his willingness to concur in 
a call to any whom the parish and presbytery should agree on, 
and that the call was designed for me : but withal, that eight 
or ten of their parish had subscribed and sent to Argyle, a 
paper, bearing their dislike of me : that one John Burn was 
reckoned an enemy to my settlement there, yet would not sign 
it, in regard, he said, I was a servant of God. I learned after- 
wards, that one of the subscribers wished he had quit a joint 
of his finger, or the like, rather than he had subscribed that 
paper ; as also, that Mr. Forrester had given the foresaid elder 
but a very indifferent character of me, saying, that now they 

i6gS-i6gg] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 53 

were going to call a new upstart, one that broke the thetes.^ 
This character from that good man was affecting to me ; con- 
sidering that going under such a character, I was so unholy, my 
corruption prevailed so much over me, and that I was really 
weak in comparison of others, who took a more smooth way 
than I durst take in my public performances : and so it 
convinced me of my need to live more near God. 

Being to preach, 5th February, at Alloa, on Zech. xiii. ult., 
I was somewhat shaken in my mind about my call to preach it ; 
the doctrine thereon being almost only for exercised souls : but 
going to family -duty, which the landlord performed, he sung 
Ps. cxi. by which, especially ver. 2-4, I was cleared in 
this point, instructed, and comforted ; and was also cleared 
somewhat by the chapter read. But that which did fully 
confirm me, was a word brought to me by the way, " When 
thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." So that I was 
assured I was called to preach that doctrine there. That word 
foresaid was very applicable to my case : for on the Thursday 
before I had a very sharp exercise, and a sad struggle. The 
matter was this. 

Awakening a long time ere daylight, I found my dream 
had been sinful. At first I was rather amazed than truly 
affected with it, being overwhelmed with sleepiness. I thought 
to lie waking, and think on it sometimes, and sometimes I 
thought to pray in my bed : but, while thus minded, the 
temptation I had while asleep, set on me when awake ; and 
sleep prevailed so, that I had almost given myself up to it : and 
while I was thus slumbering, I said twice or thrice within 
myself, with a terror from God on my soul. What if I be 
damned before I awake ? After this, my soul was under so 
great terror from the Lord, that my very heart began to fail ; 
and I wanted not thoughts of expiring just there where I was. 
Yet I cast up ejaculations to the Lord, put on my clothes, and 
lighted a candle, groaning under the sense of guilt. While I 
walked up and down, that word, 1 John i. 7, "The blood of 
Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin," came into my mind, and 
did somewhat fasten my sinking soul. I then went to prayer, 
confessed, and poured out my soul before Him, and that with 
some confidence of mercy. Then I feared that confidence was 

^ \_I.e. traces, whether of ropp or leather. Still in use. Cf. Johnnie Gibb of 
Crushetntnk, ii. (2nd ed.) 15. " Gin ever ye be a factor . . . keep baitli laird an' 
tenant straucht i' the theets."] 


not well got, and was afraid God should give me up to hardness 
of heart, which plague I feared as death, and cried that the 
Lord would not plague me with that, which was terrible as hell 
to my soul. I made use of that promise, Prov. xxviii. 13, 
" He that confesseth and forsaketh, shall find mercy," and gripped 
it as spoke by the God of truth. But my soul began again to 
sink and despond. I wrestled against it ; cried to the Lord, 
that He would not be terrible to me, etc., till I got up again 
somewhat. When I arose from my knees, I walked up and 
down with ejaculations, striving to grip to that foresaid promise, 
and I thought it was faith whereby I did so. I made much use 
of that promise, thought it was God's word, and that God would 
not deny His own word. The causes of the Lord's leaving me I 
found to be, 1. My coldrife prayers the preceding night; 2. 
Some guilt the day before not yet mourned over, viz. a 
blasphemous thought that went through my soul at the blessing 
before the exercise. 3. I was cA^en thinking last night while 
a-bed, what victory I had got over that which so overtook me ; 
so that it seems I was too secure. The effects of this tragedy 
were, that I saw my own vileness, and felt what it was to be 
near giving over hope : but thanks be to God that giveth me 
the victory through the Lord Jesus Clnist. I love the Lord, 
my soul loves Him for His wonderful mercy towards me, 
supporting me, hearing my prayers, and helping me to grip a 
promise. But how will I get through the world ? Happy are 
they that are in heaven. I made much use, in that sad hour, 
of the covenant, namely, my engaging with Him at Culross, 
Tulliallan, and under the tree in Kennet orchard. After this 
the language of my soul was, " My feet had almost slipt, but 
Thy mercy held me up ; " while I proposed the question again 
to my soul, How will I get through the world ? and that word 
came. Cant. viii. 5, " I raised thee up under the apple-tree;" 
and that, Ps. xxii. 8, " He trusted in the Lord, that He 
would deliver him;" and I sang Ps. Ixxiii. 21 to the end, 
but with a weak body. That word was sweet to me, " Go thy 
way, thy faith hath made thee whole." Satan set again on me 
with the same; but I cried to the Lord, and he fled. When I 
went in to the morning - exercise (which the landlord always 
performed), he gave out Ps. cxxxviii. 6, which was very 
confirming to my soul, especially ver. 8 : it answered m}'- 
question foresaid. He read 2 Cor. vii., whereby I was instructed, 
comforted, and edified, so as I saw a special hand of God in his 

i6gS-i6g<p] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 55 

reading that chapter, and singing that psahn. When I came 
away, these words were to me sweeter than honey. I could 
have put the Bible in my heart, and was helped to believe, etc. 

On the 13 th, arising from prayer in a dead frame, and 
having endeavoured to descend into myself, I thought I saw 
my heart like a clear pool. I thought I knew there were 
many things there to humble me, but I could not at all see 
them. At last I remembered my miscarriage this day, in not 
giving testimony against one profaning the name of Christ by 
a vain obsecration. Whereupon going to prayer, and reading 
the Lord's word, I recovered my frame. I remember, on this 
occasion, that being in company with ]>rea, a gentleman said 
to him, " For God's sake do so and so ; " and he replied, " Nay, I 
will do it for your sake." The day before I preached in Airth, 
and reflecting on the last time I was there, that word came, 
" He will not chide continvially," etc., and was sweetly verified 
in my after experience. 

On the 19 th I preached at Dollar, where, on the Saturday's 
night, it was shewn me, that some there had little liking of 
me, because of my severe preaching ; and James Kirk, an elder, 
told me of Paul's catching men with guile; signifying, that 
some of the heritors, when desired to subscribe a commission 
as aforesaid, said they would hear me again before they did it ; 
and therefore he wished they might not be angered any more, 
for that the elders had enough ado with them already. I 
told him my resolution to speak what Grod should give me, 
without feud or favour ; and could not but observe that special 
Providence, which, after this conference, ordered our singing 
at family - worship the two last verses of Ps. xxvii. and our 
reading Matt. x. where, in this case, I was instructed, fore- 
warned, and comforted. But thereafter I was baited with a 
temptation to fainting in the matter, and my courage damped. 
And here lay my snare, that, being at this time in fear of a 
mission to the north, which I had a great aversion to, I was 
afraid the people of Dollar might be quite scared at my 
freedom in delivering the word, and so that mission might 
take place. This was a heavy exercise to me that night. 
I prayed, read, meditated, struggled, urged my heart with 
these Scriptures, Matt. x. 39, Prov. xxviii. 21, Acts xvii. 20, 
hard put to it, but still in hope the Lord would not leave me 
to " transgress for a piece of bread." But as I was putting off 
my clothes for bed, my text I was to preach on came into my 


mind, John i. W, "He came unto His own, and His own 
received Him not." This enlivened my heart with zeal and 
courage to speak without sparing in His cause. But next 
morning the temptation was renewed ; and I had never seen 
my own weakness in that point so much as I saw it then. 
Nevertheless I was still in hope, that God would not suffer me 
to yield, but would help to speak freely the word He should 
give me. After all this, as I was going down to the kirk, 
John Blackwood, another good man, and an elder, put me in 
mind, to be sure to hold off from reflections as far as I could ; 
for the which I reprimanded him. In the issue the Lord gave 
me freedom to preach His word, whatever was to become of 
me ; and my soul found cause to bless the Lord, that that 
temptation had not prevailed to render me unfaithful in His 

That Sabbath - night I catched cold in my head while I 
sat at family-worship, by an open window, which I apprehend 
I had not observed. It issued in a suppuration in my left 
ear, and was for many days a grievous trouble to me. On 
the Saturday's night after, my pain being very violent, I had 
a weary night of it ; but being to preach in Clackmannan, I 
ventured in the morning to cause ring the bell, the pain being 
somewhat assuaged, and finding it would be a grievous affliction 
to me to have a silent Sabbath, the Lord's word being the 
joy and rejoicing of my heart. In the issue I felt no pain in 
preaching, but was strengthened both in body and spirit for 
my work. But I had a weary night of it again. 

On the 22nd those of the parish of Dollar craved of the 
presbytery a minister to moderate in a call ; but they delayed 
it till their next meeting at Alloa, 1st March. That day they 
delayed it again, till they should get an answer of a letter they 
were to write to Argyle ; and Mr. White told me, there was 
some mention of another young man whom that noble person 
minded for Dollar. On the 15th, as I was going to the pres- 
bytery, Mr. Turnbull told me, that Argyle had returned an 
answer to their letter, and therein told them of the young 
man he designed for the parish, but took no notice of me. 
By the presbytery's minutes that day, I understood their letter 
had been to take off some misrepresentations made of me to him. 

The meeting of the commission of the general assembly 
was now near ; and Argyle's letter aforesaid trysting therewith, 
seemed to be a providential inclosing of me for the north ; 

i6g8-i6cpg\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 57 

which occasioned me great heaviness. On the morrow the 
Lord comforted me, by giving me light into that word, " That 
stone is made head corner-stone which builders did despise ; " 
thinking, that if Christ was despised by the builders, no wonder 
I should be so too ; and that however I was despised by them, 
God might do great things for me, and by me. At this time 
the trouble in my ear was but going off, so that it kept me 
near a month. I wonder that I do not find that I took it for 
a rebuke of my listening so far to that temptation to fainting 

2Qth March. — Being on my way to Edinburgh to the com- 
mission, I was by storm stopped at the North Ferry that night. 
Then and there were two words brought to me: the one Zech. 
iv. 6, the other, Dan. i. 15, "At the end of ten days, their 
countenances appeared fairer, and fatter in flesh, than all the 
children which did eat the portion of the King's meat." This 
also was made sweet and strengthening to my soul : and I 
enjoyed a great calm and serenity of mind, which, by the 
mercy of God, lasted all along with me, till on the 23rd I 
was freed from the mission to the north, which for a long time 
before had occasioned me much perplexity. I had resolved to 
attend the presbytery, to get them to speak for me to the 
commission ; but was hindered by the boil in my ear ; and 
minding to make up that with a letter to one of the presbytery, 
it was miscarried ; and this was the reason of my going to the 
commission. As I was blessing the Lord with my soul for 
the serenity arising from the consideration of the aforesaid 
Scriptures, Satan set on me with a fulsome temptation, as if 
God had dealt so with me for my preaching so yesterday. I 
presently noticed it, prayed, and protested against it, and 
disowned it ; and took a look of my black feet, particularly 
as they appeared that day. The main stress of the business, 
as to the mission, was at a committee, where I had no ac- 
quaintance but one, who was none of my best friends. Having 
been advised before to cut out my hair, for my health, at that 
time I got a wig ; and thereafter wore one all along ; till after 
my coming to Ettrick, finding it troublesome when going abroad, 
I laid it aside, and betook me again to my own hair ; which 
to this day I wear. 

Upon my return to the Ferrytown, considering that Dollar, 
the only place in that country where I could have desired to 
settle, was now blocked up, I was in a strait how to dispose 


of myself next, knowing of nothing, but to go to Nithsdale, 
which I had no great inclination to. In that case was useful 
to me that word, which used to come slipping in, as it were, 
into my mind, l*s. Ixxi. 20, "Thou, Lord, who great adversities, 
and sore, to me didst show, shalt quicken, and bring me again, 
from depths of earth below;" and on the 31st, together with 
it, that text, 2 Cor. iv. 8, " Perplexed, but not in despair ; " 
and Ps. Iv. 22, "Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He will 
sustain thee." 

Robert Kemp, a noted professor of the stricter side, in the 
parish of Airth, had, on 10th March, asked me, if a certain elder 
had spoke to me about their calling me to be their minister : 
the which I having answered in the negative, he told me 
there was such a motion ; and that if the elders would not 
move in it, they would present a supplication to the presbytery 
for that effect. But having, on 16th April, preached the last 
sermon I had there, oji the morrow after, that elder, William 
Colvan in Powside, did signify their design to call me. I told 
him very seriously, that such an attempt would be needless : 
the thoughts of it were indeed terrible to me, being very 
sensible of my unfitness for such a post. But there was no 
probability of that project's taking effect, my friends being, 
part of them, not acceptable to the presbytery ; and a certain 
person of eminence there, upon hearing sometime that I was 
to preach there, had cursed me : at the report whereof coming 
to me, I thought upon, and saw the use of, that word. Matt, 
v. 11, " Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you," etc. That 
Sabbath at Airth, I found, 1. That in the morning, especially 
in prayer before I went to the kirk, I was tempted to think I 
had been rash in a certain business, not yet accomplished. I 
slighted the temptation, knowing it to be a device of Satan to 
mar me of what I was about. I thought it no time then to 
consider, whether it was really so or not, it being a thing that 
could not be quickly cleared. 2. That in the forenoon I had 
light, but little life ; in the afternoon I had both, and some 
things useful and seasonable were laid to my hand. ?>. That 
I was helped betwixt sermons and in the afternoon, to live by 
faith ; and I had a serenity of mind, and contentment of heart, 
flowing from dependence on the Lord. 

Being resolved to part with the presbytery of Stirling in a 
little time, I had also got over the perplexity by the strait 
aforesaid, how to dispose of myself next, resigning the matter 

T6<)8-i6gg-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 59 

freely to the Lord; till on 20tli April it begun to recur, I 
considered then the two words given me at the North Ferry, 
viz. Zech. iv. 6 and Dan. i. 11 , that the former was accomplished 
already, in the manner of my deliverance from the northern 
mission, and hoping the latter would be accomplished too in its 
time. And that very day, in the afternoon, I received a letter 
from my father, desiring me, on the account of private affairs, to 
come home. Hereby the Lord Himself did seasonably mark out 
to me my way, in the which He hath by this time fulfilled that 
word also unto me. 

About this time began a second alteration in the strain of 
my preaching, which by degrees, though with much difficulty in 
the way thereof, ripened into a more clear uptaking of the 
doctrine of the gospel ; which by the mercy of God I arrived at, 
after my settlement in Simprin, Having been at Barhill on 
the 11th, I heard at Culross a week-day's sermon, on the 
excellency of Christ, from Phil. iii. 8, by Mr. Mair ; and there- 
after was entertained by him with edifying discourse suitable 
thereto. Upon the back of this, I sometimes thought I had 
preached but too little of Christ, which I would have been 
content to have reformed. On the 1 8th I went to God, and 
begged an answer of some suits I had had long depending 
before the throne of grace ; which were especially two. The 
one was. That I might see Christ by a spiritual illumination, 
with more fulness of the evidence requisite to believing on Him, 
according to that word, John vi. 40, "That every one which 
seeth the Son, and believeth on Him ; " to a particular notice of 
which passage, I had, some time or other, been led by Mr. Mair's 
means also. The otlier was, That I might be helped to live, by 
faith, above the world. On the morrow after, as I arose, I 
thought on these words, Ps. cv, 13, 14, 15: and the view of 
the Lord's concern about His people, in all their removes, was 
sweet. After which, going to prayer, the Lord was with me in 
it. My soul went out in love to Christ, followed hard after Him, 
and I saw much content, delight, and sweet in Him. Tlie issue 
hereof was, that I found myself somewhat helped to believe ; 
the which, though it carried me not so far above the world as I 
would fain have been, yet it rendered the world in some sort 
contemptible in mine eyes; and I found my heart desirous to 
preach Christ's fulness, His being " all, and in all." 

This issued in my being determined, on the 21st, to that 
text, Matt, xiii. 45, 46, unto which I addressed myself, after 


bemoaning, before the Lord, my ignorance of Christ, and 
begging the revealing of Him to me ; being convinced I was 
but a child in that matter, yet seeing it my duty to preach Him. 
Having entered upon it, I saw it a very full text ; but going on 
in it, I found myself dry and barren upon it ; which left me 
much dejected, seeing I could not preach Christ, and beholding 
much of my ignorance of Him. On the morrow I got more 
light, ease, and insight into the excellency of Christ, from the 
Lord. And reading in my ordinary thereafter, I fell on that 
Col. iv. 3, 4, which afforded me this instruction. That whereas I 
had been discouraged, for that I could not preach Christ, I saw 
it indeed a mystery ; and such a one as the great apostle 
found a need of the prayers of the saints, that he might be 
enabled to preach it. I saw the preaching of Christ to be the 
most difficult thing ; for that though the whole world is full of 
wonders, yet here are depths beyond all. I was to preach in 
Clackmannan, where most were for me to be their minister, and 
some that had the greatest power were against me, as it 
ordinarily fared with me in the places where I used to preach. 
On the Saturday's afternoon there comes a letter to my hand, 
desiring me to give the one half of the day to one Mr. J. G. 
whom those that were against me had an eye upon. The letter 
I received contentedly, granted the desire of it, and blessed the 
Lord for it. In these circumstances, seeing what hazard I was 
in of an evil eye, I committed my heart to the Lord, that I 
might Ije helped to carry evenly. I cried to tlie Lord for it ; 
and got that word, " My grace shall be sufficient for thee." 
Sabbath morning I found in myself a great desire to love Christ, 
and to be concerned solely for His glory ; and prayed to that 
effect, not without some success. He got the forenoon, for so it 
was desired by them. I was helped to join in prayer, was much 
edified both by his lecture and sermon, and I sung with a sweet 
frame after sermon : yet in the time 1 was thrice assaulted with 
the temptation I feared ; but looking up to the Lord, got it 
repulsed in some measure ; and found my soul desirous that 
people should get good, soul-good, of what was very seriously, 
pathetically, and judiciously said to us by the godly young man. 
Betwixt sermons I got a sight of my own emptiness, and then 
prayed and preached in the afternoon with very much help 
from the Lord. Yet, for all that, I wanted not some levity of 
spirit ; which poison my heart sucked out of that sweet ilower. 
When I came home, my heart was in a manner enraged against 

i6gS-i6gg] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 6i 

my heart on this account, and 1 confessed it before the Lord, 
abhorring myself, appealing to God's omniscience, that I would 
fain have had it otherwise, and would have been heartily 
content to have sold my own credit in the matter for the glory 
of Christ. As I was coinplaining that Satan had winnowed me, 
and brought fortli mucli filthy stulT out of my heart, notwith- 
standing all my prayers, it came into my mind, how Christ said 
to Peter, " Simon, Satan hath desired to have thee, that he may 
sift you as wheat : but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith 
fail not ; " and yet Peter denied Him, even with oaths, on a very 
silly temptation. This was comfortable. There were four 
things suggested to me in the morning, as antidotes against the 
temptation; whereof this was one, That I was conscious to 
myself of my being unwilling to engage with such a post, in 
regard of my unfitness for it, though they were all willing. In 
the evening, while I sat musing on what I had been preaching, 
viz. That the soul that has got a true discovery of Christ will 
be satisfied with Him alone, I proposed the question to myself. 
Art thou content of Christ alone ? Would thou be satisfied 
with Christ as thy portion, tho' there were no hell to be 
saved from ? and my soul answered. Yes. I asked myself 
further, Supposing that, wouldst thou be content of Him, though 
likewise thou shouldst lose credit and reputation, and meet with 
trouble for His sake ? My soul answered. Yes. Such is my 
hatred of sin, and my love to Christ. This was the last 
sermon I preached in that place, for I was going out of that 
country ; and neither of us two was the person God designed 
for the place.^ 

On the 30th I preached at Dollar. The work being closed, 
thinking with myself, while yet in the pulpit, that might be the 
last of my preaching there, as it indeed proved to be, with my 
eyes lifted up towards heaven, I looked unto the Lord, comfort- 
ing myself, that I had declared to that people the whole 
counsel of God, as He had given it me ; the which was sw^eeter 
to me than their stipend would have been, got by following some 
advices given me as above mentioned. I lodged in the house 
of Simon Drysdale, who regretted tlie presbytery's untenderness 
in their case ; and on the morrow came to me James Kirk, with 
other three of the elders, who shewed their concern on the 
account of my departure, still regretting the presbytery's slippmg 

' [Rev. Jn. Wylie, M.A., was translated from Saline to Clackmannau on 
22n(l April 1700.] 


the occasion that was in their hands, and shewing that their 
two neighbouring ministers, on the west and east, were and had 
been their enemies in the design. The same week Mr. Turnbull 
told me, that the presbytery might, and, if they would take 
his advice, should go on, withal complaining somewhat of them 
in the matter ; so that by him, as well as the people, the blame 
of the marring of that settlement, so far, was laid at their door. 
Perhaps the trouble they had by Mr. Mair, in Airth, on the 
strict side, made them the more wary as to me, though I never 
entertained separating principles. 

I had the comfort of the testimon}^ of judicious Christians, 
that my work in that country, and particularly in that parish, 
was not in vain in the Lord ; and found from several persons, 
that the Lord had made the word in my mouth to reach their 
own case, and to be a discerner of the thoughts of their hearts. 
The same which, it seems, fell out in the case of some others, 
who knew not so well how the word was directed ; whereof a 
judicious Christian gave me this instance, namely, that 
discoursing with a certain man in Dollar, whom he knew to be 
of a violent disposition against Presbyterian preachers, and 
expected accordingly to find rullied by the sermons on the fast- 
day ; he, on the contrary, found him to shew a liking of me, 
especially by reason of these sermons, for that they had let him 
see things to be sin, which he never thought before had been so. 
Moreover, he said, I had great skill, and told things strangely, 
even some things which he thought nobody knew, and that he 
wondered who could tell me ; and that if William (his son I 
suppose) had been any way abroad, he would have thought he 
had told me. His wife signified, that some of the parish said, 
I had more wit than my own. These things were encouraging 
to me, as they discovered the character of the Lord's word in 
my preaching, namely, that it is " a discerner of the thoughts 
and intents of the heart." 

ord May. — The presbytery granted me testimonials, I pro- 
mising to satisfy them if they should write for me, probable 
grounds of encouragement appearing : and they appointed a 
minister to preach at Dollar on the Sabbath was twenty days, 
and, on the Tuesday following, to moderate in a call there. On 
the 8th I took my journey, having had an affecting parting with 
several Christian friends : and truly it was no small part of my 
grief, if not the greatest, to leave some serious souls, whom God 
had made me an instrument of good to, and to whose prayers I 


doubt not but I was obliged. I came that day to Barhill, where, 
upon some event or other I cannot now find, I thought I saw an 
end of all perfection, and that nothing was satisfying without 
Christ. I think it has been, that having my friend to part 
with, added to the weight on me in leaving that country. 
However it was, the impression lasted with me many days 
thereafter. On the morrow I went to Edinburgh, and the day 
following got home to Dunse ; which, when I saw it, was terrible 
unto me, my inclination not being towards that country ; but 
thither the Lord led me unto the bounds of my habitation before 




BEING thus returned home again, I had no occasion to go out 
of the town above a mile, until four Sabbaths were past ; 
and during that time, in the end of May and beginning of June, 
the thoughts of my uselessness were very heavy to me ; which 
put me to beg of God an opportunity to serve Him, whatever 
pains it should cost me to accomplish it. Howbeit I was not 
altogether idle on Lord's days, being employed mostly in Danse, 
and once in Langton. 

While this lay upon me as the main weight, I found myself 
beset with several other difficulties. The unacquaintedness of 
most of my friends with religion was grievous, and made their 
conversation but uncomfortable ; but my eldest brother Andrew, 
being a judicious man, and of experience in religion, was often 
refreshful to me. I had no heart to visit the ministers, knowing 
none of them I could unbosom myself to, save Mr. Golden at 
Dunse, and Mr. Dysert at Coldingham. The binding at my 
breast had returned, and I was seized with pains in my back, 
and in the hinder part of my head, so that I began to apprehend 
my time in the world might not be long ; and on that occasion 
I found I had some evidences for the better world, and was 
somewhat submissive to the divine disposal, in the case as it 
appeared. Withal the consideration of the case of the land was 
heavy on me, and I had a sorry prospect of what might be to 
come, so that I judged them happy, who, having done their work 
in the vineyard, were called home, and not made to see the 
dishonour done to God amongst us. Wherefore I was desirous to 
be out of my native country again, and wished for a providential 
relief. But by a letter from a friend, shewing that the business 
of Dollar was like to succeed, I found that I behoved to continue 
yet a while where I was on the account thereof. 

It now lay heavy on my spirit at several times, as above 


noticed, that I was cast out of a corner, in which the Lord was 
pleased to make use of me, and own me with some success in His 
work, into another corner where I had nothing to do. This 
occasioned variety of perplexing thoughts. I inquired what 
might be the Lord's end in it, and nothing doubted but that I 
was called to leave that place, from whence I came. 25 th May 
in prayer it was suggested to me, that God had so dealt with 
me, for my former levity, and misimproving His help given me 
in preaching ; for which I endeavoured to be humble. On the 
26th, I had engaged to lecture next Sabbath for Mr. Golden. 
Finding my heart disposed for prayer, light from the Lord in 
two or three particulars was much in my eye. In prayer I had 
a frame from the Lord, serious, earnest, depending, bare, and laid 
open to hearken to the counsel of God. Before I came to pray 
for what I should lecture on, my heart was raised to an admira- 
tion of, and love to Christ, and desire to commend Him ; and it 
was laid before me as my duty to lecture on Ps. xlv., and 
this with life and elevation of my spirit, which continued with 
me when I prayed for the lecture. Thinking on this after 
prayer, I began to suspect that light ; because it came before I 
had prayed for it, expressly at least. But considering that I 
went to God for light in it, and considering that passage, Isa. 
Ixv. 24,1 Q^^ finding my inclination to commend Christ remain, 
I was satisfied. There was a second point in my eye, which 
still remained dark ; and therefore I went back purposely to 
God for it. I found my heart in prayer much going out in love 
to Christ ; my heart was knit to Him as the dearly beloved of 
my soul ; which made me to express my love to Christ, not in 
an ordinary way, as I use to do. I was helped to depend, and 
got strength to my heart to wait for light in it. And the 
nature of it was such, that it might bear a delay. As for the 
third point, it was not ripe, and I could but table it before the 
Lord. The Lord was not wanting to me in the delivery of 
that lecture. 

In the meantime, my settling in Simprin had been first 
moved to me on 19 th May, in Mr. Colden's house, by his wife, 
in his presence; and that, till another occasion should offer. 
He seemed to me not to have confidence directly to propose it ; 
but told me, the stipend was five chalders of victual, and 80 
merks. But as I never durst entertaui the thoughts of settling 
with such a design, I shewed that I had no mind to engage with 
^ ["Before tliey call, I will answer."] 



any but such as I might continue with. Thinking afterwards 
on these things by myself, I found no great unwiUingness to 
venture on the stipend ; the rather, that my father having 
disponed his interest in Dunse to me, I reckoned I would have 
about £100 Scots yearly there: but the people being only 
about ninety in number, and in a quite other situation than the 
parish of Abbay, I found I could have no heart to them. On 
the 26th again, Mr. Golden proposed to me, that if I would 
settle there, he would write for that effect to Langton,^ to whom 
the parish entirely belonged. I told him, that for me to say so, 
would be to cut off all future deliberation, which was what I had 
no freedom to do : the which he acknowledged to be true, and 
therefore urged me not. That worthy man was indeed concerned 
for me, and told me, he was persuaded God had thoughts of 
good towards me ; and that, notwithstanding all the difficulties 
that had cast up in the way of my settlement, the event would 
be to the glory of God, and comfortable to myself. And therein 
he was not mistaken. In this his concern for me, he took me 
to Coldingham, 8 th June, to see Mr. Dysert, who formerly had 
been minister of Langton. There they concerted to move for 
that settlement ; and in consequence thereof Mr. Dysert wrote 
to the elders of Simprin, for that effect. The letter to the 
elders of Simprin was unadvisedly put in my hand to dispatch ; 
which I, not having confidence, it seems, to refuse it, did receive : 
but it was never delivered, for afterwards I tore it in pieces. 
And this their conduct could hardly have had a different issue, 
according to the principles by which I steered my course, that 
justly made all activity in procuring my own settlement 
frightful to me. 

The bent of my heart to preach Christ continued all along, 
from the time above mentioned, as I had opportunity : but for a 
considerable time I met with many rubs in my way. On the 
2nd of June, after prayer for a text, and help to study, I could 
fix on none, though I sought it till my body was weary, and my 
spirit much dejected. Next morning my darkness remained, 
and nothing could gain clearness to me. Thus my heart being 
dejected through desertion, I went to prayer again ; but my very 
heart and flesh were like to faint. Such was the grief of my 
heart, that I could not speak a word to God, after I had begun, 

^ [Sir Archibald Cockbnru of Langton, near Duns. The Cockburn affairs fell 
into disorder, and the lands of Simprin were sold in 1755 to Lord Elibank. 1834, 
Stat. Acct. IL 192.] 


but groaned to the Lord : I got words again, but was interrupted 
the same way, not being able to speak. I saw the misimprove- 
ment of former help still to be the cause of the Lord's pleading 
with me ; but having so often confessed it, being grieved for it, 
etc., I thought there behoved to be something else ; and some 
other thing I suspected, but could not fix on it. I thought I 
was most unworthy to be a preacher, and that it would be well 
done to silence me, as ignorant of the mystery of Christ : for, 
from the beginning of this exercise, it was always in my heart 
to preach Christ, and denying of ourselves to all things but 
Christ ; and though it succeeded ill with me, I durst not change 
my purpose. My soul being somewhat encouraged by that word. 
Matt. xi. 28, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour," etc., I was 
helped to believe in some measure, and conversed with God in 
prayer, and that word was brought to my mind for a text, 
Ps. Ixxiii. 25, "Whom have I in heaven but thee?" etc. I 
had much difficulty in my studies on it. The word read in the 
ordinary at evening-exercise, came pat to my case with a check, 
Heb. xii, 5, " My son, despise not thou the chastening of the 
Lord," etc. My dejected frame of s^mnt often recurred, and was 
with me on the Lord's day morning, 4th June ; at which time, 
in prayer, the Lord put in His hand at the hole of the lock, and 
my bowels moved for Him ; my heart was touched, and in a 
mournful mood I cried to Him. Some time after I found I 
could not believe ; and how shall I preach ? thought I : yet I 
thought I would venture, and lean on Christ ; and this I 
thought was faith, notwithstanding my former denial. In the 
forenoon, I thought my heart was very unwieldy. In the 
afternoon I had several ups and downs in the very time of the 
work. My soul bare me witness, that I was not satisfied with 
ordinances without Christ. And after all was over, in my 
retirement, I was clear, in that, though I many times fear I 
have never yet got a sufficient discovery of Christ, yet whatever 
discovery I have had of Him, I was satisfied to take Christ alone, 
and that I could not be satisfied without Him, though I had the 
whole world, yea heaven itself. The Lord gave me such a sight 
of my own vileness, that when I looked to myself in that pulpit, 
I loathed myself, as unworthy to have been there with such a 
whole heart, and without right uptakings of Christ. I examined 
myself on my desire of Christ, saying. What if it be merely from 
an enlightened conscience ? but my soul said, it would desire 
Him, though there were no fear of wrath ; and though {per 


impossihile) I had a dispensation for my most beloved lusts, I 
would not desire to make use of it. I thought I loved Him for 
Himself. I preached this day in Langton ; and after the evening- 
exercise Mr. Dysert said to me, You would have done better 
to have gone to the west, beside Mr. Murray, for there you 
would have got a kirk. My proud heart took this ill, and I 
had a secret dissatisfaction with my own lot, in that I was not 
settled. Eeflecting upon this in secret, I observed, how in three 
things, since I came to this country, Satan has overcome me, 
even in those things that I preached against. 1. Preaching at 
Dunse, I preached against immoderate sleep as a great waster of 
5 time ; and quickly after I fell into this. 2. Last Thursday I 
; preached, that unwatchfulness was the cause why it is not with 
» God's people as in times past; and the very same night my 
I heart fell a-roving. 3. At this evening-exercise I lectured on 
< Heb. xiii. and particularly that word, " Be content with such 


things as ye have ; " and immediately after this, dissatisfaction 
seized me, for which my heart abhors my heart. Wherefore 
j being convinced of my danger, I resolved, in the Lord's strength, 
from henceforth to make my sermons the subject of my Sabbath- 
night's meditation, and so to improve them for myself. The 
sermon I found was not lost as to some others. 

I was also extremely hard put to it the week following, 
after my return from Coldiugham, insomuch that having at- 
tempted to study Cant. i. 3, I was obliged to give it over, and 
fall on Luke xiii. 24. By this means preaching became, in a 
sort, a terror to me; so that on the 14th I qiute declined 
preaching the week-day's sermon for Mr. Golden. The reason 
of which being asked by Mr. Balfour above mentioned,^ as he 
and I were walking alone by the way ; I freely told him, that 
preaching was become another kind of a task to me, than some- 
time it had been ; that I was discouraged, through the straiten- 
ing I found as to the preaching of Ghrist, arguing my ignorance 
of Christ : the which ignorance of Christ, in the very time I 
was speaking this, was most grievous to my soul ; to that degree, 
that my very body was affected, and my legs began to tremble 
beneath me. He said, it was an eager temptation, to drive me 
off from preaching of Christ. Parting with him, I came home 
very sorrowful, yet looking upward, seeing the emptiness of all 
things besides Christ, or without Him. The Lord was pleased to 
lay bands on my unstable heart, till I got my case shewed before 



Him : and He let me see my need of Christ, and I began to apply 
the word, " Blessed are the poor in spirit." The Lord shewed 
me the vanity of health, wealth, etc., and made my soul to prefer 
Christ to them all ; and indeed I contemned all things in com- 
parison of Him, yea even heaven itself. I sung with my heart 
Ps. xl. 11, and downwards, and in prayer pleaded the promise 
with some confidence ; being resolute for Christ, and that no 
other thing should ever satisfy me. Tliat straitening aforesaid 
sometime seemed to me to say, that for all the motion made for 
my settlement in my native country, I behoved not to think of 
settling in it, w^here I was thus hardly bestead as to the preach- 
ing the word. But the issue of this exercise was, that I was 
made less concerned, how I might be disposed of as to my settle- 
ment ; not caring what place I should go to, so that I got 
Christ : and my soul said to Him, " Set me as a seal on Thine 
heart, as a seal on Thine arm!" On the 18th, preaching at 
Berwick, my subject was, "A discovery of Christ made to the soul"; 
and in the study of it I was not straitened : but in the delivery 
of it I was so deserted, that in my retirement after, I had most 
heavy thoughts of my unworthiness, and unfitness for the great 
work of preaching Christ. In like manner, after the communion 
at Coldingham, where I preached on Saturday, and Sabbath 
afternoon without ; I was pressed with a sense of my insuffici- 
ency for that work, that heaven was very desirable to me: 
withal I was but little edified with one of the sermons I heard 
on the Monday, there appearing too little of Christ in it. 

Thus it pleased the Lord to humble me to the dust, and to 
empty me of myself, with respect to the great mystery of 
Christ ; and to give my heart a particular set and cast towards 
it, which hath continued with me to this day ; and shall, I hope, 
to the end, that I get within the vail. 

I had on the 15 th received a letter, shewing, that, on the 
day appointed, the votes had been gathered at Dollar; and 
that, about three of the malignant party and three of the elders 
being excepted, they were all with one voice for me to be their 
minister; but that, notwithstanding, the presbytery had still 
some dependence on Argyle in the matter. This account of the 
state of that affair, as being yet undetermined, was straitening 
to me ; inasmuch as it obliged me to continue a while longer in 
the Merse, which I could not well do. 

Ilnd June. — Having been for some time in great deadness, 
this morning I had a kind of impulse to pray, with a willingness 


in my soul to go to duty ; and having found by several sad 
experiences the danger of delays, with all speed I embraced the 
motion ; and the Lord revived me, in so far that my heart and 
flesh longed for the living God, and cried out for Him as the 
dry parched ground for rain. The Lord loosed my bands : and 
though I studied the sermon I preached this day, being the 
weekly sermon at Duuse, in very bad case ; yet He was 
with me in preaching it, and the Spirit did blow on my soul, 
both in public, and in secret thereafter ; so that my heart loves 

On the morrow my frame lasted ; and being to go to the 
sacrament at Coldingham, I saw my hazard from my malicious 
enemy, that he would be fair to assault me before such an 
occasion. I thought I endeavoured to commit my heart to the 
Lord. But, alas ! that which I feared came upon me ; vs^hich 
brought me to a sad pass : my confidence in prayer was marred ; 
my guilt stuck close to me, and cost me much struggling by the 
way as I went to Coldingham, so that I will not forget the 
pitiful case I was in while going through the whinny moor. I 
made use of and endeavoured to apply that word, " I, even I am 
He that blotteth out thy transgressions," which did somewhat 
stay my soul. I went halting all the day ; but at evening- 
exercise, to which I went with a deep sense of my unwortliiness, 
the Lord loosed all my bands. But another sharp trial followed, 
a great fear that Satan might as before give me another bruise. 
I went to God with it, prayed for a word of promise to grip to 
for security ; and when I arose from my knees, that word, Isa. 
xxvi. 3, " Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace," etc., came to me 
with some life and support to my soul, and was afterwards 
sweetly made out to me. 

"Ind Jiihj. — Preaching in a certain place, after supper the 
mistress of the house told me, that I had put not only those 
that never knew anything of God in the mist, but even terrified 
such as had known Him. This was by my doctrine of coming 
out of self-love, self-righteousness, self-ends, privileges, duties, 
etc. She restrained hypocrites to that sort that do all things to 
be seen of men ; thought it strange for people to think of 
meriting anything at the hand of God, or that hypocrites would 
crush inward evil thoughts ; and harped much on that. How can 
it be that one can be a hypocrite, and yet hate hypocrisy in 
others ; that one could be a hypocrite, and not know himself to 
be a hypocrite ? I have been preaching much this long time to 


drive people out of themselves to Christ, and this let me see the 
need of such doctrine. 

In the beginning of that month, no word being come from 
the presbytery of Stirling, I had laid my plot to remove ; and 
first to go to that country upon business, and then to Galloway. 
Meanwhile the presbytery, who met at Churnside on the 4th, 
had desired me to preach at Simprin the following Lord's day ; 
to which I consented, being to continue in the country till the 
Sabbath was over, and nowhere else engaged. 

6^A July. — Yesterday and this morning there was in my heart 
a great averseness to duty. I heard Mr. Colden's weekly 
sermon, and got several checks and rebukes from it. The psalm 
we sung held my sin before my eyes. After dinner I began 
seriously to reflect on my case. I dragged myself to prayer, 
but it was a strange exercise to me. Many sad halts I made 
in it. I saw my dreadful departings from the Lord, so that I 
durst scarcely seek anything of God, and not but with great 
difficulty seek a crumb of mercy, or that the Lord would take 
away this averseness from duty. I remember I was going to 
seek one drop of Christ's blood for my miserable soul, but with 
horror of mind, and a shivering of my very body, I durst not 
ask it. I thouglit I would have been content to have been 
revenged on myself, and to have put a penknife into my heart. 
I laid myself down before the Lord, desiring Him to do with me 
what He pleased, though it were to make me a monument of His 
indignation. Afterward I sat and walked like one out of his 
wits, took up the Bible to read, and that word at the first met 
me, Jer. viii. 9, " The wise men are ashamed," etc. This put 
me to a sad pass. I turned to my ordinary ; but there was no 
help. Afterwards I was saying within myself, what will the 
Lord do with me ! and that word came into my mind, Isa. xlix. 
16, "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My 
hands," etc. I frequently rejected it, yet it still returned ; at 
last, thought I, dare I believe it ? and by this time I had more 
uptakings of mercy, went to prayer, and was somewhat helped 
to believe. 

On the 8th,^ considering the perplexing circumstances I was 
in, and finding my heart brought to a better temper with respect 
to them than some time before, T began at night seriously to 
deliberate how I might carry under them as a Christian ; which 
was continued next morning, being Friday. There were three 
' [Should be the 6tli. The 8th was Saturday.] 


things I saw weighty in the complication : 1. The broken state 
of my health ; 2. My being in terms of marriage ; 3. No proba- 
bility of my settlement. To carry Christianly in these perplexing 
circumstances, I proposed to myself, that I should, 1. Live near 
God, so as my heart should not have wherewith to reproach me ; 
2. Beware of anxious thoughts about them ; lay them before the 
Lord in prayer, and leave them on Him, trusting Him with them, 
though in a manner blindly ; 3. Believe the promise, that all 
things should work together for my good ; 4. Eemember that 
man's extremity is God's opportunity, with my former ex- 
periences of the same ; 5. Use the means with dependence on 
the Lord for success ; G. Be diligent about the work of my 
station, and ply my studies more closely ; and for this end, 
beware of sleeping too much ; Lastly, Not think that, because 
God doth not presently answer, therefore He will not answer at 
all, but wait on Him ; and that if at any time I begin to faint 
under my difficulties, I should press myself to hang by the 
promises, remembering the shortness of my time, and that no 
man knows love or hatred by all that is before him ; and should 
read Heb. xii. And ray conscience bare me witness, that to be 
helped so to live in a course of filial obedience, would be more 
sweet to me, than to be rid of all these difficulties. These 
measures thus laid down, I thereafter went to prayer, especially 
for direction unto a text for Simprin, and help in my studies : 
and the Lord dealt well with me. I had light and life in prayer, 
and a contented mind after. And it was but a little ere I fell 
on that text, John vi. 68, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" etc., 
being still resolved to preach Christ : and I had very satisfying 
and sweet thoughts on it in the general : These things were dis- 
patched before breakfast in the Friday morning. 

And here, I think, was the full sea-mark of my perplexing 
circumstances aforesaid ; at which they did immediately begin to 
go back, and Providence began to open toward my relief, though 
as yet I perceived it not. But my God had carried them forward 
to an extremity, and caused them to appear in their full weight, 
and had moulded my heart into a calm, contented, and depending 
frame. And meditating on that. How I should know whether 
this keeping of my heart under my difficulties was Christian or 
merely rational, I thought I knew it to be Christian, 1. In that 
in some measure it was from a sense of the command of God ; 
2. By means of the promises ; 3. I desired it for God's glory, 
as well as my own good. 


Towards the evening of that same day, I understood by a 
letter, that the business of Dollar was still in agitation ; and that 
they desired me not to dispose of myself otherwise, seeing they 
were like to succeed in their attempts for my settlement among 
them : as also, that Mr. William Eeid, minister of Duning, in 
Strathearn, desired that I should come and stay a while with 
him. He was a worthy man, one of the old sufferers in the 
persecution ; and had a heavy task in that parish. In the time 
of the rebellion, several years after this, he was lying a-dying, 
when the news came in the morning, that that town was to be 
burnt by the rebels. His aftlicted wife being greatly moved, on 
the account of him, who could not be carried off, while every 
moment the rebels were expected to execute the fatal design ; 
he comforted her, and bid her be easy, for that they should not 
have power to hmt a hair of his body. Accordingly his Master 
called him home ; he expired, and was in his grave too, before 
the town was set on fire ; being buried in haste, while he was 
yet almost warm, the melancholy circumstances of the place so 
requiring. This account his widow gave my wife.^ Before I 
came south, he had invited me to their presbytery, on a design 
for Auchterarder, then vacant : but I could not then answer the 
invitation. This being now providentially laid before me, I w^ent 
to God for direction in it, being laid open to His determination, 
and helped to trust Him for light. Thereafter considering of it, 
there was one scruple in the way of that motion that I could 
not get over, viz., that it might be constructed a going to seek 
and hang on for the parish of Dollar. 

After some necessary business dispatched, I prayed with 
confidence for what I asked ; and having made myself ready, 
and devoted myself to the Lord, I went towards Simprin, my 
heart being heavenly, and tending upward, by the way. I find 
I have, in the memoirs of that day, called the religious action 
used before I went away, by the name of devoting myself to the 
Lord : and though I have now no distinct remembrance of the 

^[The Eev. AVm. Reid, M.A., a native of the parish of Arngask, was translated 
fioni Rattray to Dunning on the 28th October 1691. As a student, he had been 
]n-esent at Bothwell Bridge. In 1715 Dunning was laid waste by a band of the 
Pretender's men under Lord George Murray. The manse was burned, as was every 
house in the village, save one, still standing, and bearing the date 1712. Local 
tradition, confirmed by a minute of Presbytery 19th February 1716, still reports 
that Mr. Reid died and was buried just as the Rebels were approaching Dunning, 
and that a timely fall of snow prevented the desecration of his grave. See 1873, 
Rev. Jn. Wilson, Dunning, 25-35.] 


thing, yet I judge, that, had it been no more but committing 
myself to Him as usually, I would not have so expressed it ; and 
that it has indeed been such an action as the word bears, an 
action very suitable to the way the Lord was leading me, how- 
ever unknown to me. That night, being at Simprin, I found 
once a desire to be very remote, and in an inconsiderable post, 
and even a kind of content to be posted there : and this, I 
think, was an effect of my looking on the vanity of the world : 
but that lasted not. The day before, ere I entered on the 
study of my text, I had a temptation, not to enter on that 
great text in such a mean place as Simprin, but to reserve it 
for some other place ; but repelled it as a temptation indeed, 
[ was obliged to enter on the study of it, without seeing any 
commentary upon it : afterward I saw two ; but both were 
unsatisfying, and mainly served to confirm me in the great 
purpose thereof. The Lord was gracious to me in the address I 
made to Him, with respect to my study ; and I had advantage to 
my own soul, by getting a view of the emptiness of all things 
besides Christ, and thereby seeing Him more precious. On the 
Sabbath morning I had a desire after Christ, and His presence 
in ordinances ; but was somewhat discouraged with the prospect 
of a small congregation. In the forenoon I was solidly in 
earnest in my discourse, but without such moving of affections 
as at other times: but the unbeseeming carriage of the people, 
few as they were, partly by sleeping, partly by going out, was 
very discouraging. I had never preached there before ; and 
after the forenoon-sermon, I thought I could not like to preach 
to so few : but in the afternoon, the Spirit blowing somewhat 
on me, I had forgot almost whether they were many or few. 
At night the two elders proposed my settling with them, and 
desired my consent ; which I told them I could give to none 
before a call. And that night I found my heart somewhat 
incline to embrace that charge ; but they seemed not to be 
very pressing. I note the circumstances of this affair so very 
minutely, because the event shewed, that much depended 
thereon, and that that was the place determined of God for the 
bounds of my habitation : and in this progress towards that 
event, there was an emblem and pledge of what I afterward 
met with during the time I was minister there. 

On the Wednesday morning after, Mr. Golden coming to 
my chamber, seemed to approve of my going to Galloway ; but 
did not once ask me, what I thought of Simprin, or how I stood 


affected to it ? This beat down any hope I had conceived of it ; 
but being but little moved towards it, that could not much 
affect me. A little after, one of the parish came and told me, 
that he had spoke with Langton, who shewed a forwardness for 
my settlement there ; and in the evening, Mr. Golden and Mr. 
Balfour came and told me, that Langton and the parish of Simprin 
minded to give me a call, but feared they would not get me ; 
to which I answered, with an air of indifference. Well, let them 
be doing. But, according to my manner of too great thought- 
fulness on matters of weight once set before me, I could sleep 
none at all that night, though I was to preach the week-day's 
sermon on the morrow. On Saturday morning, Mr. Golden 
told me plainly, that it was not his desire I should settle in 
Simprin, because I would have so little opportunity to do 
service there; yet concluded the necessity of walking by the 
determination of Providence. In the afternoon I went to 

In the Sabbath morning at Eccles, 16 th July, I was 
concerned rather about how to preach, than what; had a 
prospect of great difficulties in a little to be encountered ; 
Stenton communion approaching, the business of Simprin now 
in motion, and the affair of Dollar in I knew not what state, 
together with other straitening circumstances. Fearing lest 
these should make a deep mire for me, drove me nearer to 
G-od, sensible of my need of a token for good from Him in 
such a situation. And I had some help from Cant. viii. 5, 
" Who is this that cometli up from the wilderness, leaning 
upon her beloved ? " and Isa. Ixi. 8, " I w^ill direct their work in 
truth." I had that day much help, light, and life, in delivering 
the word ; and my heart was wound up in prayer, elevated, and 
entirely set on the work. The two Sabbaths immediately 
preceding, I had in converse discovered, in professors of religion, 
much uuacquaintedness with Christ, and with their own hearts, 
particularly as to the legal bias thereof ; which occasioned my 
preaching the week-day's sermon aforesaid on Deut. ix. 6. And 
this Sabbath, in converse with a professor, I saw the pride of 
my own heart, the levity of others, with little appearance of the 
power of religion ; which made me sadly to fear settling in the 
Merse; where I found I could meet with few exercised to 
godliness, and made partakers of the knowledge of Christ. 

Ilnd July [Saturday], being at Stenton, and in good case 
spiritually, by reason of the Lord's helping me to right uptakings 


of Himself in some measure, and dealing bountifully with me in 
prayer, I was attacked with discouragement upon the prospect 
of my difficulties ; which sent me to the Lord, and I got some 
help, I heard the sermons preparatory for the sacrament in 
some good frame : but near the close of the last prayer, thoughts 
of my difficulties bore in themselves on me ; which, as they 
came, I rejected again and again ; and after these repulses they 
got, I became more serious. But Satan was in earnest, .««uld 
not let me pass so ; but in came other thoughts, which raised 
my heart into a violent passion, and in a strange manner I 
rejected them, repelling one sin with another, wishing evil to 
the person of whom I thought. This wdsh came in most 
suddenly upon me as lightning, and did very much confuse me, 
was heavy to me, and marred my confidence with the Lord. So 
when I came in from the kirk, I was most ugly and hell-hued in 
my own eyes, and verily believed there was none so unworthy 
as I. Then my heart - monsters, pride, worldly - mindedness, 
discontent, etc., stared me in the face, and my poor heart was 
overwhelmed with sorrow. To-morrow morning I got a revival ; 
and through the day, for the most part, it was not very ill. But 
being to preach without in the afternoon, I got up to Mr. Stark's 
garret betwixt sermons, and at the south-east corner of it I 
conversed with Christ, and it was a Bethel to me. Long looked 
for came at last. If ever poor I had communion with God, it 
was in that place. The remembrance of it melts my heart at 
the writing hereof. And accordingly my public work was sweet ; 
for God was with me, and, as I learned afterwards, it wanted not 
some success. God's voice was discerned in it. I shall only 
remark further, that at the communion-table I mainly sought, 
not comfort, but grace and strength against corruptions. 1 got 
both in some measure. 

I had determined to go from Stenton to Clackmannanshire ; 
and coming home on the Monday, I received a letter from 
thence, advising, that the elders of Dollar had applied once and 
again to the presbytery ; but nothing could prevail with them, 
till the parish should get a new consent from Argyle. This 
confirmed me in my purpose, as shewing the presbytery not to 
be fond of m}^ settling there, nay, nor in earnest for it. I went 
to God for help, to carry right in my difficulties ; and was 
encouraged. After which, providentially falling on Flavel's 
mystery of providence,^ I got my own case seasonably discussed 
' [1678, John Flavell, Divine Conduct, or the Myslery of Providence. The means 


therein, p. 201. And by the means of resignation there 
proposed, I endeavoured to bring my heart to that disposition ; 
and so went to prayer with confidence in the Lord. 

That afternoon,^ being at Langton, Mr. Balfour told me, 
that the Laird had not taken the method laid down by Mr. 
Golden and him ; whereby the call of Simprin might have been 
before the presbytery that day fortnight; and thereby I saw, 
that I would not know before I went to Lothian, whether that 
affair would issue in a call or not. Coming along the way with 

Mr. N H , then minister of Preston,- a man of great parts, 

but not proportionable tenderness, and now several years ago 
deposed, I was much satisfied with his converse ; so that the 
night was far spent ere we parted. And as we were about to 
part, he told me of a design some had for another to Simprin ; 
with which I was surprised and amazed : but in the progress of 
our discourse, I found that design to be, only in case I would 
not accept. Whereupon he advised me to accept, and against 
going to Galloway. After I came home, reflecting on these 
two things, I took both of them to be intended by Providence, 
letting me see what were my thoughts under both, to clear 
me towards accepting of the call of Simprin, if offered. That 
night I lay down, meditating on that word, " Abraham went 
out, not knowing whither he went." 

On the morrow after, conferring with Mr. Balfour, we judged 
the affair of Simprin could now hardly be expeded before Michael- 
mas. And finding the hardship of my being in a fixed charge, 
for a whole year, without receiving any stipend, which in that 
event behoved to be the case, would render my settling there at 
all impracticable, I thought it necessary to intimate the same 
to Mr. Dysert before I went out of the country. 

Next day, being the 20 th, I began to study for Stenton 
communion, having the night before gone to God for a text, 
with confidence and particular trust ; and in a little got one ; 
being to go away the following day. But betwixt ten and 
eleven forenoon I was sent for to a monthly meeting for prayer, 
at Polwarth, two miles from Dunse. Being strained with this 

of resignation are at p. 251 of ed. 1698 (for which p. 201 of text is probably an eiTor). 
Cf. Works (1820), IV. 488.] 

^ [The narrative here goes back a week. The afternoon referred to is evidently 
that of Tuesday, 18th July.] 

-[Rev. Ninian Home, M.A., once harvester, then schoolmaster. In 1704 he 
was translated to Sprouston, and was finally deposed in 1718 for error and disloyalty. 
Ho died in 1744 a rich man (through bill-broking) and a land-owner.] 


message, I laid it before the Lord, and was determined to go ; 
considering that the day and way were ordinarily alike long with 
me, as it has continued to be in my experience to this day ; and 
judging that my spirit might thereby be the more fitted for 
that communion- work ; and that going at God's call I might 
expect necessary furniture for what I had to do after. Accord- 
ingly I went away, studied by the way a part of the forenoon's 
sermon, was countenanced of the Lord there, and returned home 
again about six o'clock. I completed what I minded to deliver, 
before or in time of the action ; and having prayed again, went 
on and studied the sermon to be delivered after the action, 
without,^ having burnt a candle. Thus as much was got done, 
as I would have done had I been nowhere abroad that day. I 
found my spirit bettered by all, my soul somewhat heavenly, 
and raised towards the Lord : I saw it was good to follow duty, 
and trust God ; and that it is " not by might nor by power," 
but by the " Spirit " of the Lord, things are got comfortably 

On the 21st I went to Stenton, where that night, in 
meditation, I got a view of the transcendent glory and ex- 
cellency of Christ, with the emptiness of all things besides Him ; 
and the desire of my heart was towards Him. How it fared 
with me at that communion, I have related above. Under the 
deadness there mentioned, which was on the Saturday's night, 
being to make public exercise in the kirk, I went to secret 
prayer ; but really could not pray, yea not so much as groan 
sensibly unto the Lord : only I was sensible of my hardness of 
heart, and in a sort grieved for the Lord's absence. So entering 
on the work in this heavy case, the tears broke out with me : 
but all along I was under desertion. When I came in from 
that exercise, I went to prayer ; but could not pray ; and 
joined but very lifelessly in family-prayer. But afterwards 
reading over my notes, which were on Jer. xxix. 13, "And ye 
shall seek Me, and find Me," etc., I got somewhat above that 
deadness, and reached to some confidence in the Lord in prayer. 
The Lord lifted me up in that place ; but thus low was I laid 
before it. Sitting down at the Lord's table on the morrow, 
I took it for a sure sign I should yet sit down at the table 
above : and among other particular requests there, I had one 
for light in the call of Simprin, if offered ; and came away with 
hope, but no more. The remaining part of the night, after 

^ [I.e. in the open air, or tent.] 


the happy afternoon's work and entertainment mentioned above, 
I was kept in a heavenly frame, with love to Christ, and admira- 
tion of His goodness, loving the very place where He manifested 
Himself. And on the morrow having insisted on the requests 
I had at the table, I found afterwards the Lord had made my 
soul satisfied, as to what way He might dispose of me, especially 
with respect to Simprin. 

Being resolved to go from Stenton as above said, on that 
Monday's afternoon, Mr. Stark having given me a compliment 
of two dollars, and the use of his horse for my journey, I went 
to Edinburgh : and being engaged to return on the Saturday, 
and in the morning sought of the Lord a text for the following 
Sabbath, I did by the .way think on, and get some insight into 
Ps. cxix. 32, "I will run the way of Thy commandments, when 
Thou shalt enlarge my heart." On Tuesday I went to Barhill ; 
and on Wednesday to Clackmannanshire, where I met with 
one of my correspondents, who told me, that the elders of 
Dollar, whom he had discharged to come near me, were wrestling 
as eagerly as ever to accomplish their design, and were waiting 
the return of a letter to Argyle. I shewed him my situation, 
and committed to one to shew the presbytery of Stirling, that 
I looked on myself as absolved from my promise to them. On 
the Thursday I went back to Barhill, on the morrow after to 
Edinburgh, and returned to Stenton on Saturday about four 
o'clock. Mr. Stark had come back from some intended journey, 
but would take no part of the Sabbath's work : so after prayer, 
being cleared and satisfied as to the text aforesaid, I studied 
my sermons with ease in the space of little more than three 
hours ; the Lord laying things to my hand, and that with 
enlargement of heart. So still day and way were alike long ; 
and I had much of the Lord's help in the whole Sabbath's work. 

On Saturday 5th August, being at Stenton, where I was to 
preach on the morrow, after I had begun my studies, we were 
called to family-worship. Being desired, I prayed with com- 
posure for a while : but being in the kitchen, where was a great 
heat, my heart began to fail, so that I was obliged to break 
off; and going straight to the door for air, fainted away there, 
y Lying in which case I lifted up my heart to the Lord, boding 
kindness on Him ; recovered, and was eased ■ by vomiting, as 
usual. I had rested little that week, but had been riding hither 
and thither ; which kind of tossing I have seldom been the 
better of. Beino- confused throuG;h the remains of mv indis- 


position, my studies took all my time. Meanwhile this new 
experience of my frailty, made the little charge of Simprin 
more acceptable to me. Sabbath forenoon I was indisposed 
both in body and spirit, yet had some help of the Lord. 
Betwixt sermons I cried for an alteration, and got it, both in 
body and spirit ; and was helped to express matters of some 
difficulty, with that distinctness, which I was sure I could not 
have treated of them in private. Hereof I had then had 
frequent experience, and since too. 

On the morrow, 7 th August, being to return home, I was 
comforted by a Christian woman, goodwife of Eoughlaw, blessing 
God that ever she saw me, and shewing that never one had 
read her case, as the Lord had helped me to do, in my sermons 
first and last. At parting she put in my pocket about 2s. 
sterling, which I value as a token of Christian affection. That 
night I came to Dunse. 

And thus, after all my perplexity, when the matter was 
brought to the utmost pinch, kind Providence opened an un- 
expected way for expeding one part of my design ; and removed 
the other, viz. the going to Galloway, much out of my view. 
I was, after great straitening, liberally provided, beyond 
expectation. And the Lord's making my itinerant labours not 
unsuccessful, but useful at least to His own, and giving me a 
large room in their affections, afforded me a satisfaction, which 
I thought might be an equivalent of the comfort of a settlement. 

Next day, having heard of nothing done in the affair of 
Simprin, it was suggested to me by one, that Laugton minded 
to shift it till Michaelmas were past ; so that night, and the 
morrow morning, being the 9 th, thinking with myself that the 
Lord minded to grant my desire of not settling in the Merse, 
I desired of Him He would be pleased to shew me how to 
dispose of myself next : and the same day, some time after 
that, I was surprised with a visit of Mr. Murray, who continued 
to desire me to go to Mthsdale. And indeed his coming to me 
at such a nick of time, did seem at first to be determining : but 
even while he was with me, came in one from Simprin, shewing 
that Langton had moved in the affair, and that it might yet 
be done in due time ; and a little after I found that he had 
writ to the presbytery to go on towards my settlement there. 
Now my inclination was to go to Nithsdale, and I was racked 
betwixt the two. That night I thought seriously on them, went 
to God, particularly for light and direction therein ; and after, 


as I was going to bed, I found I durst not as yet leave Simprin. 
On this occasion I observed the subtilty of self in two cases : 
1. I feared my seeking of light proceeded more from self-love 
than love to Christ ; 2. That my seeking the very mortification 
of my idols, discontent, worldly-mindedness, etc., did likewise 
proceed from the same fountain, which might be in regard of 
the disquiet the want of the one, and having of the other, 
occasions me. This selfishness I did manifestly observe : yet 
I found there was respect to the command of God in this, and 
thought it predominated. I thought I should have light from 
the Lord, or I durst not do it, though it should be to my 
temporal loss. 

On the 10 th, having occasionally continued my former 
request, I found that afternoon my soul content I should 
settle in Simprin, if the Lord should give me a clear call to 
it, that being then my exercise, of the issue whereof I was 
much afraid. At night I went to the meeting for prayer, 
found my heart much affected with the sad state of my native 
country the Merse, in respect of religion, and cried to God for 
an alteration therein to the better. I desired James Minto, 
a godly man, and a mighty pleader in prayer, though otherwise 
of very ordinary abilities, to remember in prayer my situation, 
and to plead for light to me ; and my difficulties pressed me 
forward unto God. 

The day following, having gone to prayer for a text, I was, 
through the blowing of the Spirit on me, brought to a contented 
frame of heart with respect to the affair of Simprin. And 
indeed at what times I was most heavenly in the frame of 
my spirit, it was easiest for me to get over those things that 
were straitening and discouraging to me in it, and founded 
my aversion to it. These were, 1. The rarity of the godly 
there, and in the country ; 2. The very smallness of their 
number: 3. The smallness of the stipend; moreover, 4. The 
temper and way of the fraternity, though good men, and 
several of them learned men too, not agreeable to mine ; the 
which fully opened itself in the different way that that pres- 
bytery and I took in the year 1712, and ever since; and, 5. 
which was the main thing that then stuck with me, The little 
opportunity to be serviceable there. It indeed bred me some 
scrupling in the matter, that I was not far from thinking I 
was more useful in my unsettled condition, than I would be 
if minister of Simprin. But I thought with myself, if the 


Lord will shut me up there, why not ? and I feared that in 
this there might be something of the pride of my heart, and 
of ignorance of the weight of the ministerial work ; and there- 
fore desired to say, " The will of the Lord be done." At night 
having gone to my eldest brother's, and joined with him in his 
family - worship, to my great satisfaction, he came along with 
me to my chamber, and by our converse I was led to Ps. 
cxix. 96, "I have seen an end of all perfection," for my text, 
being to preach in Dunse the following Lord's day. 

On the 12th I studied my sermons on it; and in prayer 
in the time thereof I got some sight of the world's vanity, and 
in prayer after my studies, the Lord did blow on me, and I 
was much concerned for a lasting impression of the vanity of 
the world, and of the weiglit of the work of the ministry ; the 
which two things I reckoned would much conduce to the 
easing, quieting, and clearing of my mind, with respect to the 
affair of Simprin. I thought then I had never seen so great 
difficulty to get my heart weaned from the world ; but it was 
my soul's desire the Lord Himself would wean me, being 
content to part with a carnal worldly mind, if He would rent ^ 
it from me, and convinced, that it would abide a pull of His 
hand. After some time spent in necessary business, I betook 
myself to meditate on my sermons that I had studied ; and 
while, in my meditations, I was upon that head of them, the 
vanity of riches, just then one knocked at my chamber - door, 
whom opening to, I found to be a man from Simprin, who 
delivered me a letter with their call. This did somewhat damp 
me. The letter was from a committee of the presbytery, 
signifying that the call, being presented to them, and sustained 
legal, they exhorted and invited me to accept thereof ; and 
had appointed me a common head, together with exercise and 
addition, to be delivered at Churnside on the 22nd. I read 
also the call, and returned it to the bearer, shewing him, that 
I would consider of it, attend the presbytery, and also preach 
at Simprin on the morrow^ eight days for my own clearing in 
the matter ; charging him to tell the elders, to be serious with 
God for light and direction to me therein. After his departure, 
I went and poured out my soul before the Lord, for the dis- 
covery of His mind concerning it. Afterwards I thought 
thereon, and found my unwillingness on account of the small- 
ness of their number : but, in opposition tliereto, a fear of my 

^ [/.c. rend, obsolete.] 


ignorance of the weight of the work of the ministry, seized me ; 
and it seemed to me I had not been enough humbled for my 
former levity, but that the Lord saw it necessary to humble 
me further for it ; and I got my heart contented, and found 
that the Lord " strengthened me with strength in my soul," 
to wait on Him, and follow the conduct of His providence. 
Thereafter I meditated on the rest of my sermons. 

Having preached at Dunse on the Sabbath, I gave myself 
on the Monday to fasting and prayer, to seek of the Lord a 
right way, in that matter now laid before me ; breaking over 
an averseness I found to that exercise ungrateful to the flesh. 
Three things were suggested to me, prompting me to be so at 
pains for light in that matter ; thinking with myself thus. 

1. Unless I be sure of my call to it from the Lord, how will 
I stand against the discouragements I will meet with there ? 

2. How can I think of profiting them, if He send me not to 
them? 3. How will I stand with them before the tribunal 
of God, if I join with them without a call from Himself ? 
Having read Ezra ix. and x. I went to prayer, to prepare my 
heart for the work ; thought a while, and then went to prayer 
again, and poured out my soul before the Lord. Thereafter 
I read the written confession of sin, which is above mentioned, 
and then made an additional one, in writing too. Which 
done, I thought on my sins and heart-monsters, till my soul 
was more humbled in me. Then bowing my knees before the 
Lord, I read over the two confessions aforesaid ; poured out 
my soul before Him, making a particular confession of my 
sins, so far as I could remember them ; arraigned and con- 
demned myself, and looked to the Lord, in the promise, for 
mercy. After that, minding to renew the covenant with God, 
and subscribe it with my hand, I drew it up in writing : which 
done, I prayed, the Spirit blowing on me ; and I was greatly 
helped to resoluteness for Christ, resolving, if I perished, I 
should die at His door. Then I examined myself, as to my 
williugness to adhere unto it, and subscribe it, in all the parts 
thereof, severally and distinctly : and having found myself 
willing, I poured out my soul before Him in prayer ; in which 
prayer, having some such expression as this, " Lord, art Thou 
willing ! " that word came to me, " All things arc ready, come 
to the marriage : " to this Amen said my soul. Eising up, I 
wrote down these words in the paper I had drawn, and looking 
up to the Lord, I subscribed it with my hand. 1 wrote down 


there also, Jer. xxx. 22, Deut. xxxiii, 27, 2 Cor. xii. 9. That 
paper is in retentis.'^ After this, I meditated a while ; then I 
went to prayer for the benefits of the covenant, particularly 
for that which was the occasion of this day's exercise : I cried 
for light, and was laid down at His feet ; and came away 
cheerfully and contentedly, my soul saying, " Where Thou wilt. 
Lord ; for He strengthened me with strength in my soul." 
Then, thinking on the business, I considered and put down 
in writing, that I might the better judge thereof, First, Some 
things seeming to clear my call to Simprin, as follows: 1. My 
being cast into this country, where I was exposed to it, and 
God's closing up all other doors hitherto. 2. On the 10th of 
June, Mr. Dysert wrote a letter in my favour to the elders of 
Simprin, and gave it me to dispatch to them. I took it, but 
afterwards tore it in pieces (on what occasion, I cannot now 
find out): yet on 4th July, being resolved to leave this country 
next week, being resolved to go over Forth first, and then to 
Galloway, I was obliged to go to the presbytery of Churnside, 
to meet with Mr. Dysert, to borrow some money of him 
necessary for my going out of the country : but when I saw 
him, I could not command so much confidence as to ask it of 
him. But the presbytery took occasion to invite me to preach 
at Simprin next Lord's day : which I could not but consent to, 
knowing of no other place I was trysted to ; and this was 
the first time I ever preached in Simprin. My father went 
to Mr. Dysert on the morrow for that purpose ; but he could 
not answer my desires. Thus was I locked in. 3. I have 
experienced, that I have been most for complying with it, 
when I saw most of the vanity of the world, and had meanest 
thoughts of myself. 4. On the 8th of August it was told me, 
that Langton minded to shift the business of Simprin till 
Michaelmas were over, which would have made the closing 
with that call almost impracticable, on account of my particular 
circumstances : so that it seemed the Lord had a mind I should 
not settle in the Merse. So that night and the morrow 
morning, thinking the business of Simprin almost over, I 
desired of the Lord He would shew me how to dispose of 
myself. And after this, 9th August, I was surprised with a visit 
from Mr. James Murray, who entreated me to go to Mthsdale, 

'^ [This personal covenant, subscribed "with my hand, in my chamber, at Dunse, 
about one o'clock in the afternoon, the fourteenth day of August 1699," will be 
found at the end of Boston's Bocbj of Divuiily (1S4S), II. 671.] 


giving good hopes of a comfortable settlement there. His 
coming to me at that nick of time seemed at lirst to be deter- 
mining : but in the very meantime there comes in one from 
Simprin, shewing me, that the Laird had veritten a letter to one 
of the ministers ; and that the business might yet be done in 
due time. This put me again to a stand. Thereafter I found 
the Laird had written to the presbytery to go on. My in- 
clination was to go to Nithsdale, and I was racked betwixt 
the two. After prayer for light, I found I durst not yet 
leave Simprin. 5. I could not but notice my preaching at 
Simprin on the emptiness of all things besides Christ, the 
only sermon yet preached there by me. On the 12th of 
August, in the forenoon, I studied a sermon of the vanity of 
the world, on Ps. cxix. 96, being to preach it in Dunse ; and 
just when I was meditating on that head of it, the vanity of 
riches, one knocks at my chamber-door, I opened, and found it 
was a man from Simprin, who delivered me a letter from a 
committee of the presbytery, with the call of Simprin ; which 
did somewhat damp and discourage me. Hereby the Lord 
seemed to try whether I was really in earnest with these 
things or not. When the man went away, I poured out my 
soul to the Lord for light, afterwards thought on the business, 
got my heart contented, and I thought the Lord strengthened 
me with strength in my soul, to wait on and follow the con- 
duct of Providence. 6. The light I have attained in this 
business bridles my corruptions of worldly - mindedness, etc., 
and my own inclinations. And I have attained to a more 
deep impression of the weight of the work of the ministry 
than before ; which, I find, contributes to my clearness as to 
the accepting of that call. The consideration of these things 
after prayer, makes it some more than probable to me that 
this matter is of God, and fully determines me to go on in my 
trials, leaving the more full determination of the main thing 
till afterwards. Secondly, The grounds of my aversion to it. 
1. The rarity of the godly in this country. This I found to 
be but a discouragement. 2. The very smallness of the charge. 
When I was considering the weight of the work of the 
ministry, I got a silencing answer to that. 3. The smallness 
of the stipend. This seems to be a temptation. The light I 
had from the Lord this day hath downweighed this. 4. I 
suspect I am more useful for God in my vagrant state, than 
I would be if minister of Simprin. It may be otherwise. The 


Lord is to make use of me as He pleaseth. I truly fear it is 
the pride of my heart that is the source of this. This however 
I found could be no just ground of scrupling, though a dis- 
couragement : and I further considered, that I knew not what 
honourable use the Lord might have for me there. Having 
thus considered these things, I went to God again, poured out 
my soul, and laid all out before Him : and had that word, 
" Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness ; 
and all these things shall be added unto you." Afterward I 
wrote a line for some books necessary for me on my trials : 
and in the meantime came in to me the above - mentioned 
Patrick Gillis, one of my two praying schoolfellows. Him 
sovereign Providence had entirely laid aside from his design 
of pursuing learning : and with hun I conversed a while, and 
prayed. After he went away, I went to prayer again, with 
confidence in the Lord, having such clearness, as said is. By 
this time the sun was down : then having given thanks to 
the Lord, for His assistance through the day, and for what light 
I had attained unto, and sought strength for carrying me on 
in the work immediately before me, viz. my trials, I went forth. 

It hath cost no small struggling to put the knife to the 
throat of my inclinations in this affair, and to sacrifice them to 
the good pleasure of God. In the remaining part of that week, 
I prepared my exegesis dc idololatria, exercise and addition on 
Eph. i. 5. I was waiting for further light therein, to break up 
to me from my trials ; thinking with myself, that if the Lord 
should please to help me in them, it would much contribute to 
clear me. But after my entering on the study of the exercise, 
with a pretty good run, the wind fell ; and I was left to tug 
and row in it, and in the addition, even to the end. But 
behold ! this very thing, shewing me my own emptiness, con- 
tributed not a little to the clearing of me, that if I was at all to 
be admitted to the holy ministry, it should be at Simprin, as 
unfit for a more considerable post. Thus the Lord brought 
about what I was waiting for, in a way qiiite contrary to that 
wherein I was looking for it. 

On the Tuesday after, being the 22nd, I went to Churnside 
to the presbytery, by that time disjoined from the presbytery 
of Dunse. Before I went to the pulpit, my case, with respect 
to myself and others, lying heavy on me, did, with my other 
needs, send me often to God by j)rayer. But after one prayer 
in public, wherein I had something of His presence, my frame 


much decayed, and the Lord left me much to the weight of my 
natural disposition ; fear of man so prevailing, that the glass 
being run twice, I thought it had run but once, and so held on ; 
insomuch that the exercise lasted above an hour and a quarter ; 
and they stopped me after delivering a part of the addition. 
This made me wonder how I had passed my first trials ; but 
God fits the back for the burden. I overheard their censures. 
That manner of management could not miss to fret them ; but 
I was approved in that piece of trial, as afterward in the 
exegesis. The moderator presented me the call of Simprin, 
which I received of his hand ; but returned it to the clerk, 
shewing I would further consider of it. At the dinner I was 
much discouraged, and was inclined to wish in my heart I might 
not be settled in that country. 

On A¥ednesday the 30th, Mr. Golden shewed me, he was 
sorry I had so far accepted the call of Simprin, in regard 
a call to Hownam ^ might have been procured. I told him, 
I durst not do otherwise than I had done ; and shewed him 
a providential step pointing that way ; the weight whereof he 
owned. On the morrow, having perfected my popular sermon, 
I was edified and satisfied therewith. At night I began to think 
of the near approach of the presbytery, when I might be required 
to give an answer to the call. The prospect of this was very 
heavy to me. I considered it a while with a sad heart : Dollar 
was desirable to me ; Simprin was not so. When I thought 
how God owned me elsewhere, and what converse I had with 
the godly in that country, my heart was much cast down, being 
to be closed up in such a part of the country as is most dead 
and lifeless. I have little myself of life or heat, and I fear 
I may lose what I have or have had. I saw then my sin in 
itching after a settlement, when the Lord did countenance me 
so much in my vagrant state. 

\st September. — I began to think about closing with the call 
of Simprin. I think Providence seems to determine to it ; but 
I cannot yet think of giving a positive answer against Tuesday 
next, but would fain have some days after to think on it, when 
I am free of other business : not that I think to get free of it, 
but that in the use of means I would wait for such light as 
may make me go on more cheerfully in it, and deliberately, 

^ [Hownam was then vacant. The minister had died seventeen days before. 
The vacancy was not filled till 1703, when Boston's predecessor in Ettrick, the 
Rev. James Macmichen, was admitted to the charge.] 


for a foundation for the time to come. So I went to prayer ; 
and thereafter began to think on it ; but could not attain such 
serious thoughts of it as I would have had : so that I have 
nothing to mark as the product of it, save the deceitfulness of 
my own heart, which is more ready to close with anything than 
what is present duty. On this day, I resolved to crave of the 
presbytery the following week further to advise, proposing to 
give my answer to him who should be ordered to serve the edict, 
and might act according to my answer : for I found not myself 
in case to do otherwise. After this, in the afternoon of the 
same day, Mr. Golden told me, it was still against his will I 
should settle in Simpriu ; and that he understood, that Mr. 
Gabriel Semple,^ minister of Jedburgh, one of the old sufferers, 
who in the time of the persecution was eminently countenanced 
of God, with success in the work of the gospel, especially in the 
borders of England, had taken it amiss that I was not sent to 
him ; the design whereof was to be his colleague, though there 
was no legal fund for it in the place. This oftener than once 
had been moved ; but I could by no means listen to it : but 
Mr. Golden desired me not to consent to the call of Simprin till 
he should speak with Mr. Semple on the affair of Hownam ; the 
report of which conference I should have that day eight days. 
I being, before this proposal was made to me, resolved as afore- 
said, had no scruple in it ; but told him, that whatever might 
be the issue of that conference, I would not dare to determine 
the rejecting of the call of Simprin by myself : and I was 
resolved still to follow on, in what appeared present duty, let 
the Lord do with me as should seem good in His eyes. 

On the morrow, 2nd September, I received letters, but no word 
about the affair of Dollar. In the twilight, weary with study, 
I went to prayer, and, with confidence in the Lord, unbosomed 
myself unto Him. And, but a heavenly frame was sweet 
in my eyes ! and I saw how pleasant a life a habit thereof, 
if I could reach it, would make. On the morrow after I 
preached at Simprin. 

On Tuesday the 5th, I did with more freedom than the 
former presbytery-day deliver my popular sermon, and undergo 
all the rest of my trials, and was approved. At the presbytery's 

^ [Rev. Gabriel Semple, M.A., was translated from Kirkpatrick-Diirham to 
Jedburgh in 1690, and died in 1706. He was the earliest of the field preachers, 
and his piety and high courage made him a power in the persecuting times, and 


desire 1 gave answer to the call, and that in the terms I had 
before resolved upon ; but with submission. They appointed 
the edict to be served the following Lord's day, and my ordina- 
tion to be on Thursday the 21st. 

1th Se2:)teiiiber. — I set some time apart for prayer, in order to 
get direction in this affair. I found no small averseness in my 
heart to that duty. I went to God, and poured out my soul, 
wrestling against the bad frame of spirit, blessed the Lord for 
what He had done for me since I was a preacher, and cried for 
His countenance in this, meditated on the matter, but with little 
success. I went to God again ; and afterwards some things 
came to me, clearing me further to accept. And as for my 
inward thoughts, they were such, that I saw I durst not but go 
on with it, finding, that the more serious I am about light in it, 
it is the clearer. Afterwards I went to God again, and with 
much more life and earnestness, the Lord helping, I made my 
requests, and in prayer I found that word, Ps. xviii. 28, "Thou 
wilt light my candle : the Lord my God will enlighten my 
darkness ; " which I sung the first time I was in a pulpit ; 
and that, Job xxii. 28, "Thou shalt also decree a thing," etc., 
given me before I entered on my first trials. Lest I should 
have provoked God to withdraw the light I have, which 1 
begun to fear upon my crying still for light, I saw^ myself called 
to bless God for what He had given me. And now ray con- 
fidence in the Lord was raised, and my soul blessed the Lord : 
I am His ; let Him do what seemeth Him good with me. 
Catching my heart at the season when it was willing, I went 
to God again, and poured out my soul; but really had not 
freedom to harp longer on light as to the main thing, the 
accepting of Simprin (but rather to seek God's presence to go 
with me) ; for this seemed to me now almost, if not altogether, 
a tempting of God, who hath already made my way clear. 
Further, I observed, 

1. In the Lord's way of dealing with me, that the Lord has 
brought about for me what I was most against. A notable 
instance parallel to this I had at the passing my first trials ; in 
that I was brought to pass them in my own country, which of 
all other places was least in my eye.^ This way of Providence 
with me I have so often observed, that I have thought indeed 
such or such a thing would come to pass, just because I was 
averse to it. And as to this business, besides ray aversion to 

1 [P. 32.] 


the whole country, Simprin, by any place of it, I never dreamed 
of, and was very much against it since it was talked of. 

2. The Lord hath hitherto prevented such remoras ^ in this 
business as I expected, other three irons in the fire with this, 
having all got leave to cool. 

3. Sometime I thought I would wait to see how the Lord 
would help me in my trials for Simprin ; and I thought I would 
take it as clearing my call thereto, if I were helped and enlarged 
in them ; and contrariwise. But in studying my exercise and 
addition, 17th August, I was straitened, and was very much dis- 
couraged through that straitening: and behold this very 
straitening (reflecting on it afterwards) seemed to me to clear 
my call to Simprin ; if I were at all to be a minister, that I 
should be minister of Simprin, for thereby I saw much of my 
own emptiness. This had a convincing impression on my heart ; 
wherefore I thought I was called of God to join with that people ; 
and the sense of the command of God urged me, otherwise 
unwilling, to it. 

Nota. — As to that aversion I had to settle in Simprin, I have 
ofttimes since thought it was no disadvantage to me ; in regard 
it was far more easy to me to discern the light of the Lord, and 
what moved me to accept that charge, when it crossed my inclina- 
tions, than it would have been, had they gone both one way. 
In that case it had been more difficult for me to have known 
which of them I followed. It has been ofttimes supporting to me. 

On the 9 th I received a letter from my friend, such as 
became a Christian, bearing, that her heart did indeed rise at 
my last, shewing I had received the call of Simprin, but withal 
desiring me to follow my light, and to be single in my accepting 
or refusing it, that the world might not cast the balance : The 
same Christian disinterested course she steered all along in these 
matters, being my wife. 

Being under some discouragements at home, 13th September, 
I began to be somewhat uneasy and discontent with my settling 
in Simprin. I was now hampered in my chamber : I had lent 
out my money, and could not get it back, to procure myself 
necessaries. These, with my future circumstances, were grievous 
to me. Finding myself hereby carried off my feet as a Christian, 
I resolved to spend some time on the morrow in fasting and 
prayer, for these causes : 1. To get habitual nearness to God ; 2, 
For a due impression of the weight of the work I am called to ; 
^ [J.e. delays, liindrances. In this sense obsolete.] 


3. His presence with me in it ; 4. For content with my lot. 
Addressing myself to the intended exercise of that day, I added 
to these aforesaid causes, 5. That I might get victory over a par- 
ticular corruption wherewith I had been often foiled ; Lastly, That 
I might be kept from cooling in my zeal in that country. After 
prayer and meditation with respect to the aforementioned causes, 
I went to prayer with the same requests. And afterwards I 
began to examine myself. So examining myself, I can saj-, 

1. I am poor in spirit, I have no righteousness of my own; and 
if I get not a borrowed righteousness, I see I will perish ; and 
I count all my own righteousnesses as filthy rags, loss and dung ; 

2. I hunger and thirst after both an imputed righteousness and 
the righteousness of a holy life, Lord, Thou knowest ; 3. Christ 
is precious to me ; I have none in heaven but Thee, and there is 
none on earth that I desire besides Thee ; and I would willingly 
quit all for Christ ; 4. That was supporting to me in prayer, 
" He will give the Spirit to them that ask Him ; " I have done it, 
and do it ; and the Spirit of sanctification is the delight of my 
soul ; 5. My heart approves of and loves the law of God, even 
when it strikes against those corruptions I am naturally most in- 
clined to ; 6. I have received Him, and am willing to receive Him, 
in all His offices. Lord, Thou knowest I speak as I think, and 
my conscience bears me witness : therefore I am a child of God 
in despite of Satan ; and I will not quit my former experiences, 
nor say that all were delusions ; and whatever come of me, I 
will venture myself on Christ. Afterwards in prayer I was 
resolute ; I would not quit my claim to Him, which made me 
speak boldly, and that so as is not ordinary with me. Let the 
Lord do with me as He will. It w^as He that said to me on the 
21st of January last, "I have loved thee with an everlasting 
love," and had " therefore with loving-kindness drawn me ; " 
and I will abide by it. He may give His comforts when He 
pleaseth ; no wonder I want them. And now I am content 
with my lot, and believe I will get the things that E sought this 
day ; for He shall be my God while I live ; and He has said, 
" All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall 
receive." And I resolved to hold by His word, which He neither 
would nor could deny. And now I must say from my experience, 
that " there failed not ought of those good things which the Lord 
had spoken : all came to pass." I am glad to find, that I had 
marked in the memoirs of that day, as above inserted, that I 
really believed I would get the things I sought that day. 


Toward the evening, being somewhat faint, I closed the work 
with singing Ps. xlii. 5, " why art thou cast down, my soul," 
etc., to the end, and prayer ; and my heart was strengthened 
and encouraged in the Lord. And so I took a refreshment. 
Thereafter I found an inclination to preach on the foresaid 
words, Ps. xlii. 5, the following Lord's day, mostly on my own 

Nota. — 1. I think God sent all this to shake me out of 
myself, to strike at the root of my corruption with respect to 
my settlement, and to make me glad to creep into Simprin. 2. 
I am sure God gave me in Simprin the most of the things above 
recorded, and though I am now, at the writing hereof, removed 
from it, I will ever remember it as a field which the Lord blessed. 

On the morrow, going to God for a text, laid open to the 
divine determination, I was determined to the text aforesaid : 
and as after my studies thereon, in which the Lord helped me, 
I was concerned for a blessing on it, not only for the people, 
but for myself ; so in my meditating thereon next day, I found 
advantage to my own soul ; as also in the delivering it on the 
Sabbath, 17th September. But after sermons, in converse, speak- 
ing of the godly people in Clackmannan, and the paucity of such 
here, a fit of discouragement seized me, where I saw how, after 
I had been preaching against it, I was overtaken with it. I 
find it a difficult thing to be really religious. I preached it in 
Langton, having procured the minister of that place to preach 
in Simprin that day, being the Sabbath immediately preceding 
my ordination ; and upon that day's work, I find I had the 
following reflection. " What good this preaching hath done to 
others, I know not ; yet I think myself am not the worse of it : 
! that it were written in my heart, as it is in my book ! " 

On the Monday I went to Simprin, and found, that Langton 
had ordered a decent entertainment for the ministers at the 
ordination, which I was almost hopeless of. On the morrow I 
went to an ordination,^ where I saw the candidate answered the 
questions by a nod or bowing of the head ; which I wished 
not to imitate. From thence I went to Berwick ; and having 
nighted at Churnside, returned to Dunse on the Wednesday, 
where I got some impression of the weight of the work of the 
ministry fixed on my spirit, which continued with me, while at 
my chamber, and while abroad about necessary business, and 

^ [That of the Rev. Robert Park, ordained to Fouhlen on Tuesday, 19th 
September 1699.] 

j6cp9'i MR. THOMAS BOSTON 93 

received some comfortable account of the preceding Sabbath's 

20^^ Septciiiber. — After prayer, meditating on what is before 
me, I saw much of the weight of the work ; wherefore I went to 
God mourning, and poured out my soul to Him. I saw it a 
great matter to have the charge of souls, and to be faithful. 
Two things were mainly before me : the difficulty to carry right 
in the ministry in general; which was heightened from the 
consideration of the present state of affairs, and an impression I 
had of matters turning worse : and then the difficulty of carrying 
right to the poor parish to which I am called. These made my 
heart almost to sink : and indeed my heart and flesh did faint 
and fail ; but that word, " He shall feed His flock," did bear me 
up. When I went to prayer again, I had more confidence and 
courage; and when I came away, that word came, Heb. x. 35, 
" Cast not away your confidence," etc. And while I was medita- 
ting, J. F. came in to me ; and told me, that last Lord's day at 
Langton was, in her opinion, an extraordinary day, particularly 
to her case and feeling ; and that her case was read in the 
sermons. This is the second time that sermons preached for my 
own case had so reached that woman's. Having spent the time 
in prayer, meditation, and reading, till the night was well far on, 
and remembering how Satan is sure to lay wait for me in a 
special manner before some great work that I have to do, I 
committed soul, body, and spirit, to the Lord, and so went on 
with spiritual thoughts. 

21st SeptcDibcr. — But that which I feared came upon me: Satan 
got advantage of me indeed, and his hand appeared eminent in 
it. This did sadly cast me down : so I poured out my soul 
before the Lord, hoping against hope while I walked up and 
down ; for in so far as it came from the devil, it dashed my 
confidence the less. Afterwards I grew more dull in my frame ; 
but going to God again, I got a little more of God. I spent 
the rest of the time in my chamber in prayer and meditation. 
After I had been a while in company in Mr. Colden's, I retired 
to his garden and meditated, my heart being in a tender frame. 
And when I came away, and through the day, that word was 
given me for support, Deut. xxxiii. 2 7, "The eternal God is thy 
refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." And I came 
to Simprin in a solid composed frame of spirit, leaning on the 
foresaid word. This was the doing of the Lord, and wondrous 
in my eyes. I heard sermon with some good frame ; but mv 


heart was very much moved when I came into the kirk. Mr. 
John Pow minister at Lennel ^ preached from Acts xx. 24, 
" But none of these things move me, neither count I my life 
dear unto myself, so that I miglit finish my course with joy, 
and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to 
testify the gospel of the grace of God." After sermon I was 
ordained and set apart to the holy ministry, by prayer made 
over me, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. I 
thought the text was ordained of God for me, and my heart 
desired to go along with the doctrine, that ministers should 
prefer the faithful discharge of their ministry to all their other 
concerns in the world. While I answered the questions, which I 
did at some length, being sensible in some measure of my weak- 
ness and unworthiness to be a door-keeper in the house of my 
God, my heart being great, I had much ado to contain myself ; 
and in that time there were many wet cheeks among the people. 
So I was ordained ; and wliile the words of ordination were said, I 
freely resigned myself wholly to the Lord, my soul in effect saying. 
Even so, Lord. After the ordination, I received the right hand 
of fellowship from the brethren : but had no heritor, nor repre- 
sentative of an heritor, to take me by the hand ; and I think 
there were but two elders in the place at that time. Then I 
received some exhortations from the minister aforesaid, actor in 
the work ; and the work was closed as ordinary. 

In this period of my life the dispensations of God towards 
me have been very wonderful, as in the former. I must say, 
upon the whole, " The Lord's ways are not our ways, etc. His 
paths are in the deep waters." My soul is well satisfied with 
the determination. He hath enured me to hardness by the 
opposition I met with while a preacher. He frustrated all 
designs for my settlement, till the time before appointed, and 
the bounds of my habitation determined by Him were come to. 
Acts xvii. 26. This was an useful word to me in my vagrant 
state, supported my heart often, and kept me from transgressing 
for a piece of bread. My itching desires He would not grant ; 
but by this He hath tried me how I would deny myself, and 
what I would make of my own inclinations. Blessed be my 
God that has helped me to trample on them, and made me 
content with my lot. It is the Lord's way with me, to shake 
me out of myself, and to make me renounce my own wisdom, or 
rather folly. When I came home from Kennet, I little thought 
^ [Now Coldstream, to which place the parish church was removed in 1705.] 

i6gg-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 95 

of passing trials here, yet I behoved to do it. When I had 
done it, I had no will to stay ; yet the Lord would. Afterwards, 
when I left the country, I had ill will to leave it, but God had 
said it. When I was in Stirling presbytery, I would have 
gladly staid there ; but the Lord would not. When I came 
home, I had no good will to this business ; but God had said it, 
and it behoved to be done. When my head was away. He put 
His bridle in my moutli, and turned me again. " How unsearch- 
able are His judgements, and His ways past finding out ! " And 
now I have undertaken this work, in confidence of support by 
the everlasting arms. My itching desires after a settlement 
have been, and are grievous to me now : but the Lord is my God, 
who blotteth out mine iniquities as a thick cloud. To His name 
be glory in the highest for ever. Amen, yea and Amen. 

And thus I have followed the course of this affair, in order 
narrating the several steps thereof, however minute some of 
them may appear : and that because it issued in what was to 
me one of the weightiest matters of my life, namely, my 
ordination to the office of the ministry, and first sitting down 
in the world. And the reflecting on the clear divine conduct, 
in pointing out unto me, and carrying me to, these appointed 
bounds of my habitation, is like a rock of comfort to me unto 
this day ; as it obliged me to look well about me for the like 
discovery of the Lord's mind, before I moved my foot again. 




IPiETUENED to Dunse that night. In prayer I had much 
confidence in God. I found my heart well content with 
my lot ; and the sense of God's calling me to that work, with 
the promise of His presence : it satisfies my soul, and my 
very heart blesseth Him for it ; for really it is the doing of 
the Lord, and wondrous in my eyes. I have a prospect of 
comfort and success in my labours among that people, and my 
soul rejoiceth in the Lord. He hath enlarged my heart, I 
will run the way of His commandments. ! my heart is 
almost fond ^ on God's good dealing with me. By the mercy of 
my God, I was not disappointed in my prospect. I closed that 
night witli singing Ps. xvi. 5, " God is of mine inheritance and 
cup the portion," etc., to the end, and prayer. 

From this time more than two months passed ere I took 
up my settled abode at Simprin : during which time, my 
ordinary residence being at Dunse, as before, I applied myself 
to my work, as I had opportunity. 

21nd Scptcmhcr. — It was long ere I got a text for the Sabbath. 
When I got it, my studies went slowly on. On the morrow 
also my thoughts were very confused, and it went very ill away 
with me. I comforted myself with the example of Jacob's 
going at God's command, on his return to his own country, 
and yet the Lord met liim as an enemy : so it went some 
better with me. Yet while I studied that sermon, my soul 
was solidly affected with the weight of the work of the ministry. 
I meditated on the forenoon-sermon with more satisfaction than 
I studied it. I had desired the people of Simprin to send 
a horse for me ; but it was so long a-coming, that I despaired 
of its coming at all. This was a piece of exercise to me ; for 
I thought it strange to be thus treated at the very first : so I 
began to lay my account with trouble, and to be concerned for 

1 [I.e. foolibh.] 





/%-/7oo] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 97 

the salvation of the people, though I should meet with dis- 
couragements from them. The horse came, and it was not 
their fault that it came not sooner. I was bettered by the 
dispensation. After studying of the preliminary sermons, as 
above, on Heb. xiii. 17, "For they watch for your souls, as they 
that must give account," I went to God by prayer for His 
countenance, and for direction toward such things as might be most 
profitable for that people ; and found my soul much strengthened 
in confidence of the Lord's owning me, by means of that word, 
" Go — and lo I am with you alway, even to the end of the 
world." And I was then determined to begin with the book 
of Psalms for lecture ; and for the exercise on the Sabbath- 
evenings, to explain a question of the catechism. 

2Mh Septeiiiber. — Having allotted the morning entirely for 
prayer and meditation, some worldly thoughts crept in ; yea on 
a sudden my heart made a contrivance for staying in Simprin, 
which perhaps it would not easily have fallen on, if I had 
thought on the business seasonably. But I thought I bought 
it at the rate of the loss of that liveliness I expected. In the 
afternoon I somewhat recovered my forenoon's loss. At night, 
I had an exercise on the first question of the catechism, with 
some good frame of spirit : and on the morrow after I visited 
the people, exhorted to secret prayer, and family-worship ; and 
found in all eighty-eight examinable persons. On the Tuesday, 
returning to Dunse, I received a letter from Mr, Murray, invit- 
ing me to the west, and showing great encouragement : but God 
had now shewed me the appointed bounds of my habitation. 

28/A Septeiiibcr. — I never found that word, " Go — and lo I am 
with you alway," etc., so strengthening to my soul, as since I 
was a minister. 

Having that week, upon weighing of my circumstances, 
laid down a resolution to delay my marriage till the spring 
1701, I was brought into a grievous strait on the Friday's 
night: finding, that I behoved either to expede it sooner, or 
not at all. This sent me to God once and again, laying down 
the whole at His feet : and the sovereign will of God, tempered 
with good-will to His people, was my stay. But being to preach 
at Dunse on the Lord's day, and having sought a text for that 
end once and again, but in vain, I was hereby led unto one, 
viz. Col. iii. 2, " Set your affections on things above, not on 
things on the earth : " and I gained some advantage in my own 
case, by the study thereof. That Sabbath, having the first 



occasion of my administering the sacrament of baptism, I had 
endeavoured to frame some discourse for it aforehand, but 
altogether unsuccessfully : howbeit, when the time came, I 
was sufficiently furnished for that part of my work, though I 
could not before so much as order the duty of the parent in 
my own mind, to my own satisfaction. Thereafter, coming 
home to my chamber, I spent some time in meditation, and 
much in prayer, which at that time I could not well leave off, 
which was far from my ordinary. I laid out my case to the 
Lord, and He turned not away His ear. But that night it was 
a concerning question to me, how it came to pass, that I could 
not get above the world, notwithstanding all my endeavours, by 
meditating, praying, and preaching for that effect, being earnest 
to have my preaching effectual on my own heart ? I thought 
with myself, how, in the time of such holy exercises, I was 
somewhat hoised up above it ; but afterward, when the trial 
comes on, I am again just where I was. And I feared it was 
too much by myself that I wrestled against the world ; that I 
was too legal in my endeavours, and knew not the way of 
making use of Christ for that great purpose : but I found I 
was content to learn. 

Toward the end of that week, I had a secret check for 
forgetting my charge, and was desirous to be with them fixedly, 
praying the Lord would find out means for that end. I found 
also my heart much quieted, as to the divine disposal of the 
affair of my marriage ; settling it in my mind not to proceed 
before a proper time. And with respect to my work in my 
charge, I was determined to begin with preaching to them the 
doctrine of man's natural state ; judging the sight and sense 
thereof to be the foundation of all real religion. And minding 
to take it in parcels, for the more clear discovery thereof, both 
in the sinfulness and misery of it, I began my study of it, for 
that Sabbath, on the guilt of Adam's first sin, or original sin 
imputed. On the Saturday, the precentor professing his sorrow 
for his offence,^ was readmitted sessionally. On the Sabbath, 
being 8th October, entering accordingly on the subject aforesaid, I 
found things palpably laid to my hand ; and together with the 
exercise on another question of the catechism, I required of 
some an account of what they had heard, in which I had but 
little satisfaction. 

On the morrow, having visited the sick, and desired some 
1 [This is the first mention of the precentor's offence.] 

j6gg-i7o6\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 99 

to meet in my chamber on Tuesday's night for prayer and 
Christian conference, I went to Kersefield/ the house of the 
Lady Moriston, within a mile of Sim})rin, whither at that time 
I sometimes resorted. There my soul was made to bless God ; 
for that when I reflected on the frame and disposition of my 
soul as to my marriage, I found myself freed of many things 
which before disturbed me, and my mind resting in the Lord. 
This was the doing of the Lord, and an answer of prayer. On 
Tuesday's night, returning to Simprin, the meeting aforesaid 
was held accordingly : in which, after singing of a psalm, I 
shewed them from the word the warrantablSness of such 
exercise, and withal the seasonableness of it for the time ; 
prayed with them ; and then two of them prayed. And the 
Lord giving some measure of His countenance, I was encouraged. 
The day following I went home. 

13;!^ October. — I was much difficulted ^ as to the getting of a 
text. I prayed, and thought again and again, but could get 
none, and so on a long time. In the meantime I was much 
discouraged, saw and confessed my distance from God, the 
cause of it, and pleaded on the tenor of my commission. At 
last, thinking on my own unworthiuess, I was made to say 
within myself, " It is of the Lord's mercy I am not consumed." 
This was the text I was thus led to, and determined after 
prayer to take. But so few things presented themselves to me, 
that I feared I would not get two sermons on it. Thus being the 
same way difficulted 29 th September the Lord in His providence 
sent me a piece of trouble, which led me to a text. An eminent 
parallel to this I had, when I was led to that text, Ps. cxxvi. 
5. On the morrow I received a letter, and by it expected 
trouble on trouble. I opened it not till after prayer. Opening 
it, I was freed from that fear ; and going on in my feared 
studies, things were laid to my hand ; and my heart blesseth 
the Lord, who takes such care of me. And considering how 
these things put me to prayer, I saw them sweet mercies that 
come as these did, as answers of prayer ; and it is much my 
advantage that the Lord deals thus with me. On the 15 th, 
being the Lord's day, I preached at Edrom on Lam. iii. 22, 
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed;" unto 
which also I was led by my own case, as is above noticed ; and 

^ [Now MilnegraJen.] 

'[/.c. impeded. Cf. Halyburtou, Memoirs, 148. "I was much difficulted 
about these particulars."] 


I had much of the Lord's assistance therein all the day, and in 
my prayers more than ordinary. 

I went to the synod on the Tuesday. Iteturning to 
Simpriu on the Thursday, I visited the school on the morrow, 
and went to Dunse. And having spoke with Laugton on the 
affair of the stipend, I found no great encouragement ; but these 
things moved me not, being under apprehensions of public 
troubles, which were then very likely to ensue ; there being 
a general ferment then in the spirits of men through the nation, 
by means of the disaster of Caledonia.^ At night, upon 
occasion of discourse concerning the access allowed some unto 
God in duty, I found myself much excited to seek Him. On 
the morrow, before I went oft" to Simprin, being somewhat 
moved with the shortness of the time I had to study my 
sermons, I got confidence in God for that effect, by reflecting 
on former experiences ; and in the meantime was quieted in 
another case which I had been in fear of. Coming to 
Simprin about two o'clock, I got my studies dispatched accord- 
ingly ; and on the Sabbath was much helped in the lecture and 
afternoon-sermon. I had ordered the visiting of the town ^ that 
day in the time of the public worship, and found afterwards there 
was some need for it. The evening-exercise was in all respects 
as before. 

Having come on the Friday to Kersefield, on the morrow I 
studied for the Sabbath, having the help of former notes on 
the subject. But I then observed, that I had frequently found 
I had expeded my studies, in as short time, when I wanted, as 
when I had help of that kind ; and that when I wanted, my 
studies were more sweet, and I saw best into my subject. And 
that observation hath, in my experience, held to this day. At 
night, being returned to Simprin, towards the time of going 
to bed, I heard an unsavoury noise of men drinking in a neigh- 
bouring house, on the occasion of a wedding in view. After 
waiting a while, and finding they were not dismissed, I went 
out ; and meeting with the master of the family, shewed him 
the evil of that unseasonable practice. Coming in again, I 
poured out my soul to God ; and their case considered with my 

^ [The Darien Scheme. The Scots colony on Panama \vas to be called New 
Caledonia. A tract of 1699 (Adv. Libr. ) bears the title " The History of Caledonia, 
or the Scots colony in Darien." Hill Burton, Hist. viii. (1897), 19 scq. Note that 
Caledonia was not in popular use as a name for Scotland. Cf. ihid. I. 17-19 ou 
the word. ] 

-[i.e. farm- town.] 

tbgg-nod] MR. THOMAS BOSTON \ti 

own was heavy : my heart was humbled within me, seeing them 
an unworthy people, and myself an unworthy minister, making 
an unworthy couple in my eyes. As I went to bed, I had a 
motion to pass my ordinary I had studied, and to preach on 
Jas. iv. 7, " Eesist tlie devil, and he will flee from you," being 
to go abroad from them for a time. And having, on the 
Sabbath morning, consulted God once and again as to that 
motion, I was reasonably determined to embrace it. So I 
reviewed my former notes on that text ; and having no time to 
study new sermons, had no scruple to preach them over again. 
The which also I did ; but with less assistance in the forenoon's 
exercise than the afternoon, excepting in the preface. The 
custom of prefacing in the entry of the forenoon's work, I did 
then use ; and I reckoned had used from the time I was 
licensed, if it was not the first day or so I preached ; and have 
retained it all along to this time. Only in planted congrega- 
tions, where the minister of the place used it not, I think I 
forebore it. I noted that day, that I still thought, I rarely, if 
ever, had such freedom of spirit and assistance in preaching, in 
that country, as I had had in the bounds of the presbytery 
of Stirling : but, by the mercy of God, that observation did not 
long hold. In the evening-exercise I went on as before, but got 
a more satisfying account of the sermons. 

On the 30 th I set out for Barhill ; but was in hazard of my 
life in Musselburgh water, having ignorantly adventured to ride 
it when the sea was in. The horse, I think, was quite off his 
feet, and swam. And there being a piece of a brae on the far 
side, he leaped up, and I held. In the meantime, with 
serenity of mind, I lifted up my soul to the Lord, not knowing 
but it might cost my life. On the morrow, coming to the ferry, 
the sea was very rough ; but having secretly poured out my 
soul to the Lord, my heart was calmed, and I took boat, and 
was safe. I was in Clackmannanshire the two first Sabbaths of 
November. I had determined in my own mind to preach at 
Clackmannan the first of these two ; but on the Saturday 
morning early, Mr. Mair entreated me by a line, to preach at 
Culross, in regard he was obliged to go to Edinburgh on a 
certain emergency ; ^ wliicli in these circumstances, though 
contrary to my inclination, I could not refuse. After dinner 
I went down to the manse, supposing him to have taken his 
journey ; but he had put it off. Wherefore I endeavoured to 

1 [The illness of a cliild. See below.] 


make away for Clackmannan ; but he would by no means 
allow me to go, urging the determination of Providence for my 
stay, by the violence of the weather through wind and rain in 
the time ; withal hinting, that he and others desired my 
preaching there, on a design to endeavour a call for me to be 
his colleague, if they could effectuate it. I declared myself, as 
I always thought, unfit for such a post ; but it was not likely 
that he would get a colleague of his own choosing, who some 
years after left the place himself, and died minister of Tulliallan. 
When thus detained contrary to my inclination, I retired to my 
chamber, and spent some time in prayer, and meditation on my 
sermon ; but was seized with a severe fainting-fit, and had 
almost fainted away, but that I was eased by vomiting, as 
usual. On the morrow, 5 th November, he preached in the 
forenoon, and I was helped to hear, but somewhat indisposed ; 
which indisposition it pleased the Lord timely to remove. 
Howbeit, my legs trembled underneath me as I went into the 
pulpit in the afternoon ; but when I went to prayer, the 
trembling went off, and I had much freedom of spirit in 
preaching the word. Most of the remaining time that night I 
spent alone, and with Mr. Mair, of whose conversation I ever 
reaped advantage. 

On the Monday, some time was spent in his family in 
prayer, with fasting ; of which I had no notice, till about nine 
or ten o'clock, when I was thinking of returning to Barhill. 
Being desired, I staid, and joined with him in that exercise. 
The family being gathered together, he began the work, shewing 
the causes of it; which were, 1. The afflicting hand of God on 
his family, particularly on a child of his at Edinburgh ; 2. To 
prepare for a congregational fast at Carnock ; 3. To pray God 
in behalf of his parish. Then I prayed : after which, he, having 
spoke a little again, prayed also. These prayers continued long ; 
but we had ended about half an hour after twelve o'clock. After 
which, retiring to our several apartments, we dined about two, 
having had no breakfast. This was the first example of a 
family-fast I had ever seen, neither do I remember to have 
been witness to another without my own family. But I bless 
God, I saw that, which was the happy occasion of bringing 
in that part of family-devotion into my family afterward 
at times.^ 

^ [Full directions for family fasting are given by Boston in liis Memorial, III. 
Works, XI, 386.] 

i6g9-noo\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 103 

Some time after this a blustering student informed me, 
that Mr. Mair taught, that all members of the visible Church 
have a general right to Christ, and the benefits of the covenant ; 
and that baptism seals absolutely, that is, as I afterwards 
understood, that baptism seals that right to them all. Both 
these things were, at that time, as strange to me as they were 
to my informer. But now I believe, that sinners of mankind 
indefinitely, within or without the visible Church, have a real 
right to Christ, and the benefits of the covenant; so as they may 
warrantably take possession thereof by faith ; the which right is 
contained in the Holy Scriptures as the original charter, and is 
legally intimated to all that hear the gospel ; all which I 
have elsewhere more fully declared. But as to what concerns 
baptism, having conversed Mr. Mair on the head, I could not be 
of his opinion, w^hich I remember he built on that right, at that 
time not appearing to me neither. And though afterwards, in 
process of time, the said right did convincingly appear to me ; 
yet I could never be satisfied as to baptism's sealing of it, so 
as that ordinance might therefore be lawfully administered to all 
who with us are called members of the visible Church ; forasmuch 
as I look on that sacrament as a seal of the benefits of the 
covenant in possession, and which the party has a special saving 
interest in. However, I reckon that worthy man one of the 
happy instruments of the breaking forth of a more clear 
discovery of the doctrine of the gospel, in this church, in these 
latter days thereof. 

Eeturning on the Saturday to Ferrytown, my spirit through 
grace being in good condition, I preached at Clackmannan on the 
Lord's day. At Ferrytown I was called to visit a sick man, whom 
I knew to have been a very profligate person, but found stored 
with a great deal of ill-grounded confidence. I applied myself 
to bring him to a sense of his sin and danger ; but saw no 
success thereof. That week I returned from that country to 
my charge. 

From thence, on the Tuesday after, being 22nd November,^ 
I went to Langton, and on the morrow to Dunse ; found worldly 
business very uneasy to me, and ensnaring to my mind ; and so 
it hath been with me all along, having neither heart nor hand 
for it. On the Thursday I went to Lennel, and married a 
couple of persons ; in which action, relying on the Lord, I found 
I was helped accordingly. Thereafter, meeting with Abbay 

1 [21st November. The 22nd was Wednesdaj-.] 


above mentioned, his foolish talking afforded me heavy reflec- 
tions, on the imedifying converse of ministers, and my own 
among others, as one great cause of the unsuccessfulness of the 
gospel. From thence I came to Kersefield, where on the 
morrow I found a dissatisfaction with myself, for that I was 
not more strong in the Lord, but easily brought, on the least 
temptation, to distrust God. I continued there till the Sabbath 
morning that I came to Simprin, where the Lord was with me 
in my work. On the 25tli I had gone to prayer, in which I 
found palpably on my heart the blowings of the Spirit, loosing 
my bands, and enlarging my heart with ardent desires after 
Christ ; and these two days my mind has been habitually 
disposed to spiritual discourse, not finding other discourse 
pleasing to me. But on the morrow, being the Lord's day, I 
found matters were not right, which was occasioned by my 
unwatchfulness, having ventured too far on ground slippery to 
me, wherein though I kept my feet a while, yet I slipt at length. 
My heart not being lively before, became more dead, with 
unseasonable thoughts, or rather fancies. The consideration 
of which did empty me of myself, and made me see it would 
not be poor I that would work the Lord's work. Yet it pleased 
the Lord to help me well all this day, from the lecture forwards ; 
for I lectured with a good frame, having light, life, sense, and 
heart - satisfaction ; and had more than ordinary help in the 
prayer after it. In both sermons I was helped to be serious 
for the good of the people's souls, somewhat pithy, peremptory, 
and particular, in the strength of the Lord. Betwixt sermons, 
walking a little at the end of the kirk, reflecting on the 
unsuccessfulness of the gospel, and withal on the prayer after 
the lecture, I thought all that was left us now was some greedy 
looks and desires after a hidden Christ. After sermons I went 
to God, and poured out my soul before Him for a blessing on 
what He had helped to deliver ; was owned of Him in all the 
parts of the evening-exercise, and got a more satisfying account 
of the sermons than sometimes before. 

On the Thursday after was a national thanksgiving to be 
observed. But being now on the point of taking up house, I 
went on the Monday to Dunse, where I continued till 
Wednesday, finding the great disadvantage of an unsettled 
abode, and more disadvantage of being employed in worldly 
business. That night I returned to Simprin, where, with no 
great difficulty, I studied my sermons before I slept, having on 

i6g9-noo'\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 105 

the day before, in which I had no opportunity of studying, 
sought light and furniture from the Lord for His work, and been 
determined to a text. I was helped through the day. After 
the public work was over, I had great fear of evil days ; and I 
am almost persuaded that I will see evil days, if God spare me 
any considerable time; and how to carry rightly through them, 
is my exercise. But that word, Ps. xxxvi. 9, " With Thee is 
the fountain of life : in Thy light shall we see light," was sweet 
and seasonable to my soul. On Tuesday last I met with some 
printed scruples concerning this thanksgiving. I sought light 
from the Lord, and they proved no scruples to me ; only one of 
them had some weight with me, which was too scrimp dealing 
with the Lord, in that we were ordered to pour out prayers that 
day likewise, because of the great sickness now raging, and the 
disaster of Caledonia, and that there was not a particular day 
of fasting for them. This I resolved to testify against ; yet 
when the time came, it was still kept out of my mind, and I 
was borne off it. It may be it was of God ; for it is thought 
that such a fast at this time would greatly weaken the King's 
interest in Scotland. N.B. — Thus political views have influenced 
our church-management all along. The evening-exercise was 
made that day as on Sabbaths. 

Next day, 1st December, I was obliged to go to Churnside 
fair. Having come to my sister's house, it was against the 
grain with me to go to the market-place. Seeing the multitude, 
I thought I could have entered in among them more boldly, if 
I had been to preach the gospel to them ; and I went out 
forward into the market-place, but immediately retired into a 
house, and my father did my business. Eeturning that night 
to Dunse, I was on Saturday taken up with business, having 
only so much time left as to go to Simprin, wearied of an 
unsettled abode, both in respect of its taking me off from the 
work of my calling, and the trouble thereof otherwise. After 
prayer I had very much of the divine assistance in studying my 
sermons, with much satisfaction ; and thereafter was helped to 
pour out my soul before the Lord, feeling the blowings of His 
Spirit ; wherefore I took tlmt occasion to mind the aftair of my 
marriage. On the Sabbath I had the same assistance in 
delivering the word. And here I find I made the following 
comfortable reflection, viz., The Lord is indeed good to me ; 
blessed be the name of the Lord ; for I have now the same 
freedom every way, in preaching, as when in the presbytery of 


Stirling. The evening-exercise, on the question concerning the 
providence of God, was sweet to me : and in converse after it, 
it was a pleasure to think and speak of the saints' grounds of 
encouragement from that head, under trouble, particularly, how 
it is their God that guides the world ; and nothing do they meet 
with but what comes through their Lord's fingers ; how He 
weighs their troubles to the least grain, that no more falls to 
their share than they need ; and how they have a covenant- 
right to chastisements, to the Lord's dealing with them as with 
sons, to be rightly educated, not as servants, whom the master 
will not strike, but put away at the term. 

On the Monday, being now resolved to remove, I went to 
Dunse to make ready for it. Thence on the morrow I went to 
Churnside to the presbytery, where one Mr. Watson, a north- 
countryman, rejected before by tlie presbytery, was again brought 
on the field, sore against my heart, perceiving him to be a man 
of no manner of modesty, nor sense of the weight of the work : 
but a brother, from his own private motion, had given him a 
text. He was appointed to deliver his discourse on it that day 
eight days, at Hutton, before three brethren, whereof I was one. 
At night I returned to Dunse, where, on the morrow, the 
jDressure I had in the presbyterial affair foresaid, made me look 
to the Lord for His own helping in the case, and for my 
direction therein. And such matters have all along, generally, 
been of great weight with me ; judging it always to be a most 
momentous part of the ministerial charge, the admitting of men 
to the preaching of the gospel. That night, being 6 th December, 
I went to Simprin for good and all. 

On Thursday the 7 th, came the wains with the household- 
furniture from Dunse, my father coming along with them on my 
horse : so that day I took up house with him, and Alison 
Trotter my cousin-german, a servant. The manse being in ruins, 
I settled in an old house in the west end of the town, formerly 
belonging to Andrew Home, sometime portioner there : and 
there I dwelt till toward the latter end of the year 1702. 
Things being put in some order that night and the morrow, as 
I walked through the floor, seeing myself in my own house, I 
was but little affected with it, and thought that now I had it 
anew confirmed, that worldly things are greater in expectation 
than in fruition. When we were quiet, that word, Ps. Ixviii. 6, 
"God setteth the solitary in families," which was once very 
sweet to me when at Kennet, came into my mind. On Saturday, 

ibgg-noo^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 107 

after the morning family - worship, viz. singing, reading, and 
prayer, having determined to read in the Old Testament in the 
morning, and in the New at night, I addressed myself to my 
work for the Sabbath ; and, after prayer, did with some difficulty 
fall on a text, viz. Eom. i. 23 : but I had much of the divine 
assistance in my studies, and meditating thereon ; so that my 
false heart, taking occasion therefrom to be lifted up, sent me 
groaning to the Lord, for help against it. 

On the Lord's day, being the 10 th, I had signal assistance 
in every part of the public work ; howbeit I had seen no 
commentary on what I lectured: and I preached with light, 
life, and zeal, man's heart's fulness of all sin by nature ; and 
some strangers seemed to be affected. Coming home, I saw 
cause to bless the Lord, for His return to me in public ordi- 
nances ; and went immediately unto my closet, to secret prayer : 
the which, since that time all along unto this day, hath been 
my ordinary practice. After supper, I spent the time till the 
evening-exercise, in meditation and prayer, with special respect 
to my not finding on my own heart such impressions of my own 
vileness as I ought to have had : yet so much of it I did see, as 
obliged me to say, " It is of the Lord's mercies that I am not 
consumed." Moreover I found cause of thankfulness, that I 
was in some concern that the devil might not pick up the seed 
sown. In the evening-exercise I again found the deceitfulness 
of my heart, so as it immediately after sent me unto God, groan- 
ing under my mismanagements. I ha^^e frequently observed, 
that as soon as I have begun to complain to the Lord of my 
spending my strength in vain, I have been made to lay my 
hands on my mouth, considering how Christ Himself spends 
more invitations, etc., for nought : and what is vile I, that I 
should be discouraged on that account ? Many times I have 
feared, that the pride of my heart, too high thoughts of my ow^n 
pains, weariness, etc., have had a hand in these complaints; and 
that I have not, as I ought, been purely concerned for the glory 
of God ; and that the command to preach has not sufficiently 
satisfied me. I have been helped to speak to the people by 
similitudes ; but exacting an account of the sermon from the 
people, several of them told me the earthly part, but quite 
forgot the heavenly part ; which was very wounding to me ; so 
that I know not how to preach so as they may be profited. I 
have been made sometimes this night to think, what the Lord 
means by this signal help He gives me, especially these two last 


Sabbaths (in respect of which I have been made to notice the 
return of the Lord's presence to me in His work, as at Clack- 
mannan, or in the presbytery of Stirling, which I feared had 
been quite gone) ; sometimes I think, it may be God has some 
lost sheep to find here, and sometimes I fear, it is only for a 
testimony. Only I desire to bless the Lord who so helps me, 
both in studying and preaching : and it makes my soul say, as 
Job xxiii. 3, "0 that I knew where I might find Him ! " for, 
notwithstanding all God's goodness to me, I cannot attain to 
such lively exercise of faith, love, and heavenly-mindedness, as 
some time before. 

On the morrow I went to Dunse, to a monthly meeting for 
prayer, from several parishes ; the which had been set up by the 
worthy Mr. Golden. Here a heaviness and indisposition of body 
and spirit fell on me, so that I both wandered and wearied in 
the time of it. Sometimes I faintly got above it, but fell into 
it again. I thought in the time that I would get on the finger- 
ends ^ for this ; and so it fell out very quickly : for coming from 
that exercise, I met with a piece of trouble that perplexed and 
confused me, so that what to do or say I knew not ; only I 
resolved to lay it down before the Lord, being ready to comply 
with what the Lord would shew to be duty. This was occasioned 
by a letter from my friend, and I was troubled about putting 
an end to my marriage with her. It was my unbelief that 
occasioned my perplexity. In it, my eldest brother was useful 
to me, encouraging me to trust in God, before whom I laid the 
case. While I was imparting my uneasiness to him, that w^ord 
came to me checking me, " When I sent you out, lacked ye any 
thing ? " And on the morrow I was much enlarged in prayer, 
for light to know my duty therein ; and was hopeful that the 
Lord, who had given light in other things relative thereto, would 
give light in that point too. Thereafter I went towards Hutton 
to hear Mr. Watson's discourse, which affair had made me 
oftener than once to implore the divine conduct. Coming near 
the place, I was informed that the business was done by others 
on the day before ; that the discourse was much of a piece with 
his former, and they had given him a new text. Coming home, 
I was in perplexity about my own affair aforesaid, went to God 
with it, thought on it, but could not bring the matter to a point: 
but, by the good hand of God, one of the members of the meeting 
for prayer, began the exercise that night with singing Ps. Ixi. 

' [/.c. get it over the fingers.], 

legrnod] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 109 

from the beginning, " God — What time my heart is over- 
whelmed, and in perplexity," etc. Afterwards conversing with 
my father on my business, I was somewhat eased, perceiving it 
might be accomplished about August following. And afterward, 
having occasion to write about it, I went to God for guidance 
and direction therein, and things seemed to be cleared to me. 

\2tli Dscciiibcr. — I have had a desire to set up week-day 
sermons this long time. And since the synod (at which time I 
had great apprehensions of evil days, which pressed me to be busy 
in my time) I resolved to try what encouragement I might meet 
with in prosecuting it. This night I proposed it to two of the 
members of the meeting for Christian fellowship ; who received 
the motion with all gladness ; and I was desired to begin it 
next Thursday's night. Upon which immediately I found a 
great averseness in my own mind to it ; thinking withal, that I 
should have tabled it particularly before the Lord ere I had 
proposed it. Thus I saw the dreadful deceit of my heart. I 
pressed my heart with that word, 2 Tim. iv. 2, " Preach the 
word, be instant in season, out of season : " but it would not do. 
As I was going out of doors, it was suggested to me, that the 
Lord had thus punished me for not seeking light as to that 
particular expressly. While I wrote this, I thought it indeed 
a temptation of Satan to divert me from this work. {Nota, It 
seems both were true.) I was helped earnestly to seek light 
from the Lord in it. On the morrow I went to God again with 
this business ; yet could I not be fully satisfied to undertake 
that work, so long and so much before desii^ed by me ; neither 
had I anything material to object against it. Wherefore I 
renewed my suit ; and thinking about it, got my heart more 
satisfied and inclined thereto, urging myself with the Lord's 
kindness to me in His work, and the necessity of the people's 
souls. I went to God again with it; and, in fine, the assiduity 
of faithful ministers, the apostles, and others, preaching both by 
day and by night, and no doubt sometimes to a small handful, 
did overcome me : so that I determine to go on, desiring heartily 
to comply with it. On Thursday the 14th, at night, I began 
this exercise, having spent the afternoon in catechising. I 
went about the examination under a sense of my own emptiness 
and insufficiency ; and was well helped while my heart kept 
right ; but in turning to some one or other of its biasses, my 
help decayed. In the evening-exercise the Lord's presence was 
such, that I was made to say, " It is good for us to be here." 


When alone, the mismanagmg of the exammation, yea and the 
sermon too, lay heavy on me ; and therefore I went to God for 
pardon of my weakness. And that exercise I kept up all along 
after, darmg my continuance in Simprin ; and had many a sweet 
and refreshing hour of it. In the winter-season, our meetings 
for it were in my house, and in the night ; in the summer, they 
were in the kirk, at the time of the day wherein the men rested 
from their labour : for the people were servants to Langton. 
And I believe that, for the same reason, it was only the women 
whom I catechised at any other time of the day ; being solicitous 
that the master's business might not suffer by me, nor my good 
be evil spoken of on that account. On the morrow after, having 
visited the sick, and found how the Lord had laid His rod on my 
handful, I was thereby convinced, that, had I slighted the motion 
for the Thursday's sermon, I would have had no peace in so 
doing. Having come home from this visitation, I reflected on 
it, and saw what secret averseness was in my heart to it, and 
how poorly I had managed it. I got a clear sight of the freedom 
and riches of grace, went by myself, and lamented my emptiness 
and uu worthiness ; which when I saw, it gave me a check for 
an inward itching after more work, whereby I might have a 
little more stipend. That work was, I think, to have been a 
catechist in Dunse, the encouragement £100 Scots. I had such 
an offer, and refused it ; yet since that time I had such an 
itch after it. Last night in reading the latter part of John vi. 
the Lord held His candle before me, helping me to understand 
it. This night having consulted some books, and my own heart, 
on the sinfulness of man's natural state, to see what further of 
that subject remained to be handled, there occurred only man's 
death in sin, to which I was determined accordingly. On the 
Saturday I studied it, but not with my former assistance : but, 
after having prayed, and found it to be owing to that I was not 
so much emptied of myself as before, reckoning the subject more 
easy, I recovered the divine aid, in meditating afterward on what 
I had prepared. 

Vjth December. — Being the Lord's day, in the morning I was 
somewhat heavenly, and had some desires after, and delight in 
the Lord. As I went to the kirk, seeing a student going thither, 
it was a temptation to me my not having studied my lecture 
with commentaries, for at that time I had few, or none at all. 
My frame decayed. Singing after the lecture, an unseasonable 
thought, a little entertained, did me inexpressible prejudice. In 

i6g9-i7oo\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON iii 

prayer I knew my distemper, had some kind of grief for it; but 
my heart, I thought, was not softened : and the preaching going 
away with little pith, I cut it short. Betwixt sermons I went 
into a barn near by the kirk, much dissatisfied with myself ; saw 
how I had brought on myself that heavy alteration, went to God 
taking shame to myself, wrestled with Him for pity, laying all 
oars in the water, especially pleading the covenant, and cried 
that He would remember it according to His promise, Lev. xxvi. 
40-42. Then going away again with the promise of His 
presence, we sang the 6th psalm from the beginning, being my 
case. Having prayed with a deep sense of my own vileness, 
and the falseness of my heart putting me wrong after God had 
set me right, I preached at first with some life, till, through the 
Spirit's blowing more upon me, all my bands were loosed : then 
I went on with light, life, satisfaction, and concern for their 
souls ; and especially found my heart enlarged to preach the 
freedom and riches of grace, with a hearty abhorrence of the 
doctrine detracting from the praise thereof. All went right in 
some measure that afternoon ; and I had rather more than less 
of my former aid : withal there was some appearance of the 
word's making impression on some of the hearers. The time 
being far gone, no psalm was sung after ; in which, I think, I 
did amiss, if it was in my power to have commanded four lines. 
"With the student above referred to, I had sometimes had some 
scufiies on the Arminian points : he coming in a little after 
sermons, expressed his satisfaction in opposition to these. After 
supper, having read something for the question to be handled, 
the people came to the evening-exercise : and with a sense of 
my own emptiness and insuiliciency for the least duty, I went 
to God for His aid, seeing how I could not go but as led, nor 
stand but as holden up ; and I was helped. A while after, 
desiring to note the progress of that day, such was the temper 
of my evil heart, in consideration whereof the states of innocence 
and of glory were that night big in my eyes, that I was averse 
to go to prayer beforehand : but I, finding this, peremptorily 
resolved, that go I should ; and durst not delay it, fearing, from 
former experience, the growing of that distemper ; the which I 
also did accordingly. Ah for the power and prevalency of un- 
belief ! I think if there were no more in heaven but freedom 
from this master-devil, it were most desirable. That night I 
began the catechising of the servant : the which part of family- 
duty I continued in my family on the Sabbath nights, till of late 


years, my strength decaying, I almost confined it to the time of 
the year wherein we have but one sermon. 

On the morrow I visited tlie sick, and spent the afternoon 
in catechising, and found great ignorance prevailing. On the 
Tuesday, visiting a sick woman grossly ignorant, after I had 
laid out before her her wretched state by nature, she told me 
she had believed all her days. I thereupon sat as astonished 
for a while, lifted up my eyes to the Lord, and addressed myself 
to her again for her conviction ; howbeit nothing but stupidity 
appeared. Therefore I saw I had enough ado among my 
handful. I had another diet of catechising on Wednesday 
afternoon ; and looking to the Lord for help, I got it : and I 
had some more comfort in them than before. Having inculcated 
almost on each of them their wretched state by nature, and they 
frequently attending the means of instruction, there were but 
few examined that day who did not shew some knowledge of 
that point. But the discovery I had made of their ignorance of 
God and of themselves, made me the more satisfied with the 
smallness of the charge. 

On the Thursday, thinking to preach the weekly sermon on 
2 Cor. xiii. 5, "Examine yourselves," etc., after prayer for light 
and direction, I was surprised with that word slipping into 
my mind, Hos. iv. 6, " My people are destroyed for lack of 
knowledge." And hereto I was, after prayer, rationally deter- 
mined : and that was the first particular subject I entered on in 
that exercise. At night the Lord was with me, and I had a 
pretty frequent ^ auditory. That opportunity of serving the Lord 
was big in my eyes, and my soul blessed Him for that He had 
put it in my heart. After this, with joy I saw myself in Simprin, 
as in my nest, under the covert of Christ's wings. Heading 
divinity that night, I was caused to lift mine eyes to the Lord, 
for light into His truths, seeing the emptiness of book-learning 
without the Spirit. 

Next day I visited one of my neighbouring brethren, with 
whom I found not the affection I wished for. My preaching 
twice on the Lord's day in the winter was reckoned un- 
neighbourly, notwithstanding the singular circumstances of my 
charge, all in one little town,^ within a few paces from one end 
to the other ; the which, shewing no necessity of making a 
difference betwixt summer and winter in that point, did put me 

^ [/.c. dense, obsolete.] 
- [/.c, farm-town.] 

i6g9-noo'\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 113 

upon the quarrelled method, and kept me at it while I contmued 
in that place. Returning home, I read a while ; and at that 
time I was reading Witsii (Economia foederam, which I had 
borrowed. To that excellent book I was seasonably led by kind 
Providence at that time. Having left off reading, and made a 
review of the day's progress, I saw an end of all perfection, no 
satisfaction in the creature, all treasured up in Christ alone. 1 
found the hardship of having almost none in the country to tell 
my mind to, but Mr. Golden, who was then about to leave it, 
going to Oxnam, where he continues to this day. I had a very 
heavy heart that night on the account foresaid. I w"ould fain 
have writ to Mr. Mair, but his speaking of my transportation 
barred that.-^ But my soul blessed the Lord, that I had Christ 
to run to : it was the very support of my soul, that God 
governed the world, and that I might pour out my complaint in 
His bosom. Accordingly I lay dow^n a-bed with that word, John 
V. 22, " The Father hath committed all judgement to the Son ;" 
which many a time had been sweet to me. 

Saturday the 23rd, the day was far spent ere I fell on a 
text; which having got at length, being Eom. vii. 9, " I was 
alive without the law," I went upon with some help from the 
Lord. At even I was ruffled with some household-furniture 
procured for, and brought to me, but not agreeable to my mind. 
Withal I received information, by a letter, of a piece of the 
blustering student above mentioned, his management with respect 
to me, which touched me in the quick. I went and unbosomed 
myself to the Lord ; but my discouragement remained, by means 
of that galling trial. I observed the Lord's kindness in that, 
in our ordinary, that first met me, John xiv. 1, " Let not your 
heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me;" and 
the latter part of the 13 th psalm in singing. After the 
unbosoming aforesaid, I found myself faint, not having dined at 
my ordinary time : therefore I immediately supped ; and my 
body being strengthened, but my mind still troubled, I went to 
family-worship, and thereafter to my studies, endeavouring to 
strengthen myself in the Lord. On the morrow, being the 
Lord's day, after prayer in the morning I had given way to some 
worldly thoughts, which were indeed occasioned by something 
that concerned my conscience ; yet my heart soon went without 
bounds : so that though a desire to be near Christ remained in 

^ [/. e. liis letter miglit be construed as a sign that his mind Avas changing with 
regard to the coUeagueship at Culross ; p. 102.] 



me, yet I found an averseness to duty even in the very time of 

duty. Entering on the public work, my prayer was according to 

my frame, complaining of a body of death, and an ugly heart, 

and admiring heaven as a place of rest from sin. I preached 

that day man's ignorance of his wretched state by nature ; and 

was sure that God called me to preach it, by the voice of the 

people's necessity, two of whom had told me expressly that 

week, they had believed all their days. That night I altered 

the evening-exercise, from explaining a question sermon-wise, to 

catechising, as more fit to profit the people : and to this I had 

been determined after seeking a discovery of the Lord's mind 

therein. The public work being over, my heart was discouraged ; 

some impressions of yesternight's trouble remained. I was 

grieved at this ; said, Why art thou cast down, my soul ? It 

was answered, Because I have not assurance of God's love. I 

thought I had the testimony of conscience, but can never get 

the testimony of the Spirit to put me quite out of doubt. I 

went to prayer, con^'ersed with God ; it was wondrous in mine 

eyes ; my morning averseness was overcome. I was humbled 

before the Lord, and would fain have been quit of an unbelieving 

heart. I pleaded the promise, " He that loveth Me, I will 

manifest myself to him." But I feared my love was not of the 

right sort, upon that very ground that I suspected Christ 

manifests Himself to His own otherwise than He has done to 

me. I put the question to myself. How shall I know whether 

Christ has manifested Himself to me as to His own or not ? 

Ans. to this purpose. All have not alike manifestations of 

Him ; He takes three only of the disciples up into the mount. 

Philip says. Lord, shew us the Father ; yet Christ tells him, 

" He that hath seen the Son (whom Philip had indeed seen), 

hath seen the Father also." What effects has the manifestation 

of Christ had on them that got it? 1. The Psalmist, that saw 

Him fairer than the children of men, Ps. xlv. 2, his heart 

speaks good of Him. It has been tlie desire of my heart to 

commend Christ to others, and I have found my heart bubbling 

up His commendation. 2. It made him think and say, " Whom 

have I in heaven but Thee ? and there is none upon earth that 

I desire besides Thee." My soul can be satisfied with nothing 

in heaven or earth, no not with heaven itself, without Him ; and 

I think I could be satisfied with Him alone. 3. It made him 

say, " Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled." So is it 

with me. My heart was somewhat lighter, though I was not 

/%-/7<7o] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 115 

raised up much from my trouble. At family- exercise my heart 
was somewhat raised with respect to that trouble, by some 
passages, John xv. Afterwards we sung the latter part of 
the 14th psalm; and I very well remember, I thought I could 
get nothing there for me ; yet that word, " You shame the 
couusel of the poor, because God is his trust," was laid open to 
me as with a strong hand, it striking at the very root of my 
particular trouble ; and then I saw I had something to answer 
them that troubled me. My soul blessed God for His word, 
and for that word in particular, that ever it was put in the 
Bible. It has loosed my bands, set me to my feet again, and 
put courage in my heart. My heart rejoiceth in His salvation, 
and in Himself. One thing is observable in this, that being this 
day persuaded, that my untender walking was the cause of God's 
hiding Himself, and that a certain foul step was the cause of this 
particular trouble, after I was made sensible of it, and lamented 
it more before the Lord, then, and not till then, the deliverance 
came. After the above happy outgate, I spent some time in think- 
ing of the Lord's kindness to me, and closed the night, far spent, 
with singing Ps. xxxiv. 1—11 and reading the Scriptures ; observ- 
ing, meanwhile, that wanting written commentaries, a heavenly 
frame of spirit, and soul-exercise, whether about temporal or 
spiritual things, were two excellent commentators : and then 
praying to my God, who doth all things for me, went to bed. 

On the Monday my heart was borne up with the word 
which the night before had set me to my feet again. And for 
some days, till I fell by my iniquity, that word was sweet and 
refreshing to me ; and to this day I look on it as having a 
particular interest therein. Having gone to Dunse on business, 
I had much satisfaction in converse with Mr. Golden : my heart 
being heavenly, spiritual discourse was pleasant ; and on Tuesday 
morning that Scripture-text, Jer. xvii. 6, 7, 8, was sweet to me. 
Mr. Golden was then pressing to get away out of Dunse, as a 
charge too heavy for him ; and I was in a particular concern 
for his continuance. At night I went to Langton, where, while 
Mrs. Dawson ^ and I were talking, the child in her arms suddenly 
was seized with a violent convulsion-fit, wherewith we were both 
struck with surprise, and thinking the child like to expire, we 
went to prayer sometimes as occasion served ; for it continued 
long. I observed in my heart, how vain the world was, and 
the troubles attending the married state ; but little knew I then, 

' [RcA-. Ju. Dawson, M. A., was minister of Langton from 1698 till 1726.] 


that the same woman was to be employed to strike me with a 
heavy surprise in my own case in that state ; which came to 
pass after.^ The child's fits continuing, I was obliged to tarry 
all the next day : and there being a project for a catechist in 
Dunse, for Mr. Colden's ease, I went to Dunse on the Thursday 
to forward it. After conversing with him in the first place, I 
addressed myself without his knowledge to the main agents for 
the parish, whom, with some difficulty, I got to condescend to 
an overture for effectuating that project. Thereafter I discoursed'^ 
Mr. Golden on the main thing, and thought that by what passed 
our hearts were more glued together. 

Thereafter coming home, I thought on my sermon by the 
way, and soon studied it, after I was come home : but being 
seized with a weariness, I left off my proper business, though 
the time was approaching ; and even when the people began to 
convene, I was sitting discoursing with my father about worldly 
business. Thus, through the just displeasure of a holy jealous 
God, I fell into a heavy case, wherein for several days I lay. I 
was that night deprived of His countenance in His work : on 
the morrow I was averse to duty ; religion was to me as a 
strange thing ; and my mind was darkened as to my uptakings 
of Christ. I dragged myself to my studies on Prov. viii. 11, for 
Kelso, then vacant. I studied, but with great deadness and 
darkness, being most unfit to manage the subject of the 
commendation of Christ, which yet I was led to. On the 
Saturday I could do no more but loolz tip under the plague of a 
hard heart, and was sadly checked for my carriage on Thursday 
night before sermon, which I took to be the procuring cause of 
all this. In the afternoon I went to Kelso, where, on the Lord's 
day, I was under apprehensions of the Lord's anger; yet could 
not my heart be kindly broken, nor could I wrestle with Him 
for His pity. In the forenoon I had the mercy to speak clearly 
and distinctly ; but it was not right with me. I endeavoured 
between sermons to confess my sin, and cry for the Lord's help ; 
yet faintly : howbeit it went some better in the afternoon ; and 
to some it appeared a good day : but my guilty conscience kept 
me from the confidence in the Lord that sometimes I had reached. 
Late in the night I got a little healing, which I found continuing 
with me on the Monday morning. 

>[P. 159.] 

" [This usage now obsolete, was then uouimoii. Cl'. 1719 Wodrow, Corresp. II. 
414. " I discoursed fully Colonel Erskiue."] 

i6c)cri7oo\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 117 

\st January 1700. — Which day having come home, I went 
on the morrow to the presbytery ; where Mr. Watson aforesaid 
dehvered his homily before them. My heart, troubled by 
occasion of him, was, by means of his prayer, somewhat 
calmed. But his homily was a mere bawble, therefore 
rejected by the presbytery, and he dismissed : and herein the 
brethren were of one accord, excepting Mr. Alexander Lauder, 
author of the book, intitled, The. Ancient Bisho2JS Considered} 
who in that matter was in the extreme of modesty. I have 
oftener than once, in such cases, with concern observed the more 
learned men easiest to please. Whether it be an effect of 
generosity, arising from their superior genius, and their more 
thorough conviction of the weakness of human understanding ; 
or of their not applying themselves to notice strictly, and 
observe ; or that the warmest heart is not always joined with 
the clearest head : however that is, I was much affected with 
the goodness of God in that matter I had so much had at heart. 
Meanwhile I still walked halting, until Friday, 5 th January, 
when, studying a sermon on John v. 40, things were clearly laid 
to my hand ; whereupon my false heart began to be lifted up : 
but the Lord turned the chase, and I was made to see my own 
emptiness and nothingness, and my heart was enlarged in 
thankfulness, my mind more than ordinarily cleared as to the 
uptaking of the Lord's word, and my heart heavenly ; so that I 
got the revival I had waited for these several days. But, oh ! 
my joy is mixed with mourning ; for I fear I will not get His 
smiles kept, and His frowns are bitter as death. Eeading and 
singing at the exercise were a little heaven to me ; God was a 
commentator to me. In prayer my heart was melted for my 
sins, and that as they separated me from God, who was now 
come again to me. I was afraid to live longer, because of my 
base heart. Fain would I have been with Christ out of the reach 
of it, being content to leave all the world. Afterwards God 
continued to be gracious ; but oh ! oh ! my heart is afraid of a 
back-cast from Satan, and an evil heart, and my soul is really 
almost overwhelmed with fears, that matters will not be long 
thus with me. In the greatest blink of His countenance, I 
durst not say, It is good for me to be here, viz. in the world. 

'[Rev. Alex. Lauder, M.A., was minister of ^rordiiigton from 16P5 till 1719. 
His work. The Ancient Bishops Considered, etc., Edinburgh, 1707, is "reckoned one 
of the best books written in defence of Presbytery." His name occurs iu ^Vodrow, 
Corrcsp. I. 358, 369.] 


Had I but one wish, it should be, That He would wrap me up in 
His love, light, and life, while I am here, and take me away to 
eternity when He pleased, though I would fain do something for 
Christ here ; but my own dishonouring of Him by my unbelief, 
worldly-mindedness, etc., puts me on the rack. But ere I fell 
asleep, that which I feared came upon me in some measure. 
I lost much of my frame. The decay, I thought, began with a 
wandering thought in prayer. I should conclude it was but a 
flash, if, upon a review of my heart, I found it not in love with 
Him, and hatred of myself for my own vileness. In the time of 
that best frame, I had a clear view of the freedom and riches of 
grace, as now also in some measure I fear I did not guide right 
in these fears of losing my frame, which overwhelmed my soul ; 
for I had strange thoughts of the condition of the godly on 
earth, in respect of the certainty of their sinning still. I know 
not what to say of myself in this, only I am sure something 
was wrong. This was the occasion of writing the discourse on 
the 5 th question in my Miscellanies.-^ I fear had I been in 
Mary's case, I had not guided as she, when Christ said, " Touch 
me not, Mary, for I am not yet ascended." My cup settled 
below the brim that same night ; and so it was on the morrow : 
but I had learned to be thankful for what was left me. On 
the Lord's day I preached at Kelso again, going thither for Mr. 
Dawson in his family-distress : and I was somewhat assisted to 
my feeling, especially in the afternoon. 

From Kelso I went to Dunse, to see what was become of 
the affair of the catechist ; and I found it quite marred ; and 
more than that, that I was suspected of double-dealing in the 
matter, the which was expressed by Mrs. Golden. Hereon, I 
find, I made the following reflection, viz., But the Lord knows 
that I was innocent. "Whether Mr. Golden was willing to have 

Mr, J. B above mentioned - to be the catechist, or not, I 

cannot be positive ; but the main agent for the parish was not 
willing to undertake for the money, viz. £100 Scots, to be 

advanced for that end, unless Mr. B was the person : so 

that I reckon the suspicion was, that the project was, on the 
parish's part and mine too, a contrivance rather in favour of Mr. 

B than Mr. Golden ; agreeable enough to the suspicious 

temper of that good man. However my heart was really 

^ These Miscellanies -were published by the author's son in 1753, being prefixed 
to a collection of his sermons, in two volumes octavo. [Works, YI. 110.] 
= [P. 14.] 

ibgg-noo^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 119 

concerned for his continuance in the country, and therefore was 
most earnest for his case ; but, to my great grief, removing to 
Oxnam, he left it a little after. 

Coming home on the Tuesday, I visited the sick : and much 
of that night I spent in my studies : on whicli also I was intent 
the day following; and on the Thursday's night had advantage 
by the sermon. 

On Friday the 12th, at night, the wind was bo boisterous, 
and my house in so ill case, that I was obliged to rise out of my 
bed for help in the case. Lying down again, I observed how 
that many seek not a shelter for their souls till the storm of 
wrath is come, and they cannot have it. After all I was 
obliged to quit my bed, and go to my father's, lest the house 
should have fallen on me. On the morrow I studied my 
sermons with some distinctness and clearness ; but launching 
forth into thoughts of some difficulties as yet not removed, my 
heart was so entangled therewith, that the edge of my spirit 
was much blunted. On the Lord's day, the 14th, I was in 
heavy case, being very dead in the forenoon. Betwixt sermons 
I began to pity the people I was set over, and thought I would 
never stand in an evil day. Then began I bitterly to reflect on 
the causes of the Lord's witlidrawing, and saw my being too 
much taken up with the world the cause of it, and my carriage 
in the interval of Sabbaths ; mourned over these things, and 
cried for His presence ; and I found in the afternoon a concern 
for their souls' good, and ray own soul encouraged and strengtli- 
eued by the sermon. At the family-exercise, reading Acts xvi. 
how cruelly Paul and Silas were treated, my false heart began 
to stand at that, that it should be one of the articles of the 
covenant,^ finding a secret imwillingness to undergo such things 
for Christ, which was sad to me. Then turning to our ordinary 
in singing (for then I read ordinarily before we sung), and 
that was Ps. xxii. 27 ad fincm, which was sweet and seasonable 
to my soul, the Lord helped me to look on tliese promises as 
promises to Christ in the covenant of redemption, whereby the 
elect's salvation, and their being brought up to the terms of the 
covenant, are secured. The several skall's there, sliall remember, 
shall worship, etc., how sweet were they ! I was content God 
should exercise that sovereign power in me, and make me 
vailing; and my soul rejoiced in the promise. 

^ N.B. — For mauy years after this, my knowledge of the covenant was very 


I endeavoured on the Monday, not without some success, 
to keep my heart in a heavenly disposition ; spent the morning 
in my chamber, the forenoon in catechising, the afternoon in 
business, and visiting a sick man at night, with help from the 
Lord. Thereafter earnestly plying my books, I found my heart 
much bettered, my confidence in the Lord more strengthened, 
the world less valuable in my eyes, and my soul free of the 
temptations that otherwise I was liable to. And on the 
Tuesday morning, when I arose, my soul began to soar aloft in 
thoughts of the morning of the resurrection. And after earnest 
prayer, I betook myself to my studies again, as soon as I could. 
Experience of this kind hath been one thing, w^hich all along, 
and especially in later years, hath recommended close study to 
me, and in a manner bound it upon me, as being that on which 
much of my peace and comfort depended. The victual being 
then dear, the payment of my stipend had been shifted, and 
was like to have been with-held for a season from me. But 
when thus I was least anxious about the matter, I understood 
that orders were given for doing me justice. And here I cannot 
but observe, that matters of the world go best with me when I 
am least anxious about them. I examined my heart how it 
stood affected with this, and found it was not lifted up : but I 
was grieved I could not be more thankful for it ; for I was 
persuaded that it was the doing of the Lord. I went to give 
God thanks for it, and to beg a thankful heart ; and it was not 
without some success. Visiting a sick man, the Lord bare in 
on my heart what I spoke to him, and made me see the reality 

of it. Having gone to G- , while! was there, my eyes were 

somewhat dazzled with the world's vanity. So poor and foolish 
am I, and in thy sight a beast, Lord ! 

That afternoon I went to Kersefield, having sought of God 
strength to carry right in all companies : and by the help I 
had to season converse there, I was more encouraged to venture 
on company. And there also I spent some time in reading. 
On Thursday, having studied my sermon, my heart longed to 
be at the work ; and it fared with me accordingly in prayer : 
but, by a temptation laid to me in the very time of that 
exercise, I lost all, and the sermon went heavily on. That 
same night, the factor visiting me, paid the little money payable 
by Langton, and shewed me I was to have all the victual due 
as soon as it could be got ready for me. The stipend of Simprin 
was paid partly in grain and partly in money ; and there was 

i6gg-i7oo-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 121 

likewise a proportionable allowance for communion - elements. 
This was the half-year's stipend, crop 1699, which afterwards 
I received accordingly. And it was near as much worth as any, 
and more worth than some whole year's stipend after, on account 
of the advanced price upon grain at that time. The which put 
me, I believe, in better circumstances than I was expecting, or 
could foresee ; kind and watchful Providence then, as always, 
balancing my affairs, according to the design thereof. 

I read not only on the Friday, but some part of Saturday 
forenoon ; which I am surprised to find : but it seems I smarted 
for that keenness, such indisposition of body and mind seizing 
me after, that I was quite unfit for my study for the Sabbath. 
At length I came to myself ; saw, and lamented before the 
Lord, my sin : and He turned my heart back again. So, after 
dinner, I began and completed my sermons, in a good frame. 
But in the morning of the Lord's day, being the 21st, I found 
it much abated ; and I could not recover it, till near the time 
of going to church. That day I perceived, that, through the 
corruption of my own heart, the smallness of my auditory 
was to my disadvantage ; knowing by experience, while a 
probationer, the sight of a multitude was of use to drive me 
out of myself. Therefore I endeavoured to be impressed with 
a sense of the weight of the Lord's work in itself, to compensate 
that loss : and I had the divine assistance that day accordingly. 
Even in the lecture I endeavoured to level the word to their 
consciences, and had advantage by that method. Betwixt 
sermons, considering how I was helped to plainness and 
faithfulness in some measure, I saw, in the meanwhile, clearly, 
my inability to stand before a holy God, to give an account 
thereof ; and the need of Christ's imputed righteousness to 
cover the sins of my public capacity as a preacher. Thus it 
was also in my coming home from the afternoon-sermon, in 
which my assistance had been augmented, acknowledging the 
justice of God, if He should eternally exclude me from His 
presence. But it was heavy to me, that there was no appear- 
ance of success. 

On the morrow I went to Bobert Fairbairn's in Woodside, 
and visited a sick person ; who told me of two things he took 
for the causes of the Lord's controversy. 1. His being very 
cold and overly ^ in his duties before his sickness seized him. 
2. His unthankfulness to God for what measure of bounty 
^ \_l.c. superficial. A fine old Scotch word.] 


towards his soul he had received, his being so much in complaints 
of God's hiding His face, though since he would have been glad 
of that which he was then unthankful for. There I was re- 
freshed with a heavenly society, the excellent ones of that part 
of the earth, tho' they lived then on borrowed meals, an 
Episcopal incumbent ^ possessing their kirk of Polwarth. Re- 
turning on Tuesday, I spent the time in reading, till the 
meeting for prayer ; where, from what I discerned among them, 
I pressed the study of the power of godliness, and concern for 
the public. But at that time the appearance of the un- 
successfulness of my preaching and private conference was such, 
that I was ready to conclude, I had ate my white bread in my 
youth ; that the Lord did more good by me as a probationer, 
than, as yet, as a minister. Next morning I spent closely in 
my chamber, till eleven o'clock, that I went to Lennel, where 
I had some edifying converse with Mr. Pow, a grave, peaceable, 
and judicious man. At night, returning home, I applied myself 
again to reading. 

Lying a-bed after my ordinary time, Thursday morning 
25th January, I found it, as always almost, prejudicial to me. 
When I went to duty, what a weariness was it to me ! 
Howbeit I found thereafter great dissatisfaction with myself in 
my own mind, and a nail in my conscience, by that means. 
But in the afternoon, by prayer, and studying my sermon, I 
recovered, and was that night much helped to preach with 
life, strength, zeal, and solidity. But as I was going to begin, 
a temptation of the nature of that wherewith I had been foiled 
the preceding Thursday's night, was laid to me ; which never- 
theless I, like a burnt child dreading fire, did escape, being 
unable to answer it, and satisfy myself, resolving through the 
Lord's strength to be in my duty, and grip the promises. 
Eeading Witsius Be ceconomia fcederum , concerning the love of God 
and that of ourselves, differencing acts of obedience,^ and putting 
these things liome to my own conscience, I found I desired to 
be like God, come of me what will. Eetiring after sermon to 
my closet, the Lord was with me in prayer. And now His 
kindness made sin appear to me exceeding sinful, and myself 
hateful to myself. Eeading next day the evangelical Witsius, 
on glorification, I found my soul raised to an admiration of the 
free grace and love of God to man, I thought even to man 

1 [The Rev. Geo. Holiwel], M.A.] 

^ [Witsius, De t^coHO'mia/a'deruin, III, iii. Ixxiii. (1712) 470.] 

169^/700] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 123 

though he had continued in innoeency, there being such a vast 
disproportion betwixt the highest pitch of obedience and the 
glory that is to be revealed, withal wondering how man should 
be "par tanto honori {oncri) ferendo, seeing a necessity of super- 
natural strength for earthen vessels, their being kept from 
bursting, while so filled to the brim : " No man can see My face, 
and live." On the morrow, being Saturday, at prayer, my soul 
(even Christ the soul of my soul) made me as the chariots of 
Amminadib : He touched my heart witli a live coal, and set it 
in a flame of love and desires towards Him : so I wrestled for 
Himself. Christ with anything would have satisfied me ; noth- 
ing without Christ could do it. This kept me above the world, 
led me to a text. Job xxiii. 3, and helped me to understand 
my lecture, John xx. 11 et scqq., for I had no commentary. 
The temptation above mentioned, concerning the eventual 
necessity or certainty of saints sinning, setting on me again, I 
still got it shifted, resolving to grip the promise. This I think 
was well done, in these circumstances, Matt. xv. 24, 25. How- 
ever, some time after, I set myself to consider that point, for 
my own satisfaction ; and, according to a laudable and profitable 
custom I then had, in cases of particular difficulty to me, 
committed my thoughts thereon to writing : and they are to 
be found among the Miscellanies, quest. 5, " Why the Lord 
suffers sin to remain in the regenerate ? " ^ 

The following part of that week, I plied my studies, and 
my frame continued. The next day I preached at Lennel the 
one half of the day, on the aforementioned text. I thought I 
would be shut ; but when I found the wind blow, I thought I 
would not draw down my sails hastily ; for He made me say, 
" It is good to be here." The afternoon I preached at home, 
finding my body wearied ; but being posted on to more work, 
I went to God in a few words, with more than ordinary con- 
fidence and stayedness of mind, earnestly pleading the promises 
of His covenant. I had written but the heads of my sermon, 
began with a preface, knowing of little to say ; but God wrapped 
me up in it ; I had no more to do but speak. it was sweet, 
sweet ! Far more sweet is the Lord Himself. It continued 
with me in the sermon. He is good,;He is good to a vile 
nothing, yea worse than nothing ! to trust Him ! I found 
by both these sermons solid love to Christ in my heart. He 
was not wantiufj to me in the evenino--exercise ; He was a 

1 [See note, p. 118.] 


commentator to me ; while I was singing His praises, He shewed 
me the sweetness of His name, while T discoursed on it, " the 
Lord Jesus Christ." Every letter of it was written in gold. 
But before that exercise I had a temptation, which had almost 
mastered me, till I went to God with it. 

On Monday the 29th, one came and offered me £50 Scots 
in loan ; which I yielded to take, on condition I might keep it 
two years. On the morrow I found myself, by too much sleep, 
unfitted for work and service ; and withal was inwardly checked 
for not having visited the families again, before that time. At 
night, at the meeting for prayer, I got a little revival again, 
which I think I slept away in the Wednesday morning, whereof 
I have had several sad experiences. Howbeit, that day I visited 
some families. My method in visitation was this : I made a 
particular application of my doctrine in the pulpit to the family, 
exhorted them to lay these things to heart, viz. their natural 
state, and their need of Christ ; exhorted them to secret prayer, 
supposing they kept family-worship ; urged their relative duties, 
etc. ; prayed with them, and made the master of the family to 
pray. (Note, I think this last might have been as well forborne.) 
Tho' there was little religion among them, there was more than 
I expected ; and perhaps my labour was not altogether in vain 
in the Lord. But my frame not being good, I left that work 
the sooner, and betook myself to my studies. 

\st Fchruary. — Having gone wrong again, I was a while stupid 
and unconcerned, till I thought more deeply on the guilt, and 
then I found my confidence with God much marred, and rather 
a going away from Him under the stings of conscience, than 
drawing nigh to Him. At last I went to prayer, and laid out 
my case before the Lord ; yet was I very little quieted. I 
went and saw a sick man, and, by converse with him, I attained 
some advantage, and got my heart calmed and bettered, by 
speaking to the commendation of Christ as the best portion. 
I am amazed at the baseness of my heart, that can keep so 
short while right, and am many times afraid my religion is of 
the wrong stamp. But that which supports me is, that in a 
calm mood I find myself somewhat emptied of myself, admiring 
the riches of free grace if ever tlie Lord shew me mercy, and 
justifying Him if I perish ; flowing from the hatred I bear to 
myself for these things. And how gladly I would be conformed 
to the image of Christ, Lord, Thou knowest. I observed this 
day myself much the worse, 1. Of not observing fixed medita- 

i6gg-i7oo\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 125 

tioii when I lie dowu, and when I rise, so duly as some time 
before ; 2. Not preparing my heart more conscientiously for 
family-exercise ; 3. Sleeping too much sometimes ; 4. Beginning 
so soon in the Monday morning to meddle with any secular 
business. And I find 1 am the better, 1. Of spiritual converse 
with my people; 2. Of plying my studies closely. Going home, 
I went to prayer ; and my averseness to come into the presence 
of God, wherewith I had been seized under conscience of guilt, 
was taken away ; and the Lord loosed some of my bands. On 
the morrow, having visited some families, I found I had not 
that power and life in going about that duty that was to be 
desired. And although 1 have endeavoured to amend the first 
three of the aforementioned things, which I noted myself to be 
worsted by, resolving in the Lord's strength to go on, and 
endeavoured all that day to watch my heart ; yet it is no 
wonder I go halting, to learn me to know what a bitter thing it 
is to be so ungrateful to the Lord. Besides, I am sure I have been 
too legal in these things, and have not, as I ought, believed. 
The following time I spent in preparing the weekly sermon, and 
recording the heads of discourse at the two immediately pre- 
ceding meetings for prayer, in a book. Taking some time to 
prepare my heart, by prayer and meditation, for preaching, there 
was somewhat of a breathing on my dry bones : and then did 
my distance from God, ingratitude to Him, and wearying of 
duties, especially secret and private, like darts strike through 
my liver: yet found I much hypocrisy in my heart. 1 set 
myself to guard against the rock I had split on before. How- 
ever, my confidence in God was very small; and according 
thereto was the measure of countenance I had in the sermon. 
But it was good He did not leave me altogether to my own 
weight. A conviction I then had of my loss, by beginning so 
soon on the Monday mornings to write letters, or meddle with 
any secular affairs, prompted me to desire to spend that morning 
in prayer and meditation, with respect to the Sabbath's work. 
And by that time also I had thoughts of preaching one of the 
diets of the Lord's day, on a text different from my ordinary. 

On the morrow, 2nd February, I was fastened to my studies 
till the evening, mixing them with prayer. At which time, 
having been at some pains to prepare my heart, and beg the 
divine presence, I went and visited some families ; but with 
little satisfaction. So returning with a sorrowful heart, I poured 
out my complaint before the Lord. But still it lay heavy on 


my spirit, having withal a sense of my utter insufficiency for 
that piece of my work. I found it hard, yea, without a super- 
natural power, impossible, to bring people to a sense of their 
need of Christ. - Meanwhile I was convinced of the justice of 
the divine procedure with me in that matter, and of my legal 
way of managing duty. I saw then also a secret averseness of 
heart to that work, which, when I was a probationer, I thought 
I would have gladly embraced an occasion of. Considering that 
night the state of the public, I thought all ranks of persons, 
ministers as well as others, were out of the way. And that 
same night I learned, that the Lord had directed to hit the 
sores of some at the preceding weekly sermon, so that they 
thought some had told me : ^ in the which I perceived the 
divine conduct. 

On Saturday, the 3rd, it was long ere I could fall on a 
text for Churnside, where I was to preach. And when I was 
fixed in that point, my studies thereon went on heavily, inso- 
much that having made but little progress therein, I behoved to 
go away towards that place. At night, being there, my studies 
succeeded better with me ; and I was enlarged in my medita- 
tions thereon. On the Lord's day, I was more helped in preach- 
ing than in prayer ; wherein I found myself under a great 
restraint. When alone, I was not so confused in my uptakings 
of Christ and religion, as in some other times of desertion. 
Yea, according to my doctrine that day, no less than Christ 
could satisfy me : I saw His supereminent excellency, and the 
emptiness of all things besides Him ; and my soul was in some 
sort lifted up in the ways of the Lord. But how to reconcile 
that with the restraint upon me in prayer, I knew not. But 
certainly there may be an enlargement in affection, where there 
is a straitening in words, Ps. vi. 3 and Ixxvii. 4 ; Rom. viii. 
26. On the Tuesday I visited at Lintlaws^ a godly friend, then 
a widow, who shewed me how helpful the sermon at Edrom, 
loth October 1699, on Lam. iii. 22 had been to her in her 
afflicted state ; which called to my mind that word, " Who will 
hearken and hear for the time to come?" Isa. xlii. 23. After 
this I returned to the presbytery at Churnside, where at the 
preceding diet, upon occasion of requiring a probationer's sub- 
scription, I had observed that the formula we of that presbytery 
had to subscribe was a very unfit one, being that which was 

^ [This lua;! happened before, at Dollar, p. 62.] 

- [A farm in Bunkle parish, then a considerable hamlet.] 

i6gQ-i7od\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 127 

calculated by the assembly for those of the Episcopal way who 
were to be received into ministerial communion. This was then 
seconded by Mr. James Eamsay, who further proposed that 
there should be a new formula made. And indeed, in presby- 
terial management of matters of the greatest weight, Mr. Eamsay 
and I seldom ditlered in those days : but at this diet, the motion 
was so opposed by some, tliat nothing was concluded. However, 
I declared, how I thought the formula abovesaid, which we had 
signed, might be prejudicial to the interest of the church in 
after times. 

Having returned home that night, I spent the next day 
mostly in reading, frequently looking upward to heaven ; but 
still thought I was made to go halting, for my ingratitude for 
the divine kindness on the Sabbath was eight days before. 
But at night, goiug to bed, I was helped to pour out my com- 
plaint into His bosom. On Thursday morning, the 8th, my 
frame continued; but I unhappily betook myself to reading, 
puttiug off my studies till the afternoon ; at which time com- 
pany coming in, I had very little time for study. I preached 
and prayed that night in bands, and so was justly chastised for 
my unseasonable reading. The Saturday I spent entirely in my 
studies, which went not ill with me ; and I found there was no 
ground for the uneasy apprehension above mentioned. Upon 
that occasion I observed, what I have in several instances since 
that time observed also, viz.. That it was easier for me not to be 
lifted up with worldly things going according to my wish, than 
to keep right under cross dispensations. But upon weighing of 
that matter, I judge the observation must respect the first brush 
or commencement of prosperity or adversity, not the continued 
train or course of the same ; and that my natural temper hangs 
the bias that way. 

Wth February. — This morning, being the Lord's day, I got 
my heart in some measure to self-emptiness, and greedy looks to 
Christ. I had much of the Lord's help. The lecture on Ps. 
xvi. was sweet to me. Betwixt sermons I feared I had not 
got my heart to a deep set of satisfaction in Christ alone, and 
contempt of the world ; and therefore it was my desire to get 
such grace in the afternoon. 0! that 147th psalm from the 
beginning, which we sung before tlie afternoon-sermon, was 
sweet. I got a commentary especially on that, " "Who the 
dispers'd of Israel doth gather into one." I thought I saw 
how believers were like poor straggling sheep in a wilderness ; 


but the great Shepherd would come, and gather them all to 
Himself into heaven, ere long. It is good for all, especially 
ministers, to be emptied of themselves, and to have Christ 
and the good of souls before their eyes. Simprin ! blessed 
be He for His kindness at Simprin. If I could believe, there 
would be no fear of me here. When I came home, upon 
reiiection I found much to mourn for in myself and the 
people. The people came to the exercise ; and whatever 
part I have in Christ, I am sure I took much delight to speak 
to His commendation, and my heart loved Him. I have been 
pressing self-examination ; and I think I will see what I can 
say to that, Ps. xvi. My heart being in love with Him for 
Himself, and desiring Him above all, my heart says, " Preserve 
me, Lord, for in Thee do I put my trust." I know I am 
surrounded with evils on every hand. I cannot save myself ; 
and though I know no other Saviour but Christ, I find it still 
somewhat difficult to fasten my feet on the promise. (Here, 
just here, I was put to a stand.) I cannot believe, thought I ; 
and so descending to myself, I could not think Christ loved 
me, and found a secret desire in my heart to leave this work : 
but, thought I, what am I doing ? that is not the first question 
(0 the deceit of Satan ' ) ; I will try whether I have these 
evidences of faith or not that are set down there. I thought, 
when I began this, I had faith. 1. "0 my soul, — Thou art 
my Lord." Now I have taken Christ for my Lord, and that 
without any known reserve, Lord, Thou knowest. And now 
again, with my whole heart, Lord, I am content to take 
Thee still, and that for Thyself as well as Thy benefits. 2. 
" My goodness," etc. Though under a temptation (and such 
temptations have come on me sometimes like lightning, as 
this very night, at which my heart started) I begin to think 
something of my silly essays at duty ; yet otherwise I find I 
renounce all my own righteousness, and acknowledge God 
would be no debtor to me, but justly might damn me, though 
I should burn quick for Him. But what if that be merely 
from an enlightened conscience ? I doubt if that will make 
men renounce their own righteousness. Matt. v. 3. Though an 
enlightened conscience may let men see the equity of God's 
judgements against sinners, even themselves ; yet I am sure it 
cannot make men approve of the law of God, Piom. viii. 7 and 
vii. 23 ; Ps. i. 2. But so it is, my soul approves the whole 
law of God in all its parts, threatenings as well as promises, 

i6gg-nco\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 129 

Ps. cxix. 128, 172. 3. "To the saints" — . I have little 
experience of this ; I have little to give ; yet I can willingly, 
upon the command of God, give what I may to any, and far 
more would I to poor saints : but I am sure, I would if I 
could help any of them nearer Christ, and I rejoice in their 
spiritual and temporal welfare. They are the " excellent " in 
my esteem, " I delight " in their society (at least I desire to 
do it) when they are most heavenly ; and the Lord knows 
grace commends any, more to me, than anything else what- 
soever. 4. " Their sorrow^s," etc. I believe and approve it, 
though it should be exemplified in myself. Of all " portions " 
I desire none other but Him ; I am content to take Christ 
for all, and think Him a goodly, complete, and satisfactory 
" heritage." And many times my soul blesseth God, that 
hath " given me counsel " to make that choice. Be " moved " 
as I will, I resolve to grip to Him, and cleave to Him for 
ever. And the Lord knows it is the desire of my heart to 
keep my eye always on Him, and in my preaching this day 
He was " before me," to bring myself and others near Him. 
I cannot find much heart-joy, but only my heart rejoiceth to 
use " my glory " to speak His commendation. And I think 
I could venture " my flesh " and spirit both on His mercy. 
And God knows, Christ is the " soul," the life, the sap, and 
marrow of anything I have or expect. I would fain hope 
He will " shew me the path of life." I believe that at His 
face is " fulness of joy," for I have sometimes had great joy 
in some blinks of it : and that " at His right hand are pleasures 
for evermore." And that my soul would be content to be 
there, to be satisfied with His likeness. Lord, Thou knowest. 
After this I went to prayer, wherein I was helped to cleave 
to Christ ; and protested, that I would resolutely adhere to 
Him, as my Lord, howsoever He might be pleased to dispose 
of His joy and comforts ; it being enough to me to be brought 
unto Himself, though by the brink of hell. 

Agreeable to the desire above mentioned, I spent the 
Monday's morning in prayer and meditation, not without some 
countenance from the Lord. And that day I had the following 
reflection on it, viz., Would to God I may be helped to hold on, 
for I have found the benefit of it this whole day: if my poor 
flock should be the better of it too, how sweet would it be to 
me! And now, by the mercy of God, from that time all 
along to this day, it has been my ordinary course to spend 


some time in the Monday morning, in secret extraordinary- 
prayer, according to the apostle's example, 2 Cor. xii. 8, " For 
this thing I besought the Lord thrice." In which one needs 
not question, but there has been a great variety both as to 
management and success : but it is long since become in a 
manner natural to me now, being hardly interrupted at any 
time when at home, but on some unordinary emergent.^ On 
the morrow, after my secret devotions, a friend coming in to 
me, wearied me with discourse of worldly business, which was 
a pain to me : the which he perceiving, did desist from it. 
After reading Carte's Meditations, I saw much of book-vanity, 
and found myself more disposed to seek and long for Christ's 
teaching by His Spirit. Withal I saw myself reproved, for 
my slackness in pursuing after the knowledge of Christ. At 
the meeting for prayer, I observed how Providence ordered 
the reading of Mai. iv. and singing of Ps. cii. 16, giving light 
into what was to be the subject of discourse that night. 

Wednesday the 14th I spent mostly at Kersefield, and 
was helped to edifying converse with delight. Coming home 
at night, I spent the remaining time mostly in reading. Upon 
my calling to mind, and finding out a letter from an exercised 
Christian gentlewoman, concerning her spiritual condition (it 
was one Mrs. Janet Bruce, whom I had been acquainted with 
at Airth), I was checked for not having answered it before 
that time ; the which had been occasioned through my not 
knowing where the answer might find her ; and was resolved 
to amend that fault. On Thursday, what spare time I had 
was spent in preparing my sermon. And it was well ordered ; 
for towards the evening I was necessarily engaged in company ; 
so that I got only a little space for prayer, before the sermon. 
And at the beginning of the work I was like to have been 
worsted by means of the worldly business I had been engaged 
in : but the Lord appearing for my help, the work became 
easy and sweet to my soul. Thereafter, having retired a little 
for prayer, as ordinary, I spent some time in profitable con- 
verse with two of the people. Then, after seeking the Lord's 
mind once and again, I wrote to the person aforepaentioned, 
according to the impression I had of her case ; hoping that, 
though I knew not certainly how it was. He who directed me 
to speak, would also direct to write. 

Friday forenoon was, after prayer for direction, spent in 

^ [/.c. emergency. — Sc] 

jbgg-noo'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 131 

writing another letter of that nature, to ' Helen Hamilton, now 
Mrs. Johnston, in Alloa : and there are few letters of any kind 
to this day, unto the writing whereof I do not address myself 
in that manner. I was helped to take up and speak to her 
case, with some measure of light, she having imparted it to me 
in writing. And I rejoiced to be thus employed by strangers 
in work of which kind I had little at home. At parting with 
a student that night, I recommended to him the study of the 
knowledge of Christ, the gospel, and power of godliness ; as I 
had done more generally in our converse. Upon which occasion 
I had the following reflection, viz. what pity is it to see men 
quick and curious in the intrigues of nature, yet ignorant of 
Christ ! Upon occasion of enlargement in secret prayer that 
night, I saw the unreasonableness of the conceit of merit, as if 
a beggar should think he should therefore have an alms, because 
he can cry for it, or hath a hand to put forth to receive it. T 
have observed this day, and yesterday especially, that I was 
more remiss in family-duties than in secret ; and I think it is 
occasioned by remissness in preparation for them. It was a 
sweet reflection to consider, that I am not now so much under 
the molestations of a particular corruption as sometimes before. 
I think, that my being taken up more with the proper work of 
my calling has been helpful in this. But quickly after Satan 
fell to his old trade, and snarled like a dog at my heels, and it 
did me good. I was grieved to see myself fall so far short of 
likeness to the purity of the divine image, which my soul loved. 
So that afterward my soul went out in love - flames to the 
Advocate with the Father. 

VJtli February. — Having been for some time seeking light 
from the Lord as to preaching on different subjects in one day, 
I was cleared this day ; and my ordinary being " Man's Natural 
State," it was for the other subject still in my eye to exalt Christ, 
and preach His love, and desire of communion w^ith His people, 
and that from that text. Cant. vii. 11, "Come, my beloved, 
let us go forth into the field," etc. But after I had studied 
with ease my forenoon-sermon on my ordinary, being to enter 
on the other, when I read the text, and saw the connection, I 
found I had mistaken the spouse's words to Christ for His to 
her. This gave me a sore dash, fearing that my light that I 
sometimes get be but delusion ; yet my heart remained fixed on 
the subject : but still I had great hankering after these words, 
though I durst not willingly wrest the Lord's work. In the 


meantime was that word, " Arise, my love," etc., Cant. ii. 1 0, 
brought to me ; but the hankering after the other remained. I 
went to God with it, laying myself open to His beck, and 
thereafter was cleared to that, " Kise up, my love," etc., and my 
heart weaned from the other. I wanted not objections within 
myself against it, saying, To whom shall I preach it ? whom 
have I that understands it ? I had these answers: 1. I knew 
not but there might be some others that would; 2. Maybe hear- 
ing these things might melt some heart ; 3. Understand it or 
not who will, it is my duty to exalt Christ, and the riches of 
His grace. That which more cleared me to that word was, that, 
after prayer, I found a deal of power and life with it on my 
own heart, raising my love to Christ. But at my studies I 
found it hard to believe what T was meditating on, concerning 
the love of Christ ; so that it sent me to God against it, and 
T find still I have but a struggling with unbelief. I have this 
day found my heart bettered by a more conscientious preparing 
my heart for family- worship. 

Sabbath, 18th February, this morning I spent in prayer and 
meditation ; found my heart much concerned for success, and a 
firm belief of the word in my own heart ; yet my vigour was 
in decay ere I went out. It is strange there is scarcely one 
Sabbath morning wherein I have not deadness to wrestle with, 
either when I arise, or ere I go out. In the preaching the 
Lord loosed all my bands. Betwixt sermons I was helped to 
see, that I had believed my doctrine, and I did believe it ; and 
I thought it a token the Lord would help me to believe my 
afternoon -doctrine; and my soul longed to be in the church 
again to preach Christ ; and I was helped to speak. But ! 
still I found it difficult firmly to believe. In time of sermon I 
sent up some ejaculations for it. When I came home, I found 
indeed my soul receiving Christ heartily, leaning on Him, laying 
all the stress of my salvation on Christ crucified. As to the 
particular things in His sufi'erings mentioned in the sermon, I 
had a kind of assent to them ; but it had little power w^ith it. 
I could get no further than to lean on a crucified Christ. I 
found also I could not believe [i.e. seeingly be persuaded of) the 
greatness of Christ's love to believers. It is a most difficult 
task. But who can comprehend it ? that my soul could 
apprehend it. When I look on Christ's love particularly 
terminated on Abraham, Paul, etc., it was more easy to observe 
it. {Note. — Here is a poring on some worth in thCgCreature to 

i6gg-i7o6\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 133 

commend it to Christ.) At the exercise I got so little satis- 
faction of my people, that I scarcely got a word of the law- 
sermon, and very little of the gospel-sermon. This gave me a 
deep wound ; and the uusuccessfulness of the gospel has been 
and is very heavy to me. Some think me happy because I 
have so few people, and these not unruly ; some think otherwise, 
because of the meanness of the post and stipend : but none of 
these move me, but that I am like to spend my strength in 
vain. Lord, thou knowest it was my duty to preach what 1 
preached this day. I was confirmed in it at the morning- 
exercise from Ps. xl. 1 0. It was not the least weight that lay 
on me this morning, that I have none (if I may say it (I fear it 
is so) but G. G.) to give me help by their prayers. {N.B. — Ere 
they and I parted, glory to the power of grace, I durst neither 
say nor think this.) Being to go to family-exercise I went to 
prayer, and came away with my soul knit to Christ, all made 
up of desires and wants. My father went about the exercise, 
and he mistaking our ordinary, sung Ps. xli. from the beginning. 
it was sweet to me, it answered my case, being conscious to 
myself of my concern for others, which I feared might cut my 
days, exhausting my spirits. That word ver. 2 especially had 
life and power with it, in answer to that case. I saw God could 
preserve me, and would, if it should be for His glory and my 
good ; and if my body should be at a loss, I should get it 
compensated another way. Now I bless the Lord, this day, 
4th March 1730, that I have not been beguiled. The 
Scriptures are really God's word. 

Monday 19 th February I wanted not the blowings of 
the Spirit in my secret exercise this morning, which I began 
this day se'ennight. I have already found the benefit of 
spending the Monday morning in prayer and meditation. 
While li. N. was at prayer this day, I had an unseasonable good 
thought, for which the Lord might condemn me ; but I will see 
if I can outshoot the devil in his own bow. Two worldly 
businesses had prospered beyond expectation. JM}' soul blessed 
God for the same, with a holy contempt of them, looking up to 
Christ, and observing, that still the world goes best with me 
when T am least anxious about it. Soon after I received a gift, 
which, though no great one, did greatly confirm me in that 
observe. Having spent the forenoon mostly in reading, towards 
the evening, after prayer, I went and visited some families ; and 
the Lord \\as not wanting to me therein. On the Tuesday I 


betook myself to my studies till diuuer : then till uear night I 
was in converse, and my frame continued in some measure. 
But being, that night, one way or other diverted, that I entered 
into the meeting for prayer without seeking the Lord before- 
hand, which I afterward was sure was my sin, I lost my frame. 
Thereafter I found my heart more earthly disposed than before. 
Next day, going abroad about business, I got one discouragement 
after another, which I was scarce able to stand under. to be 
out of the world, thought I, as I have been sometimes. But I 
had no pith to overcome them. I found another business had 
gone right, which I was sometime troubled about ; but wo is me 
that it overtook me in this frame. So do spiritual decays suck 
the sap out of mercies. On Thursday the 22nd I sought of 
God a text ; and got one clearly, both for myself and the people, 
viz. Hos. vi. 4, "Your goodness is as a morning -cloud," etc. 
I got also a heavy heart from the doleful laxness I perceived in 
a minister, who had come to my house from a wedding-house in 
the town, where he had been waiting on his mistress. The 
indecency of this in a minister gave me great offence, which I 
took the freedom gravely to represent to him. And though I 
was much inferior to him in age, he took it well : but otherwise 
I had little satisfaction in his way. Comparing my present 
frame with the frame of others, I saw God had got little service 
of any of us. When he was gone, I sobbed out my case to the 
Lord ; but was sadly clogged with corruption, and great dark- 
ness, being filled with dampish sadness and unbelieving heaviness, 
seeing no satisfaction in anything of the world, and yet could 
not get my heart poised up to Christ, for the dead weight that 
was at it. In this frame I went to the sermon, and was affected 
with my own case, and that of the people ; with whom I was 
in earnest, yet still under great darkness. "Wherefore I looked 
to the Lord, and I had some help of that word, Isa. 1. 10. And 
while I was thus taken up, the world turned again with me, 
and I met with a favourable providence in temporals, that came 
very seasonably. By the above word and providence, I got my 
heart somewhat elevated again. And by what I had seen and 
observed that day, I perceived, that God had well ordered my 
lot, in the place where 1 was, as most meet for me. The 
following day, being the 23rd, was spent mostly in writing 
letters : and what was most of a secular nature therein, was the 
most wearisome, and went on slowly ; and what was spiritual 
was more pleasant, and proceeded in with more enlargement of 

1699-1700] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 135 

heart. A business had misgiven, after several attempts. I set 
myself to a holy indifferency, tried it again, and it succeeded. 
So does the Lord train me to live above the world. After this 
my mind went a-wavering after a thousand vanities, and spurned 
all calling back. Next morning, being Saturday, my body and 
spirit were both in ill case : nevertheless after prayer I fell to 
my studies, and recovered both ways ; and by meditation on the 
love of Christ, I got love to Him, confidence in Him, and 
contempt of the world, with a soul-satisfaction in Him. And 
so frequent has that way of the Lord's carrying on my worldly 
business according to my frame, been with me, that as soon as 
I begin to be anxious about a business, I conclude it will go 
wrong ; and when I am helped to a holy carelessness about it, 
I am apt to expect success. I had then, of a considerable time, 
found my body exceedingly weakened with studying my sermons : 
and that day I stressed myself less; and inclined to think, it 
would be every way better for me, if I could study less, and 
pray and prepare my heart more : the which course 1 did then 
purpose to try. The Lord's day was a heavy day to me. I 
spent the morning in prayer and meditation ; but I had not so 
much as a lively desire after Christ, and this I could not over- 
come by all my faint lifeless prayers. I found, it had been 
better to have been occupied in thinking of what I was to 
deliver; for the earthly thoughts that mixed with my other 
meditations, helped to mar my frame ; and I was also under 
bodily indisposition. Yet in singing Ps. Ixxxix. 25, and down- 
wards, I thought my heart was led solidly to see my own case, 
and God's unchangeableness as a sure anchor of faith, and so 
was helped to believe. But it lasted not. I became melancholy ; 
so that I see, if there were no more but interest obliging me 
to live near God, I am a great fool to let my heart aside ; for 
never can I have any content, but when helped to walk with God. 
On Monday the 26th, I essayed my ordinary exercise: 
but both body and mind were under heaviness and indisposition ; 
which on the morrow continued ; and in that time I found a 
great aversion to duty, yea even to reading of divinit}', the gust ^ 
being lost. Wednesday afternoon, the bodily indisposition 
increased ; and therewith the prospect of my difficulties created 
me some uneasiness. Thereafter I was in such disorder, that 
I forced on a vomit, begun of itself. The bodily indisposition 
continued ; but by that little twinge my spirit was somewhat 
^ {I.e. relish. A tine old woi\l tlicn in common use. Cp. dis'just.] 



bettered, having got a little revival ; and I was comforted in 
reading the marks of faith in Craighead's sermons. Thus it 
continued on the Thursday, in which I did nothing but prepare 
my sermon : in delivering whereof I had some light, and a little 
life ; and durst not but bless the Lord for what I had, however 
little. I received a letter from Mr. Murray, shewing the 
un tender carriage of some ministers in Nithsdale ; which was 
very wounding to me, and seemed, with other things, to write 
death to the generation. 

Sabbath, 3rd March. — The two days before I had a twilight 
frame ; it being neither day nor niglit with me. I had not so 
much ado to strive with the world as before sometimes ; nor 
did my soul go forth habitually after Christ with any tolerable 
vigour. But this morning I was quite lifeless when I arose ; 
became afterwards sensible of my case, but could get no recovery. 
I was so bound up in one prayer, that I could not say one word, 
but either mentally or vocally groan out that, " Lord have 
mercy on me." Afterwards came in some worldly thoughts, 
that gave me the other backset. When I went to the church, 
we sung Ps. Ixix. 13—16. My own case gave me light into 
it. Then I went to prayer ; and my body and spirit were both 
like to faint, so that I had not ability to speak out ; and thus 
continued a while. At last the Lord cast a live-coal into my 
dead heart, and quite changed me both in body and mind ; and 
with light and life I lectured and preached also. This con- 
tinued in the afternoon, and at the evening-exercise too, where 
Ps. xci. 14 and downwards was very sweet and strengthening, 
and as a sconce against mine enemies. Yet afterwards I had 
a violent temptation to unbelief in a particular point, which 
I had, designedly for myself, touched in my sermon. This was 
so strong, that I could not master it, for all my preaching about 
it. I laid it out before the Lord before I went to bed, and 
while there wrestled against it, though with little success. 

On the morrow, having too soon entertained thoughts of 
a business, though indeed charitable, I was unfitted for my 
proper work. I visited a minister that day ; when I came 
away, my spirit sunk. I saw how others, whom yet I dare 
not in some things imitate, knew more of religion, were more 
lifted up in the ways of the Lord, than I ; yea, while I am quite 
in the dark, I preach, and must preach, what many others 
(beside whom I would think myself unworthy to open my 
mouth) do pass. This racked my spirit, considering how little 

i6g<ri7o6\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 137 

of Christ I knew ; how I am habitually cast clown, and cannot 
win to get my heart lifted up in the ways of the Lord. I saw 
Simprin, and thought it was the fittest place for me ; fearing 
I may be, even in it, a cumberer of the ground. When I came 
home, I poured out my soul to the Lord, seeing myself of all 
men most miserable, and not fit to be seen in this world. But 
the Lord still hid His face. I was a wonder to myself, and 
thought I may be a wonder to the world, and that religion 
suffers by me, while people may think I am a melancholy fool, 
with some singular fancies, closed up in this place. Next day 
my heaviness continued and increased, though in the morning 
I was helped to cry with some earnestness for a l)link of His 
countenance, but I found it not. I went unto and returned 
from the presbytery in heaviness ; but, that day, our owning, 
by subscription, the divine right of the government of the 
church, was carried. When I came home, I became downright 
melancholy, insomuch that, at the meeting for prayer, my head 
was so confused, that it was in some measure vertiginous, and 
my imagination troubled : whence it came to pass, that some 
intermissions were caused in my singing the Lord's praises. 
However, conscience of duty urging, T adventured to speak on 
the question proposed to be discoursed ; and thereafter I became 
more serene. Many a heavy and melancholy day have I had, 
through various causes and occasions, which holy providence 
hath laid before me : but I do not remember that I had ever 
before that time been so affected, except once, when I was a 
boy ; at which time I know of no rational ground it proceeded 
upon : nor can I remember one instance since, wherein it acted 
so mechanically, to such a pitch ; if it is not the passage at 
Kelso, 23rd April 1712, to be related of that date. On 
Wednesday it was not so severe : but there remained a great 
heaviness, together with a pain in my back, from the riding the 
day before, though I was distant from the presbytery-seat but 
five miles. For this cause I lay much on my bed that day, 
sometimes walking out, to help myself by means of conversation, 
which I found useful. No religion was left me now, but a 
sorrowful looking up to the Lord, whom I had provoked to 
withdraw. On the Thursday my exercises were very uncertain : 
I was still faint and languishing in religious duties, found my 
body unfit for much study ; yet had solid hopes of the divine 
assistance in mv sermon ; the which also I got, with a good 
deal of serenity of mind. But indeed it was best with me, 


when in that exercise. On the morrow, the whole day being 
spent at Kersefield, when I came home, I could nevertheless 
find no vigour in my spirit. On Saturday morning I got a 
rousing stroke, by an apprehension of my father's death, who 
was indisposed : thereafter my bands were all loosed in prayer ; 
and then I studied my sermon ; and my love to Christ, and 
concern for the good of the people, were raised somewhat. But 
the heavy disposition of my body was still a clog to me. My 
prayers for my father were heard. In the morning of the 
Lord's day, I took some thoughts of my notes, the rather to 
keep my heart steadfast, lest by loose meditations altogether 
it should not so well be held fixed, but beguile me, as some- 
times before. When I went away to the kirk, I endeavoured 
to propose to myself the good of the people, and encouraged 
myself in the Lord. In the preface my vigour was small, 
the relics of my old frame still hanging about me : but there- 
after I was helped in all. I preached mostly from experience, 
in the afternoon ; and it was sweet. When I came home, I 
was grieved at the heart for my mismanagement of duty, 
especially some motions to be lifted up on the account of my 
assistance, though, when I consider things, being sensible of 
my own weakness, I would be ashamed to open my mouth 
before many preachers. I had been for some time solicitous 
how to manage the visiting of families ; the masters of families 
being workmen, and so can scarcely be found in the daytime 
in their houses ; but at prayer, the day before, as I suppose, 
it slipt into my mind, that I should take the Sabbath after- 
noons for it, and this when I was not praying about this 
particular. Afterwards, though the motion, as so timed, was 
unseasonable, yet on reasonable grounds I thought I would 
embrace it. But such was the deceit of my heart, and so 
forward was I, that, without ever once laying it before the 
Lord in prayer, I made intimation, there would be no public 
exercise that night : so, when I was to go out for that effect 
at night, and was praying for tlie Lord's help, I was severely 
checked for this my rash determination, and confessed it before 
the Lord. But seeing all other doors now closed up, I thought 
it my duty for this time, and the Lord was pleased to be with 
me in the work. But ere long, viz. Monday 11th March, Satan 
cast me down. I confessed and mourned, but afterwards guilt 
lay so heavy on me, that I could have no confidence to pray 
for the people. After that my heart hardened, and I had no 

i6g<)-i7oo\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 139 

freedom iu spirit for prayer. Then did my soul sink, and I 
found no place of standing, as one forgotten, yea and cast off 
of God, whose spot is not the spot of God's people. And thus 
I continued very long, sinking and going down. I went to 
the family-duties, and desired my father to perform them ; 
and I, as a poor malefactor, sung my own doom, Ps. Hi. 6 
and downwards, approving the justice of God. Eetiring, I 
got leave to pour out my soul before the Lord, and was some- 
what eased ; and so thereafter endeavoured to hope against 
liope, sometimes sinking, sometimes swimming. Tliat day I 
went to Dunse, in great distress of spirit, to see Mr. Golden, 
with whom I could use some freedom with respect to my case. 
Being there, in Mr. Golden 's house, and there meeting with 
some of the godly people of Polwarth, my mouth, according 
to my then heavy case, was filled with complaints in converse 
with them. This Mr. Golden did wisely signify to me to be 
unsafe, in respect of the discouragement it might occasion to 
them, considering my station and character. Howbeit the 
particular cause of my heaviness I discovered not to them, 
nor to him neither : but from that distress I was not recovered 
till the 25th of the foresaid month of March: at which time 
I was mercifully set to my feet again ; though in a little time 
the clouds returned after the rain. 

2 6^/1- March. — Having had a good day yesterday,^ I was like 
to lose all again this day, and had a struggle that way. I 
retired, and pleaded with the Lord as my covenanted God in 
such manner, as pinching w^ant makes men resolute ; and was 
kept up. 

2%th March. — This day being a fast-day, the Lord was very 
gracious to me. It was sweet to consider what measure of 
solidity and firmness in believing, the Lord had given me as to 
what I had been preaching, and how^ He had given me several 
of those suits I had before Him on Monday last the 25th. I 
had a great deal of confidence in prayer this night ; for God 
is my covenanted God. ! my soul was filled with joy and 
peace in believing ; and I thought I had a feast. Afterwards 
great fears of temptation seized me, lest Satan should steal a 
dint of me ; wherefore I communed with myself out of the 
Scriptures, and got answers to all the reasons of my fears, till 
my heart was calmed, and strengthened in the Lord. When I 
had passed the difficult step safely, my mouth was filled with 

^ [For the uairative of this day, see p. 118.] 


praises ; and I saw myself infinitely indebted to free grace, that 
should thus give such answers of prayer, for I had earnestly 
prayed against it. that was a sweet word to me on Monday's 
night, " I will give her the valley of Achor for a door of hope," 
and yet is so. 

'^rd April. — Being in great distress, I wrote a letter to Mr. 
Golden, the only minister in the country to whom I could 
unbosom myself : but the letter was brought back, he not 
being at home ; and so I was disappointed. The said letter is 
as follows : — " It is like you will be desirous to know how it 
stands with me now, considering the case I was in when I saw 
you last. I can indeed give you but a very sorry account of 
matters. I am a man who, I think, have few, if any marrows ^ 
in the world. I am often at that with it, tliat I know not 
what to think of myself, or of my state ; ( — it is only to your- 
self that I unbosom my poor self, and verily my need presseth 
me). All that week when I saw you, my sad case continued, 
till the next, — being estranged from the life of God. So this 
day fourteen days it pleased the Lord to send — a sharp rod — , 
and I behoved to lay my hand on my mouth, and take with 
the punishment of mine iniquity ; yet remained I like a man 
half asleep, still going to rise up, but falling down again — ; 
which was dreadful to me, considering what pains the Lord had 
taken on me. So on Monday was eight days I used some 
means more than bare ordinary, for casting out the devil, which 
that affliction could not cast out — ; and it pleased the Lord 
(as I thought) to blow upon me — ; and such speedy and 
surprising answer of prayer I got, and such outmaking of 
(especially) one particular promise, that I was fully confirmed 
in the matter of the Lord's accepting me, and taking me within 
the bond of the covenant. And this lasted sweetly the three 
following days. But going abroad on Friday, rejoicing in the 
Lord (it was to make a visit), I so mismanaged matters, that 
I came home drooping — ; and the Lord so left me, as that 
my strength against corruption was gone, and distrust of God 
trampled me under foot. After some time I thought I got up 
resolutely again, and endeavoured to encourage myself in the 
Lord ; but Satan soon after got in upon my weak side ; — which 
I think will ruin me, that spurns all means. — And thus was I 

^ [I.e. fullows, Clonals. Still in use. Cf. Wordsworth, Yarrou- Unvisited — 

" The treasured dreams of times long past 
We'll keep them, winsome JIarrow!"] 

i6g9-noo-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 141 

cast down again : and now my vigour and life, if ever I had 
any, is gone ; and I am fit for nothing, though 1 must be doing. 
It is strangely racking to me to observe, how that before some 
solemn approach to God, or immediately after I have attained 
(as I think) to some nearness to God, Satan gets victory over 
me. I many times fear my spot is not the spot of God's people : 
and though I would fain make use of some former experiences, 
yet I am dreadfully afraid that the Lord suffers me to fall at 
such times, to undeceive mc as to these things. I shall not 
trouble you more, though I have many things that are not easy 
to me. I intreat, if you can have any liberty with the Lord 
on my account, remember me." Some time ago I could not 
easily have closed a verbal discourse, or a letter, without some- 
thing to the commendation of Christ ; but, alas ! it is not so 
now ! But my heart desires that others may enjoy much of 
Him, though I be still holden back ; and that He may be 
glorified, come of me what will. 

How far I followed my above-mentioned purpose, of re- 
trenching my painfulness in study, I cannot determine : but I 
well remember, that, that season, still finding my strength 
exhausted on the Saturdays' nights, I resolved to study my 
sermons on the Friday. The which course being begun, and 
the advantage thereof soon perceived, I have since that time 
kept all along to this day ; bating occasional interruptions ; 
which, when they happened, were painful, in respect of my 
being so habituated to studying that day. So I spent the 
Saturday in other studies, as I found convenient ; till night, 
that I mandated my sermons, and prepared my lecture, leaving 
the review thereof only to the Sabbath-morning. This was all 
along my ordinary course as to my sermons ; but of late years 
I have been wont to leave the preparing of the lecture to the 
Sabbath morning ; and since I became unfit for study after 
dinner, through increase of my weakness, I mandated my 
sermons in the forenoon of the Saturday. 

On the 4th of April we began to meet in the kirk, at or about 
the ordinary time of the day for sermon, for the weekly sermon, 
which hitherto had been kept in the house, and that in the night. 

On the Lord's day after, and Monday morning, I got a 
revival. I cannot but specially notice, that while it was well 
with me, Satan was very active ; but afterward he let me alone 
as to a particular temptation. It seems he has not thought it 
worth his pains to toss the empty traveller. 


11th April, the Thursday before Lennel communion. — I 
had been admonishing one of my parish some days before, and 
shewing a difficulty of admitting him to the Lord's table : he 

turned very angry, and wished he had broken his neck. 

Stepping a dike, he hurt his back so as this day he was not 
able to go to the fast, nay not to turn himself on his bed, 

Ibtli April. — Having been at Edrom yesterday, I came to 
Dunse this day, minding to go from thence to Kelso to the 
synod to-morrow with Mr. Colden. But when I came, he was 
going away, and I could not go with him so soon. So I went 
home that night ; for which I knew little reason till I came 
home, being blindly led to it. But when I came home, my 
father was very sick, and that dangerously, as was supposed : 
but I had no apprehensions of his death. So I went not to the 
synod. On Wednesday he grew better, and I grew secure, and 
corruption began to work ; and leaving him pretty well, I went 
out a little, but was called for to him in haste. When I came 
in, he could scarcely speak to me, he was so ill. My heart 
was like to fail, seeing the son had ate the sour grapes, and 
the father's teeth were set on edge. After discoursing to him 
as a dying man, I went to prayer; and at length won to get 
some hold of the covenant for my support. I sent for my 
brothers and sisters, looking on him as a dying man, endeavour- 
ing submission in the meantime ; whicli I attained to in some 
measure this day and the morrow after, at which time he began 
to grow better : but I endeavoured to be on my guard. Had 
he been removed at this time, I had been involved in great 
difficulties : but I got above them in some measure, trusting in 
the Lord ; but earnestly prayed for his recovery, and had much 
quiet of heart in the Lord. It pleased the Lord to hear me. 
And still I see the advantage of submission to the will of God. 
While I spoke to him about his evidences for heaven, my heart 
was somewhat satisfied in what he told me. By the good hand 
of God it fell in our ordinary to sing Ps. Ixxi. in time of his 
sickness ; particularly, on Wednesday night, it was from vers. 
16 to 20. 

24:th April. — This day I saw more of my own nothingness, 
and that Christ must be all for me, or there is no hope ; and I 
feel His covenant my only support. Blessed be the day I 
renewed it last, for it has been very seasonable to me many 
times since. 

^th May, being the Lord's day. — Having been at Barhill, 

i6g9-i7oo\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 143 

after I came to Edinburgh there were great rains, so that I 
was afraid the waters would not let me see Siniprin ou the 
Lord's day ; but I thought it my duty to adventure, if by any 
means I could reach home. So I came from Edinburgh 
yesterday after nine of the clock, and came home that night. 
And this day I was very much owned of God in my work, and 
nothing more wearied by my journey. but J saw the way 
of duty crossing people's ease, a safe way. 

The week following I grew secure. I wanted not many 
checks for my spiritual sloth, so as horror hath taken hold on 
me, under apprehensions of some stroke to come for this : yet 
was I as a drunken man, incapable to put himself out of the 
way of the cart-wheels. I also had some slashes of a frame, but 
passing. On the Lord's day morning, worldly thoughts were as 
birdlime to my feet ; but preaching about the general judge- 
ment, I saw the Lord in His glory, and got a sight of my own 
vileness : and after sermons, under that impression, secret 
sins, sins of the heart, were very heavy. And I may say I had 
no power to bring the subscribed covenant out of my trunk, 
though sometimes 1 had resolutions that way. 

26^A May. — Sabbath, being to preach at Greenlaw, my heart 
in the mornuig was in frame ; which decayed again ; but I was 
revived by hearing some things, that filled my heart with zeal. 
{N.B. — I think it has been some things ill.) then I thought 
preaching would have come ready by hand to me. Yet 
when I went to the pulpit, I was to seek. But in prayer 
I got my heart lively and composed again ; and had light and 
life there. 

Ind, June. — I found this day I had much more liberty in 
prayer than preaching. After the work was over, while in my 
closet, it pleased the Lord palpably to put in His hand at the 
hole of the door, and move my heart towards Him ; and a 
strange melting there was on my heart, while a neighbour 
family was singing the Lord's praises. So I found this night 
another relish in God's word than ordinary, particularly Ps. 
Ixxxix. 9—13. Being to spend some time in prayer to-morrow, 
I intreated the Lord would keep me for what He had given me, 
and I was free of tormenting fears of losing it. 

Wi June. — Studying a sermon for the fast before the com- 
munion at Togo, I had exceeding much of God's countenance in 
it ; I had much light from the Lord, and the matter had weight 
on my own spirit. On the morrow I preached it ; and though 


I had some tenderness in the mornmg, it was not so savoury to 
me in preaching as in studying, I found myself the worse of 
being hastened in the delivery. 

9^A June, Lord's day. — When I was yesterday studying the 
sermons I preached this day, I could have no satisfaction in 
them ; but could not make them better. I reviewed them this 
morning, but with as little ; and thought they would not do. I 
went to the church with such thoughts as my present circum- 
stances brought to hand, endeavouring to plead the covenant. I 
prefaced with some liberty on Ps. Ixv. 1, but afterwards I had 
such liberty in prayer, such clear conceptions of things in the 
lecture, with such a facility of expressing myself plainly in it, 
and this in tlie preaching too, that I was indeed a wonder to 
myself. It was most palpably the doing of the Lord, and is 
wondrous in my eyes. This continued in the afternoon. Only 
I thought I had more soul-advantage by the gospel-sermon than 
the law-sermon. I was never more convinced of the influences 
of the Spirit on men's gifts, and of the necessity of the same. 
It is so palpable to me, that it was the Spirit of the Lord, that 
I cannot doubt it ; for I see it is He that makes one differ 
in gifts from another, and makes a man differ from himself, 
j^nd so do I find my soul convinced of it, that I am helped to 
give the glory entirely (I think) unto Him, seeing still my own 
emptiness ; for all which my soul blesseth the Lord. 

loth June. — This day, or yesternight, my frame being 
somewhat above the world, and wearied of a body of sin 
and death, I thought I w^ould get a feast to-morrow in preaching, 
being to shew what comfort a child of God had from the 
doctrine of Christ's coming. But this night my proud heart 
w^is so raised upon a business, that I was put all WTong ; and 
so finding what temptations I behoved to have, and how 
foully I come off, I would again have been content to have left 
all, to have been out of the reach of these things. On the 
Sabbath morning the temptation was renewed, and came from 
the same hand ; which so prevailed to discompose me, that it 
made me go halting all the day. But all these things do 
still more commend to me being with Christ, which I see 
is best of all. I ordained three elders this day ; and when 
ordaining them I was on a sudden, in the very act, turned 
out of my ordinary frame, my soul melted, and possessed 
with the dread of that holy God, by a new light shining 
into my mind. 

i69g-f7ool MR. THOMAS BOSTON 145 

23rf? June. — I preached at Eymouth. I had extreme 
difficulty to get a text. When I got it, I had much darkness 
and straitening ; but got a sermon wrestled out at length. In 
delivering it, the Lord withdrew still ; and in the forenoon 
I was straitened even in respect of words. Mr. Golden has 
often told me, that he could never get help to preach in that 
place. And I have often felt it straitening there. But the 
Lord had good ground of controversy with me, for I had not 
got my heart kept with God through that week as sometimes. 
{N.B. — I had sometimes after that, especially one time, in that 
place, help from the Lord.) I have observed, that sometimes, 
when it has been ill with me, and particularly at this time, 
I have observed it, that I have been best w^hen in company, 
grieving to see others wrong as well as myself, and would fain 
have had service done to God by others, though T could 
do none. As also within these two months, I have found I 
have been more free from temptation when in company than 
when alone. 

2Wi June. — I observed, that for some days I had more 
freedom still in secret than in family prayer. Sometimes I have 
observed the quite contrary. 

^th July. — I preached at Edrom. I had something of God 
in studying these sermons. I was much helped in the first 
prayer ; but in other parts of the forenoon's exercise, though I 
got what to say, yet I had not such clear uptakings of things, 
nor that weight on my spirit that I would have had. This 
made me to cry betwixt sermons ; and in time of singing my 
heart was nmch affected, and cried for God, the living God, 
and was helped to pray : but in the preaching I had much 
struggling for the power of God on my own spirit ; yet much 
darkness and confusion remained, till I came to the application, 
at which I found myself raised above myself, my soul affected 
and concerned, and as it were wrapt up in preaching, as it was 
also in prayer. 

\Wh July. — I have been now for some days habitually 
kept right ; and while it has been so, T have still had a deal of 
satisfaction in reading and singing in our ordinary for family - 
duties. So I shall once more set my seal to it, that a heavenly 
frame is the best commentator on Scripture ; and bemg to 
preach at Kelso to-morrow, I had great light into my lecture, on 
which I had no commentary. My soul has been made frequently, 
this and the last week, to bless the Lord for something of good 


that seems to follow my ministry ; in that I see some are, 
at least outwardly, bettered, and all the families, for anything 
the elders or I can see, have God's worship in them, and I would 
fain hope some of them are in the way to Christ. 

On Wednesday the 17th of July, I, going on twenty-five 
years of my age, married Katharine Brown, formerly mentioned, 
going on twenty-seven, as born 3rd February 1674, and baptized 
the 22nd ; Providence having seen it meet for me to order the 
odds to be on her side. 1 shall here relate some things concern- 
ing that business.^ The first time I saw my wife was on 3rd 
March 1697, that very day that I left that country. Whenever I 
saw her, a thought struck through my heart, about her being 
my wife ; and that time, both she and I were in great distress. 
We had no converse about anything ; only I asked her how her 
sister was : and that was all. 23rd May 1698 she had occasion 
to come to a place where I was. Whenever I heard she was 
come, I had a great desire to see her ; which I curbed for a 
while, and afterwards went and saw her ; and this was the 
second time ; and at this time our acquaintance was made. 
24t}i August, that year, after the matter liad been laid before 
the Lord, and often considered, I proposed it. Her piety 
discerned by myself, and attested amply by others, her parts, 
humour, etc., engaged me to her. After which proposal, reflecting, 
I found myself as solid and composed, my mind as calm and 
serene as ever, and looked on it as a token for good. On the 
morrow, I proposed what trouble I might look for as a preacher 
of the gospel ; what she might lay her account therewith, if 
minded to comply with my proposal. Thereafter, by converse 
with her, I was more and more confirmed in the thoughts of her 
piety, etc. On the 9th of January 1699, while I was praying 
about that business of my marriage, that word was brought to 
me, " Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee 
tJie desires of tliine heart ; " Ps. xxxvii. 4 ; as was that word, 
Eom. viii. 28, " All things shall work together for good to 
them that love the Lord," while praying about my going 
to the north, which was an exercise to me at that time ; 
and I was helped to grip the promise. 30th January, being 
to write to her, I went to God, and was helped with life 
and some confidence to implore His guidance as to the 

■^ [The narrative now goes back, relating, under their proper dates, incidents and 
experiences bearing on Boston's proposed marriage. This period then closes Avith 
the marriage (p 156) on the above-mentioned date, 17th Jul}'.] 

j6gg-i7oo-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 147 

main thing, and as to the letter in particular. When I arose 
up, remembering what crosses some wives have proved to 
ministers, this sent me back to God again. Afterward I 
fain would have had something to have confirmed me in 
tlie Lord's hearing of me ; but I thought I would take God's 
helping me to cry to Him as a sign of that. 

On the 1st of February, I observed, that when I am most 
heavenly in the frame of my heart, my love to her is least 
shaken, and I am most satisfied in my choice ; and that when I 
am most carnal and earthly, it is otherwise. And, on the 8tli, 
that temptation from the world was very severe, and I found it 
no easy matter to get over it, though it is my grief. Wherefore 
in deep seriousness T proposed that question to myself. Barest 
thou give over that business ? I thought on it, and that word, 
Prov. xxxi. 30, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but 
a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." I went 
to the Lord with it, earnestly desiring light from Him ; and 
that word came to me iii prayer, and I turned it into a prayer. 
Matt. vi. 33, " Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His 
righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you." 
And the Lord gave me a clear commentary on that place, with 
respect to that business, which I can better think than express. 
The Lord made me clearly see, that I had first sought the 
kingdom of heaven ; for, as I appealed to the Lord's omniscience, 
unless I had discerned the sparkles of grace in her, and had 
thought her acquainted with religion, I durst not have proposed 
such a thing to her. So T concluded I durst not ; but would 
follow it as my duty, hoping other things should be added. 
Next day, finding my heart lifted up above the world, I took 
that nick of time to examine myself on the head foresaid, and 
my heart said. Now I am well content. 

On the 16th of April, this morning, especially in prayer, 
before I went to the church, 1 was tempted to think I had been 
rash in my choice ; which temptation I slighted, knowing it 
to be a deceit of Satan, to wear me oft" what I was about. 
I thought it no time then for me to consider whether or not, 
and so rejected it ; but it cost me struggling. However, its 
unseasonable importunity discovered the cloven foot. 

\h^th April. — 1 was about this time going to leave that 
country ; and having been out in a garden with her, and 
conveyed her into the house thereafter, I went back to the 
same place ; it was in Barhill in the orchard ; and tliere I had 


a sweet while of converse with God in prayer, in a sweet 
hungering frame. My soul was much satisfied in the Lord ; and 
in that place, I will say, I met with God, and there He spoke 
with me. We were together about three or four days at this 
time ; and the upshot of all was, that I was made often to bless 
God that ever I was acquainted with her. I understood several 
things at this and other times, that in this matter she had acted 
as a Christian, and as under intiuence of light from the Lord. 

2&th May.—l was now tossed with scruples and doubts as to 
my marriage. I thought on it, but found no outgate. I went 
to God, particularly for light in that matter, which was now 
overclouded, and earnestly begged it. I found in prayer my 
heart going out in love to Christ, etc. 

bth June. — After I had been writing to her, that word, 
Ps. cxxxviii, ult., " The Lord will perfect that which concerneth 
me," came with such power as dispelled these doubts ; and I 
was helped to believe that God would order things for my good 
in that matter. On the 12th I examined the light I had got 
in that point, and had help of Durham on conscience. And I 
found my light in that matter, 1. was from the word, and 
pressed me to the thing, as agreeable to the word, and carried 
me on to it as duty towards God ; 2. It had another kind of 
authority and stateliness with it than light affection, or passions ; 
it overpowered my worldly-mindedness, discontent, etc., and this 
very remarkably. And my heart bears me witness, that it had 
influence on me to humble and abase me in the sight of God. 
Whence it appears, that it was my duty before ; and if then, 
now too, seeing no new thing has occurred. Whatever affection 
I have to her, if my heart deceive me not, I would sacrifice my 
inclinations to the command of God. 

22nd February 1700. — There was a considerable time I had 
not heard from my friend, which bred me much perplexity : but 
the Lord took that way to rebuke me for my mismanagements. 
He drew me by it nearer Himself, and put me to a holy 
submission. And the effect of it was, I w^as more confirmed in 
the business ; and when I was weaned, and brought to stoop to 
Providence, He shewed me that the fears were groundless. 

25//t March. — I had been for some time before this, and 
was still, under a very dead and drowsy frame of spirit. I was 
sore racked with various thoughts, and had a sharp exercise of 
it that night, and next day especially. I therefore resolved, 
against Monday, to set some time apart for fasting and prayer, 

i6grnoo\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 149 

that I might get that devil cast out of my heart. So the 
Sabbath passed, and I walked halting ; my case being so after 
sermon, that if my head had been to have been struck off, I 
could not have given it a name. 1. The removal then of that 
spiritual indisposition was the chief cause of that exercise ; 
2. Victory over sin ; 3. l*reparation for the then ensuing public 
fast, and particula'rly that I might get clear uptakings of what I 
was to preach ; 4. Success in my ministry ; lastly, that 1 might 
attain to habitual cheerfulness in the Lord. So I spent some 
time this day in prayer for these things. The Lord in the 
morning began to blow upon my soul, and continued so to do 
through the rest of the day 1 was at that work : and with all 
willingness of soul I renewed and subscribed a personal covenant 
with God. And as of myself, so of my friend, I made a solemn 
resignation to the Lord. And towards the close of that exercise, 
I earnestly prayed, that if it were His will, I might have a token 
of His reception of both. My heart was calmed and strengthened 
in the Lord, and my mind made heavenly. I closed the whole 
with singing I's. cxvi. 7, and downwards, and then went down 
and took a refreshment. The tenor of the personal covenant I 
then renewed and subscribed is as follows. 

" I, Mk. Thomas Boston, minister of God's word at Simprin : 
Forasmuch as I am in some measure sensible of my grievous, 
horrid, and frequent backslidings from the Lord, since the last 
time I covenanted with God ; and in particular, having been for 
some time habitually in a dead and sleepy frame, for which 
cause (among others mentioned elsewhere) I set this day apart 
for fasting and prayer ; and finding myself called to renew my 
covenant with God, the rather to obtain the ends of this day's 
exercise, and to get my soul more confirmed in the Lord, for 
wading through the difficulties 'twixt me and heaven, in prayer 
I did, and now (giving it under my hand) 1 do, adhere to all my 
former covenants with, and engagements to be the Lord Jesus 
Christ's, particularly that written and subscribed covenant of the 
date 14th August 1699 ;^ and do now, with all my heart and 
soul, solemnly resign and give up myself, and all my bodily and 
spiritual concerns, unto Christ ; taking llim with heart and soul 
upon those very terms, and no other, upon which He is offered 
in the gospel ; resolving, and hereby engaging, in His strength, 
to cleave to Him and His truths, so long as I live, whatever be 
the hazard. Likeas I have, and hereby do, solemnly give up 

1 [See p. 84.] 


and resign K. B. to the same Lord Christ, that I have given 
myself to be His for ever. And this before the Lord, the 
searcher of hearts, I do with all vvillinguess subscribe, the 25 th 
day of March 1700 years. T. B." 

IWi Mnr<'li. — I think I had never more persuasion of God's 
accepting my renewing of covenant than that yesterday. I 
rejoice I have done it, when I think on it ; and I am persuaded 
God has accepted it ; for I have had covenanted strength since, 
as well as the token aforesaid. That word was sweet to me in 
my ordinary last night, Isa. liv. 6, " The Lord hath called thee as 
a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, 
when thou wast refused, saith thy God." 

23rfZ April. — My father, in the time of his sickness, had (as 
he had also before) urged mc to put an end to that business ; 
and then I found I was inclined not to delay it long. And 
another thing came immediately after, which obliged me to be 
at a point in that matter. This day I set myself to spend some 
time in seeking light from the Lord in that point. I prayed twice, 
but was in no good case, and so could not fall on what I aimed at. 
I tried it again, and after a while I got my feet fastened ; the 
Spirit did blow on me, and the matter was laid out before the 
Lord ; and my conscience told me, that I did sincerely desire 
God's determination in the case ; which desire I saw as the 
sun at noonday. The upshot of all was, to follow the conduct 
of Providence. On the morrow, having gone to God with it again 
in particular, and after considering the business, I found reasons 
weighty for not delaying it much longer. I also found I was in 
better case for expediting it than I had thought, being then 
made sensible of a mistake. Providence, even in the review at 
this distance, I plainly see to have been, at that time, clearly 
pointing and conducting me, by several steps thereof, unto it. 
Accordingly, on Monday the 29th, I went away to visit my friend ; 
and, following the conduct of Providence, we determined the 
business to the middle of July ; and so I returned cheerfully, and 
ever after was well satisfied as to the determination of the time. 

24^A May. — At night, before family-exercise, I was somewhat 
cast down and troubled by reason of some remaining difficulties 
in the accomplishing of my business. At prayer I took occasion 
to bewail this ; and so it was, that my soul seeing more of the 
vanity of the world, and longing for heaven, I found my soul 
blessing God for troubles in the world ; for I well saw, that 
otherwise I would have been saying, " It is good for me to be 

idgg-noo-] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 151 

here." Blessed be the Lord for that word which we sung, 
Ps. Ixxxv. ult, " What is good the Lord will give." I think I 
can believe it, though I see it not. Lord help my unbelief. 
28th and 29tli May I was taken up in business relative 
thereto, and was helped to manage matters with an eye to God, 
and my heart was lifted up in admiration of divine conduct, 
making mountains molehills. 

"ird June. — Having purposed to spend some time this day in 
prayer, with fasting, with respect especially to my marriage, I 
rose early this morning ; and though I found much of yester- 
day's frame continuing, yet wanted I not some secret heart- 
averseness to that work. After prayer, 1 considered what I 
was to plead for. Awii, first, As to my marriage, L That the 
Lord would clear up duty more and more, that we may go on 
under a sense of God's command ; 2. That He would pardon 
mismanagements in the oncarrying of it ; 3. That He would give 
us a suitable frame for such a weighty business, and particularly 
in the time of it ; 4. Conjugal love and concord ; 5. Content- 
ment as to our choice, and with our lot in the world ; 6. That 
we may be spiritually useful to one another, and particularly 
with respect to a time of trouble for the gospel ; 7. That we 
may live loose to one another, ready to part on a call : and that 
God would provide things necessary for our through-bearing ; 
lastly, That I may be spared with her a while ; and if I be taken 
away, she may not be left destitute, but God may be her tutor. 
Seeondhj, Victory over corruption. Thirdly, Success in my 
ministry. Lastly, Preparation for the fast at Fogo. These 
things I earnestly sought of the Lord ; and, as I went on, I won 
very near God, attaining to familiarity and confidence with the 
Lord ; so that I was made to bless the day I set about this 
work. My heart and flesh were all aloft towards Christ. After 
I had come from that exercise, in the afternoon I received a 
letter from her, wherein she shewed me some piece of exercise 
she was under, and the prevalency of unbelief with her, with 
something importing fears of approaching death. This did 
somewhat amuse me, and made me wonder what might be the 
language of it to me. I had prayed for a token of the Lord's 
accepting this service, and this seemed not to be such. But, on 
further consideration, I found I had no great reason to complain, 
but rather to bless the Lord, who made her careful of her 
salvation, and exercised with her own heart at such a juncture. 
And I had liberty with the Lord on her account. As for the 


fears of approaching death, it is like God has sent it to ballast 
me, and keep me watchful ; and I am the Lord's, let Him do 
what seemeth Him good. I found my heart last week, and at 
this time, more clear in the sight of the world's vanity, and going 
more after being with Christ, which I see is best of all, than a 
good while before. Her case and my own sent me sometimes to 
God. But at night I grew so very apprehensive of her death, 
that my ballast was like to sink me. I strove to encourage 
myself, but nothing would effectually do. But I saw the cause 
of it. And on the morrow morning so was it with me, still I 
sunk, when I thouglit on it ; so easily was I overcome after 
such kind dealing. It sent me again and again to the Lord. 
{N. B. — See how Providence filled up what I had most unaccount- 
ably forgot in the causes above mentioned : for what reason can 
be given, that when I had made it one of my errands to God, 
that I might be spared with her, that I should not also with 
that been ^ concerned that she might be spared with me ?) I 
behoved to go to the presbytery ; and I won but so far above it, 
as to let it be only ballast to my heart, and to make me watchful, 
and prepare for whatever should come. And so it proved very 
useful to me this day both abroad and at home. And so was it 
the next day while studying the sermon for Fogo. 

^th June. — I minded to declare my purpose to two of the 
elders, and went to God on that head ; but was very dull in my 
frame ; but one of them could not be got. So I delayed to this 
day, at which time it was better with me. So that I came to 
them with confidence in God, leaning on and getting use made 
of that word which God said to me before I came to Simprin, 
" The eternal God shall be thy refuge," etc. And I could not 
but observe the Lord's putting a stop to it till I was in this case. 
12>th June. — Thursday, I met with a severe stroke. On the 
Monday afternoon and Tuesday I had fallen secure again ; had 
only some awakening gliffs, and sad experience of the instability 
of my heart ; which lay so heavy on me on Tuesday's night, that 
I would have been content to have quitted all, to have been out 
of the reach of a woful heart, and to have had a dying-day 
instead of a marriage-day. On Wednesday, it was once better ; 
but ere that day was gone, my vigour spiritual was gone. This 
morning I had little freedom in prayer. I preached the weekly 
sermon with an overly superficial moving of affections. After 
the sermon a while, I went out to the garden, and there was a 

1 \_I.e. have been.] 

i6qg-'7od\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 153 

spit sticking in the wall of the house, with the small end of it 
outmost. I rushed inadvertently my face on it, and the wound 
I got was about a straw - breadth beneath the eye. I was 
stupefied with it, and knew not but it had gone into the eye- 
ball. It swelled to a great bigness, an,d covered a great part of 
my eye. I was afraid of losing my eye. It sent me to the 
Lord, confessing my sin, and taking with the punishment of 
mine iniquity ; and I got a patient, quiet, submissive, and 
contented frame under the rod, endeavouring to trust God come 
what would. Great mercy it was that it was not a straw- 
breadth higher ; for then it would have digged out my eye. I 
endeavoured to sit loose to my friend, and all created enjoyments, 
which I thought God called for by that rod. On the morrow 
the thoughts of my falling ofl' so frequently to provoke the Lord, 
and so bringing one rod after another on myself, made heaven 
very desirable to me. And noticing the way of Providence 
with me, I kissed this rod, for there was a deal of kindness in it. 

1'?>nl June. — I preached at Eymouth, under great with- 
drawings of the Spirit, as before narrated. This business has 
been a snare to me since it came so near a period. If I had 
not guided better before, I could have had little comfort in it. 
God is my witness, that it has been and is my grief, that in my 
thoughts of it I cannot be more heavenly ; and that I cannot 
more vigorously look to God with respect to it. If this day 
eight days, when I am to be proclaimed, be such a day as this, I 
think I will be wounded with the arrows of the Almighty : for 
that it should be so at this juncture is a double misery. 

28i!/i June.. — Wherefore I spent some time this day in prayer, 
with respect to my marriage mainly ; was solidly affected with 
it, and helped to believe ; and have hitherto felt my spirit 
bettered thereby, keeping somewhat more closely with God 
than before. Yesterday I had a view of my need of Christ, and 
the supplies of His grace ; and had much inward satisfaction 
flowing from the sense of my soul's nearness to God, and my 
heart's being kept in some measure with God. And this day 
the thoughts of that business were a spur to duty. 

30;'/i Jane. — This day was a good day. I got my heart 
earnest for God's presence, and I wanted neither light nor life 
in my work. And finishing a particular subject that day, my 
soul was affected and melted with the people's case. 

Wi July. — This day I found myself under a great decay 
again ; but discoursing with a good lad, he had occasion to speak 


of these two scriptures, " Truly God is good to Israel," upon 
which I seemed to have a sight of the Lord's goodness ; and 
that, " If Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence ; " 
which had such an impression on me, that upon it I had some 
revival. But by my carelessness it slipped away, and great 
darkness and hardness of heart succeeded. A while after these 
seemed to be going away : but neither was that right guided ; 
and then I was carried quite off my feet. On the morrow 
especially, I saw my confidence with God was quite marred, and 
sin lay heavy on soul and conscience. And though I spent a 
good part of the day, the weary day, in fasting and prayer, the 
Lord would not hear me, neither could I win to any meltedness 
of heart : only I had tormenting light without life. After- 
wards Mr. G li ^ came ; but I was indisposed both in body 

and mind, heavy and melancholy, unfit for anything whatsoever. 
Yet at length, while I lifted up my dejected eyes to the Lord, 
and we conversed about the measure of humiliation requisite in 
a sinner before he can come to Christ, concerning self-condemna- 
tion, etc., I found I spoke only what I felt. So in the very time 
while we thus walked up and down, and discoursed, the Lord 
loosed the poor prisoner ; my heart loosed, and my bands were 
taken off. And I observed my body grew better, when the cure 
was begun in my soul. Afterwards I went to God, poured out 
my soul before Him like water, with grief for sin, and confidence 
of His mercy. And then I was helped to wrestle in earnest 
with God for His presence to be with me with respect to my 
business. By the Lord's dealing thus severely with me, I had a 
sight of the excellency of Christ ; and when I won near God, but 
my soul prized Christ as the Mediator, and way to the Father ; 
and my heart was in love with the doctrine of the gospel, even 
free grace. I spent some time thereafter in the fields meditating, 
with a deep sense of my own vileness. On the morrow I had real 
struggling ere I could get my heart right, but not without success. 
I saw nothing desirable in the world but Christ and ordinances. 
And I had much of the felt presence of God in preaching my 
sermon (it being Thursday). Thereafter, in secret, I found ray 
confidence in the Lord was enlarged, as to what is before me, 
and otherwise ; and my soul was affected with a sense of my 
misery and nothingness : but blessed be the Lord for His kind- 
ness to vile me. 

^ [George Redpath, M.A., then a student of theology at Edinburgh, afterwards 
minister of Ladykirk.] 

j6gg-noo] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 155 

11th July. — Towards night 1 met with a sweet seasonable 
providence, which enlarged my heart in thankfulness to God, 
encouraging me in the business before me, and making me set 
up another Ebenezer. Thereafter meditating in the fields, T was 
filled with joy in the Lord, and my heart was glad, while I had 
discoveries of Christ made to my soul, and was helped to see His 
sulficieucy, and to believe. So that my soul was filled with 
praises and admiration of the Lord's kindness to poor me at this 
juncture, notwithstanding my woful backslidings from Him before. 
O the doctrine of the gospel, and revelation of Christ, is sweet to 
my soul. I have had felt strength against corruption this day. 

loth July, Saturday. — This day I was to go to Kelso, from 
whence I was to go straight to Culross. And 1 found the Lord 
was with me, and helped me to wrestle with Him for His presence 
to my marriage, and to-morrow's work. The testimony of my 
conscience witnessing to me, that I had acknowledged God in 
tliis my way, was a sweet help to me, to believe my steps should 
be directed by Him. I found a more than ordinary concern on 
my heart for my charge, and their case touched my heart very 
nearly. I came away in the strength of the Lord ; and the 
serenity of my mind that I enjoyed at this time was sweet to me. 

14ith July. — This morning when I awoke I was with God, 
and my soul had confidence in the Lord ; yet ere I went to the 
church, some wandering thoughts rushed in and marred my 
ease ; so that in the first prayer I was much deserted, and very 
faint both in body and mind. But being thus emptied of myself, 
the Lord filled my sails in all the other parts of the day's work. 
And betwixt sermons I had such felt strength from the Lord, 
that I admired and rejoiced in His love ; for He really set me 
on my high places ; and His love at this juncture was wondrous 
in my eyes. So in His strength I went away again, and we 
sung Ps. cxxxviii. 5, and downw^ards. I sung it with an uplifted 
heart, and light from the Lord: and for the 5th verse, " Yea 
in the righteous ways of God," etc., though I saw little in it 
when I gave out the psalm, yet when sung, how sweet, con- 
firming, and soul-strengthening was it to me, even with respect 
to my business ! for I saw it was the way of commanded duty. 
For the whole of it, I thought, if I had been at the penning of 
that part of that psalm which we sung, for my present case, I 
would not have altered one word of it. I preached and prayed 
with great light and life from the Lord. At night my heart 
was glad, and my glory rejoiced to speak of Christ. And thus 


was it with me when honest J. E. came in to me, with whom I 
conversed with an uphfted heart. When we were going to part, 
I told him of what was before me ; but he was an instrument of 
discouragement to me, by means of my own corruption. The 
good man said particularly, If you acknowledge God in your 
ways, etc. This seemed to me said with such an air of jealousy, 
that my proud heart murmured at it ; which was after matter 
of mourning to me. Thereafter I found my strength abated ; 
but I gave myself to prayer, and wrestling with God for His 
presence to go with me. As I was filling a pipe, and my heart 
w^as discouraged in that I found not God with me as before, I 
gave a glance to the Bible lying open on the table before me, 
and met with that word, Isa. xh 27, "Why sayest thou, 
Jacob, and speakest, Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and 
my judgement is passed over from my God ? " and finding it so 
speaking, I read on to the end of the chapter, where all was 
most seasonable, and suited to my case. So I went away immedi- 
ately to the Lord with it, cried to Him, and got strength to believe, 
that seeing I waited on God, my strength should be renewed. 

17^/t July. — I came yesterday to Barhill in the strength of 
the Lord, leaning on that promise, Isa. xl. ult, " They that wait 
upon the Lord shall renew their strength : they shall mount up 
with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary ; and they 
shall walk and not be faint ; " and that was all I had. This 
day in the afternoon I withdrew from company, and sought 
the Lord in secret : and afterwards, before the minister came, I 
went to prayer with the family and relations present, particularly 
for the Lord's blessing with respect to the marriage ; and was 
much helped of the Lord. Mr. Mair having come, went alone 
into a room, and staid some time; and I v/ent into another 
alone, and spent the time in prayer : and then the Lord was 
kind to my soul ; Lie drew near to me, and said to me, Fear not ; 
and I came forth in the strength of the Lord. The action was 
gone about most sweetly by Mr. Mair. The Lord directed him 
to most seasonable and pertinent exhortations, and they came 
with power and life. Of a truth God owned it, and it was sweet 
both to Him and us. iVs for my part, my heart being touched 
with the finger of God, was sensibly going forth in love to Christ, 
and admiration of Him, to my great comfort and satisfaction. 
So we were married betwixt eight and nine o'clock at night. 
Immediately after I withdrew into the room where I was before, 
and went to God (it was the upper western room), and there 

idgg-nool MR. THOMAS BOSTON 157 

the Lord filled my heart with joy in Himself unspeakable, and 
loaded me with loving-kindness, trutli, and faithfulness. Verily 
He made me renew my strength, and gave it me with palpable 
increase. Verily the Lord did great things for me at that 
juncture as ever ; and my soul was made to rejoice in Him. 

Thus was I by all-wise Providence yoked with my wife, with 
whom I have now, [1730], by the mercy of God, lived thirty 
years complete : A woman of great worth, whom I therefore 
passionately loved, and inwardly honoured : A stately, beautiful, 
and comely personage, truly pious, and fearing the Lord ; of an 
evenly temper, patient in our common tribulations, and under 
her personal distresses : A woman of bright natural parts, an 
uncommon stock of prudence ; of a quick and lively apprehension, 
in things she applied herself to ; great presence of mind in sur- 
prising incidents ; sagacious and acute in discerning the qualities 
of persons, and therefore not easily imposed upon ; modest and 
grave in her deportment, but naturally cheerful ; wise and affable 
in conversation, having a good faculty at speaking, and express- 
ing herself with assurance ; endowed with a singular dexterity 
in dictating of letters ; being a pattern of frugality, and wise 
management of household-affairs, therefore entirely committed 
to her ; well fitted for, and careful of, the virtuous education of 
her children ; remarkably useful to the country-side, both in the 
Merse and in the Forest, through her skill in physic and surgery, 
which, in many instances, a peculiar blessing appeared to be 
commanded upon from heaven ; and, finally, a crown to me in 
my public station and appearances. During the time we have 
lived together hitherto, we have passed through a sea of trouble, 
as yet not seeing the shore but afar off. I have sometimes been 
likely to be removed from her : she having had little continued 
health, except the first six weeks, her death had oftentimes 
stared us in the face, and hundreds of arrows have pierced my 
heart on that score ; and sometimes I have gone with a trembling 
heart to the pulpit, laying my account with being called out of 
it, to see her expire. And now for the third part of the time 
we have lived together, namely, ten years complete, she has been 
under a particular racking distress ; and, for several of these 
years, fixed to her bed ; in the which furnace, the grace of God 
in her hath been brightened, her parts continued to a wonder, 
and her beauty, which formerly was wont, upon her recoveries, 
to leave no vestige of the illness she had been under, doth as yet 
now and then shew some vestiges of itself. 




AT and about the time of my marriage, it pleased the Lord 
to deal bountifully with my soul. And the Lord's day 
immediately following I preached at Dunning in Strathern. 
I was habitually kept right these days, and the Lord was kind 
to me. I met with a sharp trial after so fair a blink as I 
had : and while I was musing on the causes of the same, I 
found myself called to go to secret prayer at a time unexpected ; 
and within a little after, the Lord was graciously pleased to 
let me find He had heard me, and the dispensation was sweet, 
coming as an answer of prayer. But when I came to Dunning 
on the Saturday's night, I found myself wrong, having neither 
heart nor hand for my work. On the Sabbath morning my 
indisposition continued, save that at family-prayer my affections 
were loosed, and I had a deep sense of my own vileness on my 
spirit. In the forenoon it was neither very ill nor very well ; 
but in the afternoon my bands were freely loosed, and I had 
light and life from the Lord. I preached on Ps. xviii. 46, 
" The Lord liveth, and blessed be my rock ; " the which text 
I was led to, as my anchor-ground, in my new circumstances 
through the change of my lot. And that week we came home 
to Simprin. 

Until the 15th of August, the weekly sermon was continued 
in the kirk ; at which time, being intermitted because of the 
harvest, it was begun again on the 7th of November in the 
house, and that in the night. And after that manner that 
exercise was managed during the remaining time of my 
ministry in that place. 

XAitli Noccmhcr. — This has been a time of many troubles to 
me, so that I have sometimes wondered what the Lord minded 
to do with me. Now I had a very sharp one, but was quickly 
delivered : so on the morrow I spent some time in fasting and 
prayer, and renewed my covenant with the Lord ; and it 

1700-1707^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 159 

pleased the Lord to let out something of Himself to me, so 
that, reflecting on my troubles, I clearly saw the need of them, 
with a deal of convincing power, and my soul was made to 
see God's love in them all, and from my heart I was made to 
say, He had done all things well. The fruit of them is, that 
I have thereby seen the vanity of all things besides Christ, 
and that there is no rest but in Him alone, and to desire to 
be with Him, which is best of all. 

In April 1701, my dear father sickened again: and death 
appearing on its way, the rest of his children were sent for. 
They being come, he, on Sabbath the loth of that month, 
after a sore toss of sickness, especially after sermons, died that 
night, in the 70 th year of his age, having been born in 
December 1631. This sharp rod the Lord had shaken over 
my head that time twelve months before,^ for my warning. 
However, being laid on, it went to the quick with me. It was 
a heavy death to me, the shock of which I had much ado to 
stand. He was a man of a low stature, of a fresh and lively 
complexion ; nimble, strong, and vigorous ; active, and given 
to application in business ; one who, in the worst of times, 
retained his integrity, beyond many ; and, in view of death, 
gave comfortable evidences of eternal life, to be obtained 
through the Lord Jesus Christ. His body lies interred in the 
churchyard of Simprin, in the burial - place of the ministers 
there, whereof I thereby took possession, and soon had more 
occasion for. 

On the 24th of May, about two or three o'clock in the 
morning, my wife, after long and sore labour, brought forth 
her first child, a daughter, called Katharine ; having, at the 
holy and just pleasure of the sovereign Former of all things, 
a double harelip, whereby she was rendered incapable of 
sucking. My wife, having a great terror of the pains of 
child-bearing, had beforehand laid her account with death ; as 
she always, I think, did on that occasion thereafter ; having, 
at the same sovereign pleasure, an uncommon share of these 
pains, the remembrance whereof to this day makes my heart 
to shrink. When I, understanding her to be delivered, and 
preserved, was coming towards the chamber to see her ; Mrs. 
Dawson above mentioned ^ meeting me, intimated to me the 
case of the child : with which my heart was struck, like a bird 
shot and falling from a tree. Howbeit I bore it gravely ; and 

i[P. 142.] -[P. 116.] 


my afflicted wife carried the trial very Christianly and wisely, 
after her manner. Thus it pleased my God, to correct me 
for my sins ; to balance my enjoyment ; and to teach to 
acknowledge Him, in the formation of children in the womb. 
The child being weak, was baptized by Mr, Dawson the same 
day : and was for a long time watched in the night, through 
the summer. In that dear child's case, I had a singular ex- 
perience of tender love melted down in pity ; as considering 
her teeth set on edge through the parent's eating of the sour 

After my father's death, his tenement in the Newton of 
Dunse falling to me, by his disposition thereof in my favour, 
I thereby became liable to a burden of 1000 merks ; whereof 
100 had been borrowed money, the rest allotted by him for 
the portions of two brothers and two sisters ; my eldest brother 
having long before received another tenement for his portion, 
and discharged my father and his heirs. They having also 
charged me with an account of his moveables, which I then 
possessed, or claimed, I took advice about it : and being 
convinced in my conscience, that their design was quite beside 
the intention of the dead ; and that, in law and justice, I had 
a charge upon them, more than sufficient to balance the same, 
I resolved to essay to satisfy these my brothers and sisters, by 
advancing their money as soon as might be. 

In pursuance of which project, I went to Barhill about the 
harvest ; and the child having appeared to grow better at the 
quarter's end, took my wife along with me. There I received 
a part of her portion ; for which I paid interest to my mother- 
in-law till the year 1709, at which time she was removed by 
death : the remains thereof, some time after that, I received, 
being in Etterick. But that journey proved a very heavy one, 
for our trial. By the way thither, my wife swooned at 
Danskin ; which seemed to be occasioned by ram's mutton 
afforded us there to dinner. She recovering, v/e accomplished 
our journey. And being in Inzevair ^ (in the parish of Torry- 
burn, Fifeshire), in her sister's house, on a morning she lying 
abed after I was risen, dreamed that she saw the child perfect, 
the natural defect being made up, and extraordinary beautiful. 
This making impression, as it could hardly miss to do, we 

' [Inzievar, formerly pronounced Ingievar, but now generally as spelled, a 
mansionhouse and farm about two miles from Torryburn. I am informed that 
Inzievar was not in the parish of Torryburn till recently.] 

1700-1707} MR. THOMAS BOSTON 161 

returned homeward as soon as conveniently we could. Arriving 
at Blucks-mill,^ about eight or nine miles from home, in a 
little our hearts were pierced with an account, that our dear 
child was dead and buried. After which, we came home in 
great heaviness ; and found, that that very day, and hour of 
the day, as near as could be judged, wherein my wife had the 
dream aforesaid, the child had died. Thus it pleased the 
Lord, to exercise us with one affliction on the neck of another: 
and, as I have often experienced, the world's laying their over- 
load above the burden from the holy sovereign hand , so it was 
afterwards found, that one of our acquaintance had very unjustly 
spoke to the grief of us whom the Lord had wounded. 

Being through the interest of Mr. James Ramsay aforesaid, 
and other friends, chosen by the synod to be their clerk, I 
entered on that oflice, at their meeting in October this year ; 
and continued therein till the close of their meeting in April 
1711, at which time 1 did demit. That work was a matter 
of great weight on several accounts. When I first took the 
seat among them, and stood up for to read, being in great 
confusion, through my natural diffidence and timorousness, I 
blundered : but recovering myself, with much ado made it out. 
Upon which occasion, Mr. Eamsay did seasonably express his 
confidence of me notwithstanding. The oath dc fiddi cuhnini- 
slrationc I declined : and they were pleased to accept of my 
promise, to serve them faithfully, and keep their secrets ; 
which I strictly observed. It was a work of great labour and 
painfulness : even the reading of papers was a business of 
great toil. In time of their sederunts, I took short minutes 
of the substance of their actings, which in the interval of 
diets I extended ; the which occasioned my sitting up great 
part of the night. And their meetings falling in the times 
of the year wherein I was weakest, I could not have endured, 
but that they did not last long. After the two first synods, 
being always desirous to do the business to the best advantage 
1 could reach, I did of my own proper motion ordinarily make 
a third copy of the minutes ; but this at home, at my leisure. 
Then the synod-book was once a-year to be tilled up, for the 
General Assembly to visit it. I often sat in my seat among 
them, as one wandering in a wilderness, while I observed the 
sway of their opinions and reasonings, in order to take up the 

^ [A farm in Langton parisli, not far from Longformacus. It was then a hamlet, 
inhabited \\y a community of weavers.] 


1 62 MEMOIRS OF [period VI I i 

mind of the court : but, through the divine assistance, I 
ordinarily took up, and expressed, their affairs, so as to please, 
and to facilitate their work. And I had a very honourable 
testimony, in that point, of my Lord Minto, who had been 
clerk to the council of Scotland, expressed on occasion of his 
being present at the synod ; the which testimony raised in 
my heart, admiration of the divine condescension, and thank- 
fulness to my God. When I entered on that office, the fees 
were 14d. a-synod by each minister; afterward they were 
advanced to five groats : but, in the year 1703, they raised 
the same to half a dollar, being 29d. And during the time 
I continued in Simprin, these fees were paid very well. By 
an account of the gain, by that office, kept for the first five 
years, I find it was better than £100 Scots communibus annis. 

The synod meeting at Jedburgh, on Tuesday 21st April 
1702, I was obliged, upon that occasion, to leave my wife, 
having, 1 think, passed her reckoning. And by the disposal 
of holy Providence, for our farther trial, the synod continued 
sitting even on the Thursday afternoon. They being at length 
risen, I took horse that evening ; and riding all night, got home 
about the morning-light : where, by the mercy of God, I found 
my wife still well, though in perplexity. On the Wednesday 
after, 29th April, about the going down of the sun, she brought 
forth her first son, John, who was baptized on the 1st day of 
May, by Mr. John Pow, minister at Leunel. In his appearance 
our hearts were comforted, after the heavy trial in the case of 
his sister ; finding, that our God would " not chide continually, 
nor keep His anger for ever." And as he was always a proper 
child, so he is this day a very stately and pretty man ; the 
which I deem just to remark, to the praise of our merciful and 
compassionate God, who formerly had afflicted us. 

Being invited, I assisted at the communion in Morbattle, in 
the month of June this year. And here began a particular 
friendship between the worthy Mr. John Simson,^ minister there, 
and me ; which lasted till he was removed by death in or about 
the year 1722. He was a serious good man; a most pathetic, 
zealous, and popular preacher, and withal substantial in his 
sermons ; having a most ready gift ; always concerned to gain 
souls to Jesus Christ ; blessed with a great measure of his 
Master's countenance ; and most acceptable to the people. He 

1 [Rev. Jn. Simpson, M.A., was translated from Yetliolm to Morebattle in 1C97. 
He died there in 1 723, ret. 56 ] 

noo-noy] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 163 

had a singular easiness and sweetness of temper, which continued 
with him to the last. He was, in the end of his days, confined 
for a long time to his bed ; in which time, visiting him, in 
company with my two friends Messrs. Wilson and Davidson, we 
found him still lovely and pleasant as before. 

The first time I administered the sacrament of the Lord's 
supper in Simprin, was on the 2nd of August that year ; and it 
was done yearly thereafter, while I continued in that place. 
At that time it was administered in the kirk, there being sermon 
also without : but I think that was the only time, except in the 
winter, that it was not celebrated without doors. The Lord was 
very gracious to me in that work : and I have a savoury 
remembrance of my delivering of that my first action-sermon on 
Ps. xl. 7, " Then said I, Lo I come." Going out in time of 
serving the tables, and finding the meeting without wanting a 
minister, I, under the impressions of the Lord's goodness then 
upon me, stepped into the tent, and preached a while to them 
extempore, on Deut. xxxiii. 29, "Happy art thou, Israel: 
who is like unto thee, people saved by the Lord, the shield of 
thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency ! " etc. Mr. 
Simson aforesaid was one of my assistants at that time : and we 
continued our mutual assistance thereafter for ordinary ; only it 
was once interrupted a little, after the year 1709, as will be 
noticed in the proper place. And many a good day of that 
nature we had together, especially at Morbattle. 

This was the first year of the reign of Queen Anne, the oath 
of allegiance to whom I took ; but did thereafter often desiderate 
a due impression thereof on my spirit. I endeavoured, while 
she lived, to keep the sense of it on my heart : but unto this 
day I never took another, whether of a public or private 

Hitherto we lived in the house where I settled when I came 
to the place : and while there, though I remember not the 
particular time, I began the evening lecture in my family, on 
the chapter read in our ordinary, nightly. And that custom I 
have continued to this day ; save in the Sabbath-nights, of late 
years at least. When at any time there seemed to be some 
occasion of intermitting it, I chose rather to say a very little, 
than quite to let it alone ; fearing that one intermission thereof, 
at our ordinary times, might make way for dropping it altogether. 

In the end of the year, the winter being begun, we re- 
moved into tlie new manse, built for me from the foundation, 


and by that time covered : but little of the Wright's work 
within it was then done ; but was a-doing through the winter. 
The ground whereon it was built, being quite new, we were 
obliged at first to straw the floor of our bed-chamber with 
shavings, which was afterwards laid with deals. This hardship 
of entering the new house, we preferred to suffering the in- 
conveniences of the old. Langton's estate going then from hand 
to hand, it was not without considerable difficulty, and expense 
too, that I got that house carried on. Afterward I formed a 
large garden, and built the dike ; the which was a work of 
some time, trouble, and expense too. And herein also was the 
saying verified, " One soweth, and another reapeth." 

In the month of March following, met the first general 
assembly in the reign of Queen Anne ; of the which assembly I 
was a member. Seafield ^ being the Queen's Commissioner, Mr. 
George Meldrum ^ was chosen Moderator, as the man who to 
him would be most acceptable. The asserting of the intrinsic 
power of the church, was then the great point that some 
laboured for ; but in vain : it was told them by their brethren, 
Tliey had it, and what then needed the waste of an Act 
asserting it ? The assembly having sat several days, were upon 
an overture for preventing Protestants marrying with Papists : 
in the time whereof, a whisper beginning about the throne, and 
a motion being, I think, made for recommitting the overture, 
the Commissioner, rising from his seat, instantly dissolved the 
assembly in her Majesty's name.^ This having come like a 
thunder-clap, there were, from all corners of the house, pro- 
testations offered against it, and for the intrinsic power of the 
church ; with which I joined. But the Moderator, otherwise a 
most grave and composed man, being in as much confusion as 
a schoolboy when beaten, closed with prayer; and got away, 
together with the clerk, so that nothing was then got marked. 
This was one of the heaviest days that ever I saw, beholding a 
vain man trampling on the privileges of Christ's house, and 
others couching under the burden. And I could not but observe, 
how Providence rebuked their shifting the Act to assert as above 
said, and baffled their design in the choice of the Moderator ; 
never a moderator since the Revolution to this day, so far as I 
can guess, having been so ill treated by a Commissioner. The 

^ [The Earl of Sealield, Lord High Chancellor of the kingdom.] 

- [Minister of the Trou Church, Edinbiu'gh.] 

^ [Cp. Cunningham, Church History ,\l. (2nd ed.) 210, with authorities there cited.] 

jyoo-nojl MR. THOMAS BOSTON 165 

learned and pious Mr. James Brisbane, late minister of Stirling/ 
a young man at that time as well as I, pulled me down, when 
offering to join the protesters : and the same very worthy man, 
many years after, joined not with the representers in the affair 
of the Marrow ; though he had no freedom to go along with the 
assembly, but was obliged to declare himself in favour of truth, 
before they should close that affair. And I remember, that 
with respect to this last case, he, in private conversation, said in 
his pleasant manner, thereafter, he had so done, but knew not 
if he would have full satisfaction in it, when got home, and 
reflecting thereon in his closet. Meanwhile the dissolving of 
that assembly by Seafield, was the occasion of adjusting that 
matter betwixt the church and state, and settling it in the 
manner wherein, I suppose, it hath all along since continued, 
the assembly being first dissolved in the name of Jesus Christ, 
by the Moderator as their mouth, and in the name of the 
magistrate by the Commissioner. 

In April following, the synod meeting at Dunse, entered on 
making an Act, asserting their principles with respect to the 
established government of the cluirch. Against which, Mr. 
Alexander Orrock, minister at Hawick, a man of vast parts, 
and the greatest assurance I ever knew, protested, and left 
the synod ; pretending the same to be a raising of groundless 
jealousies against the magistrate ; though in the meantime the 
grounds of jealousy were looked on as not small. With him 
joined Mr. Eobert Bell, minister at Cavers, now at Crailling; Mr. 
Eobert Cuningham at Wilton, afterward at Hawick ; and Mr. 
Eobert Scot at Eoberton. Upon the other hand, I was dis- 
satisfied with the Act, for that it touched not the particular 
point in which the church was at that time especially aggrieved, 
namely, her intrinsic power of meeting, and treating, in her 
judicatories, of her affairs, as necessity might require, for the 
honour of her Head, and the spiritual welfare of her members. 
And since, for the said cause, I could not approve of it, and had 
not so clear access as ordinary to give my vote, I declared this 
my mind before the synod ere it was put to the vote. Where- 
upon Mr. Charles Gordon, minister of Ashkirk, a learned and holy 
man, of uncommon integrity, sometime chosen to be professor of 
divinity in Aberdeen, though he accepted it not, spoke something 

^ [Mr, Brisbane ministered first at Kilinalfolin and was thence translated to 
Stii-ling. He died in 172i. "A worthy and great divine" Ralph Erskinc calls 
liim [Faitli no Fancy, App.). Cf. Brown's Gospel Truth (1S31), 443.] 


in answer thereto, and for the Act, which thereafter was voted, 
and approved by the rest. But that same night, I think, he 
sent for me to his quarters, where he lodging together with Mr. 
William Macghie, minister of Selkirk, we supped together, and 
were brought acquamted. And this, I believe, was the occasion 
of the presbytery of Selkirk their setting their eye on me for 
the parish of Etterick. And I had the comfort of his declaring 
to me, on his deathbed, some time after my coming to Etterick, 
the satisfaction he had in having seen Mr. Gabriel "Wilson, my 
friend, and me, settled in their presbytery. 

I being only a singular successor, and not heir to my father, 
was liable to Drummelzier, the superior, in a year's rent of my 
tenement, for entry, which otherwise would have been but the 
double of the feu-duty: so, on the 15th of April, I compounded 
with him for £G0 Scots; for which the town-clerk having 
drawn a bond in the jog-trot style of bonds for borrowed money, 
I refused to sign it; but drew a bond with my own hand, with 
the which Drummelzier was satisfied.^ This I signed accord- 
ingly; and relieved, by paying the money, on 14th May, there- 
after. Having upon that aflair had occasions of conversing with 
Drummelzier, who was a sober sensible man, I afterward found, 
he had upon occasions shewn himself friendly disposed, in his 
own way, towards me : particularly, that it being told him, 
speaking of planting me in Dunse, then vacant, that I was too 
hot ; he thereupon mentioned another place for me, as one as 
hot as I, viz. Etterick. So early Providence w'as at work for 
bringing about my settlement in that place, where I was to 
spend the most of my strength and days. 

Invited by Mr. Gabriel Semple, retaining of his former dis- 
position towards me, I preached at Jedburgh 27 th February,^ fore- 
noon and afternoon. The congregation being convened again, about 
a quarter of an hour after, he, from the reader's desk, made a 
short discourse on the fifth command, particularly the duties of 
husbands and wives. The things lie insisted on were indeed 
common and ordinary ; but they were delivered in such a 
manner, and such power accompanied them, that I was in a 
manner amazed ; and they went out through me, and in through 

^ [In Scots Law singular successor is one ;vlio acquires property by purchase or 
by will, as contrasted with the heir-at-law, who succeeds by the general law of 
succession. The former, on succession, is due the superior a sum equal to a year's 
rent of the subjects. This is called composition. Boston gave a bond for the 


noo-noj^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 167 

me, so that I said in my heart, " Happy are those that hear thy 
wisdom." Mr. Gabriel Wilson^ being then his assistant, but preach- 
ing that day at Oxnam, there began at that time an acquaintance 
betwixt him and me, wliich by some interviews afterward, and 
particularly by a meeting at Simprin, advanced to a particular 
friendship. And after I was settled in Etterick, and he in 
Maxton, the same grew up into a noted and uncommon strict- 
ness, continuing, through the mercy of God, inviolate unto this 

On 21st March, about two o'clock in the morning, my son 
Eobert was born ; and he was baptized on the 26th, by Mr. John 
Lithgow, minister at S win ton. 

As to my ordinary in preaching, occasionally mixed with 
other subjects, having begun, as said is, the second Sabbath in 
Simprin after my ordination, I continued preaching man's natural 
state, until 10th August 1700. At which time I entered on 
preaching Christ the remedy for man's misery. From which I 
proceeded, 19th October 1701, to the doctrine of the application 
of the remedy : in the which, entering 1 8th February 1 7 2, on the 
particulars of the ordinary method of the Spirit with sinners in 
conversion ; being sensible of the delicacy of the subject, and 
desiring to say nothing thereon but what I had digested before- 
hand, I began writing my sermons at large, and to venture very 
little on extemporary expression. And this was the occasion of 
my falling into a habit of writing my sermons at large, which I 
have since for ordinary continued, as I had access, and could 
reach it : a yoke which often since that time 1 would have been 
glad to have shaken oti', but could not get it done. Nevertheless 
1 have been convinced, it was a kind and honourable dispensation 
of Providence that kept it on me. Howbeit, whereas in my 
notes at that time, as also before and after unto this day, may 
be sometimes found Latin, Greek, and perhaps Hebrew, it was 
not my manner to express them in the pulpit to the people ; 
but in their mother-tongue to express the thing the best way 1 
could. In sermons indeed coram clcro, as presbyterial exercises, 
I used all freedom in that point : but so doing in sermons 
before the people, in country or town, I ever despised, and had a 
contempt of, as pedantic, and unbecoming the weight of the 

HRev. Gabriel "Wilson, M.A., whose name so often occurs, was ordained to 
Maxton in 1709. He was one of the twelve Representers {ride Introduction). 
In later life he adopted principles of Independency. He died 11th February 1750, 
■xt. c. 71. Cf. Brown's Gos2}el Truth (1831), 82-94.] 

1 68 MEMOIRS OF Vperiod viii 

sacred mysteries. Meanwhile, having dispatched that subject, I 
proceeded, 15th November 1702, to the privileges of believers in 
Christ. And finally, on 14th February 1703, I entered on the 
believer's duty : wherein, after the general doctrine, coming to 
particulars, I went through all the ten commands : which done 
I shewed the use of the law to those that are out of Christ ; 
the believer's deliverance and freedom from the law as a 
covenant ; and pressed the regarding thereof, as a rule of life : 
with which I closed that ordinary of subjects, in the month of 
April this year 1704. 

Withal on the 4th of May following, I began an ordinary of 
week-days' sermons on the Song of Solomon : in which, I think, I 
continued till my removal to Etterick ; where I had no more 
access to service of that kind. In that time I went through the 
2nd and 3rd chapters of that book, and had entered on the 4th : 
and these afforded us many a sweet hour together. These sermons 
are in reientis. But I judge I had before that gone through 
the first chapter in some exercises, without writing any notes. 

As to my studies, when I was settled in Simprin, I had very 
few books ; which occasioned my borrowing, as I had access ; and 
moreover, where I wanted to be satisfied in some particular points, 
obliged me to think of tlie same, if so I could find out what to 
rest satisfied in, not having access to consult many authors. 
And thus my scarcity of books proved a kind disposal of 
Providence towards me ; I, in that method, arriving at a greater 
distinctness and certainty in these points, than otherwise I could 
readily have obtained. The chief of these points I wanted to be 
satisfied in were two ; namely, the doctrine of the grace of God 
in Christ, and the subject of baptism. 

As for the doctrine of grace, how tlie Lord was pleased to 
give my heart a set toward the preaching of Christ, and how I 
had several convictions of legality in my own practice, is already 
narrated. I had heard Mr. Mair often speak of being divorced 
from the law, dead to it, and the like ; but I understood very 
little of the matter. Howbeit, my thoughts being, after my 
settlement at Simprin, turned that way, that I might understand 
somewhat of these things, some light, new to me, seemed to 
break up from the doctrine of Christ : but then I could not see 
how to reconcile the same with other things which seemed to be 
truth too. And I think, that among these first rays of light, was 
a notion, that the sins of believers in Christ, even while yet not 
actually repented of, did not make them, being in a state of 

1700-1707-] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 169 

grace, liable to eternal punishment. And on tliis head I did, 
by a letter, consult Mr. Murray in Penpont ; but was nob 
thoroughly satisfied witli what he advanced upon it. Mean- 
while, being still on the scent, as I was sitting one day in a 
house of Siniprin, I espied above the window-head two little old 
books ; which when I had taken down, I found intitled, the one 
The, Marrow of Modern Divinit}/}- the other, Christ's Blood FlovAng 
Freely to Sinners?' These I reckon had been brought home from 
England by the master of the house, a soldier in the time of the 
civil wars. Finding them to point to tlie subject I was in 
particular concern about, 1 brought them both away. The 
latter, a book of Saltmarsli's, I relished not; and I think I 
returned it without reading it quite through. The other, being 
the first part only of the Marrovv, I relished greatly ; and 
having purchased it at length from the owner, kept it from 
that time to this day ; and it is still to be found among my 
books. I found it to come close to the points I was in quest 
of, and to shew the consistency of these, which I could not 
reconcile before : so that I rejoiced in it, as a light which the 
Lord had seasonably struck up to me in my darkness. 

What time, precisely, this happened, I cannot tell : but I 
am very sure that, by the latter end of the year 1700, I had 
not only seen that book, but digested the doctrine thereof in a 
tolerable measure ; since by that time I was begun to preach it, 
as I had occasion, abroad. Such opportunities I took, to give 
way to the then bent of my heart, which I could not so directly 
satisfy at home, being on the ordinary aforesaid. 

The first parcel of books I got added to my small library, 
was in the year 1702. The which year, in August, Mr. Simson 
aforesaid being in my closet, and looking at my book-press, 
smiled : the which, from whatever principle he did it, touched 
me to the quick, being conscious of my want of a tolerable 
quantity. Among these were Zanchy's works, and Luther on 
the Galatians, which I was much taken with : and Providence 
also laid to my hand, about that time, Beza's Confession of 
Faith. Most of the books mentioned in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th 
pages of my catalogue yet in retentis, whose prices are set down 
with them, were purchased in that year, and the following 1703. 

^ [See Introduction.] 

* [1645, Saltmarsh, Free Grace, or tlie Flowing of Christ's Blood freely to Sinners. 
The book seems to have been popular, as a 12th ed. appeared iu 1814. Richard 
Baxter was of Boston's mind, Saint's Resf, III. viii. 2.] 


And from the year 1704, the catalogue aforesaid goes on 
orderly, according to the years, generally, wherein the books 
came to my hand. 

Being thus provided, I was in better case to pursue my 
search, to my further instruction and confirmation. In this 
manner, I reached, through grace, a distinctness and certainty, 
as to several points of the doctrine of grace, that I had not 
before. And what contributed much thereto was, that I 
purposely studied some points of that nature, for my own 
satisfaction ; and set down my thoughts in writing ; particu- 
larly these three points, viz. 1. Whether or not the sins of 
believers, while unrepented of, make them liable to eternal 
punishment ? 2. Whether or not all sins, past, present, and 
to come, are pardoned together and at once ? 3. Whether or 
not repentance be necessary, in order to the obtaining of the 
pardon of sin ? 

Meanwhile, after I was let into the knowledge of the 
doctrine of grace, as to the state and case of believers in Christ, 
I was still confused, indistinct, and hampered in it, as to the 
free, open, and unhampered access of sinners unto Him. And 
thus, 1 am sure, it was with me, till the year 1702. How long 
I continued so thereafter, I knov/ not. But, through the mercy 
of God, I was by the year 1704 let into that point also; and 
so far confirmed therein, that, on the 9th of July that year, at 
a communion in Coldinghame, 1 preached on Matt. xi. 28, 
" Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden," etc., 
then and there giving the true sense of that text, since published 
in the notes on the Marrow, and prosecuting it accordingly. 
And by the same time also, I reckon I had the true sense of 
the parallel texts, Isa. Iv. 1, Matt. ix. 12, 1.3, since that time 
also published in the notes aforesaid. How I was led thereto, 
I cannot distinctly tell ; but I apprehend I had taken the hint 
from the Marrow; and I had no great fondness for the doctrine 
of the conditionality of the covenant of grace. 

With relation to the point last named, I remember, that 
upon a young man's mentioning, in a piece of trial before the 
presbytery, the conditions of the covenant of grace ; I quarrelled 
it, having no great gust for faith's being called the condition 
thereof, but abhorring the joining of other conditions with it. 
Thereupon he was appointed to deliver an exegesis on the 
question. An feed us (jratice sit conditionatum 1 This the young 
man, in his exegesis, resolved in the affirmative ; though, I 

/700-/707] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 171 

think, he held by faith only as the condition. I impugned his 
thesis, using this argument, viz., " I will be their God, and they 
shall be my people," is not conditional, but absolute : But this 
is the covenant : Ergo, The covenant is not conditional. To 
which Mr. Kamsay aforesaid answered for the young man. 
That the covenant of grace was indeed a testament, and not, 
properly speaking, conditional. Herewith I was satisfied, and 
declared I would not insist, since 1 had been in earnest : but 
withal that I thought it was pity, that such an improper way 
of speaking of faith should be used ; since it was not scriptural, 
was liable to be abused, and ready to lead people into mistakes. 
These things, in these days, while I was in the Merse, gave 
my sermons a certain tincture, which was discerned ; though 
the Marrow, from whence it sprang, continued in utter obscurity : 
but they were acceptable to the saints ; neither did brethren 
shew disgust of them. I conversed occasionally on some of 
these points with brethren, particularly with Mr. Eamsay, then 
in Eymouth ; and indeed he was still on the other side of the 
question. We had then some of the same arguments, that 
afterwards, in the year 1723, were cast up before the synod, in 
Mr, Wilson's affair : but these disputes marred not our friend- 
ship, he being still pleased to call me to assist at the communion 
with him in Eymouth, though he used not to be with me at 
Simprin on that occasion. The worthy Mr. Golden also had a 
difficulty to admit what I advanced on the first question afore- 
said : but after some reasoning, he owned there was some weight 
in that argument, If believers were liable to eternal wrath in 
the case mentioned, they behoved to be so, either by the law 
and covenant of works, or by the gospel, and covenant of grace : 
not the first, for believers are dead to it ; not the second, for 
that it condemns no man. 

As for the subject of baptism ; after I was settled among the 
people of Simprin, and had entered closely on my work, finding 
some of them grossly ignorant, and hardly teachable in the 
ordinary way, and casting in my mind what course to take with 
such, I drew up in writing a little form of catechising in the 
fundamentals, in short questions and answers, on design to teach 
it them privately in my house. I do not well remember the 
progress of that affair ; nor do I well know where these questions 
are ; but afterward I used the same, in the case of my little 
children, in the first place, when they became capable of instruc- 
tion. Among other such grossly ignorant, there was one, who 


desiring his child to he baptized, I could not have freedom to 
grant his desire for some time : neither am I clear, whether, 
when the child was baptized, it was baptized on a satisfying 
account of the fundamental principles from him or his wife. 
Whatever had laid the foundation of such scrupling, I was, by 
means of such straitening in practice, brought closely to consider 
that point. And having purposely studied the question. Who 
have riglit to baptism, and are to be baptized ? I wrote my 
thoughts thereon also. And being one day in conversation on 
that head vrith Mr. William Bird, dissenting minister in Bar- 
moor in England, he presented to me Fulwood's Discourse of the 
Visible Church^ for clearing me. Bringing home the said book 
with me, I considered it, and wrote also some animadversions 
on a part of it. From that time I had little fondness for 
national churches strictly and properly so called, as of equal 
latitude with the nations, and wished for an amendment of the 
constitution of our own church, as to the membership thereof. 

There were, besides these, other two questions I bestowed 
some thoughts on, in like manner. The one, Where hath sin 
its lodging-place in the regenerate ? the occasion whereof was a 
discourse vv^ith Mr. Mair on that head : but I doubt if I have 
well understood him in that point. The other. Why the Lord 
suffers sin to remain in the regenerate ? which had its rise 
from a particular straitening on that head in my own private 
case, as before narrated. 

My thoughts on tliese several subjects, written for my own 
satisfaction, I had, by the 4th of August this year 1704, all 
fairly transcribed for conservation, in a book purchased for the 
purpose, and vvhieli I have called The Miscellany Manuscript ; 
and thereby it was filled up to p. 325.^ But whereas I had, 
in May 1703, begun exercises on the Confession of Faith, 
written at large for my own instruction, and the edification of 
the people, to whom I delivered them for the evening-exercise 
on Sabbaths for ordinary, that work was continued only to the 
end of that year 1703. And in the said space of time I went 
through the first two chapters only. I judge its proving some- 
times too strong meat for the people ; and its requiring more 
time and study than my other affairs could well allow, con- 

' [1658, Francis Fuhvood, D.D. (arclideacon ofTotiies), A D iscourse of the Visible 
Church, 4to.] 

- All these questions were printed in 1753, except the animadversions on 
Fuhvood ; the manuscript of which is now imperfect. [Works, VI.] 

noo-no7\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 173 

tributed to the breaking me off from that design, that otherwise 
would have been very profitable to myself for my instruction in 
the whole system. 

I had, on the 3rd of September, in my course of lecturing, 
proceeded unto the epistle to the Eomans. And whereas it was 
not my ordinary practice to write my lectures ; yet having con- 
sidered that epistle, as tlie proper fountain from whence the 
doctrine of justification was to be drawn, I had an earnest desire 
of insight into it, so far as T could reacli : for which cause, 
having gathered togetlier some commentaries upon it, I studied 
the doctrinal part thereof, viz. to chap, xii., with that design, 
and wrote some thoughts thereon, v.hich are in rdentis. But 
sticking too precisely unto the lecturing of a chapter every 
Lord's day, this did, of course, make them the more superficial ; 
and withal the work was interrupted in the 5th and 7th 

As in the former part of this year, I had got a new parcel 
of books, so toward the latter end thereof, in October, I got 
another. This parcel I had bought in England. Ere I got 
them home, they had stolen away my heart, and I was 
extremely fond on them. This raised in me a great fear while 
the lad was gone to fetch them ; and it sent me to God ; but I 
had no confidence. The books were taken, and then I saw well 
that my sin had found me out. This was a piece of trouble to 
me for two or three days. At length I resolved to lay myself 
down at God's feet, and to leave caring for the books ; which 
that I might the better do, I applied myself to the work of 
ministerial visitation of families. Having spent but a forenoon 
that way, when I came in, it was told me, that tlie books were 
in Ladvkirk, and I micjht send for them when I would. Among 
these books were some of Lightfoot's pieces, the which did 
especially take with me, in respect of the Jewish learning 
therein ; to which a particular bias seems always to have been 
hung on me, plainly perceiving the singular usefulness thereof 
for understanding of the holy Scriptures. "While I proceeded 
in acquainting myself with these, as I had access, I studied his 
description of the temple, so as I made a draft of the temple 
and the altar accordingly, which to this day hang in ray closet. 
And though, being an utter stranger to mathematics, I could not 
represent things in their proper figures, yet that draft, such 
as it is, so fixed the idea of the temple with me in some measure 
of distinctness, that it soon became familiar to me, and hath 


since that time been of very great use to me on several 

That winter I visited a woman in Homtoun/ who alleged 
the devil was in her. After I had spoke and prayed with her, 
I went out ; and in the meantime she got out of the bed, and 
cried with a most horrid cry, without intermission, near a 
quarter of an hour. Coming in, and finding her in this case, I 
often desired her but to say, God help me ; and she still said, 
she could not, and cried again. A weaver-lad had prayed with 
her ; she told him the devil had said to her, she could be nothing 
the better of that good prayer, because it was not her own prayer, 
but his. To which the young man answered. The devil is a 
liar ; for the prayer was not mine, but the Spirit's. I admired 
the answer. 

Being with E. P. the night before she died, I had no 
satisfaction in converse with her; wliich affected me exceedingly. 
Thereupon I came in to my closet, and set myself to wrestle 
with God on her account ; and then went to her again, and was 
much comforted in her ; so that my spirit was more than 
ordinarily elevated. She said, she fixed on that word, " Thou 
hast played the harlot with many lovers ; yet return again to 
Me, saith the Lord." 

In the latter part of the month of December, it pleased the 
Lord to threaten to remove my wife by death, being violently 
sick. I was anxious exceedingly, and above measure grieved 
on that account. She recovered ; but God met me in such a 
manner, that I was most convincingly made to smart for that 

After having closed the ordinary of subjects for the Sabbath, 
as before narrated, I handled some texts for exciting unto 
exercise to godliness ; and, upon a particular occasion from the 
parish, I treated of divine desertion : a subject which, together 
with that of communion with God, was, in the early days of my 
hearing the gospel, much in the mouths of the old experienced 
ministers, though now much worn out of our practical divinity, 
through the decay, I doubt, of soul exercise and experience 
among ministers and people. Afterwards I did, on the 10 th of 
December, enter on the epistle to the church of the Laodiceans, 
Eev. iii. 14-22, on which I dwelt till 6th May 1706. 

Having administered the sacrament of the Lord's supper in the 

^ [Probably a misprint for Horntoun, the old spelling of Horndean. Horndean 
was in the old days the burning place of the M'itches.] 

/700-/707] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 175 

summer-season, yearly, hitherto from the time I began that course, 
I did, on 28th January 1705, administer it again: and this 
course of administering it in the winter-season also, was continued 
from that time, yearly, till I was removed from that place. And 
thus we had that soul-strengthening ordinance twice a-year from 
this time. My son Eobert was sick before ; and I was laying 
my account with his death, even in the fore-end of that month, 
It was the first sacrament I gave in the winter-time. I was 
engaged to that way, for the benefit of the good people in the 
corner,^ who through the winter have no occasion of partaking 
of that solemn ordinance ; and I found it was what I could get 
done. It pleased the Lord to meet me as an enemy in the way. 
My child died on the Friday, and was buried on Saturday, the 
preparation-day, after sermon. I was reproached through the 
country ; for, by the instigation of the devil, it was spread 
through the country, that I would allow none but those of our 
own parish to communicate, which (as it was said) kept away 
several persons. These things were very heavy to me and my 
afflicted wife, who yet was helped to carry the burden very 
christianly. They were the more affecting, in that I knew 
some ministers had no good eye upon the project, whereof one 
particularly helped to spread the report above said. However, 
all my losses were made up, the work went pleasantly on, the 
Lord sealed it in the consciences of many godly, with most 
evident tokens of His good-pleasure, there being very much of 
God's presence with us at that work. And I observed the 
impression of it lasted longer on the parish, and the fruits of it 
were more visible, and in greater measure, than any other I 
remember we had before. While I had been laying my account 
with the death of the child in the fore-end of the month, I had 
wished in my heart, that seeing there was nothing but death for 
him, it might so fall out, that he might be buried on a Lord's 
day after sermons, by which means a competent number of 
people might be gathered together with little trouble and 
expense. This sin was lively painted out to me in this stroke. 
We had but one sermon on the Saturday, and another on the 
Monday, preached by ]\Ir. Colden, the only minister assisting to 
me : and I think Mr. David Brown, then a probationer, now 
minister of Selkirk, preached on the Sabbath afternoon. 1 added 
some exhortations on the Saturday, and also on the ^Monday, 
after the sermon : the which are in rctentis, in the folio note- 
^ [Probably an outlying corner of the parish.] 


book. As the former was ordinary, so the latter, viz. the 
exhortation on the Monday, I have used for many years, and, I 
hope, with advantage ; having learned it from the example of 
Mr. Bird, the English minister aforesaid, whom I was wont to 
be assistant to on such occasions. I never had a gust for 
gathering together many ministers at communions ; though, in 
the meantime, I continued to call two or three in the summer, 
and had two sermons on the Saturdays and Mondays. Soon 
after n}y ordination, I got a great disgust of the Monday's 
dinners, perceiving what snares they were, not only to the 
families of the respective ministers, but to the guests also. 
And by this course I was free of both these, providing a 
moderate entertainment for my few asiristants. And now in 
Etterick, our Monday's dinners are turned to the entertaining 
especially of strangers, who coming from afar, have real need of 
a dinner to fit them for their journey homeward again. By 
occasion of these communions in the winter- season, many of the 
godly throughout the country were gathered about us ; which 
made these latter years of my ministry in Simprin more 
especially comfortable : but these halcyon-days of my ministry 
lasted not long, but were soon at an end. 

On Thursday, 1st November, about the evening-twilight, my 
daughter Jane was born, and she was baptized on the 8th, by 
Mr. John Dysert minister at Coldinghame. I had gone away 
that morning unto Preston, to join in a congregational fast 
there, where Mr. Golden, and Mr. Laurence Johnston, minister 
of Dunse, preached : and coming home at night, I found the 
child was brought fortli ; the only one, in bringing forth of 
whom I shared not of the pangs, according to my capacity. 
By that child's birth at that time, Providence was laying in for 
the heavy days we have seen of late years, in my wife's case. 

Proceeding in my course of lecturing, 23rd December, unto 
the epistle to the Galatians, I considered it also as a fountain of 
the great doctrine of justification ; and therefore was in particular 
concern for understanding thereof. Wherefore, addressing myself 
to the study of it, I wrote a paraphrase thereon, from the 
beginning to the end thereof ; the which is to be found in the 
folio note-book aforesaid.^ And this was all, I think, of that 
kind, which I did at Simprin. 

There it was, that, by the kind conduct of Providence, I was. 

^ This paraphrase was published iu 1753, being annexed to the Miscellany 
questions. [Works, VI. 240.] 

1700-17071 MR. THOMAS BOSTON 177 

led to, and acquired, the French tongue. What time I began it, 
I do not remember : only I am sure I had not seen the grammar 
till after I was removed into the new manse. But by this year 
1705, I had read French books, and made some things therein 
read my own in English. From Mr. Charles Murthland, 
governor to Moriston, I had got a paper of rules for reading 
that language ; the which [ transcribed into a note-book. And 
from thence it was that I learned the pronunciation. The 
grammar, and all the books of that kind which I read, except 
an old one, being borrowed, I was the more careful to transcribe 
things out of them into my Adversaria, or Common-place book : 
the which also was my manner with other books too, especially 
borrowed ones. About that time I framed a part of the folio 
note-book aforesaid, for recording therein any remarkable 
exposition of scripture-texts, which should occur to me in 
reading. My hands having, of later years, been otherwise 
providentially filled up, I made but small progress therein : but 
I judge the pursuing of the design, to the tilling up of the 
blanks, might be of very good use. 

9^/i January 1706. — This night I was under great discourage- 
ment, and temptation, to give over the weekly sermon, or at least 
not to be at such pains about it. The temptation arose from 
the badness of the night (for in the winter it was kept in the 
night in my own house, and in the summer in the kirk in the 
daytime) ; whereupon I concluded, that few would wait upon 
it. The temptation spread to several other things, as that 
none of my neighbours did so, etc. Nevertheless the people 
came very frequent to it ; and the Lord struck the bottom out 
of my discouragement, by giving me more than ordinary of His 
presence in the sermon ; so that I would not for anything 
have given it over. This has often been my temptation ; and 
thus ordinarily the Lord delivered me out of it. 

On the 27th of January, the sacrament was administered 
again. Before I proposed it to the eldership, I spent some 
time in secret prayer with fasting, and saw it my duty to 
insist in that way, though the entry to it had been very hard. 
The day being condescended on by the session, and Mr. Colden 
written to, for assistance, but the day not being publicly 
intimated, my daughter fell very ill of that disease her brother 
died of last year. This was a heavy exercise to me : what to 
do, I knew not. Should I go on, and the child die at this 
time, then said my heart, " What wilt Thou do to Thy great 


name ? " My good will be evil spoken of, which the Lord 
knows I intended for His glory, and the refreshment of His 
people in the countryside. It will be thought testified against 
by the Lord Himself ; and it will be said, that what man could 
not hinder me to do, God would ; and so my design will be 
broken, and I broken by it. On the other hand, thought I, 
will the neglect of duty preserve my child, or fit me for bearing 
the loss of her ? Again therefore I went to God, by prayer 
with fasting ; and still my cry was, " What wilt Thou do to Thy 
great name ? " At length I was led to think, Why am I thus 
continually crying, " What wilt Thou do to Thy great name ? " 
cannot God provide for His glory, though I cannot see how, 
even though my former tragical affliction be reacted ? It is 
my duty, I will venture ; let the Lord do what seemeth Him 
good. So I intimated the diet fourteen days before. And it 
pleased the Lord, that my child began to recover quickly after, 
my fears w^ere dispelled, and the Lord did more for me that 
way than I could have expected in so short a time. I do not 
remember that ever I gave the sacrament, but I had some 
trying affliction in my way, either from the congregation, or 
otherwise, Satan being on my top before or after. I had readily 
always something to thrust through violently ere I could get 
at it. 

Since December 1704, I have preached on the epistle to 
the church of the Laodiceans ; and at the two last sacraments 
I changed not my ordinary. At the sacrament in June 1705, 
the 18th verse, Kev. iii., fell to be the ordinary, and the action- 
sermon closed my discourse on that verse. One way and 
another I was held on the 19 th verse, so that the preparation- 
sermons for the sacrament in January 1706 fell in the ordinary 
on these words, ver. 20, " If any man open to Me, I will come 
in to him," and the action-sermon on these, " And will sup with 
him, and he with Me." I and others of the congregation could 
not but mark, how those large offers came, in the providence 
of God, to be so sealed. I remember, when I had been preaching 
against the delaying of repentance from ver. 19, God preached 
that over in bulk, and in some particulars, by His providence 
immediately after. After the sacrament, that fell to be the 
ordinary, ver. 21, "To him that overcometh," etc., on which 
verse particularly we had several sweet days. The second Lord's 
day after the sacrament, one of the best of the parish fell under 
such a trial as I had been warning them of, about two hours 

noo-1707^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 179 

after she went home from the church that day. That day T 
had resolved to preach short, but could not get it done ; those 
particular heads which came last behoved to be delivered that 
day ; the design whereof I quickly saw by that dispensation, being 
called that night to see that person. 

On the Sabbath night, after the public work was over, Mr. 
Golden, my assistant, gave me the news of a call to the parish 
of Etterick for me. The same was shortly after brought before 
our presbytery ; who, finding it to be a mere presbyterial call, 
tanquam jure devoluto, without concurrence of the parish, referred 
the affair of the transmitting thereof unto the synod, which was 
to meet in March. 

Ath March. — My health being broken, and thinking to go to 
Dunse to speak with Dr. Trotter about it, after I had once 
and again gone to God by prayer, to see what was my duty, I 
did see it was my duty to go that day. And being just ready 
to go away, my wife, out of tenderness to me, dealt with me 
to stay at home for that day, and I yielded. Then I fell on 
writing up the synod-book, to be ready for the general assembly. 
Having written some of it, I fell into two blunders, such as I 
never fell into while I had written that book.^ Beginning the 
third page, I fell into a worse error ; so that I was forced to 
lay it aside. At first I thought my indisposition was the cause 
of this ; but at length I saw as clearly as the light, that it 
was the punishment of my mocking God, in that I had sought 
to know my duty, God had discovered it, and after all I laid 
it aside. But after all I was made to bless God for these 
errors. And when I was helped to see my sin, and take with 
the punishment of my iniquity, then, though not till then, saw 
I how to get them amended. It was the Lord's goodness that 
they fell to be where they were. 

My health being broken as aforesaid, I took advice about 
it. And this was not the first time that it had been so with 
me, even since my marriage. Some former year 1 had gone 
to Berwick, to consult upon that account Dr. Alexander Home, 
who, in the former part of the time I was at Simprin, was our 
ordinary : and shewing him, that I feared a consumption, he 
freely told me, that I had reason for it ; and gave his advice. 
He was a plain man, good-natured, religiously disposed, ready 

^ [The Rev. Dr. Farqubarson, late of Selkirk, and Clerk of Synod, informs me 
that Boston's minutes are very full, and written with remarkable clearness and 


to do good, and sparing no pains for that end ; easy to all, 
and would never take a farthing from me. My wife having, 
by his advice, cut out her hair, and washed her head every 
morning with cold water, got pretty clear of the pain of her 
head, for about the space of a year : but at length spurning 
the remedy, it recurred, and went on periodically as formerly. 
By this time Dr. John Trotter at Dunse was our ordinary. 
From him I got a receipt for a diet-drink, dated 7 th March 
1706, consisting of antiscorbutics : the which I used for many 
years, though now the disease hath much overcome me, maugre 
all opposition made to it, by that and the like means. 

Some time before this, there had been an acquaintance 
begun between the said Dr. Trotter and me, which arrived at 
a particular friendship ; and, towards the latter end of the 
time I was in Simprin, became most strict and intimate : and 
so it continued until his death, about the year 1717. 

He was second son to Alexander Trotter of Cattlesheill,^ 
and married Mrs. Julian Home, sister to the Laird of Kimmer- 
ghame, a grave, virtuous, and pious gentlewoman. By her he 
had several cliildren, but all dead by that time, except his 
daughter Elizabeth, a pleasant and promising girl. She also 
died of a lingering disease, some little time after his own death : 
by which means his substance went to his elder brother. He 
was a grave man, truly religious, acting from a principle of 
conscience towards God, temperate to a pitch, concerned for 
the spiritual good of others, particularly his relations ; useful 
by his advice and converse, not only to the bodies, but to the 
souls of his patients ; skilful in his business ; and more ready, 
than ever I knew another, to shew to such as he judged capable, 
the rationale of his practice in physic : withal he was ready to 
do good to all, but especially to those of the household of faith. 
He had something severe in his temper, but was nevertheless 
a most affectionate and useful friend, whose memory is ex- 
ceeding dear to me. He not only laid out himself, and that 
always freely, for my health, and that of my family, both at 
Simprin and in Etterick, but, upon my removal from the 
former to the latter, proposed my looking out a piece of land 
in Etterick for him to buy, that we might still live together : 
the v/hich, though it did not take effect, was a sign of singular 

^ [A }iastoral farm in Longformacus parish. The modern steading stands near 
the road between Duns and Westrutlier. A sister of the excellent doctor's was 
the second wife of the Kev, Laurence Johnstone of Duns. Scott, Fai^ti, II. 404.] 

noo-noy^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON i8r 

friendship. To him it was owing, that I ever thought of 
writing the Fourfold State. I have a piece of gold of his, which 
I received after his death as a token, and keep wrapt up in 
a letter of his to me. Besides, there were about 50 merks 
received for a token to my two eldest children, and about £3 
sterling for the two youngest. But by this time I have had 
occasion to give all of them, except my youngest son, their 
parts thereof, and much more. 

The synod meeting at Dunse 19 th March there was no 
motion about the affair of Etterick, the whole presbytery of 
Selkirk being absent, through mistake of the diet : but there 
was laid before them a competition of calls for the parish of 
Kelso ; the one to Mr. Andrew Mitchell, minister at Manner,^ 
given by the Earl of Eoxburgh, other heritors, and several 
inhabitants of the parish of Kelso ; the other to me, by some 
other of the heritors, the elders, and other inhabitants of the 
parish aforesaid. That was a business which I think I neither 
hoped nor feared. The synod waived determining in the 
competition, but recommended to the parties to agree to one 
of the ministers called ; and if that could not be obtained, to 
some third person. Meanwhile my health was so broken, that 
I looked rather like one to be transported into the other world, 
than into another parish. 

At the first meeting of our presbytery after the synod, 
none of the presbytery of Selkirk appearing, at our instance 
the call to Etterick was declared fallen from. At the following 
meeting one did appear to pursue it ; but his commission 
was so informal, that it was not sustained. Only our presbytery 
declared, that, if they would ask the synod's advice at their 
meeting in October, they would not reclaim. Thus Providence 
staved off the commencing of that process, while it stood upon a 
footing on which it could never have been rendered effectual. 

About the beginning of May, I was vehemently importuned 
to assist at Ednam sacrament. I could get no clearness to 
yield, in regard of the stumbling I thought it might give to 
those of the Earl of Eoxburgh's party in Kelso ; fearing it 
might be looked on as a fomenting of the division in that 

^ [I.e. Manor. Orig. Mainure {Ordn. Gaz. Scotl. V. 1S84) and spelled Manner 
during two or three incumbencies. Rev. A. Mitchell, M.A., was minister from 
1695 to 1721, when he was translated to Newbattle. The tradition in the 
parish is that Mr. Mitchell was a preacher of outstanding ability, and that the 
church in his time was crowded an hour before service began.] 


parish. However, I yielded to go thither on the Thursday, 
and preach that day, if no better might be. There I was, 
by their importunity, put on a most violent rack. However, 
Providence diverted them from urging me to preach that day, 
on a design to engage me to assist the following days. And 
after I came, I was more averse from preaching that day than 
before I came. The more I heard the sermons, the greater 
were my inclinations to be at that sacrament ; the more I 
prayed, the less I saw it to be my duty : wherefore being 
fully cleared, I was peremptory for going home. And by 
the Lord's unexpected providing instruments there, and His 
dealing with me at home, I saw more and more it was of 
the Lord. I never yet lost (so far as I remember) by that 
which some account niceness, in not going to sacraments, when 
I thought I was called to stay at home. And this has oftener 
than once been my trial, and ground of reflections on me to 
others, who looked on it with an evil eye. 

lord June. — This day being very warm, I was helped to 
pray to the Lord to keep the hearers from sleeping. I was 
heard, so as I could not but observe it. In the prayer before 
the afternoon's sermon I was helped more than ordinary, and 
in the sermon there appeared a more than ordinary frame on the 
people ; which when I perceived to abide with them, and that 
my frame was like to go away from me, I left off. The subject 
was, that no un worthiness, sinfulness, etc., could be a just 
hinderance of the soul's coming to Christ. When the Lord minds 
a mercy to a people. He helps them beforehand to pray for it. 

At the meeting of the synod in October, the presbytery 
of Selkirk, having got a more firm footing for the affair of 
Etterick than their presbyterial call, appeared, and gave in 
a petition to the synod about it. And together with them 
appeared, and concurred, the Laird of Elliston,^ an heritor of 
that parish ; Walter Bryden, an elder, tenant in Crosslee ; and 
William Linton, tenant in Cossarshill ; and these two latter, 
by commission from several inhabitants of the said parish. 
Likewise a petition for the said parish to the presbytery, 
signed by five elders, and several masters of families, craving 
the presbytery would prosecute their call to me, testifying 
their concurrence, and promising all subjection to me in the 
Lord, was given in, and read. Hereupon the synod ordered 

^ [Robert Scott of Harden, who died in 1710. Elliston would be an heritor, as 
proprietor of Brockhope and Cossarshill in Ettrick.] 

fyoo-iTo?] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 183 

our presbytery to deliver the call to me, and to transmit 
the reasons of transportation to me and the parish of Simprin ; 
and appointed some of their own number to meet with our 
presbytery, as assistants in the affair, on the second Tuesday 
of December. 

The matter being thus brouglit close home on me, I, 
considering myself to be an utter stranger to that place and 
people, having never seen them, judged it altogether necessary 
to visit them, as is said above, before the said diet of the 
presbytery, with the assistants. Accordingly I went to Etterick, 
accompanied by my dear friend Dr. Trotter. I preached there 
on a Lord's day, 3rd November, but in bonds, though the Doctor 
said he observed no such thing. Even in secret prayer, from 
the time I left the Merse, I was sadly dried up, at least till 
the work was over on the Lord's day, except a little on the 
Lord's day morning. In fine, 1 judged I met with no such 
entertainment from the people, as could signify any earnest 
desire in them to have me to be their minister. So we left 
them on Monday morning. On Tuesday about ten o'clock 
we came to Charterhall,^ wdiere I was surprised with the 
news of a fast through the two presbyteries. Not knowing 
well what to do. Providence led me straight home, having some 
thoughts of taking another day for our congregation. As I 
was coming by the end of Swinton loch,^ that word Ezra viii. 
21, " Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava," etc., 
came into my mind ; and I had some thoughts on it, as a text 
for the fast, which was about the Union, the parliament being 
then sitting upon it. When I came home, contrary to my 
expectation, the people were in the church, Mr. Mair preaching. 
So I went immediately into the church, and preached on the 
aforementioned text in the afternoon, wondering how the Lord 
had led me in the way I knew not. I was never so willing 
to be transported to any place as to Etterick ; particularly I 
apprehended it might be better with me as to my own soul's 
case there than at Simprin. But men's thoughts are vanity. 
I am now afraid of that transportation. My soul trembles 
to think of it, and my freedom in prayer about it is, to protest 

^ [An estate in Fogo parish, belonging to the family of Trotter.] 
" [There is no such loch now. In old maps of the cciinty (e.g. Font's) a con- 
siderable sheet of water is shown a short distance to the west of Swinton village. 
According to ISP.-i Stat. Acet. II. 187, it was drained in 1700. At the date of our 
text it would still have been marshy.] 


against it before the Lord, unless He command me to go ; which 
does not yet appear. 

Our presbytery forgot to transmit the call and reasons, 
and to summon us, in due time, to the diet appointed by 
the synod ; but recovering themselves, they appointed a new 
diet, viz. 12 th December. On the 10 th and 11th of that 
month, came on such a violent storm of snow, that I concluded 
there would no pursuers be present. And comparing this 
occurrence with the course of Providence all along in the 
affair, I began to think (but too hastily making a judgement 
therein), that God had thereby sealed His design, that I was 
not to be minister of Etterick. Wherefore, before I went to the 
presbytery that day, looking on the affair as in a sort already 
determined, I could not be very serious for light therein ; but 
coming up to the place, I found myself disappointed ; two 
ministers, and two elders of the parish, pursuers, being there. 
Sir William Cockburn ^ appeared for Simprin. And the affair 
was issued that day in a reference to the synod in March. 

31.s^ December. — The affair of Etterick having occasioned 
various thoughts of heart to me at several times, I set myself 
to view the several steps of Providence in it on both sides. 
Upon the one hand I observe, 1. That Mr. H.^ having come 
with the call to our presbytery, in February or March last, he 
staid all night in my house ; but I was from home. And the 
call was found to be a bare presbyterial call, \vithout concur- 
rence of heritors, elders, or parish. 2. But the presbytery 
having referred the affair of the transmitting of the call and 
reasons to the synod in March, the whole presbytery of Selkirk, 
through a mistake of the diet, was absent from the synod, so 
there was nothing done in it ; and at our next presbytery after, 
none of the presbytery of Selkirk appearing, at our instance 
the call was declared to be deserted and fallen from. 3. The 
next presbytery after, Mr. B.^ appears ; but his commission was 
so informal that it was not sustained ; only our presbytery 
declared, that if the presbytery of Selkirk would ask the synod's 
advice in this affair, against October next, they would not 
reclaim. 4. The presbytery of Selkirk having so managed their 
business at the October synod, that the synod ordered the call 
and reasons to be transmitted, and appointed a committee of 
their number to meet with our presbytery the first Tuesday of 

1 [Of Langtoii.] " [Rev. Mr. Hunter of Lillicsleaf.] 

^ [Rev. Mr. Byres of Lessuddcn.] 

/700-/70;] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 185 

this instant, to determine in that affair ; our presbytery forgot 
to transmit the call, and reasons of transportation, and to 
summon us in due time. 5. Being an utter stranger to that 
people but by report, I thought it duty to go there and preach, 
before I would hazard the determination : but the letter I sent 
to Mr. M. to warn the people of my coming, came not to his 
hand till the Saturday that I was in Etterick. 6. My enter- 
tainment there was not promising, and I was straitened, as 
above narrated. 7. Our presbytery having appointed a new 
diet, viz. 12th December, I got the reasons of transportation, 
which seemed to me so weak, as that it looked like a particular 
design of Providence, and an infatuation ; 8. I went out of 
Simprin pulpit towards Etterick ; for that day I went away, I 
lectured and baptized, and presently took my horse ; and (so to 
call it) I returned from Etterick to the pulpit of Simprin as 
above related. 9. Thursday, 12th December, the day anew 
appointed for the meeting of the presbytery and assistants for 
determining that affair, was a bad day ; a violent storm of snow 
having come on, on the Tuesday and Wednesday before (whereas 
the diet appointed by the synod was excellent weather), so that 
it could scarce be thought that either pursuers or assistants 
would come ; and on the Wednesday's night, finding none of 
them come, I began to conclude, that none of them would 
appear ; and so that, by such a train of providences, the Lord 
had sealed His design of my not going to Etterick to be minister 
there. Wherefore, on the morrow, before I went away to the 
presbytery, I could scarcely pray seriously about it for light in 
it, seeing tlie affair as it were already determined. 

But when I went to the presbytery, within a little of the 
town, I was surprised with the news of the pursuers being there ; 
and there I found two ministers of the presbytery, and two 
elders of the parish. Two papers were shewn me, when I 
alighted, importing the heritors falling from their opposition. 
The business was by that meeting referred to the synod in 
March. When I came home, I had several reflections seeming 
to favour the design of Etterick ; and as to some of them, I was 
made to wonder how my eyes had been held that I could not 
see them before. They are as follows. 1. That was a surprising 
turn of Providence, when I went to the presbytery, expecting 
none of the pursuers there, that came so quickly after I had 
thought God had sealed His pleasure in it, and put the top- 
stone on the providences crossing. I remember, while I was 


making that conclusion, I was withheld from making it per- 
emptory, by that word, Jas. v. 11," — have seen the end of 
the Lord." 2. It was told me, that the unanimity of the 
presbytery in that call was very remarkable ; some of them 
that had other views and engagements to act for others, laying 
them by, for this. 3. Thus far it has been carried over 
difficulties, particularly the people, refusing their concurrence, 
who have now with the elders (last summer) given in a peti- 
tion to the presbytery, bearing their calling me to be their 
minister, and promising to submit to my ministry : and the 
heritors none of them appearing to oppose ; only one appeared 
to pursue it, and that only at the synod. 4. The Lord did 
signally bind me up from going to Wliittinghame, whereas I am 
informed there was a design of a call for me : and I was led to 
preach the sermon at Etterick that was designed for Whit- 
tinghame ; the suitableness whereof I was fully convinced of. 
5. Some time before the presbytery-day I grew uneasy in my 
mind, for that I had never preached designedly some 
particular duties to my peoj)le ; which things I thought I 
might dispatch in the space of two or three months ; so I 
resolved, without delay, to fall about them, and have begun 
already. 6. The desolation of that parish, ever since I saw it, 
hath had great weight on me : and I am convinced I should 
have more opportunity to do service for God there than here ; 
but success is the Lord's. 7. Concerning those providences 
that seemed to cross the design of Etterick, it was a strange 
thing, that the whole presbytery should have mistaken the diet 
of the synod, and that when they had such business before it. 
But had they been present, the business doubtless would have 
been tabled : if in that case the synod had refused to transmit 
the call, the business would have been crushed in the bud ; had 
they ordered the transmitting of it, no doubt the presbytery had 
continued me in Simprin, it being contrary both to their light 
and mine, to transport on a mere presbyterial call. The same 
is to be said of Mr. B.'s informal commission ; for at that time 
the business stood only on that weak foot ; whereas by these 
lets the business never came under a judicial cognisance 
tending to a determination, till it got the people's call as a 
firmer foot to stand upon. As to our presbytery's forgetting 
the synod's diet, I can only remark one thing, that the coming 
to prosecute the call at that time when they came, was a greater 
evidence of their affection to me than had they come then, 

i7oo-i7ot\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 187 

wheu, according to the synod's appointment, the business should 
have been discussed. The miscarrying of the letter to Mr. M. 
seems to have been subservient to the cold entertainment I 
thought I met with there. As to which in particular I have 
remarked, 1. That it was very necessary for me to take off 
that disposition of spirit, whereby I was too easy in my own 
mind as to that business : and it set me where I had often 
desired to be, even afraid of that transportation. 2. I find I 
have made the very same remark, as to the inclinations of the 
people of Simprin, the first time I preached in it, the business 
being then set on foot.^ As to my straitening, I find also I 
have remarked concerning my first preaching in Simprin, that 
what account to give of that day's work, I knew not very well. 

Wi January 1707, Monday. — This day I went towards 
Oxnam, to take Mr. Colden's advice about the business of 
Etterick. As I was going away from home, I began to be very 
perplexed about that business, and, by the way to Stitchill, the 
dispensations crossing that affair, seemed so big in my eyes, 
that I thoucrht it was not the Lord's mind that I should be 
transported thither. And that night I could not pray about it, 
any other way than that God would avert it. On the morrow 
Mr. G., Mr. K., and I went to Oxnam, and found that Mr. 
Golden was at Edinburgh. Thus was I disappointed. I minded 
also to have taken his advice, whether to give the winter- 
sacrament at the ordinary time, or delay it. This disappoint- 
ment determined me to do it at the ordinary time. As to 
Etterick, I looked on that disappointment as a dispensation 
confirming the conclusion, that God designed me not for that 
place. When I came home, I found, that, seeing I had missed 
my mark at Oxnam, it was necessary to set some time apart for 
seeking of the Lord Himself His mind in it ; for now again the 
cross providences had not such a determining aspect as before. 

This I did on Saturday, 9 th January, having studied my 
sermons the day before. The upshot of it, with respect to that 
particular (for I had also the public affairs and the sacrament 
in view also), was, that in some measure I could say, that " my 
countenance was no more sad," the Lord calmed my spirit, 
which before was perplexed, and helped me to believe, that He 
would clear me in that matter in due time, and to depend on 
Him for the same ; and that word, " He that believeth, shall 
not make haste," was helpful to me. The Lord helped me to 

1 [P. 74.] 


lay it before aud upon Him, especially towards the close of that 
exercise : so that it was a blessed disappointment at Oxnam ; 
for by that means I was driven to the fountain of light. 

\^tli January. — This day being to speak something with 
respect to the public,^ I prayed particularly, that God would 
guide tongue and heart. On reflection, I must say, He is the 
hearer of prayer ; for my heart and tongue were guided in that 
particular, far better than my pen in my notes. 

Three things make me hope, that the Lord will clear me 
in the business of Etterick, and bring it to a happy conclu- 
sion : 1. The calming of my spirit after prayer, 1 Sam. i. 18. 

2. Several that have interest with God, are concerned to cry for 
light to me at the throne of grace, Jas. v. 16. 3. I am willing 
to go or stay, as the Lord shall give the word, Ps. xxxii. 8, 9, 
and xxi. 9,^ and, as often before, upon this matter, so this night 
I was helped with some boldness to protest before the Lord, 
tliat I must be caused to walk in His way, Ps. xxv. 8, 
Ezek. xxxvi. The occasion of these thoughts was, that about two 

or three days ago I received a letter from Mr. M f touching 

that affair, another from Mr. B , in name of the presbytery of 

Selkirk, desiring me to go to Etterick again. This I could not 
yield to; because, 1. The main thing they desired it for was, 
that I might be satisfied as to the inclinations of the people ; 
but unless other things did it, I could not have it that way, in 
regard I had signified my dissatisfaction with their carriage 
towards me : 2. I thought it would make my own people and 
them also mistake me. 

I^tk January. — My servant yesterday went to D * with 

bear.^ We waited long for his coming home, but he came not, 
and we were afraid he had filled himself drunk. When we 
were going to bed, and he not come, we were afraid he had 
either perished, or was lying by the way unable to help himself. 
I minded to set some time apart for fasting and prayer in my 
family, as was ordinary before sacraments ; and this determined 
me to this day. So it was observed for these three causes 
especially: 1. The sacraments; 2. The state of public affairs; 

3. The business of Etterick. This day, when we arose, and 
found he was not come, we resolved to wait till eight o'clock, 

^ {I.e. the state of public affairs. The Union was at tliis time deeply agitating 
the country. Boston was opposed to it.] 

=" [? Ps. xxv. 9.] 2 [Probably Mr. Macghie of Selkirk.] 

•* [Duns.] 5 [-j_^_ ^(jj,Q^ barley.] 

iyo<^i707'\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 189 

and then send one to seek hmi, if he came not ere then, 1 
went to my closet in great distress, as all my family was ; and 
while I was begging a blessing on the scripture I was to read, 
I earnestly prayed the Lord would calm my spirit, and help me 
to depend on Him. The Lord answered me presently, and so 
I fell on to read. And when I had read about ten or eleven 
verses, my son came to the door, and told me the lad was come. 
This helped me to pray, wondering at the Lord's goodness. 
Our fears in one part had good ground ; for so it was with him. 
The family met, and the Lord was with us, and filled us with 
goodness and wi.th thankfulness. I observed here, 1. That the 
devil was driving on the old trade of raging about the time of 
the sacrament, as he uses to do. But he was outshot in his 
own bow : for, 2. This affliction was a vast help to me and my 
family, to the work we were going about ; it put us in another 
frame than readily we would otherwise have been in. 3. I 
learned the necessity of taking more care about the unhappy 
lad's soul than I had done. 4. That a depending frame is a 
pledge of the mercy desired. And this lesson came seasonably 
to me at this time, with respect to the business of Etterick, for 
hght wherein I am helped to depend. 5. My wife expected 
workmen to have come yesterday, and the family-fast was to 
have been next week ; but God hindered them, and the dis- 
appointment determined us to this week, as the other dispensa- 
tion to this day, which we could not have got done if they had 
come. % 

'Ind February. — The sacrament was celebrated. I had great 
difficulty to get a text. On Wednesday J began to study the 
text 1 preached on, but was obliged to give it over. On the 
Friday I begun it anew, and hammered out my sermon on it 
that day. The confluence of people was extraordinary ; so that 
I behoved to send for more wine, and set up another table on 
Saturday's night. It was thought my present circumstances 
contributed to it. When I began the work on the Lord's day, 
I was much discouraged by reason of the confusion and disturb- 
ance, occasioned by the unusual throng, and by reason I could 
observe few of my own handful among them. I had no 
straitening in my preaching, nor any other part of the work. 
Something of a more than ordinary frame was on myself and 
the people, in the first prayer. The work at the tables was 
signally owned of God. Some professed, they were in hazard 
of disturbing the work, by crying out at the first and second 


tables. I understand by many, that there was something of an 
unordinary frame among the people in the byre. While I was 
communicatinGf, one that was near me seemed to me not to have 
taken the bread ; I gave her a sign while she seemed to be 
meditating, and found she had taken it. This discomposed me : 

1 saw it had been a temptation, and that my business then was 
to have been taken up about my own case. Being brought to 
the pinch, I wrestled to get to my feet again, fleeing to the 
blood exhibited, and set myself to present duty. Let this be a 
lesson to me. At night in my closet, partly desiderating the 
impressions of communicating on my spirit, as was due ; partly 
reflecting on that disorder at first by the throng, having never 
seen any here before, I was discouraged, and poured out my 
complaint before the Lord, was sore weighted and bowed down; 
my eyes, meanwhile, being withheld from seeing what glorious 
power of God appeared at that work. Blessed be the Lord, it 
was good ballast. And I have received something of what I 
then desiderated. On the Monday Mr. Golden preached a sweet 
sermon, with much tenderness. I knew not whether to speak 
after him or not ; but found at length, though I desire not to 
speak after him, that yet I durst not forbear. And so, with the 
Lord's help, I spoke a word to all, to strangers, and, with more 
than ordinary vigour and concern on my soul, a word to my 
own people, 

^th Fehriiary. — This morning the Lord was pleased to blow 
on me more than ordinary ; and with thankfulness my soul 
acknowledged the goodness of God, in that ever He sent me to 
Simprin, gave nie a less charge than others, provided for me 
here, gave me the blessed occasions of sacraments, and hath 
made unworthy me some way useful to several of His people. 
This day was a good day, and I hope a day of power. {Nota. — 
If ever I preached in my life, it was that day.) I preached on 

2 Cor. xi. 2, " I have espoused you to one husband."^ Towards 
the latter end of the afternoon - sermon, I desired them to 
remember, that I had espoused them to Christ, shewed them 
in some particulars what had been done that way, and then 
called the heavens and the earth, the angels, the stones and 
timber of the church and byre, and the people themselves, to 
witness that they were espoused.- These things were delivered 

1 [Works, IV. 22.] 

" ["Witness, then, heavens ! Witness, earth ! Witness, angels ! Be ye 
witnesses, stones and wood of Simprin kirk and byre, and we ourselves are 

1700-1707^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 191 

with a change of my voice, speaking mostly lower than before, 
but with more than ordinary weight and gravity. Having made 
that solemn attestation, my spirit just slipped off' into prayer, 
that the Lord would preserve them till the day of the Lord, etc., 
in which I continued a little while. The like I never did. In 
that prayer, my voice, that before was low, and when extended 
uneasy, turned very high ; and I prayed with as much easiness 
of my voice as ever in my life. I was a wonder to myself, and 
a strange moving was upon the people. It was observable, as 
that easiness began with the prayer, it continued while, in a few 
words, I exhorted them to endeavour to keep chaste ; and then 
it left me, which was ere I had altogether done with the sermon. 
Afterward I had a temptation to be lifted up. It was quickly 
crushed in the bud, but not by me. I had a secret dissatisfac- 
tion that arose in my heart as to the managing of that work. 
In the fervour of my affections I had expressed a word wrong. 
This, whatever be of it, had weight enough then to hold me 
down, if not to press me too far. {Nota. — All this passed, as I 
remember, betwixt the pulpit and the garden-door next to the 
house.) But immediately after I came in, going to my closet 
as ordinary, at prayer there, it pleased the Lord to shoot an 
arrow of wrath suddenly into my soul, which pierced my soul 
and body both ; so that a great weakness, and an exceeding 
great heat, went through my body in a moment. It lasted not 
long ; but I think, if it had lasted a while longer, I had been 
a most miserable spectacle. When it came on, at first I was 
tempted to rise from prayer, and flee from the presence of the 
Lord, and had much ado to resist ; but God in mercy determined 
me to another way, even to flee under the covert of the blood 
of Christ, that only shelter from the terror of God, and that 
even to those that had crucified Him : and so I held by these 
scriptures, 1 John i. 7 ; Heb. ix. 14. These drops of wrath came 
in on me, with a conviction of guilt darted into my spirit, viz. 
that, in that prayer aforesaid, I had not suitable affections to 
that petition, " Even so come. Lord Jesus, come quickly," which 
was the last petition in it. And in a most composed temper 
of mind, reflecting on it, I see clearly, that God left me in that, 
and that that petition was the product of my own spirit. This 
let me see, that my best duties behove to be washed in the 
blood of the Lamb, else they, even they will damn me. After 

witnesses, that upon the second day of February 1707 we espoused this people unto 
our Master Christ."— /Wt^. 30.] 


dinner, singing with my family a part of Isa. xxxv.-^ that word, 
ver. 8, "And an high way shall be there, — though fools, shall 
not err therein," was very sweet to me, with respect to the 
business of Etterick. I went up immediately to my closet, and 
meditating, I again got a broad sight of the filthiness of my best 
duties, and the absolute need of their being washed in the blood 
of Christ ; saw myself most unworthy to touch the vessels of 
the Lord ; and that I might roll myself in the dust, when the 
glorious gospel was to be preached. This helped me to pray. 
I have sometimes wished for some drops of wrath, to awaken 
me out of a secure frame ; but I found one drop, one arrow, 
intolerable. Who knows the power of His wrath? Tongue 
cannot express it. precious Christ ! precious blood ! 
Horror and despair had swallowed me up, liad it not been that 
blood, the blood of God. I observe now, that, according to my 
design formerly laid down,^ I was to have preached on watching 
this day ; but the Lord withheld me, and led me to this text ; 
as also that the Lord gave a spirit of prayer in the private fast 
before the sacrament, and this morning- also. These were tokens 
of good. But the Lord has been at pains to hide pride from 
my eyes. that I never saw it more ! 

l^tlh February. — This morning coming, in prayer, to the 
business of Etterick, 1 thought I saw myself beset with 
promises, Isa. xxxv. 8, Prov. iii. 6, Ps. xxv. 9, and xxxii. 8, 9, 
and evil, nit, and my soul was raised to a dependence on the 
Lord. At night, fear and darkness seized on me again, being 
in company ; but by prayer I was raised up again to dependence. 
There is no keeping foot without new supplies from the Lord. 

12th February. — Concerning that business, which lies very 
near my heart, and so much the more as the time of its deter- 
mination draws near, I have further remarked, 1. That Provi- 
dence has been at pains to keep me out of the way of the 
parties, that I might not consult with them. 2. When the call 
came first to our presbytery, my health was sore broken : I 
looked rather like a man to be transported to eternity, than to 
another parish. 3. While I was at Etterick, my wife had so 
little liberty in prayer about that business, that when she saw 
me first, which was in the church presently after I came home, 
she was able to guess ray entertaiimient. {N.B. — I must do this 

' [If the text be correct, tlie singing referred to was probably some chanting or 
cantillating of the prose. Q. Was this a common practice ?] 
- [See Eeflection 5, p. 1S6.] 

noo-1707^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 193 

justice to my wife, once for all, to say, that as to my leaving of 
her country, and not settling there, and as to my settling in 
Siraprin, which were before she was my wife, but not before we 
were engaged, she interposed not ; and as to this transportation, 
she meddled as little ; but in all the three was silent to the 
Lord, and laid open to follow what God would point out to be 
my duty.) And C. Wood told me, that the business at first 
seemed very clear to her, but afterwards grew dark. 4. There 
was a most remarkable difference betwixt the secret and family 
fast before the presbytery, and the secret and family fast last 
observed. In the former two there was nothing but tugging 
and heartlessness ; in both the latter, there was something of 
the spirit of prayer. 5. After that exercise on the 9th of 
January was over, having prayed that the Lord would help me 
to take up His mind in His dispensations, I thought on the 
things recorded above, 31st December, p. 184 c^ seqci. And that 
day, viz. 9th January, the balance was, in my apprehension, cast 
on the side of Etterick. 6. I thought Mr. Colden should have 
staid the Monday night after the sacrament, that I might con- 
sult him in that affair ; but he went away. Only he told me, 
that he thought it God's goodness that I was sent to Simprin ; 
but that he was now clearer than ever that I should go away : 
but he spoke not of Etterick to me, but Ayton and Jedburgh. 
Many a time has God inhibited that man to help me ; but if 
he had not been more useful to me than others, I had not been 
so ready to idolise and make an oracle of him, whom my heart 
will ever love. The last Lord's day another went away, and 
spoke not with me ; but I reverenced the providence of God 
drying up the streams, to lead me to the fountain. 7. What 
aspect the Lord's countenance at the sacrament, the exhortation 
on the Monday, and the last Lord's day's work, have on this 
affair, the event w^ill make certain. As to the last of these, it 
was said by Christian Wood, who was with us that day, that 
it seemed to her from that work, that either I was near an end 
of preaching for altogether, or near the end of my preaching in 
Simprin. 8. I think it a strange conjuncture, that at this time 
so great offence is taken at me by my two nearest neighbours, 
and other two in whom I trusted, without any just ground that 
I know of. One of them, Mr. P.,^ I used to boast of ; that 
whatever different sentiments we were sometimes of, we still 
kept from taking offence at one another : but I was surprised, 

1 [? Mr. Pow.] 



a day or two ago, to hear that it is not so now. 9. About two 
years ago, when there was no word of any transportation for 
me, so far as I remember, I had a dream, that I was transported 
somewhere ; and in my dream I was under great remorse of 
conscience ; for that I thought the love of the world had pre- 
vailed with me in it. When I awoke, I thought myself thrice 
happy, that it was but a dream, and that I was still at Simprin. 
The use I made of it then was, that it might be a warning to 
me, to take heed to myself, if ever a transportation should offer. 
10. That day I went to Etterick I lectured here on Ps. cxxii., 
insisting mostly on the latter part, vers. 6-9. That day I came 
home, that word came into my mind, Ezra viii. 21, and I 
preached on it, though I little thought to have preached any 
that day. 11. What may be the event I know not: but it 
has sent me oftener to God than otherwise I would have gone, 
and my own case has been thereby bettered. C. Wood told me, 
that when the business was first set on foot, being very much 
concerned about it, she was brought at length to lay her hand 
on her mouth, and thought she had this answer, that if I went 
there, it should be for the good of a young generation. But she 
said the business grew darker to her afterwards, yet she still 
thought I behoved to go there. These things she told me 
after I came home from Etterick. 

\Wi Fchruary. — Last night lying down to rest on my bed, I 
posed my conscience with that question, Whether or not, after 
all I have thought and seen, I durst peremptorily refuse to go 
to Etterick ? And I thought I durst not. This did much 
quiet Mvy heart, knowing that the determination is to be made 
by the synod. The dream I had long ago, has occasioned fears 
to me very often ; and therefore have I asked my own soul, 
whether the world sways me in this business ? And I dare not 
say it does. And in this inquiry, it was clearing to me, that I 
am conscious to myself, that if never so great worldly advan- 
tages had been proposed to me at the presbytery, 12th December, 
I durst not have yielded to it, seeing no more of God in it than 
I saw at that time. But because my heart is a depth of secret 
wickedness, I have several times this last week prayed with 
respect to that particular point, that God would search me and 
try me. And I think I dare say before the Lord, I was sincere 
in it, really desirous to know if that wicked way was in me in 
that matter. I am sometimes helped to depend on and trust 
God, for guidance in this matter ; but I am often assaulted with 

i7oo-i7oi\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 195 

fears of being left. And what then should I think of that 
dependence so often brangled ? ^ This has been my case often 
within this short time. But this morning, at family-exercise, 
when it was not in my mind, I met with a passage in our 
ordinary, Jer. xxxix., which was cleared to me, so as I saw an 
answer to my case. The passage was that, ver. 17, "Thou 
shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art 
AFRAID. 18. For thy life shall be for a prey vmto thee, because 
thou hast PUT thy trust in Me." Afraid (I thought), and yet 
delivered, because he put his trust in the Lord ! Wonderful, 
that God will overlook His people's weakness, and deliver them, 
even because of that trust mixed with so much fear ! That 
because was wonderful in my eyes. This answered my case so 
patly, that I was mucli cleared by it. C. Wood was here this 
day, being the Lord's day, minded to go home ; but the Lord 
hindered her by bodily indisposition. She told me the business 
was plain to her, that to Etterick I must go. I was anxious 
the last time she was here, that I might have understood how 
that matter seemed to go with her ; but she going away, I laid 
by that anxiety, and God brought this notice unexpectedly to 
my hand. 

ISth February. — This morning I arose early, and retired 
to spend some time in prayer, especially about the business 
of Etterick. Last night in prayer, once and again, for help 
to that work, my soul was elevated : but the third time I 
was sore dried up. Tins morning I had some tugging with 
my heart a while ; at length I got earnest and solid desires 
after the Lord. And I remember, I pleaded much on the 
Lord's having given me these desires, that seeing He had 
made them. He would fdl them. Afterwards that frame was 
lost, and I could say little, but cry, that the Lord would loose 
the prisoner. While I was at that work, a letter comes which 

I behoved immediately to answer ; and then Mr. M came. 

This was about ten o'clock. So I was taken off. Howbeit, 
in company, the sad thoughts of this heavy turn in my 
frame, and the Lord's deserting me, stood before me. I stole 
away a while to my closet, and thought and prayed. At night 
the society for Christian fellowship met. And I observed, 
that this business, which has fallen out of their prayers for 
some time, came in again this night. E. Aitchison prayed 
first, a man in whom I think is the spirit of prayer. I took 

^ [I.e. shaken, confounded. A fine old Scotch word frequently used by B.] 


notice, that his prayer about it was just as his prayers were 
this time twelvemonth, when that business was set on foot 
first by the call. He prayed for light to me, that God 
would prosper my work if I be to stay with them ; and that 
if I go, God may be with me, and loose their affections from 
me. So prayed he at first. But before the presbytery on 
12 th December, there was an astonishing boldness and freedom 
with the Lord among them in that matter, in him especially, 
which seemed to me prophetic. Wonderful, wonderful, is the 
conduct of Providence ! This desertion with the outgate 
seemed to me to clear me in another case about this business. 
On the Lord's day morning, as said is, I was set on my feet 
by that word, Jer. xxxix. 17, 18; but at night I began to 
stagger again, upon the consideration of my bodily indisposition. 
It seemed to be coming on as last year ; and I thought, that 
if it should be thus with me at the synod, whatever other 
things might point out to me, I feared this would leave me in 
the lurch : for if matters, on the one hand, look so as to bid 
me yield, this indisposition, on the other hand, speaks strongly 
against it ; seeing it would appear unfair towards that parish 
for me to yield to take the charge of them under such bodily 
indisposition. {Nota. — That which was feared was a consump- 
tion.) But hereby, in sad experience, I learned not to shift 
that which otherwise appears duty, upon the account of bodily 
weakness and indisposition, but to be at the Lord's disposal, 
and hold even on the way, trusting Him for strength for His 
own service. After family-worship, I came to my closet 
again, and fell to work. And at that time, after prayer, I 
read over the above account of the dispensations of Providence 
in that business, and in the sight of the Lord, as I could, 
communed with my own heart concerning the two foresaid 
questions, and was answered as above said. 

14tth February, Monday. — On Saturday last I gave myself 
for a while to prayer, especially with respect to the business 
of Etterick, and I found my heart ready for prayer, and desirous 
of it, having laid no restraint on myself as to time or continu- 
ance in that exercise. This I did, because the last day I 
found my heart impatient sometimes under the view of con- 
tinuing closely for such a time. This day also I spent some 
time in prayer, and thinking on that business, in order to 
come to a fixed resolution and determination as to what is 
my duty. The time of the synod's meeting being now very 

1700-1707'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 197 

near, obliged me to set this time apart for the end foresaid. 
Wherefore, after serious applications to the throne of grace, 
for light, and determination of duty from the Lord, I took a 
view of those things noted 31st December, and as to the pres- 
byterial call. 

I remember how yesterday I had a lamentable account, 
how the devil had set up his trophies against the sacrament, 
in Dunse market on Wednesday last, one of this parish 
(W. T.), and he a communicant, being so drunk, that he could 
not hold his feet, but fell, and broke his face, in the open 
street. This created me thoughts of heart, even with respect 
to this business, and made me stagger not a little ; but 
examining, whether it might be consistent with the Lord's 
design of removing me, and my submitting to this transportation, 
I was cleared by that passage. Acts xx. 29, 30. 

At length I came to this conclusion, that seeing all the 
dispensations seeming to cross the design of Etterick (excepting 
one) may be in some measure accounted for, and appear not 
inconsistent with the Lord's design of sending me there, and 
that the most remarkable of these made plainly for it ; seeing 
that by a train of cross providences. Providence made it grow 
darker and darker, and then suddenly and unexpectedly made 
such a turn in it ; seeing it hath been brought this length 
through several difficulties, and the Lord seemed to open two 
doors for my removal at one time, and then- shut one of them 
again, and with that I designed for the one sent me to the 
other ; seeing the dispensations of Providence, and the frame 
of my own, and that of the hearts of others with respect to 
that matter before the presbytery, 12th December, did in some 
sort keep pace with the event of that day, and both being 
now altered, go in another course ; seeing the Lord chased me 
away to Himself to seek counsel, kept me from consulting 
with men, and has so graciously condescended to give me 
seasonable clearing of particular cases in that affair ; and the 
way I have been directed to in my preaching here since the 
presbytery-day, for ordinary changing a text every day or two, 
which was not my usual way, and the work at the sacrament, 
and particularly that on the Lord's day thereafter, seem to 
have such a determining aspect ; seeing the Lord hath removed 
the hinderance arising from the consideration of the state of 
my health, partly by making it better, and partly, yea chiefly, 
by shewing me that I ought not to lay so much stress on it, 


us is above narrated ; and seeing, upon the whole, I am con- 
vinced, that if I had no charge, I would by these things be 
determined to embrace that call ; therefore I am resolved 
{rchus stantibus tit nunc) to submit to the synod, and leave it 
to their determination. 

And forasmuch as these dispensations of Providence, as 
observed and applied, look scripture-like, and this resolution 
hath not been easily obtained by me, having had many ups 
and downs in this business ; seeing the Lord shewed me 
on the 9th of Januarv, that he that believeth maketh no 
haste, and I was content to wait, and was quieted in prayer, 
and helped to depend on the Lord, while as yet I knew not 
what hand to turn me to ; and I have found, for ordinary, 
when I sought light in this affair, my first care was still for 
Christ Himself, esteeming Himself far above light, etc., and 
now at last I have won at this resolution, in the use of means 
for clearness, so that I was afraid this day to harp any more 
on that string, lest I should with Balaam tempt God ; and 
seeing, upon the attaining of that clearness as to my duty, 
my soul has been made thankful to the Lord for His goodness 
and condescendence to me in this matter, I must and will 
conclude, that this resolution is of God : and having examined 
myself again as to the world's intiuence, I dare say, and said 
it, before the Lord, that (in His strength) ten thousand worlds 
should never have encraged me. 

After all, I saw my case in Ps, xl. 1-5, and I behoved to 
sing it ; and so I did with a thankful heart, from vers. 1 to 9. 
And blessed be God for Christ ; thanks to the Lord for His 
unspeakable gift. I bless Him, that the effect of all this is 
to make me prize Christ ; and therefore, when I thought I 
had done, I was obliged to go back again, and, as I was able, 
to bless God for Christ ; and that I may have the advantage 
of an eternity to praise Him in ! 

27^/t February. — A violent fit as of the gravel beginning 
with my wife, I designed to go to prayer on that account : 
but immediately she was better ; and therefore I prayed, and 
with her gave thanks for the receipt of what we were thinking 
to seek. My heart was enlarged under a sense of the Lord's 
goodness. And this new mercy revived the grateful sense of 
the Lord's kindness that I have of late met witli in the hearing 
of prayers. This night the two societies met together for prayer, 
concerning the business of my transportation. One of the 

i7oo-i707\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 199 

westeiu society going to read, asked me where he should read ; 
I said he might read where he pleased, thinking he would 
choose some place suitable to the occasion. And so one tells 
him, our ordinary in the eastern society (which met weekly 
at my house) was Gen. xii. So he begins, and reads, " Now 
the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, 
and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land," 
etc. This was very surprising to me, being so pat to my case. 
Thus was that work begun. As for their prayers, they were 
as I noted before, p. 195. 

2n(l March. — I preaclied on the observing of providences, 
from Ps. cvii. ult. ; and I observe how the Lord led me to it, 
through several difficulties, drying up to me another subject 
I thought to have been on. I was afraid to venture on this 
subject, not knowing how to manage it ; but the Lord was 
pleased to lay to my hand liberally, for all the scrimpness I 

2>rd March. — Latter end of the last week, I began to have 
some passing fears, that the business of Etterick might mis- 
give at the synod ; but last night they became exceeding great 
and pressing, so that I lay down with such a weight of them, 
that I had much ado to bear up against them. The precise 
point on which they rolled, was this, viz. That in case it should 
misgive, it would brangle me terribly as to my 'own soul's case, 
raze foundations, turn all I had got in quest of light in the 
matter, into delusion ; and so, in that event, I would not know 
any more how to discover the mind of God in a particular 
case. No wonder then this was most heavy, and perplexing, 
and racking, as indeed it was, threatening a stroke at the very 
root of my soul. Only I thought, if I was WTong, I would 
be content to be undeceived ; seeing I was yet in the land 
of the living, and might yet be set right. This day I had a 
grateful sense of the Lord's goodness to me, and of His gracious 
condescension, in that He had been pleased to let me see my 
duty clearly now eight days ago ; and that He did not keep 
up His light from me till the very nick of time of the deter- 
mination of the business. ! the wisdom and foreknowledge 
of God, in letting in these fears, like a ilood, on my soul ! I 
do with 'iprofoundest humility, and thankfulness, admire and 
adore that wisdom and foreknowledge, when I look back on 
the heavy task I then was to have, and now have had, in that 
place ; under the whicli, nothing could have borne mc up, but 


the clearness of my call, from the Lord Himself, unto it ; and 
that flood of fears hath since made that clearness, like a wall 
of adamant, in the face of many a storm and tempest I have 
met with in that place. 

The synod having met, and the affiiir come before them, 
I was, on the 6 th of March, by their sentence, transported from 
Simprin to Etterick. On the 4 th I went to Kelso to the 
synod ; and was scarcely well set down in the church, when 
Mr. H. C.^ a member of the presbytery of Selkirk, told me, 
that Sir Francis Scot - did not take it well, that the presbytery 
would needs use their jua devolutuyn; but that he would consent 
to the calling of me, if they would fall from their call. He 
asked me what I thought of it. I told him, that, for my part, 
they might do in that business as they pleased. The first 
ease I got was on Wednesday morning ; when, after some time 
spent in prayer, the Lord opened my eyes, and let me see how 
He had in His providence been pointing out to me my way 
to Etterick ; and I found I durst not shift duty for the diffi- 
culty in the way. After dinner that day, having procured to 
myself a little time alone, I set myself to prayer ; the rather 
that I thought my business might come in that afternoon ; and 
being yet somewhat uneasy and troubled as before, after prayer 
I resolved to read the scripture ; but that I might not make 
a fortune-book of the Bible, I expressly resolved I would read 
in my ordinary ; and though my case should not be touched 
there, I would wait on God. It fell to be 1 Pet. i. where 
I met with that passage, ver. 6, 7, " Tho' now for a season (if 
need be) ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, 
that the trial of your faith being," etc. This was seasonable 
and refreshful to my poor soul. But I was called away (by 
reason of my ordinary office, being synod-clerk) before I got 
the whole chapter read. It pleased the Lord to bear it off 
for that diet : only I was almost no sooner set down at the 
table in the church, but Mr. A. D.^ told me, he had Sir Francis 
Scot's letter, that he would make no noise about my settlement 
in Etterick. On the morrow, by which time I was fully cleared 
to hold by my former resolution, laid down Monday was 

^ [Rev. Hugli Craig, niiuistcr of Galashiels.] 

- [Sir Francis Scott of Thirlestaue. First baronet, 1G6G ; Lorn 1645, died 1712 ; 
served in Parliament at various times between 16G9 and 1702 ; married a daughter 
of the Earl of Lothian, who survived him until 1746. It is to this Thirlestane that 
the "warrior poet," Captain Scott of Satchells, dedicates his Pastorals.'l 

^ [Rev. Arch. DiMns, M.A., minister of Bowdeii.] 

1700-1707^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 201 

eight days, having in secret laid my all down at Christ's feet, 
I went away, and was transported. It was a melancholy time, 
while parties were removed, and some of the honest men of 
Simprin were weeping near l)y me, being hopeless, which was 
a heavy sight to me, who dearly loved them. Immediately 
after the sentence, " Transport," I was confounded, and troubled 
with many fears ; and the ease I got, was by reflecting on those 
fears that I was oppressed with last Lord's day at night, and 
considering what a dreadful case my soul would have been in, 
if, after such indications of the mind of God, it had misgiven. 
When I came out of the church I met with Mr. Golden, who 
told me he was sorry I was to go out of the Merse. And I 
remember it was against his will that I settled in Simprin ; 
he would have had me to Teviotdale. Then J. E. met with 
me, and discouraged me, and told me, I would not come to 
Kelso, but got to Etterick. I remember he did just so to me 
at Kelso, that night before I went away to my marriage. But 
I had no cause to repent either of the two, my settlement at 
Simprin, or my marriage. The use I made of these things, 
was to look for trouble, and expect throughbearing.^ I came 
home that day. As I was by the way, I had a great calmness 
and serenity of mind from the Lord ; all was well ; and when 
I came home, the Lord was very gracious to me in prayer ; 
and in that prayer I had great liberty to plead with God for 
my wife's safety, and had a sort of impression that the child 
in her belly was a boy, and the name to be Ebenezer, which, 
for a memorial of the Lord's kindness to me, I promised, in 
case it should be so that it was a boy. Hitherto I have had 
kept up on my spirit, a plain sense of the Lord's calling me 
to Etterick. And my soul has been much enlarged in thankful- 
ness for the Lord's kindness, in guiding me with His eye set 
upon me. 

The synod, in their act of transportation, out of kindness 
to me, recommended it to the presbytery of Selkirk to use all 
tenderness to me ; and in case I should meet with such 
grievances at Etterick as I might be unable to bear, that 
they sliould give and grant to me what might ease me of the 
same : and the moderator, in name of the synod, promised 
the same unto me. In that act, the synod likewise pro- 
vided, that I should not (on account of the ruinous state 
of the manse at Etterick) be obliged to remove my family, 

[/.f. support riglit tlirongh, sustenance, livelihood. A iine old Scotch word.] 


till such time as there was a sufficient manse provided for me 

I judged it expedient and favourable, to have such pro- 
visions for my ease, in the act foresaid. But having once 
taken the charge of that parish, I had no freedom to make 
use of that touching the manse, but behoved to transport my 
family to the place, and to bear the inconveniency of our 
lodging there for the time. And though my grievances there 
soon came to be exceeding great, and hardly supportable to 
me ; yet such was the sense of the command and call of God 
upon me to that place, that I durst never presume to seek 
ease and relief, by the provision made about it : so that, under 
all my sinking burdens there, I never moved any such thing 
to presbytery or synod, but resolved to wait till He who set 
me there should call me also away from it. 

^th March, Sabbath. — This morning I found there was a sad 
change upon me : my frame was gone, my spirit straitened, 
every way unfit for the work of the day ; and therewith came 
on a great darkness as to my call to Etterick ; and an uneasi- 
ness has been on my spirit most of this day, with respect to my 
going to that place to be minister to that people, the sense of 
my call thereto being withheld and hid from me mostly till 
night. The reason of this sad alteration I found to be my 
miscarriage yesternight ; for Mr. A. M.^ coming up to me at 
night, I gave too much way to carnal mirth and laughter, till 
I forgot my work, and out of woful self-confidence would not 
withdraw from him to go to my studies. It was no time for 
me to be so merry, when my poor people were so sad. And 
had I taken time last night for study, I had had more time for 
prayer this day. So all went wrong with me together this 
mornmg : my frame was gone, darkness as to my call from God 
seized me, my son fell sick, and Mr. Miln too ; so that whereas 
he should have lectured for me, he told me, when we were at 
breakfast, he could not do it : so I behoved to fall on studying 
a lecture then. Thus did the Lord point out my sin, sending 
me to study at that time, who would not study when I should 
have done it. This I never saw till just now that I was writing 
this day's progress. But just when I was going out to the 
kirk, Mr. M. arose, and told me he would lecture ; and so the 
Lord justly put me to needless pains, because I would not be 
at needful pains. This remark also did but just now occur to 
^ [Rev. Adam Milne, M.A., afterwards minister of Melrose.] 

noo-1707^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 203 

me at the vvritiug of this : which is indeed a fulfilling of 

This day's sermons were as suitable to our case as if I had 
sought a text just for our present circumstances. There were 
three mysteries of Providence: 1. People's walking contrary to 
God, and yet Providence shining warmly on them ; 2. Astonish- 
ing strokes ligliting on those that are most dear to God ; 
3. Astonishing aflllictions meeting the Lord's people in the way 
of duty. (See sermon on Ps. evil, ult.^) All which I thought 
to have delivered the last Lord's day ; but God reserved them 
for this day, to begin it with as to me. What may be the 
design, I know not. 

At night, after a fruitless attempt or two, I recovered 
somewhat ; and at the family-exercise, singing that word, Ps. 
cxix. 143, "Trouble and anguish have me found, — Yet in 
my trouble my delight Thy just commandments be," I found 
it was very suitable to m}"- case, and helpful to me. Prom that 
trouble, besides wdiat is obvious, I have learned, 1. That if I 
will keep up the sense of my call from God, I must live near 
Him ; 2. That my transportation is of God, seeing it looks up 
in the light, and these fears and doubts only in the dark ; and 
consequently, 3. Tliat God works by contrary means, making 
darkness the means of further light, as I have now found it. 
From that word meeting me at the exercise in the family, 
observe, 1. An exercised case is a good help to the judgement, 
for understanding the scripture; 2. It is a noble help to the 
memory : no doubt I have often read that word, but I think I 
will not so easily forget it again. {Nota. — The narration in this 
paragraph has been too superficially set down, and I find such 
impressions may much wear ofif through time. I think the case 
has been this : That after prayer I somewhat recovered the sense 
of my call to Etterick ; which increasing, did comfort me, tho' 
I walked halting under a sense of the miscarriages the night 
before : and thus meeting with that scripture, I understood it 
thus (so far as I can remember), that trouble had taken hold 
ou him, and also anguish of spirit, because of mismanagements 
in his way ; but even under both outward trouble and anguish 
of spirit, — it was the deliglit and comfort of his soul, that he 
was, in the main, found in the way of commanded duty. And 

' The sermons ou tliis text are yet preserved ; but tlio author afterwards prcacliecl 
more fully from it, which discourses are inserted in the author's Body of Divinity, 
\ol. 1. p. 2»j0 ct scqq., and are justly esteemed. [Works, I. 193.] 


this seems no improbable interpretation, being confirmed by 
ver, 144, where he says, "Give me understanding," viz. a 
practical understanding of them, that I may both know duty, 
and get the way of duty kept, " and I shall live," to wit, 
comfortably, though he knew he could manage no duty so, but 
some blots would be in his conduct: 26th January 1710.) 

\?>th March. — As I was walking through the town, that 
word was comforting and supporting to me, " He that believeth, 
shall not make haste," compared with that, " He that believeth, 
shall not be ashamed." I knew I was helped to believe, and 
not to make haste ; and therefore I concluded, I shall not be 
ashamed. At night I met with a trial. K, A.^ talking with 
me of what had happened at the synod, told me, that Mr. Ker 
said, with the tear in his eye, to him, " Sir, ye are unaccountably 
robbed of your minister." This did sting me to the very heart. 
So walking up and down, with the dart in my liver, that word. 
Acts xxi. 13, " What mean ye to weep, and to break my heart ? " 
etc., came into my mind : and at first it appeared very clear to 
me, and gave me ease ; but the life and light of it afterwards 
wore away. On the morrow I gave myself to prayer. 1. For 
the more lively revival of the sense of my call to Etterick ; 

2. To know whether I should go to see Sir Francis Scot, who 
was patron of that parish, till patronages were abolished by law ; 

3. Concerning the time of my admission ; and, 4. My wife's 
case. As to the first, the Lord was pleased to clear that passage. 
Acts xxi., again to me with additions, ver, 4. — " Disciples, — who 
said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to 
Jerusalem." Ver 12. " — We and they — besought him not to 
go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, What mean ye to 
weep, and to break mine heart ? for I am ready not to be bound 
only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord 
Jesus." And it was seasonably suggested to me, that when I 
was going to settle at Simprin, it v/as very perplexing to me, 
to think that I had been, and might be more useful as a 
probationer, than as minister of Simprin ; and yet I have seen 
cause to bless God for what use He has made of me there. This 
was very useful to me in this matter, in respect of the strait 
some were in, by reason of my being some way useful in this 
country. These things struck at the bottom of my present 
uneasiness. Yesterday I received advice of two brethren, con- 
cerning the management of the visit to Sir Francis Scot. I 

^ [Rob. Aitcliisoii, elder.] 

1700-17071 MR. THOMAS BOSTON 205 

remarked this day, how the Lord had helped me to pray, that 
they might be directed to advise me right ; and they advised 
me in a point which I did not foresee, but was very necessary, 
and the missing whereof might have done harm. And now my 
uneasiness is gone, and I can plead, that the Lord hath sent me 
thither. And, even in the time of this uneasiness, I could 
freely pray, notwithstanding, that the Lord would be with me 

XltTi March. — This day having an occasion to see an extract 
out of the presbytery-book of Selkirk, bearing, that Mr. Hugh 
Craig having delivered the presbytery's letters to Sir Francis 
Scot, he seemed not averse to Mr. Boston's being settled minister 
at Etterick, with whicli Mr. William Scot and Drummelzier 
complied : That the said Sir Francis told him, that he had 
written to Tushilaw to object against the serving of Mr. Boston's 
edict ; but now, after second thoughts, would write contrary 
orders ; and promised to cause repair the kirk, and build the 
manse and office-houses, as good and convenient to dwell in, as 
any country-manse in the bounds. I noticed the date of this, 
and found it to be of the 5 th of December. Now the diet 
appointed by the synod, and forgot by our presbytery, was on 
tlie 3rd of December ; so that this mistake of our presbytery 
gave them that material advantage to their cause, which I could 
not but notice as a particular design of Providence, 

l^ih or 'IXst March. — I went to see Janet Currie, who for 
some time has been sick ; and this day she told me, but not 
before, though I saw her before on a sickbed, that it was trouble 
of mind tliat made her so. Yet she kept up the particular 
from me, till I guessed it to be blasphemous thoughts. I spoke 
to her case as the Lord was pleased to help, and particularly 
desired that she micrht not be idle, but work with her hands. 
She came to my house on the morrow, and was abroad last 
Lord's day, being better. 

Z^th March. — Now it appears what was the Lord's design 
by this 9th March parag. 3. Troubles have come very thick on 
me. Isabel Ridpath, the best of my servants, is like to be taken 
from me, when I am to go to a strange place. On Tuesday last, 
there came an officer of the army, and another man with a 
sheriff's warrant, to take my servant-lad for a thief, to carry 
him to Flanders. Some time before, I durst not send the lad 
abroad, lest he should liave been pressed ; and almost every 
night since, we have been afraid of attempts on our house by 


these men. My wife and my son were the worse of the fright 
that this occasioned, while searching the house for the lad. Two 
lads I had an eye on for servants, I am disappointed of, one 
after another. I have been distressed sore in my body with 
the haemorrhoids ; so that yesterday I was forced to give over 
my studies, and take my bed ; and this day to study in my bed. 

Yet in wrath God has remembered mercy. The lad being 
at Nisbet mill ^ on the Monday, they watched to catch him by 
the way as he was coming home. But he was providentially 
carried off the eastern, which is the ordinary road, and came 
the western way. The pursuers, by a mistake, were sent first 
to Langton ; so that ere they came hither, he was gone out of 
the house ; and one of them spoke to him, but knew him not. 
As for my bodily trouble, it hindered me not from my public 
work, though it recurred after. {Nota. — I have preached the 
gospel now about twelve years and a half, and have had but a 
tender body ; yet the Lord has been so gracious to me, that (so 
far as I can remember) my indisposition never kept me from my 
public work of preaching on the Lord's day, but, one way or 
another, I have got it done ; as once, when under a flux at 
Simprin, I preached in the house wrapped up in a blanket under 
my gown, and several Lord's days, while scarce able to speak 
above my breath. Only about a year before I came out of 
Simprin, I was obliged to give over the Sabbath-night's lecture, 
by reason of bodily weakness, which would not allow me to 
undertake it.) Since I began the epistle to the Hebrews, I 
was never so unprepared to lecture, and never lectured on it 
with so much satisfaction to myself. That trouble on Tuesday 
came upon me in that very moment when my heart was 
excessively carried away from God towards the creature. The 
instrument of that trouble I saw on Wednesday, and he was 
ashamed of it. I found it was a pique founded on an imprudent 
action of the lad. That very same day he was (as I was 
informed) fined in £50 Scots for striking of a man till he fell 
down as dead. 

1st Aiml. — Having been at prayers in my closet, and 
helped to pray that God would turn the hearts of the heritors 
of Etterick to me, I came down, and presently received a letter, 
which gave an account of Sir Francis Scot's disposition towards 
me, wherein was nothing discouraging. 

l^th April. — Having been at Edinburgh, Sir Francis Scot 
^ [A.bo'it two miles south from Duns.] 

iyoo-i7oi\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 207 

told me, that lie was resolved to protest against my call. This 
day I spent some time in prayer with fastuig, for my wife's safe 
delivery, and concerning the business of Etterick. I found I 
was for either of these two, to wit, that either God would divert 
the heritors from opposing, or give me grace to bear up under 
it, and countenance me in my work ; so I laid hold on these 
promises, Prov. xvi. 7, 2 Cor. xii. 9, Ps. xxxvii. 5. I found I 
was very unfit to manage matters there, and under the dis- 
advantage of being far from neighbours with whom I might 
advise. But it has always been my support in that case, that 
I had God to go to as a counsellor ; and this w^as the only 
ground of my confidence ; therefore I got hold of that, Ps. cxlvii. 
11, and xci. 11. While I was at Edinburgh, there was another 
attempt to take my servant by the foresaid person, assisted with 
some dragoons : they had him ; but he was rescued by some of 
the people of the town. The fright was troublesome to my 
wife. But upon the sight of her trouble, Isabel Pddpath, a 
pious and active servant, who was about to give her over, 
resolved that day to give her no more trouble, but gave over 
her marriage that night ; and so by one trouble she was freed 
from another. 

20^/i Ainil, Sabbath. — I was resolved on a family-fast on 
Monday. Christian Wood was with us this day, but could not 
stay. At parting I told her my design, and desired her help, 
though at a distance. The causes were the same as of the 
secret exercise before. She went away : but God sent her back ; 
for her brother had gone away with the horse, and would not 
wait on her. So on the morrow we spent some time in prayer 
for the causes foresaid. It was a good time, the Lord gave us 
His countenance, and we were helped to seek. After the work 
was over, and we were come to dinner, we had not sat down 
at the table, when word came that the foresaid officer was seen 
at Swintonhill, and that armed men were lying in the western 
loan, for the lad. We blessed the Lord that had restrained them, 
and prayed for more restraint to them ; but saw none of them. 

IZrd April, Wednesday. — Last night I was helped to lay 
the Monday's prayers before the Lord, and to be concerned for 
them ; and this mornincp, about seven o'clock, mv wife was 
delivered. There was a surprising cluster of mercies here. 
1. I awaked about five o'clock, and found she had her pains ; 
and ere I got to prayer, that word sweetly rolled in my mind, 
Judg. xiii. 23, "If the Lord were pleased to kill us, He would 

2o8 MEMOIRS OF {rERiOD viii 

not have received a burnt-offering at our hand ; " and it filled 
me with hopes. 2. Her reckoning was to 27th April; the 
presbytery of Selkirk had appointed my admission to be at 
Etterick the 29th of April; which, when 1 got notice of it, was 
very astonishing to me, considering that I had told them by a 
letter, that I could not be from home at or about that time. 
Seeing it was so, we resolved to attend the conduct of Provi- 
dence. 3. From what I wrote to the presbytery, I designed 
they should gather from it, that it would be most convenient 
for me to be admitted this week : they mistook my meaning ; 
but it was a happy mistake. 4. My wife was more quickly 
delivered than ever before ; and the midwife had been sick, 
which made us afraid ; but she was better ; and had it not been 
so, we had got none at all. 5. My heart leaped for joy, hearing 
it was a boy, and so Ebenezer. He was baptized by Mr. Pow 
on the Lord's day after, being the 27th. 6. And all this came 
about as a quick answer of prayer. ! we saw our Lord 
loading us with mercies. I had been desired to be at Selkirk 
to-morrow ; was desirous to know my duty ; had not freedom 
for it ; but hoped God would clear my way in that, and this did 
it ; and so I went not. 

28^'/^ April. — One came from Edrom, while I was studying 
my sermons for my own parish, and told me I was appointed by 
the presbytery to preach there Lord's day next. I was very 
averse to it, and humorously ^ refused it. I went to God with 
it, but got no light. At length I laid by my humour, and laid 
myself at the Lord's feet, resolving to go over the belly of my 
inclinations, if God should appear to call me ; and thus went to 
God again with it. And thereupon I found an unclearness to 
leave my own congregation : which was something extraordinary ; 
for though I did not use lightly to leave our own congregation, 
yet the disproportion of it to all others in the bounds, when I 
had otherwise a fair call, used to determine me to leave it. 
Kising from prayer with this unclearness on my spirit, Mr. B. 
came and told me, that one was just arrived from Churnside, 
and said, that Mr. Wilson was to preach tliere, so that Mr. M. 
might preach at Edrom. Mr. M. preached at Edrom, and I at 
home ; and our kirk was very throng. This was wonderful in 
my eyes, and came seasonably as a pledge of further mercies. 

On the first day of May I was admitted minister of Etterick : 
A day remarkable to after ages, as the day in which the Union 

' J.c, capriciously.] 

/700-/7CV-] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 209 

of Scotland and England commenced, according to the articles 
thereof agreed upon by the two parliaments. And on that very 
account I had frequent occasion to remember it ; the spirits of 
the people of that place being embittered on that event against 
the ministers of the church ; which was an occasion of much 
heaviness to me, though I never was for the Union, but always 
against it from the beginning unto this day. When the edict 
was returned, Whitslead,^ and another heritor, with John 
Caldwell, and William Nicol, gave in a protestation to the 
presbytery against my call. So the Lord guided me well, 
keeping me at home that day. Wlien I came to Crosslce, it 
was told me, there was one in Thirlestane from Sir Francis 
Scot, to protest against my admission. I was thereupon the 
rather inclined to go forward to Thirlestane; where I found him, 
one that had been in the class with me at the college. When 
I went to my chamber, Mr. Patersou told me his errand : and 
I was very pensive. AVhen I was going to bed, I overheard 
him say to Mr. Paterson, " Have you told him, that he will 
neither get meat nor lodging here ? I will get up early, and 
close the church-doors." Though I was uneasy before, yet then, 
even by that, I grew easy ; from thence concluding, that the 
business would be stopped at least for that day. On the morrow 
morning I dealt so with two of the brethren that came thither 
before the rest, that I had almost gained them to consent to the 
delaying of the admission ; the rather that Sir Francis Scot had 
promised to give me a new call with the rest of the heritors : 
only I wanted not thoughts, that if once my neck were out of 
the yoke, it should never come under it agam ; which was the 
effect of my weakness and iudeliberation. So we went to the 
church ; I scarcely doubting, but I would come home as I went 
away. I struggled against the admission, before the presbytery 
being convened in the mass ; but they would by no means yield 
to the delay. Being sadly racked, I went into a room, and 
sought the Lord ; but my trouble remained, and what to do I 
knew not. At length the Lord put it in my heart, to be 

' [Whitslade is in Ashkirk parish; but Shorthopc in Ettrick belonged in B.'s 
time to the Scotts of "Wliitslade, a powerful Border family whose last representative 
died in extreme poverty at Hawick in 1757. 

" Thou, WliitslaJo, shall leadi him his weapon to wield, 
AuJ o'er him hold his faUu'i's shield." 

l.axj of Last Minstrel, IV. xiii. 

It i.^ iutoresUng to nineuibcr that Sir "Walter Scott was anxious to buy 'Wliitslade 
instead of Abbotsford, but could not come to terms.] 



content, and resolved to meet with difficulties and opposition ; 
and upon this, presently my heart was calmed, and I was clear 
to be admitted. So Mr. B. protested before the presbytery in 
the manse in Sir Francis Scot's name. And I was admitted 
that day. 

This struggle that I made against the admission was of 
good use to me ; for thereby I found favour with Sir Francis, 
as I did immediately after my admission with Mr. B., who 
promised faithfully to relate the matter as it stood to his 
constituent, promising all favour he could do me in that matter. 
Sir Francis Scot's protestation w^as to have come out to the 
presbytery at Selkirk some time before, and was sent by an 
express ; but the express came not till the day after the 
presbytery. On the Sabbath after, I preached to the people 
of Etterick on 1 Sam. vii. 12, " Then Samuel took a stone, and 
set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it 
Eben - ezer, saying. Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." And 
thereafter I returned home to Simprin. 

This month (I think) we had a family-thanksgiving, wherein 
the Lord was very gracious to us, and our hearts were enlarged 
with the remembrance of the Lord's hearing our prayers at 
the last family-fast, and with His present goodness. And it 
being better than ordinary with me, this exercise was sweetly 
concluded with solemn blessing of my family. 

26i!/t May. — I had found much favour with some of the 
best note in the country, who undertook to speak to those 
that were my enemies, to induce them to favour me. I was 
thankful to the Lord ; but my heart protested I would not 
trust in princes. 

\Wi June. — Having gone back to Etterick about the latter 
end of May, not thinking quickly to transport my family, I 
was, while there, determined to hasten it, and had fixed the 
time. When I came home, I was surprised to hear, that the 
presbytery had declared my church vacant, tho' the act 
transporting me, obliged me not to dwell at Etterick till the 
manse was repaired. My heart was thankful to the Lord, 
who had led me in the way I knew not, though it was hard 
measure from them. From the time that I ended my sermons 
on the epistle to the church of the Laodiceans, I had gone 
through several Miscellany subjects ; particularly a cluster of 
them, in the last half-year of my ministry there. These I 
had just ended, on the last Sabbath save one before my 

noo'i707\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON iit 

removal. And this day I preached, out of one of the barn- 
doors, to a great multitude of people, my farewell-sermon, on 
John vii. 37, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, 
Jesus stood and cried. If any man thirst, let him come unto 
Me, and drink." ^ And as the Lord was with me in that 
place during my ministry there, so He left me not then, but 
was with me at that close of it, and much of God's power 
appeared in it. On the Tuesday we came away, and arrived 
at Etterick on the Thursday thereafter. Thus I parted with 
a people whose hearts were knit to me, and mine to them ; 
nothing but the sense of God's command that took me there, 
making me to part with them. The three or four last years 
of my ministry there were much blessed, and very comfortable 
to me ; not in respect of my own handful only, who were 
ordinarily but about ninety examinable persons, but others of 
the countryside. 

During the time of my ministry in Simprin, I had frequent 
occasions of assisting at sacraments ; insomuch that I observed, 
for some years I was still abroad three Sabbaths together, 
on such occasions, at one time ; besides other occasions, which 
allowed some intermission. Meanwhile I never liked to be 
even so employed, but where there was need : and if I found 
none, I would either not have gone, or else returned home to 
my own charge ; and that upon this principle, that though it 
was a small charge, yet it was my charge ; and that I was 
not to look to be useful, according to the number of those 
I spoke to, but according to the call of God to speak unto them, 
whether many or few. And I never, that I know, had occasion 
to rue that part of my conduct. I remember, I once came 
home, and left the communion at Fogo, on that principle : 
and I got a feast in the pulpit of Simprin, in the evening- 
exercise, on the 23rd psalm, as I think. And upon occasion 
of my being urged on that head, that it would be more for 
my own edification to be present at such a solemnity, I was 
brought to take notice, that according to the scripture, 1 Cor. 
xiv. 4, 5, one is to prefer the edification of the church to his 
own private edification. 

Now by means of my going so much abroad to sacraments, 
and having that ordinance twice a-year at home, I had frequent 
occasion of converse with persons exercised about their own 
spiritual case ; the which was a great help to my heart, to be 

1 [Works, IV. 458.] 


It was to such a conversation with a gentlewoman aa the 
means, that I owed the sermon preached at Swinton, Sabbath 
afternoon, 28th July 1706, being the day of the communion 
there. The text being Lara. iii. 49, 50, "Mine eye trickleth 
down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission : till the Lord 
look down, and behold from heaven ; " ^ the sermon not only 
had more than ordinary weight on the people, but two ministers 
present made feeling acknowledgements of it. But the sweet 
scene of these days was quickly after turned into a gloomy one. 

As I behoved to have some Hebrew for my trials, both 
former and latter, so in Simprin I made some progress in the 
study thereof. Having always an inclination towards it, I 
believe I did several times, while there, attempt it ; but with 
little success, having only an old Psalter and l^agnin's Lexicon^ 
that had been gifted to me by Andrew Elliot, my comrade at 
the college, till in the year 1704 I got Buxtorf's Eintome 
U rammat. and his Lexicon. After which tiaie, I reckon, I did 
with much difficulty make my way through the Psalter. And, 
by some notes I have on the PsahnS; I find I began it again, 
having Bethner's Lyra in loan. But still my study of it was 
confined to the Psalter. 

LTpon whatever occasion I understood there was any motion 
for, or eye to, the removing me out of that place to another, 
I was helped of God to be scrupulously wary, that I might do 
nothing towards the advancing of the same ; being always 
persuaded, that my safety, welfare, and comfort, depended on 
my being found in the way, which the Lord Himself should 
call me to go. The stipend was indeed small ; and toward the 
latter end, the victual vras cheap to a degree : but then my 
house-rents in Dunse, and the emoluments of the synod-clerk's 
office, were considerable towards the maintenance of the family. 
And in these days several came about us, and particularly 
some students continued with us at times ; so that we ate 
not our morsel alone. But whatever w^as our manner, when 
we were alone, or onlj' with those we counted not strangers, 
I observed that when occasionally we had company otherwise, 
things honest in the sight of men were readily, by the kind 
disposal of Providence, laid to hand. And during the time 
of my continuance in that place, T knew little of anxiety for 

^ [Works, IV. GO.] 

- [Pagnino (1466-1536) piiblislicd las Lc.dcon in 1529. Bytlmer's Lyra, 16-15, 
4to, was republished at Edinburgh in 1823, and is still used. 











/7oo-/;o7] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 213 

the provision of my family after me. And I am very sure, 
it was not a more liberal maintenance, but a sense of the 
divine call, that moved me to leave Simprin, and come to 

Thus passed the first and most comfortable years of my 
ministry in Simprin, as in a field which the Lord had blessed. 
Eemoving from thence with my family, as I have related above, 
on Tuesday 17th June, we came, on Thursday the 19th, unto 
Etterick ; where, through the mercy of God, I have continued 
unto this day. On the first Lord's day after the transportation 
of my family, being 22nd June, I preached on Acts x. 33, 
" Now — are we all here present before God, to hear all things 
that are commanded thee of God." ^ 

Extract from the Eecords of the Kirk-Sessiox of the 

Parish of Simprin. 

Tlie parish summoned to ansiver the reasons of Transportation, etc. 

1st Dccemlcr 1708. — Session 157. After prayer. Lecture, 2 Tim. ii. 
Sermon on John xvi. 33. — Sedt. 

Collected . . . . £0 OS. 6d. 

" A petition for the parish of Etterick, in pursuance of the 
call to Mr. Thomas Boston to be minister of Etterick being 
produced and read before the last Synod, and the Synod having 
thereupon ordered the call to be given to Mr. Boston, and the 
reasons of transportation to be transmitted to him and this parish 
of Simprin, and having appointed some of their brethren to meet 
with the presbytery of Churnside to judge and determine in that 
afiair, and tlie presbytery having at their last meeting delivered 
the call to Mr. Boston and the reasons of transportation to John 
Leigh Elder, the parish was this day summoned to appear before 
the presbytery of Churnside with the assistants, at Churnside, the 
twelftli day of December current, to answer the reasons of trans- 
portation abovesaid. A meeting was appointed for drawing up 
answers to the said reasons for transportation, and ordered that 
notice be given to the parish that they may attend to give their 
assistance in that afi'air. And the minister undertook to write to 
Sir William Cockburn, tacksman of the estate of Langton, and to 
Captain Cockburn, son of the deceased Sir Archibald Cockburn of 
Langton, to give them notice of the summons, and to desire them 
to attend the presbytery the foresaid day. And the session closed 
with prayer." 

^ This sermon is iastrrted in the author's ^w/?/ uf DlvinUy, Vol. III., published io 
1773. [Works, II. 434.] 




BEING settled here, I soon found I was come from home, 
and that I was but begmning to be a minister of a parish. 
As for the people, the natives, generally speaking, were naturally 
smart, and of an uncommon assurance ; self -conceited, and 
censorious to a pitch, using an indecent freedom both with 
church and state. There were three parties in the place. 
One of dissenters, followers of Mr. John Macmillan,^ a con- 
siderable number ; who have been all along unto this day a 
dead weight on my ministry in the place ; though not so 
great now, by far, as in former years. Another was an heritor ^ 
in the parish, with two elders dependents of his. He himself 
deserted the ordinances, for about the space of the first ten 
years, viz. till the affair of Closeburn. One of the elders 
having heard a little while, went off for altogether to the 
dissenters. The other, for ought I know, never heard me 
after I was settled among them. The third was the congrega- 
tion of my hearers, under the disadvantage of what influence 
these two parties could have upon them. Their appetite for 
the ordinances I did not find to be sharpened by the long fast 
they had got, for about the space of four years. Wherefore, 
soon perceiving the little value they had for occasions of hearing 
the gospel, and having called a meeting for business, on a week- 
day, 19 th August, I preached to them, that day, the sense 
I had of their case, from Isa. xliii. 22, "Thou hast been weary 
of Me, Israel." I plainly saw, that a brother, who, at the 
synod which transported me, was overheard to bid let me go, 

^ [Deposed minister of Balmagliie, and now a recognised leader of the Cameronians. 
From him the Cameronians received their name of M'ilillanites, still sometimes 
applied to E.P. congregations.] 

- [Probably Tushielaw. His name does not appear in Boston's first communion 
roll, while that of "Lady Tushilaw " does.] 

no-j-i7i2\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 215 

I would get preaching my fill there, was far out. On the 
contrary, I behoved to bid farewell to a pleasant part of my 
exercise of that nature before ; and to have it miserably slighted 
and despised, where occasionally I was called to it. And for 
the Sabbaths' sermons, they were but coldly enough received : 
but remarkable was the pricking up of ears, when anything rela- 
tive to the public fell in ; which was a wounding observe to me. 

To the breeding and cherishing of this disposition among 
them, several things concurred. There being little knowledge 
of religion among them, till the time of confusion and persecu- 
tion ; so that John Andison in Gamescleugh ^ told me of a time, 
when there was not a Bible in the church, but the minister's, 
his father's, and another's ; they drank in the principles of 
Presbytery in the greatest height, with the principles of 
Christianity. The dissenters were in great reputation among 
them, and continually buzzing in their ears something to the 
disj)aragement of the church and the ministry. Moreover, the 
union with England, which they were violently set against, trysted 
with my settling among them, and brought in an unacceptable 
change of the state of affairs. And, finally, they lived alone. 

A profession of religion generally obtained among them, 
through the preaching of the persecuted ministers in and about 
the place. Before the Eevolution, they were generally made 
Presbyterians, praying persons, and several of them, I believe, 
good Christians. Often I observed, that I had never seen in 
a country-kirk more Bibles than appeared in ours ; nor more 
persons giving in to the Sabbath's collection for the poor. And 
indeed they were, and are, very liberal to tlie poor, both their 
own, and strangers passing among them ; but very unkind to 
strangers settling among them, and not very benevolent in 
neighbourhood among themselves. But one thing I was 
particularly surprised with, viz., the prevalency of the sin of 
profane swearing ; and was amazed to find blessing and cursing 
proceeding out of the same mouth ; praying persons, and praying 
in their families too, horrid swearers at times : so that by the 
month of November I behoved to set myself to preach directly 
against that sin. 2 

^ ["From fair St. Mary's silver wave, 

From dreary Gamescleuch's dusky height, 
His ready lances Thirlstane brave 
Arrayed beneath a liauner bright."' 

Lay of Last Minstrel, IV. viii.] 
- The text of these sermons was Matt. v. 31-37. 


The very next day after my preaching from Acts x. 33, 
as above related, Mr. Macniillan came to Eskdale, and some of 
my hearers went to him. This was what I got to begin with. 
On the morrow after, I went up to S.^ to see J. L.'s family and 
others : my design was to endeavour to prevent their perverting 
others. When I came there, I went first into the house of 
one of my hearers ; and there I was surprised with the news 
of Mr. Macmillan's being in J. L.'s, and others with him. The 
old man came in to me. Is. L. came into that house, but never 
noticed me ; but I carried courteously to her, and told her I 
had a mind to have come and seen them. She told me, I 
should be welcome. When I went in, J. L. shewed not common 
civility. I was set down among three men, strangers, none of 
whom I knew. They were S. H. of H,, Mr. St. and Mr. Sm. 
The last I took for Mr. Macmillan, having never seen the man. 
Being set down, I w\as resolved to divert disputes, at least a 
while, with some discourse of practical godliness. Wherefore 
being asked, " What news ? " I said, that news were hard to 
be got here, the place being so far remote from towms ; that 
it was like Jerusalem, Ps. cxxv. 2 ; which brought us at length 
to the discourse of communion with God ; concerning which 
S. H. gave his opinion, that it consisted in doing the will of 
God, and keeping His commandments. I told him, that all 
communion was mutual, and therefore it could not consist in 
that ; and shewed, that actual communion with God, which we 
ordinarily call communion with God, consists in the Lord's 
letting down the influences of His grace on the soul, and the 
soul's reacting the same in the exercise of grace. 0, says he, 
that is extraordinary ; wherewith I was stunned. I told him 
it was that without which neither he nor I would be saved. 
How will you prove that ? says he. So I was put to prove 
it to him. Thereafter he brought in the matter of the separa- 
tion ; told, that he understood I w^as an enemy to them, and 
preached against them. I acknowledged, that I judged their 
way was not of God ; and therefore, when it fell in my way, 
I did preach against it. And understanding that he meant 
of a note I had at Morbattle sacrament, I desired him to tell 
me what he heard I had said. He shifted this ; and I told it 
him, viz., that I exhorted those that had met with God at that 
occasion, to tell to them, that it was so ; and that they there- 

^ [? G. =Gair. An Isabella Laidlaw, Gair, became a communicant shortly after. 
Some of Boston's G's and S's are very alike.] 

1707-1712] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 217 

upon, according to the spirit of the gospel, slioukl say, " Wo 
will go with you, for wc hear the Lord is with you." ^ J. L. 
said if that were true, that the Lord were with you, we would 
join with you. Mr. St. having no will to make that the 
determining point, told me, that he knew not but the Lord 
was with the church of the Jews in time of great corruption. 
To which I answered. And neither did Christ Himself separate 
from them in that time; and urged them with that, Luke iv. IG. 
After other shifts, they were at length brought to that desperate 
answer, that Christ was the lawmaker, and therefore not 
imitable by us. The person whom I took for Mr. Macmillan 
was not like to speak, and therefore I asked for Mr. Macmillan. 
I staid there with them an hour and a half at least ; but saw 
not Mr. Macmillan. When I was coming away, I desired Mr. 
St. to tell him, that seeing I had not seen him, he would come 
to my house and see me ; which he undertook to tell him. 
About six weeks after this rencounter, and my not meeting 
Mr. Macmillan having made a noise in the country, I heard 
that John Scot in Langshawburn had said of me, that I was 
a liar, and he would pro-\^e me a liar, for I had never asked 
for Mr. Macmillan, nor desired him to come to my house. 
This was at first very troublesome to me. Afterwards I found 
real joy in my heart, in that I was made partaker of the 
sufferings of Christ, while I saw a spirit of bitterness possessing 
some of that party. However, the truth was brought to light 
after, by the confession of some of that party. Mr. Macmillan 
was in that house in the time, in an outer chamber ; and Adam 
Linton told me that he was certainly informed, that he caused 
the lass lock the door, and give him in the key at the door 
head or foot, whatever was his design in it. 

It pleased the Lord, for my further trial, to remove by 
death, on the 8th September, my son Ebenezer. Before that 
event, I was much helped of the Lord ; I had never more 
confidence with God in any such case, than in that child's being 
the Lord's. I had indeed more than ordinarily, in giving him 
away to the Lord, to be saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. 
But his death was exceeding afflicting to me, and matter of 
sharp exercise. To bury his name, was indeed harder than to 

["Tell your experiences also to those weak ones who withdiaw from our 
communion. If they would lielieve that Christ keeps communion with us, they 
would be tender of separating from us;" and then he cites Zech. viii. 23. 
Monday's Sermon, Morebattlo, June 1707. Works, III. 396.] 


bury his body ; and so much the heavier was it, that I could 
fall on no scripture-example parallel to it ; but I saw a necessity 
of allowing a latitude to sovereignty. I could not charge myself 
with rashness, in giving him that name. But one thing was 
plain as the sun to me, that that day eight days before, my 
heart was excessively led away from God towards the creature ; 
and I had not visited my pillar so often and seriously as I 
ought to have done. 

Novemhcr. — I have been much refreshed and encouraged 
under my discouragements, understanding by some, what others 
of the parish have told them, of my sermons ripping up their 
case, and discovering the secrets of their hearts, though, alas ! 
with little visible fruit. 

12th Novemher. — I saw M. D. a dissenter, whom I could 
never see before. I was in the next village, and she was coming 
thither ; but seeing my horse at the door, she went home again. 
I went to her house, and she came to the door, having, as 
appeared, no will that I should come in. I asked her what 
were her scruples. She did not readily answer, but at length 
abruptly said, " The oath sealed with His blood." Quest. What 
mean you by that, the covenant, the solemn league and covenant ? 
Ans. They say there was such a thing. Q. And was the 
covenant sealed with Christ's blood ? A. Yes. I shewed her 
her mistake. Q. How many covenants has God made with 
man ? A. Three ; ^ the covenant of grace, and the covenant of 
works. Q. Which of the two covenants was first made ? A. 
The covenant of grace. Q. Who were the parties in the covenant 
of works ? A. The Lord. Q. But with whom did the Lord 
make it ? A. With the body and blood of Christ. Q. How 
many gods are there ? A. Three. Q. How many persons are 
there in the Godhead ? A. Three ; the Father, Son, and Holy 
Ghost. Q. Which of these was our Eedeemer ? A. The Father. 
Q. What or who is Christ ? No answer. Q. What state are you 
in by nature ? No answer, Q. How think you to be saved ? 

A. By serving God as well as we can. 1 dealt with her as 

with a petted bairn ; but by no means could I obtain so much of 
her as to be willing to admit converse with her for her instruction. 
In January 1708, the fire in the congregation was blown 
up into a violent flame, upon occasion of my observing a fast, 
on the 14th of that month, appointed by the civil magistrate.^ 

'[Si,:] _ 

^ [Early iu 1708 the country ;Yas alarmed by the prospect of a French invasion 

iror-irrsi MR. thomas boston 219 

Upon this many of my hearers broke off, and left me ; several 
of whom never returned. There was such a headiness among 
the people, and the day was so bad, that few came to it. I had 
no scruple as to the observing of it ; tliough I thought it a 
grievance and disadvantage that we were come under by the 
union, and the taking away of the privy council, whereby there 
was no correspondence betwixt the church and state as to fasts. 
But considering the temper of the people, I thought, if I should 
have yielded to them in this, I would teach them to dictate ever 
after unto me. There came two of a fellowship-meeting unto 
me the night before ; I shewed them the proclamation. They 
professed they had nothing to say against it, but that it came 
from an ill airth. They were not disposed to receive light ; 
but most unreasonably, amongst reasons of their dissatisfaction, 
insisted, that (as they said) the ministers were going to get the 
abjuration-oath. I was led to tliat scripture for my text, 1 Sam. 
iv. 13, "Eli's heart trembled for the ark of God:" which came 
suitably to my circumstances ; as I had been led another time, 
on a week-day in August, to that, " Thou hast been weary of 
Me, Israel," when the unexpected practice of the people 
undervaluing the opportunity, was a confirmation of the doctrine. 
The Lord's day was eight days thereafter, preaching on Isa. Ixiv. 
7, the reproof for this practice natively fell in.^ But the Lord's 
day innnediately thereafter, it was so stormy, that I had only a 
few to preach to, in the house. Then I found myself like a bird 
shaken out of its nest, and was as an owl in the desert. Instead 
of the converse I, sometime a-day, had with exercised Christians 
about their own spiritual case, I was engaged in disputes about 
the public, and about separation, and how to defend the 
lawfulness and duty of hearing me preach the gospel : and for 
the most part to no effect. So that many a time it was a terror 
to me to go out among them ; and coming to particular places, 
I often looked very blunt, finding myself beset with contemners 
of me and my ministry ; who often kept not within the bounds 
of common civility. 

This humour of deserting my ministry, and breaking off 

for the purpose of restoring the Stuarts. A fast was proclaimed ; and it is probably 
to this Boston refers. Cunningham, Church Ilislunj, II. (2nd ed.) 217.] 

^ ["Alas, that there are so few stirring up themselves to take hold of Him ! I 
must needs say, that the empty room in this church on the fast-day is no good 
sign either for the land or for the parish. If sitting at home, or going about your 
work that day, was a way to hold Christ still in the land, I am mucli mistaken." 
Works, IV. 397.] 


from under it, continued from time to time, without any notable 
stop, till the affair of Closeburn brought it about nine years 
after. Since tliat time there has been a remarkable settling 
among them, in that point : howbeit, even since that time I 
have had as much of that treatment as will not suffer me to 
forget where I am. This deserting of my ministry was the 
more heavy to me, that ordinarily I knew nothing about it from 
any hand, till after a while, that the parties were gone off, and 
confirmed in their way ; and that few had any consideration of 
me, in hiring such into their service. This last continues in 
some measure to this day ; though the occasion is not so much 
now, as before : insomuch that among the first servants my own 
elder son had, and that by advice or approbation of an elder or 
elders, was one who would have gone out of the house if I had 
come into it to visit the family. 

Meanwhile Satan raged in stirring up to the sin of unclean- 
ness; so that, by the spring 1709, besides several fornications, 
there were two adulteries in the parish discovered : and I had 
heavy work with both. These things often made me look, with 
a sorrowful heart, on the congregation, as in the case of the 
church of Corinth, burnt up with the fire of division, and 
drenched in fleshly abominations. 

\Wi February. — My discouragements increase daily among 
this people, by reason of the divisive temper inflamed by the 
late fast, so that there are several of them whose faces I have 
not seen since that time. My circumstances are extremely 
heavy : they seem to have little desire for the gospel : the most 
weighty truths look as nauseous to them ; though if anything 
relating to the public fall in, they use to prick up their ears. 
Some have never come to the ordinances since I came, being led 
by mere laziness and profane neglect ; besides those that were 
always dissenters from the Established Church. Those that 
come, many of them think nothing of staying away several 
Sabbaths ; and when they come, they are generally very 
uncomfortable. My wonted exercise of conversing with exercised 
souls is gone ; there is no converse but about the division ; the 
practice of godliness is thereby stifled, and burnt up with the 
fire. The crown is fallen from my head, and I am brought very 
low ! The approaching Sabbath, that sometimes was my delight, 
is now a terror to me ; so that it is my business now, to get my 
forehead steeled against brass and iron. On Sabbath was fourteen 
days, I felt the sad effects of giving way to discouragement, and 

J707-i7i2-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 221 

this lias pul me on my guard, I have sometimes asked myself, 
whether, if I had known all that has befallen me here, I would 
have accepted the call, or not ? and I cannot say, 1 durst have 
refused. Two things are supporting to me : 1. My clearness as 
to ray call from the Lord, whicli has not been perplexed by all 
that I have met with, but still remained as a ground of comfort. 
2. An amazing conduct of Providence in preaching the word, 
whereby I am guided in my ordinary to speak to their case. 
As, particularly, these two last Sabbaths it fell in my ordinary 
to lecture the 7th and 8th chapters of the Eevelation, where I 
had occasion to speak largely of schism and division, with the 
effects thereof. And in this very time Mr. Macmillan was 
preaching in the bounds. And in my ordinary sermons I lind 
the same conduct of Providence, 

On the 22nd of February this year 1708, the first of the 
aforementioned adulteries was delated : but the parties were not 
got convicted, till 14th May. During which time, I was with 
some elders four times on the spot, at Buccleugh-shiels ; the 
adulteress alleging a rape by an unknown person. One of these 
times I preached in the house, on Eev. xx. 12, "And the books 
were opened," having occasion to baptize a child, but in vain as 
to her. Her brother, who had deserted on account of the fast 
aforesaid, left the house in time of the sermon ; but returning 
after, caused set down meat to me, and the elders with me, and 
urged me to eat, the which also the elders urged : but, though 
we did need it, I peremptorily refused to eat ; so the elders ate 
not either, and the meat was set up again untasted. As I was 
about to go away, being alone with him, I told him it was 
religion to me, not to eat there, where I had come with my 
Master's message, and he had turned his back on it ; and that I 
caused his meat to be set up again, without being tasted, for a 
testimony : and so I left him. The man returned afterwards, 
to wait on the ordinances ; and some time after, occasionally 
told me, that that had stuck with him. This is the only 
instance I remember, of a conviction in that point of deserting 
the ordinances, made by means of anything said or done by me 
for that end, where the party was not some way inclining, before, 
to return. 

After the woman was brought to a confession, the adulterer 
stidly denied. Dealing with his conscience, I took one of the 
twins she had brought forth, and holding it before his face, 
posed hira with his behig the father of it. Nevertheless he 


persisted in the denial, though evidently under consternation, 
his moisture being visibly dried up in the struggle with his 
conscience. He being removed, I went out and dealt with 
him privately : and having observed that two of his children 
he had by his wife, had been removed by death, soon after, 
or about the time in which, as was alleged, he begot those 
two adulterous ones, I told him that it seemed to me, God 
had written his sin in that his punishment. To which he 
answered. That indeed he himself thought so ; and so confessed. 
Being called in again, he judicially confessed his guilt of 
adultery with that woman, and that he was the father of her 

That spring, being the first I had in the place, the change 
of the air appeared, on my body's breaking out in sore boils. 
For great was the cold and moistness of the air in Etterick, 
in comparison of that at Simprin. 

In April I was a member of the General Assembly. And 
the oath of abjuration being then imposed by law on those in 
office in the civil government, there were applications made to 
ministers, by several persons whom it reached, for their judge- 
ment in the point of the lawfulness or unlawfulness thereof : 
and ministers on that occasion coming in to Edinburgh to the 
assembly, it was earnestly desired that the assembly might 
consider that matter, and give their resolution of the case. 
But it was waived, and men were left to their own light. 
This was heavy to me ; and thereupon I could not but observe 
the justice of the dispensation, whereby about four years after, 
it was brought to ministers' own doors. While I was yet at 
Simprin, I had conversed with a minister from Ireland, who 
had left that country upon his scrupling to take it : and 
whereas a neighbouring minister in the English border, having 
missed the time of taking that oath, and therefore shifting to 
preach in his own congregation till another occasion of it 
should offer, wrote to me to preach a day for him, I had no 
freedom to exchange pulpits for a day with him on that 
occasion, and so declined it. Now it was brought into Scot- 
land by means of the Union, as several other snares have been. 
Having hitherto had a sorry habitation in the old manse, 
it was this summer razed, and a new one built ; I and my 
family, in the meantime, living in the stable and barn ; in the 
former of v»'hich were made a chimney and partition. And 
there, on Wednesday 4th August, about eleven o'clock in the 

1707-1712] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 223 

forenoon, was born to me a son, whom, baptized on the 9th 
day by Mr. John Kutherford, minister of Yarrow, I did, after 
no small struggle with myself, adventure to call Ehcn-ezer. 
But it pleased the Lord, that he also was removed from me, 
dying on the 1st of October. It fell seasonably in our ordinary, 
that morning he was born, at family-duties, to sing Ps. Ixxii. 
11-14. How to call him, was no small exercise to me. I 
went to God, and was laid open to His determination in that 
point. I say it was no small exercise : for when I considered 
how that, after the death of Ebenezer, my soul had often said 
to the Lord, How will this loss be made up ? and my prayer 
had still been, that God would give me another pillar to set 
up, and if He would do so, He would determine me thereto 
by His call ; for I always thought I durst not do it without 
a particular call thereto ; and now that God had so far heard 
my prayer, in giving me another boy, this seemed to call me 
to sot up my pillar again. On the other hand, it racked me 
to think. What if he die too ? To this, the experience I had 
at the second winter-sacrament,^ gave a hopeful answer. Then 
I remembered how this had been reasoned in my own mind 
after the death of Ebenezer, and was this same way answered. 
His mother fell very ill after she was delivered ; and my per- 
plexity in this point continued ; besides my trouble about her 
case, which being so very bad, I could not yet send for one 
to baptize the child. On Friday night, I earnestly entreated 
of the Lord a token, whereby I might know my duty ; and I 
thought I would take it as a token if his mother recovered; 
and she did recover on the morrow : and the same day I sent 
to Yarrow to Mr. Eutherford to come and baptize the child. 
This recovery, so seasonable, seemed to be speaking, as to the 
point I was concerned about ; yet did my perplexity not remove 
thereby. Wherefore I asked my own conscience, as before the 
Lord, whether I durst call him otherwise or not ? And I found 
I durst not, seeing God had so answered my prayers, lest it 
should be found a mocking of God. Wherefore Ehen-czcr I 
called him ; and when I was holding him up, I thouglit I saw 
my action was a struggle of faith against sense and the stream 
of Providence, that had run so cross to me and impetuously 
here. But the clouds did so return after the rain for a long 
time after that, that I endeavoured to keep loose gripes of him. 
1st October, Friday. — About two hours before day he died. 

1 [2rtli Jauuary 1706. T. 177.] 


On the Monday after he fell sick, I thought to spend some 
time in prayer for his case ; but it went not well with me at 
all. Sitting down, I heavily thought with myself, this would 
not do. Presently I was called on, and he was very ill. I 
found at tliat time his case altered just according to my frame. 
My wife being scarce of milk, I endeavoured to get a nurse in 
the Merse, when I was at the sacrament of Simprin the latter 
end of August ; but got none ; but had hopes of one of two 
there. That week we should have sent back for that end, 
was very stormy ; so we were diverted, and got one near hand, 
about seven days before he died. On the Monday before he 
died, I resolved to spend some time in prayer about his case, 
wliich I did in the barn. At first I was very dull, and it was 
like to go ill with me ; but I protested in my heart, that I 
would not quit it so : and this resoluteness was not without 
success ; for the Lord did indeed loose my bands ; and there 
I renewed my covenant with God, and did solemnly and 
explicitly covenant for Ebenezer, and in his name accept of 
the covenant, and of Christ offered in the gospel ; and gave 
him away to the Lord, before angels, and the stones of that 
house, as witnesses. I cried also for his life, that Ebenezer 
might live before Him, if it were His will. But when, after 
that exercise, I came into the house, I found that instead of 
being better, he was worse. The last two days of his life, 
the Lord struck him with sore sickness, which at length made 
me less peremptory for his life. But in the day of distress 
the solemn covenant was sweet, and my heart was thankful 
to tlie Lord that helped me to it. At length the Lord called 
him away ; and while he was drawing his last breaths, he so 
smiled, that the sight of it made my heart to loup. I have 
read of other instances of this, but never saw another. On 
the Tuesday or Wednesday before, his sister fell sick of the 
measles whereof he died, but she escaped. I believe the 
Lord sent that, as for further trial, so to moderate our sorrow 
in his case. That the nurse came was good providence, for 
by her he was supported in his sickness ; and that she was 
got so near hand, and not from the Merse, seemed a design 
of mercy. When the child was laid in the coffin, his mother 
kissed his dust. I only lifted the cloth off his face, looked on 
it, and covered it again, in confidence of seeing that body rise 
a glorious body. When the nails were driving, I was moved 
for that I had not kissed that precious dust, which I believed 


was united to Jesus Christ, as if I had despised it ; and I 
would fain have caused draw the nail again, but, because of 
one that was present, I restrained, and violented myself. So 
far as I remember, I was never so much straitened to know 
why the Lord contended with me, as in this. 1 could not say, 
that I was secure as to his life since he was born. I know 
many things in my heart and life offensive to the Lord ; but 
to pitch on any one thing, so as to say of it, This is the cause, 
was what I could not get done. Often in that distress, my 
soul has said to the Lord, " Thou knowest that I am not 
wicked." I remember I had a more than ordinary freedom 
with God, to refuse process according to the covenant of works, 
but that it should be according to the covenant of grace. 
But I see most plainly, that sovereignty challenges a latitude, 
to which I must stoop, and be content to follow the Lord in 
an untrodden path : and this made me with more ease to 
bury my second Ebenezer than I could do the first. That 
scripture was very useful to me, " It was in my heart to 
build a house to the Lord," I learned not to cry. How will 
the loss be made up ? But being now in that matter as a 
weaned child, desired the loss to be made up by the presence 
of the Lord. I had ground to think, that I had been too 
peremptory as to his life in seeking it. 

Upon public reading of the act of the commission of the 
General Assembly, against Mr. John Macmillan and Mr. John 
Macneill,^ the two preachers of the separation, on the Lord's 
day, 12th December, I preached a sermon from 1 Cor. i. 10, 
"Now I beseech you brethren, — that there be no divisions among 
you," etc. Copies of this sermon, which was directed precisely 
against the separation, being desired, I having transcribed it, 
allowed to be given out : and it was of some use for a time. 
The original notes, and transcript, are both of them in retcntis 
among my notes.^ 

The year 1709 was to me a year remarkable among many. 

^ [Mr. Macneill was licensed by the Presbytery of Penpont, lOtli May 1669. Ho 
was iu the fullest sympathy with Macmillan, ami joined him in his "Protestation, 
Declinature, and Appeal," tabled before the Assembly 1708. The United Societies 
consistently refused to ordain him, no Presbytery having been constituted, and 
when he died, 10th December 1732, he had been a probationer si.xty-three years. 
A tombstone in memory of Macneill and his wife (Beatrix Umpherston) is in 
Peutlaud churchyard.] 

" This sermon was originally printed in 173S, and has been several times printed 
since, particularly with a preface by the author's son. [Works, YII. 593.] 



In the latter end of March, the second adultery was delated, 
and confessed by the adulteress ; but the adulterer was not 
convicted till September following. Meanwhile my circum- 
stances in the parish were brought to a pitch of hopelessness, 
by the Lord's withdrawing supporters from me ; that " I might 
trust in the living God, who raiseth the dead, and calleth things 
that are not to be as if they were." 

Having, in the preceding August, ordained three elders, the 
eldership was now seven in number ; one of the five above 
mentioned, as signers of the petition, having soon after my 
settlement removed out of the parish. The families, in whom 
was the greatest encouragement I had in the place, from the 
time of my settling among them, were those of James Bryden 
tenant in Cossarshill, Walter Bryden in Crosslee, Robert Paterson 
in Thirlestane, Adam Linton in Midgehop, and James Biggar in 
Upper Dalgleish. James Bryden aforesaid was a very friendly 
man ; but he soon broke, his substance failing. Walter was a 
plain, pious, friendly man, and an elder : but he removed out 
of the parish with his family this year at the Whitsunday. In 
July I met with the piercing trial of the death of William 
Biggar, brother to the said James ; who having gone along with 
me to the communion at Penpont, died there. Of which I shall 
give an account afterwards.^ He was a most kindly, pious, good 
man unlike the country, an elder also, and most useful in his 
office. Moreover, Mr. Paterson aforesaid, a third of my elders, 
a very friendly man, who by that time, I think, had got good 
of the gospel, and did much balance the influence of an heritor 
in the parish at first, and friendly to me, having bought the 
estate of Drygrange, removed to it with his family about the 
Martinmas the same year. Thus three of the most valuable of 
my seven elders were taken from me. Adam Linton foresaid 
was also an elder, and a good man, and he and his family from 
the beginning really friendly ; and those of them who remain, 
continue so still : but they had about them a great measure of 
the harshness of the temper of the country. But James Biggar, 
an elder, with his family, were the family which was the most 
comfortable to me as a minister of the gospel. So it was all 
along and so it continues to this day. May the blessing of God, 
" whose I am, and whom I serve," rest on them, from genera- 
tion to generation ! May the glorious gospel of His Son catch 
them early, and maintain its ground in them to the end ; of the 

1 [P. 230.] 

no7-ni2\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 227 

which I have seen some comfortable instauces ah^eady ! Several 
of them have, of late years, been carried off by death ; but they 
have been comfortable to me in their life, and in their death too. 

By the means aforesaid, and otherwise too, the current of 
holy Providence was so strong against me, that I had much ado 
to bear up before it : but still God's calling me to the place 
remained clear, plain, and un perplexed. Howbeit the Lord 
pitied. In the end of the year, James, son to Walter Bryden 
aforesaid, came in his father's room, an elder, and very well filled 
up his father's room every way. And I lived in a particular 
friendship with both father and son while they lived. 

From the time of my settling here, the great thing I aimed 
at in my preaching was to impress the people with a sense of 
their need of Christ, and to bring them to consider the founda- 
tions of practical religion. For the which ends, after some time 
spent in direct preaching the need of Christ, and handling the 
parable of the wise and foolish builders, some of which sermons 
are written in shorthand characters, I did, on 9th May 1708, 
begin an ordinary, the same, for substance, as in the first years 
of my ministry in Simprin, but prosecuted after another manner. 
That part of it which contained the doctrine of man's fourfold 
state, then begun, was ended this year on the 16th of October. 
The conduct of Providence in leading to a second attempt on 
that subject, was the more remarkable, considering what the 
same Providence had designed it for, unknown to and unlooked 
for by me, till the event discovered itself years after. And the 
preaching of these sermons of the FoiLvfold State, through the 
mercy of God, was not in vain. Thereafter I proceeded in the 
remaining part of that ordinary, viz., the nature and necessity 
of holiness. 

Meanwhile, on 30 th October, I began to preach catechetical 
doctrine ; and I went through the whole catechism, from the 
beginning to the end ; but at several distant times.^ At that 
time I proceeded straight forward, till I came to the application 
of the redemption purchased by Christ ; where I stopt. 

Twice a-year I catechised the parish, having no diet but one 
at the church ; and once a-year I visited their families. The 
former was usually begun about the end of October, the latter 
about the end of April, or beginning of May. This was my 

* This whole work, with several additional sermons on parallel subjects, was 
published in 1773, in three large vohunes octavo ; and is justly esteemed a work 
of great merit, though posthumous. [Works, I. II.] 


ordinary course all along, save that of some few late years ; 
through my wife's extraordinary sickness in the spring, and the 
decay of my own strength, I have not got the visiting of families 
performed as before ; neither have I hope of it any more, though 
I still aim at something of that kind yearly. But I bless God, 
that when I had ability, I was helped to lay it out that way. 
Thus the winter-season was the time wherein I did most of my 
work in the parish. Meanwhile that also was the season 
wherein I did most in my closet. Being twelve miles distant 
from the presbytery-seat, I attended it not in the winter ; but 
when I attended it, I ordinarily went away and returned the 
same day, being loath to lose two or three days on it. 

These things, with other incidents, occasioned me much 
riding ; in which I must acknowledge the goodness of God, that 
brought me out of Simprin, where I had but little occasion of 
riding, and my health was sore broken. But here I had more 
exercise of that kind, which no doubt was to my advantage in 
that point, though now at length my strength is much wasted 
away. The which has necessarily made an alteration in the 
course of my management ; but the diets of catechising are still 
in the winter, only I begin now sooner than I was wont ; and 
the winter-nights, that were my best employed times in my 
closet, I cannot now spend so any more, as before. 

10/A July. — This year I was at the sacrament in Penpont. 
When the express came with the letter inviting me, I was 
indisposed ; but retiring and seeking counsel of the Lord, two 
things seemed to promise that I should go to that place — 
1. That being invited to the sacrament at G., 3rd July, 
Providence hindered me, though very pressing instances were 
made, partly by bodily indisposition and otherwise ; and Penpont 
being just the Lord's day after, I could not have left the parish 
two days at once ; besides there being thirty-seven miles betwixt 
the places ; 2. The letters not having come the two weeks before, 
while I was in the Merse, at which time they should have come, 
if not sooner. On the "Wednesday I began to study, and with 
some difficulty fell on that text, Gen. xxviii. 17; but it went 
very ill with me ; neither could I alter, though I had frequent 
thoughts of laying it aside. The vein of it was never opened to 
me till Thursday betwixt three and four o'clock, and then I 
studied it that night. But I had no time to study another to 
preach after the sacrament. On Friday morning, while I was 
at breakfast, and my horse standing saddled for the journey, 

no7-i7i2\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 229 

W. D. came in and told me, that my horse was all swelled in 
the counter and side (and my other horse was at Boswell's fair). 
This surprising dispensation stung me to the heart, being so 
timed. I knew not what to do. To get forward appeared a 
great difficulty ; and to stay at home upon this, seemed to be to 
make a Bible of providence. So I went away, thinking to hire 
a horse by the way ; but two that we had a mind for, both 
misgave. William Biggar, one of my elders, went alongst with 
me, the rather that I had been indisposed. My horse served 
me, so that we came to Penpont that night safely. When I 
came there, I found there were other two appointed to preach 
on the Saturday ; but Mr. Murray would have me to be a third. 
I peremptorily refused, and so laid aside thoughts of preaching 
that day ; but withal I was displeased, that I should have been 
called to come so far, to a place where there was no need, and 
left my own congregation desolate. On the morrow ^ Mr. 
Murray pressed me again to preach with the other two ; and I 
yielded ; and so went to my chamber to prepare for preaching 
that day with the other two, Mr. D. and Mr. P. While I was 
there, I heard some with Mr. Murray in the other room, speaking 
not very favourably of three preachings. Within a very little 
I went into that room, upon that occasion, and found Mr. P. 
there alone, who very freely gave me to understand his mind, 
and then went away to the tent to begin. Then Mr. Murray 
and Mr. D. came thither ; and I said to Mr. Murray, It is time 
now we were at a point ; pray determine what we are to do. 
To which he answered. Well, I am content. Very well, said I ; 
and so I went, and cast off my band, and put on my cravat 
again. This made me very uneasy. I heard sermons, and they 
were but short ; and had I been desired again, I had certainly 
preached. When we came home, I found this a great temptation; 
and was sorry I should have come, and left my parish desolate. 
But it was too far off to help it then. Then they urged me to 
make the exercise in the kirk, which I very peremptorily refused ; 
and the rather that I had been put to pains before to no purpose; 
and having had so much vexation, and having been before in- 
disposed ere I came from home, I found my body very weak. 
However that exercise was as peremptorily laid upon me, Mr. 
Murray saying to me, " You must do it." "Well then," said I, " I 
shall do it." So I retired a little, and then went to the exercise, 
where, I think, would have been three hundred people in the 

1 [Saturday.] 


church. It pleased the Lord to blow upon u«, and it was very 
well with me ; and there was indeed an uncommon moving 
among the people. One told me afterwards, that he never saw 
the like in that place since he knew it ; and told me of some 
particular persons whose hearts the Lord had touched. After I 
came out, turning homeward speedily, I saw several people 
gathered together in the churchyard with some of the ministers, 
amongst whom there was a man crying under convictions. Mr, 
Murray's boy came home weeping. When I came home, within 
a while I heard that William Bicrgar was sick. To-morrow he 


continued so, which was afflicting to me. I communicated in a 
tender melted frame, especially at the first. On the Lord's day 
night, we began to apprehend that William Biggar was in a 
dangerous case. He continued ill on Monday, and we were 
resolved to seek some help for him, and before sermons got one 
B. to see him. Monday after sermons, as I was going out to 
see for B. that I might bring him in to W. Biggar, the smith 
called me to see my horse more swelled than before ; and told 
me, if the swelling in its progress was as quick downwards as it 
had been hitherto, he was gone. On Tuesday morning W. Biggar 
grew better ; the means being so far blessed, that he got out to 
and lay down in the garden : but my fears were not removed. 
In the afternoon he grew worse, and took his bed again ; where- 
upon I resolved to send an express home, though he was not 
free for it. Accordingly we sent away one on Wednesday. On 
Thursday death approached fast, and he died that day. His 
brother saw him alive, but unable to speak. And he was buried 
on the Friday afternoon. He died in hopes of eternal life, 
through Jesus Christ. Among his last words were, " Farewell, 
sun (to the best of my remembrance), moon, and stars ; Farewell, 
dear minister ; — and Farewell the Bible ; " which last words 
especially made great impression on me. He blessed God, that 
ever he had seen my face ; which was no small comfort to me, 
especially in these heavy circumstances. Thus the Lord pulled 
from me a good man, a comfortable fellow-labourer, and a 
supporter, or rather the supporter of me in my troubles in this 
place. He w^as always a friend to ministers, a fast friend to my 
predecessor,^ which helped to complete the ruin of his means. 
Though he was a poor man, yet he had always a brow for a 

^ [Rev. James M'Micheu or M'^Iicken, onlained to Ettrick in 1693, seems to 
have siifl'ered from bad liealtli, and disaffection in the jiarish. Complained to the 
Presbytery about his grievances, the chief grievance being a scandal against his 

no7-J7i2\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 231 

good cause, and was a faithful, useful elder ; and as lie was very- 
ready to reprove sin, so he had a singular dexterity in the 
matter of admonition and reproof, to speak a word upon the 
wheels, so as to convince with a certain sweetness, that it was 
hard to take his reproofs ill. Much of that time I had a very 
ill habit of body, and wondered how I was kept up under the 
burden. It was a complication of griefs — 1. To his poor widow 
and children ; 2. To Mr. Murray and his family, who spared 
neither trouble nor expense ; 3. To me and my family. My 
part of it was — 1. That he died abroad in my company at a 
sacrament ; 2. The great loss of him as to the Lord's work in 
the parish, and particularly in his quarter, the most unruly of 
the parish ; 3. lie had been one of two witnesses to an instru- 
ment I had taken in the case of some teinds due to me, which 
instrument had not come to my hand extended before we went 
away. That night I went to Penpont, I said in a jest, " It is like 
we would be more troublesome ere we go." Alas ! little thought 
I that I was to see it turned to so sad earnest. 

\Wi July. — This day I spent some time in prayer, and 
thinking on this business. As for the causes of it in general 
I could be in no strait ; but to condescend on particulars has 
not been easy. So far as I can discern the Lord's mind in it, 
the great ground of the quarrel was my refusing to preach on 
the Saturday, though often and earnestly called thereto ; in 
which there was much of my own spirit. Three things do bear 
me in hand, that this was the true cause of it. 1. Though 
while I was in Penpont Mr. Murray alleged this was the cause ; 
yet I would not admit it, but rather suspected that I had 
followed my own inclination in going thither, rather than the 
Lord's mind ; which, upon reflection, I see not how I can charge 
myself with : but the first time I was convinced of this, was on 
Saturday after I was come home, out of my own mouth. Telling 
my wife how matters had gone with me, I happened to say, the 
text I should have preached on was, " How dreadful is this 
place ! " I would not preach it, but God in His providence 
preached it over to me. These words left a conviction behind 
them. 2. Last night in prayer, I was carried out in the view 
of God's jealousy, and particularly the zeal He hath for His 
worship, and saw how He takes special notice of a fault in or 

elder, the laird of Tusliielaw, in dealing ■with which he was insufficiently supported 
by the Kirk Session ; one of its members, indeed, being actively hostile. Threatened 
to resign his charge. Translated to Hownam in 1703, and died there in 1712.] 


about it. And this is now the third time that I have fallen 
into this error of late. 3. I have found since the conviction 
was set in on me on Saturday, that if I were in such circum- 
stances again, I would yield my service to the Lord, that He 
might do with it what He pleased. And although this may be 
thought a small thing by such as look on it at a distance ; yet 
considering it was a fault about God's worship, and that the 
third of that nature within a short time, the conclusion must be 
made as said is. It is true, I was ready to have preached on 
Saturday afternoon, yet the old prophet set me off it, that I 
might be justly punished, because I would not when God would. 
As for that more than ordinary countenance from the Lord, 
though I dare not, before a holy God, purge myself altogether 
of lifting up, yet I can remember no notable uplifting that I 
had on the back of it. It may be I had had it if I had not got 
that ballast, especially when I found others had greater thoughts 
of it than I. There are two difficulties in the way of this con- 
clusion : First, The straitening I had in studying that sermon ; 
but my experience leaves no weight in this : Second, My trouble 
as to the horse beginning ere I went away. From what I have 
met with — 1. I have learned, that if the Lord has a mind, He 
will carry on His work, and no thanks to the instruments ; for 
I took that exercise in hand through a sort of mere force. 2. 
To be denied to my credit in the Lord's matters. One of the 
ministers that preached that Saturday, never desired me to do 
it ; the other of them did as good as forbid me, and I had no 
will to have it said, that I loved to hear myself speak, or that 
the people would be weary, etc. But now I see that these 
things are but thin fig-leaves. Lord, my soul is as a weaned 
child, 3. I think I have thereby obtained some soul-advantage ; 
more heavenliness in the frame of my heart, more contempt of 
the world, as the widow that is desolate trusteth in God. I 
have more confidence in God, to which I am helped (with 
respect to my work in the parisli) particularly by that word, 
Isa. xxxiii. 10, "Now will I rise, saith the Lord, now will I be 
exalted, now will I lift up Myself ; " which was a sweet word to 
me, on the last Lord's day, in my lecture, which fell to be in 
that chapter that day, in which I had more than ordinary of 
the Lord's light and life, though I had very little time to study 
either it or the sermons. I have thereby obtained more care- 
fulness to walk with God, and to get evidences for heaven ; 
more resolution of spirit for the Lord's work, over the belly of 

iyo7-i7i3-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 233 

difficulties. For there was more yet in that aftUction. I have 
been much discouraged with respect to my parish a long time, 
and have had little hand or heart for my work. I take God's 
dealing thus with me to be designed as a means to make me 
better content. Now the Lord has driven the business to a 
great height of hopelessness, by the removal of two of the most 
comfortable of my elders, I may say of three : Walter Bryden 
went out of the parish at Wliitsunday last; now this stroke, in 
the removal by death of William Biggar ; and Mr. Paterson, a 
wise, sweet-tempered young man, who by his authority was a 
ballast in this place to my enemies, is going away against 
Martinmas next. And I have but four elders behind. And, 
which is most sad, so rare is an inoffensive walk among us, that 
it is extremely hard to get others in their room, who would not 
be a reproach to the office. I know not how much further the 
Lord may carry it ; but T desire to take spirits, and when all is 
gone to look to the Lord. 

Last Lord's day night I had some thoughts as to evidences 
for heaven, which I resumed this day. 1. I am content to take 
Christ for my prophet, to be taught by Him what is my duty, 
that I may comply with it ; I am content to know what is my 
sin, that I may turn from it ; and by grace I know something 
of what it is to make use of Christ as a prophet in this case ; 
and T desire to learn of Him, as the only Master, what is the 
will of God, and the mystery of renouncing my own wisdom, 
which I reckon but weakness and folly. 2. I know and am 
persuaded, that I am a lost creature ; that justice must be 
satisfied ; that I am not able to satisfy it, nor no creature for 
nie ; that Christ is able, and His death and sufferings are 
sufficient satisfaction. On this I throw my soul with its full 
weight ; here is my hope and only confidence. My duties, I 
believe the best of them, would damn me, sink me to the lowest 
pit, and must needs be washed in that precious blood, and can 
have no acceptance with God but through His intercession. I 
desire to have nothing to do with an absolute God, nor to 
converse with God but only through Christ. I am sensible that 
I have nothing to commend me to God, nor to Christ, that He 
may take my cause in hand. If He should damn me, He should 
do me no wrong. But the cord of love is let out, even the 
covenant in His blood ; I accept of it, and at His command lay 
hold on it, and venture. This is faith in spite of devils. And 
my heart is pleased with the glorious device of man's salvation 



through Christ, carrying all the praise to free grace, and leaving 
nothing of it to the creature. 3. My soul is content of Him 
for my king ; and though I cannot be free of sin, God Himself 
knows He would be welcome to make havoc of my lusts, and to 
make me holy. I know no lust that I would not be content to 
part with. My will bound hand and foot I desire to lay at His 
/ feet ; and though it will strive, whether I will or not, I believe 

whatever God does to me is best done. 4. Though afflictions 
of themselves can be no evidence of the Lord's love ; yet foras- 
much as the native product of afflictions and strokes from the 
hand of the Lord, is to drive the guilty away from the Lord ; 
when I find it is not so with me, but that I am drawn to God 
by them, made to kiss the rod, and accept of the punishment of 
my iniquity, to love God more, and to have more confidence in 
Him, and kindly thoughts of His way, and find my heart more 
closely cleaving to Him, I cannot but think such an affliction an 
evidence of love. I have met with many troubles, and the 
afflictions I have met with have been very remarkable in their 
circumstances. Often have I seen it, and now once more, 
verified in my lot, 1 Cor. iv. 9, " For we are made a spectacle 
to the world, and to angels, and to men," etc. Now I am as a 
weaned child, through grace, in the matter. Let the Lord do 
what seemeth Him good. {Nota. — I was obliged to leave my 
horse behind me at Penpont under care, and he died.) 

In the latter end of August, I was at the sacrament in 
Ashkirk. There I preached the sermon, on Saturday, which 
should have been preached at Lenpont.' I was helped to 
deliver it, and I believe it was not without fruit to some. But 
after sermons I was bowed down under convictions of the want 
of that fear of God in my spirit, when I delivered it, and was 
vile in mine own eyes. The Lord's day was a good day to me. 
Hearing Mr. Gordon speak to his people as under apprehensions 
of death, and reflecting on how many years, especially since I 
was a minister, I have spent in preaching of the gospel, it was 
most bitter to me, to see how much time was gone, and how 
little I had done for God. From the Saturday after sermons, I 
had been in earnest for awful impressions of God on my spirit, 
and I got them ; particularly on the Monday, while Mr. Gabriel 
Wilson preached, my soul, under impressions of the majesty and 
greatness of God, was melted within me. While he preached 
on Ps. cxvi. 9, " I will walk before the Lord in the land of the 

1 [Gen, xxviii. 17.] 

jyo7-i7i2\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 235 

living," every step of duty he named, gave me a new conviction. 
So that when I began to speak after him, my soul was so filled 
with the sense of the majesty of God, and of my own vileness, 
wherewith my heart was so swollen, that I had much ado in 
prayer to speak plain, and not to break the words. But in the 
sermon, I had much tugging and drawing with my heart to keep 
it right, and wanted not ups and downs in it, sometimes out of 
case, and sometimes helped, but for the most part unsatisfying 
to myself. After the work was over, I had a sinking afternoon 
and night of it, often wishing I had gone away when Mr. Wilson 
ended, seeing myself a vile minister, good for nothing ; and the 
sense of the difficulties of that work, and of my own mismanage- 
ments, lay heavy on me. And on the morrow, as I was by the 
way, I was indeed like to faint under these impressions. As I 
was coming through W. moor, I mistook the way, and bogued 
my horse in the moss beyond K.^ After much toiling with him 
in vain, I sat down and cried to the Lord ; tried it again, but 
it would not do ; so that I had thoughts of losing him. I cast 
off my boots and cloak, and went to the town to seek help. 
The person to whom I spoke knew me not, and so sent me to 
the field to the mowers. I came to one company, who sent me 
to another, who were more compassionate. So two or three 
went away with me to the moss ; and those in the town having 
known me after I was gone, had gone to the horse, who had got 
up to his feet ere they came. So he was got out of the moss, 
and I was conducted to the right way. When I came home, I 
met with another temptation, ere ever I sat down, which was 
another nail to my heart ; the rather sharp, that it was driven 
by a hand from whence I expected it not : which brought me in 
mind of a note to that purpose in the latter end of my sermon 
at Ashkirk, fulfilled in myself, whatever it might be in others. 
I would fain have had Mr. Wilson staying with me on the 
Monday's night, for my support ; but the Lord would not. 
With these things, and the w^onderful conduct of Providence 
towards me, I was much broken, and made to go with a bowed- 
down back, and my health impaired. Some others had no mean 
thoughts of the work there. Mr. Wilson said, that for the 

^ [Perhaps Whitslade moor, and Redfordgreen. The F.C. minister of Ashkirk 
writes, "One old farmer specially remembered reading that passage, and discussing 
it with another old inhabitant, and they could find no other solution of the matter" 
than the preceding. The "town"' referred to below is of course a farm-town 
{Scotticc ) : there is no town or village anywhere near. ] 


Saturday, had he been to have preached after me, he would nob 
have opened his mouth, but dismissed the people as they were. 
I bless the Lord, that lets me see my own vileness and nothing- 
ness ; and that seeing my heart is ready to be vain of little 
things, He takes such measures to press me down. 

11th Si'ptemher. — This day Mr. Macmillau preached at Hope- 
cross, in the confines of this parish. On the 12th of December 
last, I had preached a sermon precisely against the separation, 
upon occasion of reading the aforementioned act of the com- 
mission from the pulpit. It was by a mistake I was led to 
read these papers, I mean that act of the commission, at least 
at that time ; for I had a letter from the presbytery-clerk, 
importing, as I thought, their order ; but they had given none 
about it. However, it was my opinion, that the act should 
have been read through the presbytery ; but I had no mind to 
have made myself singular. But it was a happy mistake, ordered 
by the good Providence of God. My lecture fell that day to be 
on Isa. v. ; but I handled only the parable of the vineyard, which 
was to me another piece of surprising conduct of Providence. 
It fell to be an exceeding good day, so that our kirk was 
thronged with our own people and strangers. God helped me 
to deliver it. Copies of it were desired, and I allowed them to 
be given out : so copies were handed abroad, not only in the 
parish, but several other places ; and this galled that party, and 
I am confident served to confirm others. Mr. Macmillan 
preached within a mile of this parish in February thereafter, 
and my people did not shew their wonted instability. At length 
this day Mr. Macmillan preached a sermon, on design to confute 
that sermon of mine, producing the copy of my sermon, and 
reading parcels of it before the people. Seldom or never before 
came that man to these bounds, but something was laid to my 
hand in my ordinary, whereof there is an instance above ex- 
pressed. But this day there was nothing of that nature ; but 
not without reason, for our kirk that day was so throng, that I 
really thought some had the rather come out that day, that I 
might see they were not gone to his meeting. 

I understood after, that several who were there were dis- 
gusted, and that it had done their cause little service. He left 
this country, leaving no copy of his sermon behind him ; which 
has been taken notice of by judicious persons. I waited a 
while, till I should see whether any copy of it appeared or not : 
at length none appearing, I spoke a little of it in the pulpit, 

1707-17 1 2\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 237 

desiring the people to believe what I had taught tliein, till they 
should see it confuted by scripture, etc. 

In November I met with a surprising mercy. A person 
that had long been in the wrong to me, in a certain particular, 
with tears confessed the fault : which did exceedingly raise me 
in thankfulness to God. This was on the Friday. On the 
Lord's day night thereafter, musing on it, I found I had met 
with that mercy before I was prepared for it. It is true, I had 
often prayed for it ; but the sap was squeezed out, by considering 
that I had not got my heart in that point brought to a sub- 
mission to the will of God. Upon this account the mercy 
proved a burden to my spirit, and a great and lieavy grief. 
When I lay down in my bed, my grief increased ; my wilful 
will was a spectacle of horror to me. And, under this conviction, 
1 was so filled with the terror of God, that both tiesh and spirit 
were like to fail and faint away. I endeavoured to flee to, and 
make use of the blood of Christ for pardon : and though I would 
liave bought that mercy at a very dear rate, yet I was conscious 
to myself, and protested, that I was not, and would not, be con- 
tent with that mercy, but with the favour of God and His good- 
will with it, and desired to give up my will to the will of God. 
{Nota. — It was not long ere my patience in this point was put to 
the trial atrain : So short-lived are mercies that fall off the tree 
of Providence ere they be ripe.) 

ZWi Decemler, Friday. — I received a letter from Mrs. M. 
Home, wherein she says, she is wearying of " this life of a beast ; " 
which made impression on me. The next day, it pleased the 
Lord to give me a more than ordinary outletting of His Spirit, 
which I was somewhat helped to improve ; the rather that there 
was at that time in my mind a dissatisfaction about my public 
work, both as to my preaching and the people's hearing, which 
I would fain have seen changed to the better. And indeed it 
was better with me on the Lord's day. And now the Lord was 
a commentator on the scripture to me, at family-duties. I spent 
a part of Monday morning in prayer ; and by that exercise, and 
making conscience of preparing for family-duties, I found myself 
bettered. On the Tuesday I spent some time in fasting and 
prayer, and renewed my covenant with God ; and that week I 
was kept heavenly for the most part ; and till this day. 

22nd January 1710. — Though I have had several ups 
and downs, yet I have at least been kept struggling. And as 
to this time, I may say, 1. I had never more deep impressions 


of the life of a beast, being in some sort weary of the necessity 
of eating, sleeping, etc., with a holy contempt of them, longing 
to be beyond all these things, and content to part with all my 
created comforts. I have also felt my soul most sensibly going 
out in love to God, and seen my soul most plainly taking Christ 
for my portion, and accepting of the blessed Bridegroom, It 
hath been my exercise how to direct these things in the life of 
the beast, to the Lord, to refer them to God, so as that they 
may be a part of the Christian life. But I have made small 
progress in the practice of it, but have found slips that way 
bitter. As particularly on Friday morning, I spent so much 
time in sleep, when I should have been otherwise employed, 
that it made me go halting all the day ; and so much the more, 
that I had been attacked in prayer with carnality before, which 
was not duly resisted ; and from thence I dated that carnal 
frame. Thus I found my conscience defiled, and on the morrow 
after it lay heavy on me. I came from family-prayer that day 
(viz. Saturday), where I could not get all my mind told before 
the Lord, unto my closet ; whither when I came, the sense of 
my carnality pressed me so sore, that I could scarcely get out 
a word for some time. When I got liberty to speak, my soul 
protested before God and angels, that though I could not shake 
myself loose of my lusts, Christ should be most welcome to 
make havoc of them. The letter foresaid trysted with a sermon 
I had been preaching before, of making God our end, as a 
necessary requisite in holiness ; and so it came seasonably to 
quicken my thoughts and practice in that point. And I design 
to preach particularly on referring natural actions to God, for 
my ov*^n and the people's case, as God shall clear my way. I 
have learned two things by experience in that point. The one 
is, When the will, on a corrupt principle, that may feed spiritual 
lusts, is averse to what the body requires, to yield to the body 
the rather to cross the will, and so to seek to please God, and 
not ourselves, in or about these things. The other. To ascend 
from and by them, to that infinite satisfaction that must needs 
be in the enjoyment of God, leaving these ashes upon the earth, 
and mounting up from them in a flame of love to the Lord, as 
pillars of smoke ascending towards heaven. Seeing all perfection 
in the creature is originally from God, whatever is in the creature 
must be eminently and infinitely in Him ; therefore, if a bit of 
bread be so sweet, how sweet must God be, that ocean, whereof 
that in the bread is but a drop ! 

no7-i7i2-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 239 

2 6^/1 January. — 'The last week I spent some time in prayer 
with fasting, with my family, especially for my wife's safe 
delivery : but with me it went not well ; my frame was not 
fixedly lively. This upon rellection was terrible to me, as a 
sign for evil ; which was the mean of quickening in secret ; 
where I got what I got not with otlieis. And I have observed, 
that the thing I have been still led to for her, was a life for 
God. And it was most clear to me this night in particular, 
that it was not so much her life, as life for God, that I desired ; 
grace to her (as to myself) to live well, more than life. I have 
been this day also, from the life of the beast, helped to prize 
the enjoyment of God ; and was led into a sweet view of the 
purity and refinedness of the pleasures in tlie fountain, and the 
dregs mixed with those of the streams, that make them humbling 
and contemptible. 

29^/i January, Sabbath. — On Friday studying my catechetic 
sermon,'^ some surprising thoughts were laid to my hand. My 
heart swelled with thankfulness, and loathed myself for that 
there should be so much as a principle of taking any praise to 
myself in me, though it came not forth into an act. And my 
soul cried to be emptied of self, that I might be nothing, and 
the Lord might work all in me. I thought these things were 
from the Lord, seeing they had that effect on me. On Saturday 
night I made all ready, that I might employ my time to the 
best advantage on the Sabbath morning : and I requested, 
particularly — 1. That I might have whom to preach to; for it 
was a very bad day ; 2. An opportunity to preach without 
distraction, for my wife had some pains ; 3. That the Lord 
would be with me ; for the pulpit without Him was a terror. 
This day was an exceeding pleasant day, and the people came 
well out. I had no trouble from my wife's case. These things 
in the morning were a valley of Achor for a door of hope. I 
gave myself to prayer, and entered to the work in a tender 
melted frame. I dare not say, that the Lord was not with me ; 
but I had not what I would fain have had. I had several ups 
and downs in the sermons. I would fain have been at the 
mark, but the legs would not serve. I found I loved the Lord, 
and would fain have been there where the executive power will 
fully answer the will. I know not what the Lord has a mind 
to do with me, but this good while I have had no ill time of it. 

* Viz. tliat oil the first sin in jiarticular. See the author's Body of Divinity^ 
Vol. I. J). 303 ci seqq. [Works, I. 267.] 


1. I have found frequent ilutterings of my soul after the Lord 
very sensibly. 2. I have found duty very pleasant, and some- 
times a pain to give it over. 3. I have found more freedom 
with God in secret than in family duties, for there I got leave 
to tell all I thought; 4. I have sometimes a confusion in my 
head in preaching ; I prayed against it particularly this day. 
I had something of it, but it lasted not, though I was about 
four hours in constant exercise. But seldom does my body fail 
in preaching, when my frame is right. 5. I have found the 
Lord easy to be entreated, and a recovery to be got without 
long onwaiting. As yesterday I was somewhat carnal, I sought 
the Lord, but found Him not : I went back again to God, and 
was set right again. And seldom has it continued ill with me, 
for some time, from the beginning to the end of duty. G. On 
Wednesday last a storm that threatened this parish, already 
sore distressed, did break. I found myself concerned to get 
this mercy, both in public and private, and thankful to the 
Lord when it was come : and why may not I look on it, as the 
Lord's hearing of my prayers, amongst those of others ? 

Zrd February. — I had met with a temptation that put me 
out of frame. Afterwards I met with another of the same kind, 
but sharper ; with which I went to God, and it issued in quicken- 
ing me again. I was turned off the thing that raised my 
corruptions, and turned in against myself, that I could not get 
my will to comply with the will of God in this, without fretting, 
and cheerfully to submit to providence in that particular. It 
was stinoing to think, that whereas I have several evidences for 
heaven, this one thing is like to blot them all out. I have 
found a satisfaction in seeing the Lord, by His providence, set 
me on my trials for ui}^ humiliation in other cases ; but I think 
I can never get over this. I wrestled v.'ith the Lord to get my 
will melted down, that at length in this I might be as a weaned 
child. This cured me in another case, and made me fear the 
being taken off my trials before some good metal should appear. 
Last night, while this case lay heavy on me, it fell in our 
ordinary to sing Ps. xxxviii. 10—13. And this day it met me 
again very seasonably. 

Adoro plcnitudinem scripturce. 

4:th Fehruary. — My heart had scarce conceived ere my 
tongue began to express some regret in the foresaid particular ; 
but through grace my tongue was silenced, ere it had got sense 

1707-17 r2\ AfR. THOMAS BOSTON 241 

made of what it had begun to say. And it was no small joy to 
me to see my corrupt self deiDrived of that satisfaction, and the 
wilful will balked of its will. 

*lth February, Tuesday. — This night I had one of the most 
doleful times I ever had in my life, by reason of the same trial 
aforesaid. The struggle with my own will was most dreadful, 
so that I was like to sink under it, and say, There is no hope, 
while it lay on me as a giant bearing down a little child. I 
laid down my resolution however always to go to God with it 
again, as it renewed its desperate attacks on me ; and so I did, 
and found some ease that way : though sometimes both lieart 
and hand were taken from me in this combat, and I was almost 
swallowed up in despair. I felt the power of the bands of 
wickedness. The first ease I got was, that it was suggested to 
me in prayer, that it might be God was letting me fall so low 
before the victory, that I might see it, when it came, entirely 
due to His grace. In our ordinary that niglit we sung Ps. xl. 
where that word, ver. 16, "who seeking Thee abide," etc., was 
most seasonable and comfortable. At this time I was preaching 
on Gal. V. 24,^ and I had a trial of the difficulty of the work. 

'dth February, Thursday. — This day, betwixt ten and eleven 
at night, my wife, after long and sore labour, was delivered of 
a son, called Thomas, who was baptized on the 15 th by Mr. 
Gabriel Wilson, minister at Maxton. She never recovered with 
so much difficulty ; which seemed to answer to our frame in 
prayer for that mercy. On the Sabbath after, she was very ill ; 
and just when I was going in to the afternoon sermon she told 
me she thought she was in a fever. Whereupon I looked to 
the Lord, and presently found my spirit calmed, in hopes all 
would be well ; and went to my work ; and so it was. AVhile 
I wrote the letter to Mr. Wilson to come and baptize the child, 
my soul fluttered away to Christ with my child, and I wept for 
joy of the covenant, that it was for my seed, as well as for 

15th February. — This night I had four particular suits before 
the throne of grace. And within a few days after, as to one 
of them, some persons, who, being stirred up by an enemy 
to me, had created me very much trouble in a particular 
business, came and agreed with me ; so the Lord made my 
enemies stumble and fall in their measures against me : and 

^ ["And they that are Christ's have crucifiid the flesh with the aOfectioDS and 



but that mercy was sweet ! An only child of a dear friend 
having been sick, I heard of her recovery. As to a nurse 
for my child, the Lord answered by that which was better, 
giving milk to my wife. As to the fourth, I thought it 
had been answered too ; but it failed, and I was set to wait 
on again. 

By this time the friendship betwixt the aforementioned 
]\Ir. Wilson and me had arrived at an uncommon height and 
strictness. That friendship hath indeed been one of the greatest 
comforts of my life : he being a man of great piety, tenderness, 
and learning, with a vast compass of reading; a painful minister; 
a plain preacher, but deep in his thought, especially of later 
years, and growing remarkably unto this day in insight into 
the holy scriptures ; zealous and faithful to a pitch ; having 
more of the spirit of the old Presbyterians than any other 
minister I know ; for the which cause he has been, and is in 
the eyes of many, like a speckled bird ; but withal a most 
affectionate, constant, and useful friend ; a seasonable and wise 
adviser in a pinch ; often employed of God signally and season- 
ably, to comfort and bear me up, when I needed it extremely ; 
insomuch that I have often been convinced, he could not have 
gone the length that way that he went, if it had not been 
through a particular disposal of providence indulging my weak- 
ness, particularly in this and the following period, wherein I 
was in a special manner, from within and from without, at 
once sore bowed down. Whatever odds there was in some 
respects betwixt him and me, there was still a certain cast 
of temper by which I found him to be my other self; (and 
though we have passed, especially since the year 1712, through 
several steps, at which many chief friends have been separated ; 
yet, through the divine mercy, we still stuck close, speaking 
the same thing ; the sense whereof has often obliged us to give 
thanks unto God expressly on that account). He was extremely 
modest ; but, once touched with the weight of a matter, very 
forward and keen, fearing the face of no man : on the other 
hand, I w^as slow and timorous. In the which mixture, whereby 
he served as a spur to me, and I as a bridle to him, I have 
often admired the wise conduct of Providence that matched us 
together. But now, alas ! he is left alone for me, in public 
struggles, I being through frailty laid aside from appearing at 
synods ; with which I was indeed disgusted ere I left them ; 
and very seldom now appearing in the presbytery. Mr. 

no7-i7i2\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 24 


Davidson, minister of Galashiels, who afterwards came to be 
a third in this friendship, is now also through his frailty laid 
aside from much of his helpfulness to him in these cases.^ 
However, the friendship remains inviolate, and will, I hope, till 
death: Ps. xciv. 11, "The Lord knoweth the tliouglits of man, 
that they are vanity." 

9/^ April. — The last week I was at the synod ; and seeing 
all things like to go wrong with the church, I had great desire 
to be kept straight in God's way. 1 was not so well provided 
for my work this day as ordinary, but it went rather better 
than ordinary with me. I was much affected to think how 
I would get silent Sabbaths spent, and what reflections such 
a case might produce. 

I think I can say now, that the thing which was once so 
hard for me to submit unto, the Lord hath been pleased to 
make more easy, and give me some victory over it now, more 
than these two months : " Blessed be the Lord, who teacheth 
my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." 

I proceeded on the subject of the nature and necessity of 
holiness, from the time aforesaid, and therewith ended the 
ordinary above mentioned, on 28th May this year. After 
which I addressed myself to preach sermons preparatory 
for the sacrament of the supper (from 1 Cor. xi. 23,- and 
Jer. 1. 4, 5). 

And on 16 th July I administered that ordinance. This was 
the first time I administered it in Etteiick : but from that 
time it has been done yearly, for ordinary, all along, the few 
interruptions thereof hitherto made (viz. 1717, 1726, and 
1729), being occasioned by the affliction of my family of late 
years, and other incidents. I thought myself obliged to deal 
with every communicant personally, but had little encourage- 
ment to the work from the parish ; but I behoved to try all 
means. I was very much discouraged while I set to that 
work ; but the nearer it came, 1 was the more carried above 
discouragement. While I visited the parish, I found I had 
not been altogether useless here, and particularly that the 
sermons on the fourfold state of man had done some good. 

^ [Heury Davidson, A.M., born in the parish of Eckford in 1687, was ordained 
at Galashiels 23rd February 1714. He was one of the twelve protesters of 1721. In 
later life he adopted the views of Indepentlency, and from 1737 to 1756 (when he 
died) he did not observe the Lord's Supper in his own parish, and he allowed 
the eldership to lapse. Cf. Brown's Gospel Truth (1831), 160-166.] 

= [Works, II. 481.] 


Seldom do delays prove advantageous. God had more of His 
own, so far as I could discern, to feed here, the last year, than 
this, three of the most comfortable families in it having removed 
at Whitsunday last. The sermons on the Lord's day before, 
seemed to have weight, and I found my soul pressed particularly 
to follow that day's work with prayer. As for the work itself, 
it was much more comfortable than I expected, and there 
seemed to be some blowings of the Spirit with it. I never saw 
a congregation more remarkably fixed and grave than they were 
on the Lord's day. On the Thursday was eight days before, 
in the family-fast, the Lord helped us to pray, and seek His 
presence, I had palpable assistance in studying tlie action- 
sermon on Luke xiv. 23, "Compel them to come in ; " ^ and 
though being much hurried on the Saturday, I found myself 
quite out of case, and had little hope of it when going to the 
work, yet verily the Lord was with me in that sermon. It 
was once my regret, that the national fast- and our congrega- 
tional one sliould have fallen both on one day ; and I had 
expectations of two ministers' help that day, but got none at 
all. God ordered both well to my conviction. However it was, 
some communicated with us, who had either never or not these 
twenty years communicated ; and I had some ground to think 
that by that sermon the bands of some were loosed. In all 
there were but about fifty-seven persons of our own parish com- 
municants ; few indeed, but yet more than I expected amongst 
them. The Saturday was very rainy, which put us in confusion 
for the following day ; but God disappointed my fears, and gave 
a pleasant day till towards the end of the afternoon-sermon. 
The rain returned on Monday. That was wondrous in my eyes. 
I afterwards revised the action-sermon, with a view to publish 
it in the Fourfold State ; but gave over that purpose. Mean- 
while the divisions made the number of communicants but small. 
See Appendix, No. 1. 

Thereafter I insisted for some time on a subject suitable 
to the communion-work we had been employed in (viz. Jer. 1. 
5). And this was all along my manner before and after 
communions. That being done, I did, on .3rd September, enter, 

1 [Works, VI. 279, undated.] 

- [" This morning, Saturday, at eight, the Assemblj' met, and the causes of the 
fast, with the nomination of the day, second Thursday of July, were voted most 
unanimously."— Wodr. to My Heart (his wife) 6th May 1710, Corrcsj). I. 148. The 
fast was on account of irreligion, popery, etc. Struthers, Hist. I. 111.] 

J^o^-nI2'\ MR. thomas boston 245 

for an ordinary, on Mark x. 21, 22, "One thing thou lackest," 
etc.^ And hereto I was led for the ease of my own soul, and 
spent thereon what remained of the year. 

On the Friday after the sacrament, I received a letter, 
desiring me to come and visit one who had been a dissenter, 
but had come in at the sacrament, and communicated with 
us, now very sick, and desirous to see me. From the letter, 
I imagined that she was under remorse for her complying 
80 far with us ; which seemed to me to be a dreadful attempt 
of the devil against the ordinances in this parish : however, 
I went away with boldness to see her ; and by the good 
hand of God found it was quite contrariwise ; for she told 
me, that she was under the Lord's chastisement for her 
deserting the ordinances so long ; that it began with her 
in the church on the fast-day, which was her first return 
to the ordinances ; and that she was then so pressed, that 
she had much ado to keep herself from either running out, 
or crying out, in time of sermon. This was no small 
comfort to me, that God had so far vindicated His own 
cause. This brings me in mind of the passage narrated 
above, p. 221. 

29(!A September. — Having been under a great trial from that 
particular, of which before, I was so broke with the sin and 
misery flowing from it, that I loathed life, and would have 
been content to have been away, and left all, to have been 
freed from the sin and misery of the case. This sat down on 
my spirit on the Lord's day, the 13 th of August. The next 
Sabbath I was at the sacrament at Selkirk. That was to me 
a sweet ordinance beyond many. But, behold, there arose 
again quickly after a dreadful storm of temptation from the 
same quarter. So I preaclied my experience next Lord's 
day on that text. Job vii. IG, "I loathe it, I would not live 
alway." I gave myself to secret fasting and prayer on the 
Wednesday thereafter, being the 30 th of August. My case 
still continuing heavy, it led me to that portion of scripture, 
Mark x. 21, as above mentioned. After much sad tossing, I 
did this day spend some time in secret prayer with fasting, 
to seek of the Lord a right way. On the Lord's day before, 
I had been preaching directions how to get over the one thing 
lacking ; and this day I set myself solemnly to practise them 
for my particular case. After a while I laboured to take up 

1 [Works, III. AU.] 


my real case as nicely as I could : for I considered, that unto 
the trials God lays in men's way, they often add much of 
their own, which makes them far more bulky and weighty than 
otherwise they are in very deed ; and here I was convinced, 
that I had laid too much of my own, suffering some things 
to sink into my spirit, which were not so much to be regarded. 
Thus having as it were removed the rubbish I had laid upon 
the stone which was to be lifted up, I went through these 
directions : First, Labouring to see the evil of it ; Secondly, 
Setting myself in a way of believing against it: 1. Endeavour- 
ing to be emptied of myself in point of confidence in myself, 
with respect to the victory over it ; 2. Taking Christ for it : 
And, 1st, Taking Himself instead of it; 2ndly, Taking Him in all 
His offices for it ; us a Prophet ; a Priest, in His merit and 
intercession ; and as a King, with particular respect to that 
one thing ; 3rdly, Believing the promises suited to that case. 
The third direction was my present work, fasting and prayer. 
And, lastly, I resolved through grace to watch. In a special 
manner I did that day solemnly renounce, and give over into 
the hands of the Lord, that thing, and take Christ in the stead 
of it ; so making the exchange, resolving to take what He 
should please to give me of my desire, but to quarrel no more 
with the Lord upon the head, but to be as a weaned child. 

Ind October. — Immediately on the back of that exercise 
my temptation was renewed, which gave me much ado ; but 
yesterday, being the Lord's day, I found that out of the 
eater meat was brought to me. The honour of all the saints, 
Ps. cxlix., with respect to the desired victory over my lusts, 
was sweet to me ; and that of the afflictions and consolations 
of ministers being for people's sake, 2 Cor. i. 6 (both falling 
in our ordinary in the family), was sweet and seasonable. My 
soul longed to be free of sin, and was really in love with 
Christ ; He was the desire of my soul, which longed for Him : 
and w^hen I considered my one thing lacking, I was well 
content to part with it for Him, and to seek my soul's rest 
in Himself. Much had I laboured to get the crook in my 
lot ^ made straight ; but it would not do ; yea I was often 
made worse by seeking to even it. This I took up as the 
wrong way, but saw the necessity of bowing my heart to it. 
This day I had much satisfaction in the resignation and ex- 

^ [Tliis is the first occurrence in the Memoirs of an expression wliich Boston 
was yet to make very familiar.] 

1707-1712] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 247 

change made in this matter, and found my heart so loosed from 
the bonds of my corruption, that the hand of the Lord appeared 
eminently in it. 

Wi October. — I have seen that under temptation I have 
magnified my trial, so that now it appears much less than 
sometimes it did. The Lord has driven the mists from about 
it, that made it look bigger than it was. And this I take to 
be the effect of Christ's executing His prophetical office in me, 
as I gave myself to Him as a Prophet in that matter parti- 
cularly. And this day reflecting on the Lord's dealing with 
me, I found my soul purged from guilt, and helped to serve 
the Lord ; whereas I could not serve Him before, while my 
conscience was defiled in that matter. I found my corruption 
laid low, in comparison of what it had been before. And thus 
Christ exercised His priestly and kingly offices over me. Upon 
this occasion I have been much inclined to cry to the Lord 
for the light of His Spirit wherewith to read the scriptures ; 
and I have found that I am heard. 

Wi October. — My heart has been looking back toward its 
old bias, which was heavy to me : but I observed my heart 
said, that the full enjoyment of it without Christ would not 
satisfy, but Christ without it would satisfy. I found sensible 
strength this day, from considering that fulness of satisfaction 
that is to be had in God Himself, for which I have made the 
resignation. I had an answer of prayer also brought to my 
hand just before I went out to the church, the lack of which 
was like to have been a temptation to me. The Lord continues 
to make me read the scriptures with more than ordinary 
insight into them. {N.B. — I think I never had so much of a 
continued insight into the word as I had this winter, which 
made it no ill time to me.) " He that overcometh, shall in- 
herit all things," was a sweet word to me. 

22;i(Z October. — Last week at the synod, I was surprised 
with an unusual temptation, which meeting me, struck nie 
with terror, and filled me with confusion, having a native 
tendency to heighten my great trial. Wherefore seeing how 
I was beset, and what danger I was in, I set myself the more 
kindly to bear my trial, and in that respect was bettered by 
that temptation. Being very apprehensive of the evil that 
might ensue upon this, I did, after much fluctuating in my 
mind, not knowing what to do, resolve to go to a certain place 
to prevent the ill I feared ; and accordingly went to a friend 


at the time indisposed. When I came thither, in the simpHcity 
of my heart I was going to tell him my design to go elsewhere, 
but delayed it a while ; and then I fell very sick, and was 
oblio-ed to go to bed, where, through indisposition of body and 
thoughtfuluess of heart, I had a weary night. I sav/ I could 
not go whither I had designed. About four o'clock in the 
morning, while I lay and could not sleep, I could not see how 
the evil I feared could be prevented, seeing my design was 
broke ; nor wherefore Providence had brought me to where I 
was. But at length I really believed that God had done both 
for the best ; and where sense failed, faith helped me out ; 
and this gave me great ease. On the morrow, being still 
indisposed, I came homeward. The next day, while on my 
way home, matters were made so clear to me as to the conduct 
of Providence, that my soul blessed Him for that seasonable 
sickness, and keeping my design entirely secret. This I desire 
to mark as one of the most signal marks of the Lord's tender 
care over me. At that time there was a reproof given me, 
on account of a boy that kept the school here, that sometimes 
he was not called in to the family-exercise out of the school. 
I judged the matter was such, seeing the school was public, 
kept in the kirk, and the reproof given with such an ill air, 
that I could not take it well off the hand that reached it ; but 
it let me in to more than that, that that boy appeared to me 
the messenger of the Lord sent to tell me my faults, so as 
I could have under that notion hugged him in my bosom. 
And that I got for going so far. So I came home rejoicing 
in the Lord's kindness to me in these dispensations. 

23rfZ October. — This night was a sweet night to me, being 
let into the view of the 6th chapter of the epistle to the 
Galatians, and lovincr the Lord and holiness. It hath been 
my wonder, that the faith of heaven should not more wean 
my heart from the world. 

4:th November. — A woman who had fallen into fornication 
told me, that the Lord began to deal with her soul, while 
she was young, and that for several years she continued serious ; 
but for five years before her fall, she was under a plain decay ; 
that she never awaked till the child was one night overlaid, 
and found dead in the morning. She said that in the time 
of her travail she was no more concerned than that, pointing 
to a form or seat. 

'dth December. — This night I was in bad case. I find it is 

i707-i7i2-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 249 

not easy to me to carry right, either with or without the 
cross. While I was walking up and down my closet in 
heaviness, my little daughter Jane, whom I had laid in the 
bed, suddenly raising up herself, said, she would tell me a 
note : and thus delivered herself. — Mary Magdalen went to 
the sepulchre. — She went back again with them to the 
sepulchre ; but they would not believe that Christ was risen, 
till Mary Magdalen met Him ; and He said to her, " Tell My 
brethren, they are My brethren yet." Tiiis she pronounced 
with a certain air of sweetness. It took me by the heart : 
" His brethren yet" (thought I) ; and may I think that Christ 
will own me as one of His brethren yet ? It was to me as 
hfe from the dead. 

As for my studies : From my settling in Etterick, I gave 
myself to reading, as I was disposed and had access ; making 
some excerpts out of the books I read. I began the book 
of the passages of my life, which before had been kept in the 
two manuscripts above mentioned, and some other papers. My 
son John was begun to learn the Latin tongue, IGtli February 
1708, and had domestic teaching till the year 1712; for 
which cause I had several young men in that time for teachers ; 
but often the burden lay on myself. And there was no legal 
school in the parish, till of late, when none of my children 
needed it. I read some of the books of Antonia Bourifjnon.^ 
for understanding her principles, which made a considerable 
noise at that time ; and making some excerpts out of them, 
I left a column blank for animadversions thereon ; which I, 
finding no occasion for after, did never make. I began 
lecturing in Etterick where I left off in Simprin ; and pro- 
ceeding to the book of the Ptevelation, I wrote some lectures 
thereon, from the 4th chapter, but in short-hand characters. 
The same I did on some chapters of Isaiah afterwards. 

This was the happy year wherein I was first master of a 
Hebrew Bible, and began the study of it. About the time of 
my coming out of the Merse to Etterick, I borrowed a piece of 
the Hebrew Bible, containing the books of Samuel and Kings ; 
and having got that, I went on accordingly in the study of the 

^ [A French mystic of the seventeenth century, wlicse views were spreading over 
parts of Scotland at the beginning of tlie eighteentli century. English translations 
of her principal works had by this time appeared, and the Avhole had been edited 
in the original at Amsterdam lOTG-S-i by the Calvinist, Peter Poiret. The 
Assembly of 1710 passed an act for the suppression of her doctrines, and recom- 
mended Professors of Divinity to write a full confutation of the same. Act of 8th May. ] 


holy tongue. For which cause I did this year purchase Athias's 
Hebrew Bible, of the second edition,^ having been long time 
lured and put off with the hopes of a gift of Arrius Montanus ^ 
from an acquaintance in the Merse ; the which were not like 
to be accomplished, and in end were frustrated. Thus pro- 
vided, I plied the Hebrew original close, with great delight ; and 
all along since, it hath continued to be my darling study. But 
I knew nothing then of the accentuation. Howbeit, I took 
some notes of the import of the Hebrew words with much 
pleasure. I had got another parcel of books in the year 1706, 
the chief of which was Turrettine's works, in four volumes 4to, 
wherewith I was not altogether unacquainted before; and, in 
the 1707, before I went to Etterick, I purchased Pool's Annota- 
tions, having had no entire commentary on the whole Bible 
before that, except the English Annotations, edit. 1, purchased 
in 1704. But from the time I left Simprin, I set myself no more 
to purchase parcels of books as before ; but got some particular 
books now and then, as I found myself disposed for them. 

About the end of this year, my friend Mr. Wilson and I 
began an epistolary communication, whereby we might have the 
benefit, each of the other's reading and study, for our mutual 
improvement. And then I wrote the Meditation on the day 
of expiation and feast of tabernacles, to be found in the 
miscellany manuscript, p. 325-332.^ About this time also 
I did, for my diversion, compose a kind of a poem on friendship, 
in an enigmatical or allegorical strain, consisting of some sheets; 
a part of which, it seems, I had sent him by that time. (But 
last winter, 1729, I committed it to the flames, with anything 
else of that kind done by myself.) 

%th February 1711. — There was a great storm of snow on 
the ground ; and our parish, with many others, about two years 
before, having been almost broke with such a storm, it lay near 
my heart ; and therefore I moved for a congregational fast on 
that occasion ; which the elders fell in with, being called 
together betwixt sermons ; and in the afternoon it was inti- 

1 [The editions of the Hebrew Bible published at Amsterdam by Joseph Athias, 
a Je-.vi.sh rabbi, were noted for their correctness. The 2nd edition bears the date 
l^e?, 2 vols. 8vo.] 

- [Editor of the edition of the Bible which was printed at Antwerp in eight folios 
in 1568-73. Only 400 copies of this work were printed, and most of these were lost 
in a vessel shipwrecked on its way to Spain.] 

^ These were published in 1753, in the same volume with the Miscellanies, and 
have been greatly esteemed. [Works, YI. 220.] 

/707-/7/-'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 251 

mated, to be observed on the Wednesday thereafter. I was 
helped in my secret prayers on this occasion, uhich made me 
to hope. On the morrow, the weather began to be so easy, 
that I thouglit our fast was like to be turned into a thanks- 
giving. But that lasted not ; so that 1 think it was never more 
violent than on the fast-day. And the Lord was with us in 
praying, and in preaching too on Joel i. 18, "How do the beasts 
groan," etc. The Lord graciously heard our prayers. The 
morrow after was no ill day ; but on the Friday the thaw freely 
came by a west wind, without rain. So the Lord's day was a 
thanksgiving - day to us. I preached on Ps. cxlvii. 12, 18, 
" Praise the Lord. — He sendeth out His word, and melteth 
them." This day, with the day of the first communion, were 
the most joyful days I ever saw in Etterick. The hand of the 
Lord appeared in it to me, and to others likewise ; though our 
congregation made but very little bulk this day, after the Lord 
had done so great things for them. Lord, lay it not to their 
charge. Some afterward told me, that they had but one day's 
meat for their flocks when the storm brake. They were generally 
designed, on the Monday after, to have gone to seek pasture 
in other places ; but in time of the storm they professed they 
knew not well whither to go ; those places where they were 
wont to go to in a strait, having enough ado to serve them- 
selves. About this time as I was lecturing on the Proverbs, 
I took some notes of the import of the Hebrew words, to chap. 
XV., to be found in a 4to notebook. 

On Friday, 8th June, about three in the morning, my 
daughter Alison was born ; and was baptized on Wednesday 
the 13th, by ]\Ir. John Laurie, minister of Eskdalemoor. 

The epistolary communication aforesaid betwixt Mr. Wilson 
and me, was carried on till towards the end of this year, at 
which time Providence began to lay other work to hand. His 
letters to me of that kind are in retcntis: but I have no copy 
of mine to him. Only, what is preserved in the Miscellany 
manuscript from p. 333 to p. 349, on Eccles. x. 15, on Conserva- 
tion, and on Garments, was written on that occasion.^ 

For my ordinary, I dwelt on tlie solemn call to faith, and 
gospel-obedience, Matt. xi. 28, 29, 30, from 14th January 
tliis year, till 26th August. And then to commend Christ to 
the souls of the people, I did, on 2nd September, enter upon 

^ These were also published, in the same volume with the Miscellauies, iu 1753. 
[Works, VI. 226.] 


Phil. iii. and went through the first twelve verses thereof in 
order, which continued, I tliink, till May 1713. 

Will August. — After a long time of freedom from a tempta- 
tion that had often worsted me, it began again about a month 
ago, and made fearful havoc on my case. It was no little time 
ere I began so much as to think, that this was a taking up 
what I had before so solemnly renounced ; but still I found 
myself fettered, and could not shake oif my bonds. On the 7th 
instant I set apart some time for fasting and prayer, eating 
only a little bear-bread ; but matters went not well with me. 
It burst out on me as a breach in a high wall, whose breaking 
cometh suddenly in an instant, when one is labouring to keep 
and prop it up. This day I fell to that work again : but con- 
sidering that my head was the worse of fasting before, I ate as 
ordinary. In the very time, I met with a new temptation akin 
to the grand trial, which was like to baffle me ; but I was 
helped to struggle against it. I meditated, and read over 
that of 29th September last year ; ^ and there saw I had taken 
Christ instead of that which I had renounced. The renuncia- 
tion indeed was still in my view ; but though within this short 
while I had often read over that, my taking of Christ instead 
of it was never in my eyes. My eyes were held that I could 
not see it. T>ut then I took up the case, and was like Hagar 
having the well that was near her shewn her, when the child 
was laid by for death. I saw it was in vain to attempt to 
empty the heart of what is its carnal choice, unless I got it 
filled with something better than what I was to take from it. 
And thus my bonds were loosed, and I made the exchange over 
again in a solemn manner. And then my soul in some measure 
rested in the Lord, and I came away rejoicing in Him. Joshua's 
laying an ambush against Ai, tliat small city, whereas the walls 
of great Jericho fell down at the sound of rams' horns, let me 
see how holy guile must be used in the spiritual combat. And 
I found by experience, the import of selling all for Christ, 
whereby the scripture expresseth the great transaction betwixt 
the Lord and a soul. For he that selleth, though he part with 
what is his, yet he gets that in its room which to him is better 
than what he gives away ; and so lives on the thing he receives, 
instead of what he parts with. 

On the last Lord's day of October, I was assisting Mr. 
James Eamsay in the celebration of the Lord's supper at Kelso ; 

1 [P. 245.] 

i707-nr£\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 253 

and the synod being to meet there ten days after, having 
demitted my office of clerkship at the April synod before, I 
could not go home, but went to the Merse, to Dunse. There 
Dr. Trotter taking me out to the fields, surprised me witli a 
motion to print some of my sermons, shewing that I should not 
want encouragement. I had spent two days seeking something 
wherewith to go to Kelso, but could command nothing : so 
upon that account, and not knowing what otherwise I might 
be called to, I took old notes with me, and among others those 
on man's fourfold state. Upon the Doctor's urging his pro- 
posal, I made mention of these, as w^hat seemed most suitable, 
if anything of that nature were to be done. On his desire, I 
left them with him. On the morrow, ere I came off, Mr. 
Willis pursued the Doctor's motion. At the synod, speaking 
of it to Mr. Wilson, he declared, that he minded to have pro- 
posed it to me himself, and was sorry he was prevented. When 
T came home, there was a letter for me from Mr. B. for a 
loan of some of my sermons. A while after, the Doctor and 
Mr. Willis having read the papers, sent pressing letters to put 
me on to that work. All which obliged me to serious thoughts 
on the matter. 

30^/i Noveinhcr. — Some things this night observed and con- 
sidered (after prayer) with respect to the publishing of the 
sermons. 1. With respect to our parish. 1st, I have many 
that will not hear me preach, and so have no access to be 
useful to them that way, they being dissenters ; yet I have 
ground to think that they would read my sermons. 2ndly, 
There are several that make no conscience of ordinary attend- 
ance on the public ordinances, and so have heard but few of 
these sermons. 3rdly, There are some who cannot get attended 
punctually, and to whom silent Sabbaths are a grief; and it 
is hoped they might be welcome to those, especially at such 
times. 2. AVith respect to my friends in the Merse. As the 
Lord was pleased to own me while there, mnking me service- 
able, not only to my own parish, but to many of the godly 
in the country ; so copies of my sermons, since I came from 
them, have been desired and got by several there ; which shews 
the interest I have in their affections, and promises a kindly 
reception. 3. With respect to myself. 1st, I am very little 
serviceable with reference to public management, being exceeding 
defective in ecclesiastical prudence ; and very little useful in 
converse, being naturally silent ; but the Lord has given me 


a pulpit-gift, not unacceptable ; and who knows what He may- 
do by me that way? 2ndly, Though sometimes I wrote as 
little of my sermons as many others, yet these nine years at 
least last bypast, I have been led into a way of close study, 
and writing largely. I have ofttimes wished to have that yoke 
off my neck, but still Providence held it on me ; and though 
I have several times been designed for public places, yet I 
have still been shut up where I had time for study. 3rdly, 
The Lord has often made me a wonder to myself, and to say 
from my lieart. What am I ? and whence is this ? while He 
has helped me to preach, blessed my sermons, and given me 
from thence such an interest in the affections of the godly. 
And I will never forget, through grace, the surprising goodness 
of God to me, in clerking to the synod ; which was so done 
to satisfaction, that, the Lord knows, it was such a surprise to 
me, that to this day (having now given it over) I do but 
believe it on the testimony of others. That work was taken 
off my hand at the last synod, while this was proposed to be 
put into it. 4thly, I have a weary task of my work in this 
parish, the Lord's message in my mouth meeting with such 
bad entertainment : what if the Lord should make up this 
another way ? 4. With respect to tlie sermons themselves. 
1st, The universal usefulness of the subjects, not treated of in 
that method by any that I know. 2ndly, As I had an un- 
easiness till I got through them, to my parish, in regard of 
the great weight of the subjects ; so it would be no small 
comfort to me, to have them still speaking to them. Srdly, 
Providence has ordered that I have been now twice on these 
subjects, tho' in a different method ; once at Simprin, and once 
here. 4thly, These very sermons, I know, were useful to some 
when preached : I have had express acknowledgements of their 
efficacy, particularly that of the corruption of nature, the 
mystical union, and the eternal state. Lastly, The steps of 
Providence in that business : The providential carrying of 
these sermons to Dunse, at that time ; at the synod Mr. Wilson's 
declaring to me, that he minded to have proposed it, and my 
being freed of the clerk's office ; and Mr. B.'s letter meeting 
me when I came home. Further, 

IWi November. — Though these steps of Providence seemed 
to have something in them, yet I could never get the matter 
closely laid to heart ; nor did it go beyond far-off thouglits of it 
till Saturday last ; though I had a pressing letter to pursue the 

1707-17 T^'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 255 

motion, from him who first made it. That day I had done 
studying my sermons for the Lord's day, and had been well 
helped of the Lord therein ; and then that business came close 
home on my spirit, so as the matter was laid before the Lord 
with weight and deep concern. At night T got three very 
pressing letters, in pursuance of the proposal ; and the Doctor's 
particularly did nail my heart ; so that, considering the weight 
of the enterprise, his way of pressing it, my own unfitness for it, 
and my unholiness in a special manner, it made my heart to 

quake, and my legs to tremble. 23rd November. — When most 

carnal, I have found myself most averse to that work ; when 
most serious and spiritual, most pliable to it. 

The sermons in wliich I have said T had been well helped, 
were on Phil. iii. 3.^ I had begun that chapter some time 
before ; and when I viewed the importance of that verse in 
particular, I was minded not lightly to pass it over : for that 
cause I purchased a book of Manton's sermons, where he had 
some on that text.^ Thus provided, I set to work on the first 
clause ; " Worshipping God in spirit ; " but I was miserably 
straitened and confused in it. I therefore sent the book away, 
glad to be quit of it : and it came well to hand with me after 
that ; as will appear by inspecting of the papers, and comparing 
inference 2f from the doctrine from that clause, and downwards, 
with what goes before. And that help continued through the 
whole of the sermons on that verse from that time forward, 
though sometimes less than at other times : so that I judge 
them to be the best body of sermons I ever studied before or 
since. 18th September 1714.* — The help I had in them had an 
encouraging influence on me to that work, they being trysted with 
it, and begun 21st October 1711, and ended 23rd March 1712. 

13^^ January 1712. — Having a month or five weeks ago 
spent some time in prayer for light in this matter, I considered 
those things before noted which seemed to me to look favourably 
towards the design : but the only step I was cleared to take at 
that time, was, to send the papers to Mr. Golden and Mr. 
Wilson, for their advice, and help of their prayers : and this day 
they were returned to me, with letters. In the meantime I 
received a letter, 15th December, from one concerned, wherein 

1 [Works, IV. 466.] 

- YA Drscrijdion of the True Circumcision, Manton's "Works (1S71), II. 23.] 

' [Works, lY. 477.] 

■• The date of transcribing this passage into the book of the passages of his life. 


he seemed to me to remit somewhat of his zeal for that work ; 
whereby the weight seemed to be wholly devolved on myself. 
This created thoughts of heart ; but the upshot of it was to go 
on, if otherwise the Lord should clear the matter. And whereas 
I had been desired to cause call for the papers about ten days 
after they were sent away, they came not week after week ; 
which seemed to me to presage their burial ; so that my thoughts 
of that work were much laid aside. The issue of this was, that, 
with submission to Providence, I was resolved to lay it by ; yet 
with sorrow of heart that I sliould not have the opportunity to 
be nseful, which sometimes seemed promising. The letters that 
came with the papers advised me to proceed, and with earnest- 
ness sufficient : and the night before they came to my hand, I 
heard my eldest brother was a-dying ; which served to tell me, 
what need there was to do with all my might whatsoever my 
hand found to do. 

16//^ January. — I spent most of this day in prayer and 
meditation, for light in this matter : and after all I found, that 
I had rational grounds to oblige me to make an essay ; but 
could not find such a lively sense of the call of God thereto as 
I desired. I observed, that the papers being kept up so long 
after I was made to wait for their return, was of a piece with 
the Lord's ordinary way with me, to biing matters first very 
low before they rise. One told me, she observed that these 
sermons had more influence on the people of their neighbour- 
hood, than any before or since. I found myself this night 
convinced, that they might be useful to many, in regard of the 
room the Lord has given me in people's affections : and this went 
nearest to the raising in my heart such a lively sense of the 
command or call of God, as might help me to believe, that He 
would be with me in the work ; which is the thing I want ; for 
with respect thereto, I believe that the way of the Lord is 
strength to the upright. I have read Durham on that head 
over and over, for light as to the Lord's call, not without some 

I'dth January. — Yesterday and this day fourteen days, being 
both these days utterly indisposed for study, there was as much 
left of what was studied for the Sabbaths preceding respedivh as 
served ; unto which I could make no addition. So that although 

^ [Rev. Jas. Durham, M.A., of Glasgow Cathedral, published in 1657 Heaven 
ujion Earth, in the Serene Tranquillity of a Good Conscience. His Commentaries on 
Song of Solomon and on Revelation are still read.] 

7707-/7^"'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 257 

the Lord was pleased to contiuue His help all along from the 
time I parted with that book, as before said, yet thus was I 
made to see, that He had lock and key of my gifts still. This 
night I was convinced, that God will have me more holy, before 
I get through this business ; and therefore I see, that it is my 
business to labour in the first place to get my own case bettered, 
by renewing my repentance. 

22wf^ January. — Last night this was fixed on my heart, as 
the only way how to get clearly through ; and it answers to a 
confounding sense of my own unholiness, as well as weakness 
for writing, which I was struck with at the reading of the 
Doctor's letters : therefore this day I gave myself to prayer and 
meditation. I found last night that it was no easy thing to 
part with sin ; and this morning the first impression on my 
spirit was that of my utter inability to put away sin. And I 
think I never had a more solid and serious sense of the absolute 
need of Christ for sanctification than this day. I saw it was as 
easy for a rock to raise itself, as for me to raise my heart from 
sin to holiness. I endeavoured to search myself, renew my 
repentance, and make confession ; and solemnly laid over on the 
Lord Jesus Christ all my sins which I knew, and all that I knew 
not, that His obedience, death, and sufferings, may bear the 
weight of them for ever. And having further examined myself, 
I renewed my covenant with God, taking God in Christ for my 
God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ for my Father, the 
Son for my Eedeemer, and the Holy Ghost for my Sanctifier ; 
even that one God in three persons, who is in Christ reconciling 
the world to Himself : taking Christ Himself for my Head and 
Husband ; renouncing my own wisdom, and taking Him for my 
Prophet, to learn of Him, and receive from Him, the light of life ; 
renouncing my own righteousness, and laying the whole stress of 
my soul on His merits and righteousness, and taking Him for 
my Intercessor and Advocate ; renouncing all my idols, and 
taking Him for my King, and Head of influence for sanctification 
to my soul : resolving, in His strength, henceforth to hang on 
Him for sanctification, to watch and more narrowly to observe 
providences, and the way of His dealing with me. Personal 
holiness was the great thing in my ^'iew. After this I set 
myself to cry to the Lord, in respect of the public, the case of 
the congregation, and my family. Towards the close of the day, 
I began to take thought particularly of the matter in hand, and 
set myself to examine myself as to the singleness of my intentions. 


I considered, that if I were led by base ends, it behoved to be 
either worldly profit, or a name. As for profit, my conscience 
bare me witness, that I would be content to be a loser, so that 
they might be serviceable : and as to a name, though at the bar 
of the law I dare not plead Not guilty, yet at the bar of the 
gospel I can appeal to God, that it is not a name to myself, but 
the honour of God that sways with me : and that on these 
grounds: 1. I do not, nor can I, expect a name amongst the 
men of name. 2. The Lord knows I could be content to lose 
name and credit amongst them, so that the sermons were useful 
to some poor souls. 3. I am conscious to myself, that I durst 
not engage in such a business without an eye to the Lord for 
help ; which I could not have for getting myself a name, either 
amongst the learned or unlearned. And upon the ground of my 
respect to God's honour, I find in myself a disposition to look 
to Himself for His help. Thus I seemed insensibly to slip into 
what I was in quest of, viz., A sense of the command of God, 
such as might be a foundation of confidence in the Lord for help 
in the matter. That sense of my aiming at God's honour, and 
thereupon the disposition to look to Ilim for help, was followed 
with that word, " Him that honoureth Me I will honour : " but 
I saw little to my purpose in that word. So it cost thoughts of 
heart, seeking some word of God that I might found upon in 
this point, viz., That having such rational grounds for the thing 
itself, and being conscious of the singleness of my heart therein, 
I might look for God's help in it. I turned to my ordinary, and 
there met with Ps. xliv. 5, 6 ; v^^hich though it was of use to 
me, yet did not seem to answer the point. Afterward that 
word, 1 Sam. ii. 30, returned with a new light about it, appearing 
pat to my case. I saw that promise particularly directed to 
priests in the exercise of their office ; and that the honour there 
meant is walking before the Lord in the discharge of their 
office : and ray soul desired no more, but what is in the compass 
of that word. It melted my heart, and I said I would believe 
it. If I had had the word a-framing for my case, I would have 
desired no more in the matter secured to me, than walking before 
the Lord, as a child before his father. After this, minding to 
read over what I had marked from the bcjinning about this 
business, together with the letters relative thereto, I went to 
God by prayer, for help to make a clear judgement upon the 
v/hole. Thereafter I read, first my own remarks, and then the 
letters, so far as they related to that affair. Mr. Colden's letter 

1707-17 r 2] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 259 

was the last ; and among the last words of that part of it, were 
these following, viz., " Let respect to duty, and the salvation of 
perishing souls, sway you." That word, " perishing souls," nailed 
niy heart ; and it burst out, and answered, " Then let me be a 
fool for perishing souls." And now for perishing souls I dare 
not but try that work, come of me what will. Sense of dut}'- 
has now the heels of my inclination. Let the Lord do what 
seemeth Him good as to the use of them, whether they be 
publislied or not. Blessed be the Lord, that has thus heard 
my prayer, and cleared me to put pen to paper. 

24:th January. — This day I minded to have put pen to 
paper in that work ; but last night a temptation was laid in to 
me, and increased this day, so that I could not pursue my 
resolution. I saw the necessity of praying, " Lead us not into 
temptation;" was convinced that I had let down my watch, 
and one evil still made way for another. 

I^th January. — This night the consideration of the tempta- 
tion wherewith I have been baffled was most stinsrina;. being so 
very quickly after my solemn covenanting with God. 1 was 
made to groan out my case, by reason of a body of sin and 
death. One thing has still been my temptation, and my heart 
said, " Any way let me be delivered (only in mercy), though by 
cold death." I had been preaching, that the gracious soul could 
be content with Christ alone. And it was some stay to my 
heart, that I knew the time when I had been content without 
such a thing ; and when I seemed to have it, was not content 
with it, nor would be ; it could not fdl up His room. 

2Wh January. — Last night I was concerned to get my soul's 
case bettered ; for I saw Satan was busy with me now, having 
this work in hand. I found great difficulty in believing my 
welcome to the blood of Christ, after I had been so baffled by 
temptation, and that so quickly after covenanting with God, and 
making use of that blood. Verily the way of the covenant of 
grace is not the way of nature. But by the tenor of the 
covenant, Heb. viii. 10, 12, my faith of this was raised. And 
this morning I found my soul sweetly composed, believing that 
the covenant of Tuesday last yet stands ; and was inclined to 
put pen to paper without delay, the rather that it might be a 
mean of personal holiness to myself. 

2>rd February. — Accordingly that day, Tuesday the 29 th of 
January, after prayer, and getting my heart composed to a 
dependence on the Lord, I began to write these sermons, and 


did something therein ; but the temptation recurred, and was 
laid to me violently, till Thursday's night very late. On the 
Wednesday I was quite laid aside with it, deeply melancholy, 
and unfit for everything. In which case, in the afternoon, I 
went up the brook to a solitary place, prayed, and sung Ps. cvii. 
8, and downwards ; and came home pretty well recovered, 
violently and resolutely plucking up my spirit; and though 
the temptation lasted, it no more got me down to that degree. 
On the Thursday I proceeded in writing ; and in the very time 
I got a new assault, but resisted it, and went on. At night, 
going on in the work, there was a new assault ; which so dis- 
composed me, that I was obliged to lay it aside, and betake 
myself to a study requiring less thought. Thus Satan has made 
a strange bustle against this work ; and tho' my misbehaviour 
under it is matter of mourning, yet considering the issue of it, 
in its effect on my heart, I cannot think on the dispensation, 
but my soul blesses God therein. The effect was very necessary 
to fit me for the work in hand ; and indeed, so far as I remember, 
I never felt it so easy to keep up. 

This morning my heart began to swell with vanity ; but 
God corrected it, by His leaving me in confusion there where I 
thought I was best buckled. the deceit of my heart ! the 
goodness of God that has so quickly checked my folly ! Praises 
to Him for it. 

This day eight days before day, I was sent for to see a 
certain young man thought to be a-dying. He confidently gave 
out that he was just a-dying ; that when he was in Edinburgh 
last, he thought he would never see it more, and so had been 
preparing for death. He was confident of his eternal welfare; 
and spoke so much, that I could scarcely get a sentence spoken 
to an end ; and he disturbed me mightily in prayer with his 
speaking. I thought it looked not very like the work of the 
Spirit, and therefore set myself to try his evidences ; and though 
he was not ready to produce them, yet when he did, I could not 
but acknowledge what he said to be good evidence ; for indeed 
he is a knowing and religious young man. In all that flood of 
words, there was not one word to the commendation of the 
ordinances, though it would have been most seasonable from a 
dying man, especially in regard of the deserters that were there. 
When I spoke something of the Lord's feeding His people in 
ordinances, he spoke nothing to the commendation of the word 
(though he was wont diligently to attend) ; but said only, it 

vo;-///-'] ^K- THOMAS BOSTON 261 

was only the Spirit that could make it do good either to the 
preachers or hearers. And I durst not put the question to him, 
concerning his own entertainment in the ordinances, because of 
the deserters that were about. This was very heavy to me. I 
judge there was something of vapours in the case. From that 
time he recovered, being quickly better after I saw him. 
Another case I had of the same nature in a young woman, a 
little after I came to this parish, who was very confident of her 
state, and that with a sort of rejoicing ; though, upon further 
acquaintance after, I could not discern anything that might be 
a foundation for such great things. I desire not to be peremptory 
in the particular cases ; but I see the need ministers have not to 
be too credulous, but to try, 

Wi February. — This day I plainly saw the temptation 
aforesaid confirming my call to this work, when I considered 
liow quickly Satan flew in the face of it, and how by the same 
means God had been fitting me for it, clearing, as it were, the 
ground to lay the foundation. 

2%th February. — This day I found I had unfitted myself for 
my work ; and it pleased the Lord to withdraw from me in it 
until I was humbled, and then His help returned. And my 
soul blesseth Him that thus corrects me while about that 

Wi March. — I find my work very difficult, being hitherto 
little else but a new study ; only the Lord liberally recompenseth 
my toils, so that I am well satisfied with the product of the 
blessing of God on my pains. I am appointed to go to the 
general assembly, and that against my will, in regard of the work 
that is on my hand ; but am satisfied in the providence of God, 
which has a secret design, wliich, I hope, T will see. 

I2th March. — On the 10th instant I was very much 
discouraged as to that work, finding the authentic copy so bare 
and empty, that I could not but attribute it to a special 
providence, that the ministers who read them could ever have 
advised to revise them. I spent this morning in prayer, 
especially for direction and assistance in that work, and was 
helped to lay it over on the Lord. 

Yesterday being in distress about the weaning of the child, 
I went to God with that matter ; and coming downstairs 
presently after, I found the difficulty by the good providence of 
God removed, by the recovery of the nurse's husband, whose 
sickness had formed that difficulty. 


2ord April. — Last week oiiv synod met. I have been busy 
about these sermons since I began that work, and before the 
synod had eleven sheets prepared. My health has to my 
wonder been preserved ; save tliat in March, by bleeding and 
purging (which continued near ten days after I took the physic), 
I was much weakened, which obliged me for some little time to 
lay it aside. Having been moderator of the October synod, and 
being to preach before them in April, I was minded, from the 
sweetness I had found in the study of the holy Scripture in the 
Hebrew original, to have taken for my text, Ezra vii. 10, "For 
Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to 
do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements ; " and this 
in order to stir up my brethren to a due value for the study of 
the holy Scriptures, especially in the originals, and to holiness and 
tenderness of life, etc. But the lamentable alteration in the 
state of public affairs and state of the church, brought in about 
this time by the Act imposing the oath of abjuration on ministers, 
by which I saw the ruin of this church contrived, obliged me 
to lay aside that design, and suit my synod-sermon to what I 
judged such a critical juncture required. And so I was 
determined to Matt, xxviii. ult., " Lo, I am with you to the end 
of the worl 1." The sermon is in rctcntis} I spent some time 
in secret for preparation ere I entered upon it. It came to my 
hand pretty well. On the Saturday before I went to the synod, 
being to preach at Galashiels, then vacant, my family was in 
great distress ; my wife miscarried, Thomas was very sick, 
John was to go to Selkirk with me, none of the other two were 
well ; so that I was in a great strait to leave them that day : 
but the Lord helped, and melted my soul in confidence in Himself 
ere I went off. But being indisposed in body and spirit too on 
the morrovf, I had scarcely ever a more heavy Sabbath. On 
Monday night, after I came to Kelso, I had about two hours of 
easiness ; but when I went to bed, I was so oppressed with 
melancholy, and fears of preaching before the synod, that I slept 
none at all the whole night : but still as I closed my eyes, my 
heart was as it were struck through with a dart ; so that it was 
a most miserable uneasy night. I arose about half six in the 
morning, and was busy till eiglit. Then I thought to lie down 
for an hour's sleep ; but instead of sleeping, I grew worse ; soul, 
body, and spirit, all disordered ; so that I thought I could preach 
none that day. In my distress I would needs have a certain 

1 [\Vorks, IX. 159.] 

qo7-i7i2-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 263 

minister sent for, that he might preach in my stead ; but he 
absohitely refused. Wherefore I behoved to adventure : and 
though in dehvering of the sermon I had some fear, yet, through 
the goodness of God, it had no bad effects on me in it ; for I was 
sohdly serious in the whole. I am ashamed of the whole of 
this ; my natural bashfulness and diffidence has often done me 
much harm. Melancholy is an enemy to gifts and grace, a 
great friend to unbelief, as I have often found in my experience : 
but nothing in it touches me more than my folly and imprudence 
in sending for tliat minister ; for it was too much to the 
dishonour of God, who has often been good to me, that some 
bosom-friends saw me in that case ; but the other could not but 
be a disadvantage to the cause of God, in the weighty point of 
the oath, in which that person and I quickly appeared of different 
judgements. This day I set myself to pray and think about the 
oath ; and it remains to be to me a heavy trial. The state of 
public afliiirs makes me afraid, that the business of the sermons 
be marred ; which puts me now to beg of God, that He would 
carry on that work over the belly of the difficulties. This day 
also one who came to my house last summer in deep distress 
and melancholy, having by the blessing of God recovered, went 
away, but somewhat dissatisfied. Since her recovery, she has 
been somewhat uneasy to us, and seemed very unconcerned in 
the distress of our family. Another certain person did not 
carry right. I had a very sorry account of a third. All the 
three were much esteemed by me for their piety. These things 
together made me think that I had seen an end of all perfection. 
And though I think they were all gracious persons, and dare not 
think, far less speak, harshly as to the state of any of them, 
considering my corrupt self ; yet I think I will never admire 
women's religion so very much as I have done. I do judge their 
passions are apt to make their religion look greater than indeed 
it is, being naturally easy to be impressed. 

27iA May. — When I came home from the synod, my son 
Thomas was still sick ; on the last of April he died ; was buried 
1st IMay ; and on the morrow I went to Edinburgh to the 
general assembly. Never was the death of a child so useless to 
me, being put out of order by a temptation. The prospect of 
evil times alleviated the case of his death ; but the disorder of 
my own spirit wofully marred the kindly good edect it might 
have had. Satan watches to prevent the good of alHictions : 
much need is there to watch against him. 


In the assembly, the lavvMness of the oath of abjuration ^ 
was debated pro and con, in a committee of the whole house, 
betwixt the scruplers and the clear brethren. All I had thereby 
was, that the principles on which the answers to the objections 
were founded, seemed to me of such latitude, that by them 
almost any oath might pass. The parties were (at that time, 
as I think) at the very point of splitting ; till Mr. William 
Carstairs, principal of the college of Edinburgh, and clear for 
the oath, interposed and prevented the rupture : for the which 
cause I did always thereafter honour him in my heart. For all 
that I heard advanced to clear the difficulties about it, I still 
continued a scrupler ; and therefore, a little before I came away 
home, the Act imposing the oath being printed, and offered to 
me at the door of the assembly-house, I bought it, on purpose 
to know exactly the penalty I was like to underlie. 

Being come home, I did this day spend some time in prayer 
for light from the Lord about that oath. And thereafter 
entering on to read the prints I had on it, in order to form a 
judgement about it, I immediately fell on the act, whereby it 
was first of all framed and imposed ; and finding thereby the 
declared intent of the oath to be, to preserve the act inviolable 
on which the security of the Church of England depends, I was 
surprised and astonished ; and, upon that shocking discovery, 
my heart was turned to loathe that oath which I had before 

From thence, what spare time I had from visiting of the 
parish, I spent in considering the oath, until l7th June that 
our synod met j^ro re nata ; I having, by advice of brethren, 
members of the assembly for our synod, called them together. 
And by the foresaid time of their meeting, I had written my 
thoughts on the oath, being reasons against it, on about two 
sheets of paper ; the which are in retentis. 

There the oath was disputed throughout ; the unclear 
impugning, and the clear brethren defending it. But as the 
declared intent of the oath above mentioned, did not at all cast 
up in the reasonings of the general assembly, which could not 
have missed, if it had been then known to the scruplers ; so, as 
far as I could understand, it was known to no brother of the 
synod, clear or unclear, before I took the act aforesaid along 
with me to that their meeting. They seemed to be struck 

^ [See Introduction. The full text of the oath will be found in Wodrow, Corresp. 
I. 153 ; vStruthers, HiM. I. 165.] 

1107-1712-] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 265 

with it, when it was cast up in the synod ; but Mr. James 
liamsay aforesaid, made an answer to it, distinguishing between 
the Church of England as a Protestant church, and as a church 
having such a government and worship ; and admitting the 
intent of the oath in the first sense, but not in the second. 
This was truly stumbling to me, but served to confirm me 
against the oath. The conduct of Providence determining me 
to procure the act as above said, was wondrous in my eyes. 
The Lord was pleased to hear my prayers, in helping me, with 
some measure of freedom, to debate that business at the synod, 
together with others. I was silenced, though not satisfied, by 
an answer to the first argument (namely, the swearing of 
principles), taken from the national covenant ; for on that 
occasion it was much improved by those that used not before to 
meddle much with it. It seemed plain to me, that the clear 
brethren were at a loss in the rest, and truly foundered in that 
of the declared intent of the oath, w^hich a certain person 
proposed, having before desired the act from me ; from whence 
he understood I had it. Though they seemed to be struck 
with it, yet they gave answers to it ; which much confirmed me, 
when I plainly saw that some were resolute to answer, when (it 
seemed to me) they hardly knew what to answer. I had from 
that time a particular regard for Mr. John Gowdie, minister at 
Earlston,^ a grave and learned man, upon the account of his 
candour and ingenuity, though joined with principles very 
contrary to mine: he owned, that the ministers, in the year 1 648, 
would not have taken that oath, according to their principles. 
(And in this regard to that brother, I had been, since that 
time, all along confirmed; and even in the assembly 1729, in 
Professor Simson's affair ; the man dealing plainly and candidly, 
according to his light ; though in such matters, of a more 
public nature, he and I were still on opposite sides of the 
question. He is this year, 1730, transported to Edinburgh.) 
I was much comforted and encourao;ed in the kind conduct of 
Providence about me at that meeting. I desired still to hang 
about the Lord's hand for further light in that matter : and I 
durst not say to any, what I would do in the matter. 

In the visiting of the parisli, I was extremely discouraged. 

^[Mr., afterwards Dr., John Gowdie was translated to Edinburgh 1730 and 
became Proffssor of Divinity and Principal there. Morren's yi«.«rt/s, I. 319. He 
took an active part in the Simson case, 1720. Cf. "Wodrow, Corrcsp. III., who 
spells it Goudy and Gaudy.] 


The ministry of this church is like to die unlamented. I have 
no sympathy from any of my people, or next to none. All 
were clear against the oath, and they were in no care that 
way, but that I kept honest, and others. That was all their 
doubt in the matter. Nay, I found some scrupling to take 
the sacrament ; saying, How could they, when against Lammas 
the ministers would, may be, take the oath? {N.B. — In the 
house of one of these scruplers, there was stolen flesh found 
some time thereafter ; and her husband being disgraced, they 
left the parish.) 

I found myself in great danger by melancholy, and was 
more broken that way than ever ; and unless God would help, 
there was no help from any other quarter. On Saturday we 
spent some time in prayer, with an eye to the then state of 
public affairs, and the sacrament. I had a weary morning of 
it, till the Lord refreshed me in some measure towards the 
latter end of my secret prayers. 

29^/t /«wc.— This day the sacrament was celebrated here. 
On the Friday before, being my day for study, I had as great 
a pressure by my cross as ever before. I was thereby con- 
founded, and unfitted for anything. However, I got through 
my studies, such as they were, on Isa. xliv. 5. On the Lord's 
day I obliged one to preach before me (which is not my 
ordinary), that the people might get something ; I being con- 
founded and broken. Upon the whole of that work, as to 
myself, I thought the Lord had cast a cloud over me ; and I 
was well satisfied, judging that God had honoured me very 
much before; and if He should now bury me, ere I were dead, 
and continue that vail over me, I was content, hoping I might 
creep into heaven at some back door. And the reflection on 
this ease of my heart, while I lay among the dust of the Lord's 
feet, was my feast, for that time. 

Some time before the sacrament, being under conviction 
of guilt, I found my soul bound up, and my heart hardened ; 
till I looked to the blood of Jesus Christ, and turned to see 
God in Christ; and thereupon my heart was loosed and 

21.^^; Oclohrr. — Our synod met. Being resolved not to take 
the oath, I took advice at Edinburgh, when I was at the 
commission (to which when I was going, I was in hazard of 
being drowned in a hole by the highwayside, for great rains 
had fallen ; I was pulled out by one tliat was with me), how 

i7(yj-i7i2-\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 267 

to dispose of my eflects, if by any means I might keep them 
from becoming a prey to the government ; rigid execution of 
the law being expected by both parties, clear and unclear. 
But the executing of the project was delayed till the synod. 
At this meeting, the bretliren clear for the oath, had concerted 
measures for bringing such as should refuse it under an 
engagement not to speak against the takers of it. I was 
resolved to be very tender that way, and so have been all 
along to this day ; looking on the exposing of them as a 
hindrance to the success of the gospel : for which cause I 
have suffered heavily at the hands of the people. But withal 
I was absolutely against binding up myself in the matter, by 
consenting to any act for that end ; and therefore declared 
against it accordingly. And, on purpose to break it, I pro- 
posed, that since the clear brethren demanded that engagement 
of us unclear, on the one hand, they should, on the other hand, 
engage, that they would not join with the magistrate against 
us. And this broke the contrivance to all intents and pur- 
poses : for they could neither think meet to come under such 
an engagement to us, nor could they have confidence to 
insist in their project upon their shifting it. Thus the Lord 
honoured me to mar this insnaring contrivance ; which gave 
me ground to hope, that, notwithstanding my personal guilt 
and unholiness, the Lord would help me to be faithful, and 
some way useful in the time of trial. As I came home, I was 
made sweetly to observe, what pains the Lord had been 
pleased then to take to reconcile me to the cross, and to 
sweeten it to me, in a pleasant mixture of disappointments, 
straits, and outgatcs, in the management of my affairs : for 
when I came to Kelso, 1 found the measures before laid down 
for that effect, all broken ; which much perplexed me : but 
on that occasion I was set on other measures thought to be 
more sure. I saw myself there a friendless creature ; which 
made me solemnly take God for my friend, and lay my 
business over upon Him ; and it succeeded. I had business 
with several persons, as I came homeward ; and they were 
all made favourable to me ; yet still in a vicissitude of dis- 
appointments or temptations ; so that it was all the way, as 
it were, one step down and anotlier up. Having been dis- 
appointed of meeting with a person I had business with, and 
that twice successively, I was thinking (as I rode on my way), 
that although such disappointments were but small things, 


yet being ruled by Providence, they certainly had a design ; 
namely, to try men's patience, and waiting on the Lord ; 
which my soul desired to do. In the very time these thoughts 
were going through my heart, the boy that was with me 
asked a woman, where such a one dwelt, a friend of that 
person's whom I wanted. She told him ; but withal added, 
that if we were seeking such a man, he was in that house, to 
which she belonged. So we met. This small thing thus 
timed, was big in my eyes. I came home with a heart re- 
conciled, in some measure, to the cross of Christ. 

By all parties nothing was expected, but a rigid execution 
of a very severe law, laying non-compliers with it, besides 
other incapacities, under an exorbitant fine of £500 sterling; 
which was more than all the stipend that had ever since I 
was a minister come into my hand, by that time did amount 
to. However, I found myself obliged to go on in preaching 
the gospel at my peril, to fulfil the ministry I had received 
of the Lord. Herein I was confirmed and encouraged, by a 
declared resolution to that purpose, of a meeting of several 
brethren at Edinburgh, in the time, I think, of the commission 
in August. These straitening circumstances obliged me to 
denude myself of all my worldly goods ; that they might not 
fall into the hands of the government, when I should fall 
under the lash of the law. For this cause I disponed my 
tenement in Dunse in favour of my eldest son, and expeded 
that matter ; so that it being sold several years after, he was 
obliged, being major, to sign the papers. I also made an 
assignation of my other goods and gear to John Currie, who 
came with me my servant to this country, and was then, I 
think, my precentor. (This paper I destroyed, only the last 
winter, 1729.) In these things the due forms of law were 
observed, not without trouble and expense. 

Meanwhile, during all this reeling and confusion, I had 
no encouragement or sympathy, or next to none, as formerly 
observed, from tlie parish ; which was a great load above my 
burden. They seemed only to wait to see what proof of 
honesty would be given, or contrariwise. And their woful 
jealousy, and their looking so lightly on the matter, was a 
mighty discouragement to me. However, had they been as 
much for, as they were against, the oath, I durst never have, 
whatever had been the hazard, taken it, according to any 
light in which it did ever appear to mo unto this day. But 

jyor-nrs'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 269 

the truth is, the extreme hardship I was under from them, 
did much alleviate the prospect of the government's forcing 
me away from them, even to confinement and banishment, and 
this for several years after, wherein there was some appearance 
of these things. But now, for several years, expectation of 
relief that way hath been blocked up ; and the Lord has seen 
meet to take trial of me in another, more private way. 

On 26th October I preached my last sermon, which, as 
matters then stood in law, I could preach under the protection 
of the government. My text fell, in my ordinary, to be Phil, 
iii. 8, " My Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all 
things." And in my notes on that text, are to be found a 
few things, which, in the close of that day's work, I said on 
that trying occasion. 

Tuesday the 28th, being the last day, according to the 
law, for taking of the oath, I spent some part of it in secret 
with the Lord, endeavouring to renew my repentance, and 
my covenant with the Lord. I had now, since the synod or 
assembly, lost all heart and hand as to proceeding in the 
sermons designed for the press ; and having finished the 
subjects of the states of innocence and nature, had laid the 
project aside. But this day the inclination to go on with 
that work returned with that, that now I saw I behoved to 
be a fool for Christ in the matter of the oath, and so I might 
be in the matter of these sermons too. And withal, whereas 
I had foreseen a peculiar difficulty as to the managing of the 
sermons on the state of grace, it was given me to see how to 
get over that difficulty, and that by casting my thoughts into 
a shorter and more natural method than before ; which never 
came into my head before that day. 




OIST the following Sabbath, being 2nd November, I did, under 
a great pressure, from the consideration of the severity of 
the law upon the one hand, and the temper of the parish upon 
the other, enter again on my work, at my peril. What I said by 
way of preface that day, is also to be found in the notes afore- 
said : 1 after which I went on as before, proceeding on the same 
text in my ordinary, Phil. iii. And I bless the Lord, who gave me 
counsel, not to intermit the exercise of my ministry for ever so 
short a time, on that trying occasion. 

^ The preface here referred to is as follows. 

"The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, He kno^veth, and Israel he shall 
know, if it be in rebellion against the government that I appear here tliis dciy, to 
preach unto you the gospel of Christ. Contempt of magistrates, and of tlieir laws, 
is no part of my religion : but it lies upon my conscience to cleave to the laws of 
uiy Lord and Master Jesus Christ, the only king and head of His church ; from 
whom I have received the office of the ministry, by the hands of church-oliicers, 
and not by the hand of the magistrate ; even wlien these laws of His are crossed 
and contradicted by the laws of men, 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2. The magistrate has the 
same ])ower over ministers' persons and goods, as over other men's ; and if he abuse 
it, it is his sin. But he has no jiower over our ofiicc : he has no power to deprive 
the ministers of the gospel of their ministerial office, nor yet of the exercise of it 
formally and directl3^ For the kingdom of Christ is a kingdom within a kingdom ; 
a spiritual kingdom, distinct from and independent of the magistrate. I have now 
served the Lord in this work of the ministry thirteen years : and though He needs 
none of my service, and His work might be well done witliout me ; yet seeing He 
has not discharged me, I must say, as the servant under the law, ' I love my 
Master,' and my children whom I have begotten in the gospel, or nourished up ; 
and I desire not to go out, and would be content my ear were bored through with 
an awl to serve Him for ever. Our Lord has given us a plain and positive allow- 
ance, 'When they persecute you in one city, flee unto another.' I cannot reckon 
this persecution to be begun yet : therefore I must work the work of, Him that 
sent me while it is called to-day, not knowing how soon the violence of our enemies 
may bring on the night. What I desire of you is, that as the Israelites of old were 
to eat the passover, you will eat your spiritual food, in haste, not knowing how 
soon your table may be drawn. Let us then go on as formerly." [The sermon 
preached that day will be found, AVorks, IV. 156.] 

iTiz-ni7'\ ^^^- THOMAS BOSTON 271 

According to what befel me on the 28th of October; with 
respect to proceeding in writing of the Fourfold State, I applied 
myself closely thereto again ; I had perfected the following part 
tliereof, viz. the state of grace, by the 23rd of December. 

Proceeding in writing of the Fourfold State, I finished it on 
the 9tli of March. On the 25th of January I gave myself unto 
prayer, with new endeavours after personal holiness. Then I 
went on; and, according to my natural disposition when once 
engaged in a work, was too eager, llising to it long before day, 
on the Saturday morning thereafter, tliat day my body was sore 
weakened, my spirits exhausted, very little was done, and that 
httle very unsatisfying. At length I was obliged to leave it, 
with that check, " It is vain for you to rise up early," etc., 
Ps. cxxvii. 2; and I resolved through grace to do so no more. 
And now do I bless God, for that that eagerness is removed, and 
it goes better with me. However, on the 9th of March the work 
was finished: and for the help of the Lord I had therein, I desire 
to be thankful. Whatever the Lord minds to do with them, I 
had worth my pains in the work, with respect to my own private 
ease ; for they made me many errands to the throne of grace, and 
helped me to keep up a sense of religion on my spirit. Writing 
of heaven, I found it no easy thing to believe the greatness of 
that glory which is to be revealed. The copy then written in 
octavo, which is in retentis, was not the copy from which it was 
afterwards printed. 

On Friday, 3rd April, about eight minutes after one in the 
morning, my youngest son Thomas was born ; and was baptized 
on the 14th, by Mr. William Macghie, minister of Selkirk. 

Coming in view of the sacrament this year, the impression I 
bad of the low state of practical religion in the place, led me to 
a new ordinary, viz. Hos. xiv., which chapter I began 17th May, 
and proceeding therein to the last clause of ver. 6, dwelt 
long on it. 

I find that, about this time, having seen Cross's Taghmical 
Art, I was begun to have some notion of the accentuation of the 
Hebrew Bible, according to the principles of that author. Having 
been with Mr. Macghie foresaid in his closet at a time, he 
happened to speak of his acquaintance with Mr. Cross at London, 
and of his giving him a copy of his book above mentioned, which 
I believe I had never heard of before. I desired thereupon to see 
the book ; and, finding it relate to the sacred Hebrew, I borrowed 
it from him. This behoved to be, cither in the spring this year, 


or else in October 1712, what time I was assisting at the sacrament 
there. Had I known then what was in the womb of that step of 
Providence, I had surely marked the day of my borrowing that 
book, as one of the happiest days of my life. 

Great was the stumbling among the people through the south 
and west, on the account of the abjuration oath, taken, in the 
preceding year, by about two parts of three of the ministry in 
Scotland : and I gained but little in our parish, by my refusing it ; 
because I would not separate from, but still kept communion with, 
the jurors ; meeting with them in presbyteries and synods.^ And 
now was beginning the schism made by Mr. John Taylor, minister 
of Wamphray,^ on that account. I had been assisting to the said 
]\Ir. Taylor at the sacrament in the year 1711 ;^ and he to me in 
the 1712; as he was also this year, 7th June,* on the same 
occasion. On that night, after the public work was over, finding 
him inclined to separation upon the account of the oath, I 
earnestly argued against it from the holy Scripture: and he 
seemed not to be very peremptory, nor much to set himself to 
answer my arguings. But immediately after this conference on 
that subject, going to family-worship, whereat a great many were 
present, but perhaps all strangers, except my own family, he 
surprised me with his discourse on Ps. xxiii., delivered in a very 
homely manner, and just feeding the reeling, separating humour 
among the people : the which I looked upon as a sorry piece of 
service at best, and unbecoming a man of sense and consideration, 
in these circumstances. 

On the 12th of July, I was assisting to him again. And the 
work being begun before I got thither, on the Saturday, I sat 
down on the braeside among the people; where, after sermons, 
I was surprised to hear him shew their resolution to declare their 
adherence to the covenants, national and solemn league, for which 

^ [Many of the Xon-jurauts refused to hold commuuion with the jurors. Some 
went to extreme lengths (Wodrow, Corres2). I. 340). Boston touches on his own 
course of action, p. 316.] 

2 [Rev. John Taylor was ordained 4th March 1697, and deposed by Synod 
(whose authority he refused to acknowledge) 10th April 1715. The Assembly of 
1717 appointed the Presbytery to excommunicate, and on 19th September Rev. 
Gabriel Gullane was ordained under protection of a party of soldiers. Mr. T. 
continued preaching, and resided in Eskdalemuir, but returned to Wamphray, 
where he died November 1745.] 

^ [For the sermons preached then, 30th June, 2nd July, see AVorks, IX. 
482, 490.] 

^ The action - sermon on Heb. xi. 28 was published in a volume in 1753. 
[Works, X. 133.] 

77/^-/7/7] MR. THOMAS BOSl'ON 273 

they had made some preparation on the fast - day ; but withal 
leaving others to their liberty. The people, having got the call 
from him for that effect, rose up on every side of me ; and by 
holding up their hands, as had been agreed on, testified their 
adherence. I was not apprised beforehand of this design ; and 
judging it a matter requiring due preparation, and not to be rashly 
entered upon, sat still, and joined not. By all the accounts I had 
of it, I judged the management thereof not suitable nor pro- 
portionable to the weight of the matter. Through the mercy of 
God, I found no ill effect of this piece of my conduct, at home, 
which I feared. 

Some time after, being called to answer for himself before the 
presbytery, in matters unquestionably scandalous, whether right 
or wrong, alleged against him, he did most unwisely decline them, 
and separate. But I think, that, even though his sejiaration had 
been warrantable, he ought, for the honour of God, and the cause 
of religion, to have appeared, and purged himself of these things 
to their face, in the first place. Hearing how matters were like 
to go betwixt him and the presbytery, I wrote to him, whom I 
always took for a good man ; offering my best offices and advice, 
if he would give me a view of the state of his matters. The letter 
he received, but made me no return; and I never saw him since 
that time. A great many of the parish of Eskdale-moor joined 
him : the which, by reason of the neighbourhood, was another 
fountain of trouble and uneasiness to me, giving me another class 
of dissenters, servants coming in from thence to our parish ; 
though I remember none of our congregation that went off to 
him, but one inconstant woman, who joined with his way for a 

At first Mr. John Hejjburn,^ head of an old and considerable 
party, Mr. John Gilchrist, minister of Dunscore,^ and he, joining 
together, formed a presbytery ; which lasted very short while. 
At length his own party broke among themselves, and many of 
thorn left him : so that this day, though he still continues his 
schism, his affairs and reputation are in a sorry situation. 

Amongst us who assisted in those days, as aforesaid, at 
Wamphray, w\is Mr. Thomas Hoy, minister at Annan. Him also, 

' [See p. 24.] 

" [Rev. James (not Jolm) Gilclirist was translated from New Cumnock to 
Dunseore in 1701. In 1716 he was deposed I'or irregular and sclusmatical courses, 
A curious letter from the Old Dissenters to the Presbytery of Dumfries on his 
deposition will be found in Struthers, Eist. Scotl. I. 459.] 


some time after, lodging a night in my house, I was at pains to 
convince of the unwarrantableness of the separation on account 
of the oath ; but prevailed not. Howbeit, some time after, I 
heard with indignation, his taking of the oath itself: Such a 
propensity there is in human nature to run to extremes, and such 
a need of walking by a fixed principle of church - commmiion, 
established from the holy Scriptures. 

On 30th August, continuing my ordinary, Hos. xiv., I did 
withal return to explain the catechism ; but began at the duty 
which God requireth of man. And judging the discovery of the 
exceeding breadth of the command to be of great importance, I 
did insist on the ten commands very largely ; so that the sermons 
on them ended not till 28th August 1715, two years after 
this. Which brings to mind an occasional encounter, before 
our presbytery, with Mr. John Gowdie above mentioned ; ^ who 
happening to tell us of his preaching catechetical doctrine, shewed, 
that he had cursorily gone over the ten commands, as judging 
that best for the case of the people : I found myself obliged to 
declare before them all, that I was quite of another mind ; the 
fullest unfolding of the holy commandment being necessary to 
discover the need of Christ, both to saints and sinners. But I 
have always observed narrow thoughts of the doctrine of free 
grace, to be accompanied with narrow thoughts of the extent of 
the holy law. 

About this time I set myself to consider the mass-book, and 
the English service-book ; between which I found a surprising 
agreement, several particulars of which I marked on the service- 
book, which remains as yet among my other books. For the 
course of public affairs had taken such a turn, that from the 
year 1710 they had run straight towards the interest of the Pre- 
tender ; and continued so to do, till, being brought to the point 
of full ripeness, it pleased the Lord suddenly and surprisingly to 
break the measures of the party, through the removal of Queen 
Anne by death 1st August 1714 ; so that King George had a peace- 
able accession to the throne, as much unexpected, as the Queen's 
death at the time foresaid. Meanwhile, at this time, matters had 
a formidable appearance, and a terrible cloud seemed to hang 
over the head of the nations, hastening to break. Papists and 
Jesuits were flocking hither from beyond seas ; and things great 
and small were set a-going, to prepare people for receiving what 
was a-hatching. Sitting at meat in time of the synod at Kelso, 

1 [P. 265.] 

17 1 2- 17 17^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 275 

in the house of a Presbyterian silly woman, I was surprised with, 
and filled with indignation at, the sight of the picture of Christ 
on the cross, hanging on the wall over-against me. Lodging, in 
time of a communion, in a certain house of some distinction, I 
got a loam basin to wash my hands in, witli the Jesuits' motto 
in the bottom thereof, J.H.S. And many other such arts were 
tlien used to catch the people, while the great artifices for com- 
passing the design were going on successfully. Withal, there 
were mighty fears of an intended massacre.^ 

But national fasts were very rare, as the}' have been all along 
since the Union unto this day. Wherefore on 17th February 
1714, we kept a congregational fast, upon the account of the 
aspect of affairs at that time, more particularly declared in our 
session's act thereanent, of the date 14th February 1714. I 
preached that day on Ps. Ixxiv. 19, "0 deliver not the soul of 
thy turtle dove unto the multitude of the wicked." Which 
sermon agreeable to the state of that time, being in retentis, may 
be consulted.^ 

On the Sabbath immediately following, I entered, in my 
catechetical ordinary, on the second command ; upon which I 
did for some time set myself to discover the evil of Popery, and 
of the English service. With respect to the former, I explained 
to the people the national covenant at large, judging the case of 
the time a sutlicient call thereto. The latter I insisted on as 
particularly, and as much as I thought to be for edification, from 
the pulpit ; yet not so much as I fain would have done ; which 
was the occasion of the blank left in that part of my notes on 
the commands ; the which, it seems, I had some thoughts of fUling 
up afterwards, for my own satisfaction ; which yet was never done.-^ 

The aforesaid copy of the Fourfold State having been revised 
by several ministers, I went in the summer to Edinburgh, with 
my dear friend Dr. Trotter, on purpose to speak with a printer on 
that head. And while I was there, I was free, willing, and resolved 
to venture it into the world. But a friend there, at that time a 

^ [The Assembly of 1714 appointed an Address to be presented to Her Majesty 
complaining of the gi-ievances that the Church lies under from the growth of Popery, 
the insolence of Papists, etc. Hetherington, Hid. (1848), 202.] 

- This sermon was published in the author's Body of DivinUy, vol. ii. by way of 
a note on the second command ; and was also printed separately, with an addition 
ot part of another sermon, on account of the great increase of Popery in Scotland. 
[Works, II. 130.] 

^ See the author's Body of Divinity, vol, ii. pp. 512, 513, 514, notes. [Works, II. 
127 et scq, and note 155-6.] 


student, now a minister, advised to delay it upon the ground of the 
fear of the Pretender's coming in. This being so feasible, I could 
not in modesty refuse the advice : but after that, my courage in 
the case abated and sunk. 

2Uh August. — This day the sacrament was administered. 
There were a hundred and three tokens given out to parishioners, 
whereof twenty-three to new communicants ; and there were 
never so many communicants of this parish before. The work 
was begun on Thursday with a sermon on Amos vi. 1, which I 
believe drew the stool from under most of us ; surely it did so to 
me. On the Saturday and Sabbath morning, the weather looked 
gloomy; but I had a most quiet resigned frame of spirit, with 
respect to it, leaving it on the Lord without anxiety. And it 
was a grey day, with some pleasant blinks. A little ere I went 
out, I was stung with the conscience of my neglect of self-examina- 
tion, though I had solemnly done it on the Monday before, being 
our family-fast-day for this occasion. I had attempted it on 
Saturday's night, but was carried off. Let this be a lesson to me. 
In this case I took a short review of myself, as the time would 
allow ; but that neglect stuck with me. I preached on Hos. ii. 
19, which I had entered on 11th July. The rest of the ministers 
were well helped. I was not straitened for words in that sermon, 
and had some solid seriousness as to the success of it ; yet I 
thought the Lord cast a cloud over me, and that the people 
seemed unconcerned. So in the midst of it I knew not what to 
do, fearing the people's weariness. I looked about, wishing in my 
heart that somebody would tell me whether to leave it or not : 
yet I went on to the second general head, being loath to leave it 
altogether, and passed only a twelfth part of the sermon ; which 
was delivered after the action with more satisfaction to myself. 
Having consecrated the elements, and said, that they were no 
more to be looked on as common bread and wine, but as symbols 
of the body and blood of Christ; immediately I felt a great 
change on my spirit to the better, which made me speak with an 
unusual concern on my soul ; and my natural spirits, that were 
low before, were raised, so that I had a new vigour for speaking. 
I blundered however in delivering the bread, saying, " This cup ; " 
but I recovered myself, though not without difficulty, having 
much ado to fall upon the very words of institution, " Take, eat," 
etc. This was stinging and humbling, lest it might be an occasion 
of triumph to the wicked. I communicated at the fourth table, 
and thought I had faith, love, etc., in exercise ; and there, with 

IT 12-17 17^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 277 

myself, gave up my wife, my children, one by one, by name, my 
servants, parish, etc., to the Lord. When I came in that day, the 
work being over, and began to look through wliat had passed, my 
soul was humbled in me, and much broken ; for upon the whole I 
thought there was never less of God's presence with a communion- 
work here than that, except that recorded, p. 26G. But God 
seasonably opened the mouths of some to speak, for His own 
praise and for my comfort : particularly Mr. 0. desired me that 
night to thank God for the great things he had met with ; adding 
(to my wife, who told me), that he was scarcely able to contain 
himself, and came in to the house. And she telling this to a 
gentlewoman, that person replied. There were more so than he 
and that she heard an old professor say, What's this we meet 
with ! that he had not seen such a thing for many years. This 
is not the first time God has done great things, and hid them 
from me in the time ; for He is infinitely wise. The sermon I 
preached on this occasion, was afterwards published, under the 
title of The Everlasting Espousals -^ Providence thus quickly 
beginning to move, towards bringing forth of that work foresaid, 
in its due time. 

On the morrow, a godly minister and I conversing about the 
work, he told me there were two expressions used by me at 
serving of the table that were offensive to some. From these, 
and the blunder, I got a plain lesson, to beware of mixing my 
own spirit with the Lord's Spirit. In these damps I unbosomed 
myself to my friend Mr. Wilson (for whom I bless the Lord), and 
he was useful to me. Let me learn to be humble, watchful, and 
dependent, while I think it goes well with me. I am persuaded 
they have great need to take heed to their feet that are let in 
within the vail ; for He is a jealous God. 

On the Tuesday having convoyed the minister some miles, 
Mr. Golden, at parting (as before also) had so expressed what he 
had felt in that (to me) overclouded sermon, that I was made to 
believe the Lord had owned it. And then my heart was opened 
to give Him the due thanks. And the effects of my believmg it 
I found to be, 1. That I was thankful ; 2. It humbled me, seeing 
it as a great debt upon me ; 3. It kindled in my heart more desire 
after holiness. So retiring, by the way I poured out my soul 
before God, according to these impressions. 

Wednesday. But this day the glory of that work was quite 
out of my eyes again, and I could not be thankful; but v*'as 

1 [Works, VII. 491.] 


confounded and sunk, when I looked back on it. I wondered at 
Mr. Colden's speaking as he did, on Monday's night, before all the 
company, concerning that work and me. I thought that what- 
ever had been my mind of another, I could not have spoken so, 
before the person himself: and I have often wondered on such 
occasions. But now I see how needful these things are for me, 
and how by them the Lord indulgeth weak me, when I cannot see 
the thing, to be thankful for it, notwithstanding all these helps 
and props. One thing comforts me, that the Saturday's work 
had sucli influence on me, that it occasioned my uttering these 
words to the congregation, " I would fain hope God will do great 
things here to-morrow ; He can do wonders with little noise," etc. 
\Uh December. — One having a while ago desired a copy of my 
action-sermon on Hos. ii. 19, that he might publish it, and he 
having taken advice about it at Edinburgh, I set sometime apart 
this day for light from the Lord in that matter. I laboured some 
time in confessing of sin before the Lord, in renewing my 
covenant and renunciation. And two things were wondrous in 
my eyes. 1. The unalterableness of the covenant. I had a sweet 
view of it as a covenant which after many slips might be 
renewed. There is no renewing of the covenant of works, once 
broken; but this covenant will not break: one is welcome to 
renew it after backslidings. 2. That I had this opportunity 
without disturbance; whereas I had attempted it twice before, 
and by my unwatchfulness had marred it; whereby, though 
something was done, as on Tuesday last, yet the business was not 
carried through. Then I set myself to seek light from the Lord 
in prayer, and thought on the business : and considering that I 
was urged by a repeated call from that person, and that this is 
a fair way to try what acceptance the book may meet with if 
published, I resolved to attempt it. It was comfortable to me to 
think, that whatever have been the transgressions of my private 
walk, God has been very gracious to me in the public steps of my 


'drd January 1715. — Having finished the sermon, I took up 
Dempster's Antiquities, to refresh myself, where I read something 
de expositione infantum, that seemed to give light into Ezek. xvi. ; 
and pursuing the thing, several thoughts offered themselves, 
which I cast into a paper with much satisfaction, and some 
design to insert them in the sermon. {KB. — They are inserted 
in the printed sermon.^) So this morning I was very easy 

1 [Works, VII. 515.] 

n 12-17 n\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 279 

as to tlie publishing of the sermon. But at night there came 
one whom I respect and value, and would have employed in 
the business ; but in the holy providence of God he carried so 
strangely, with respect to the book, and this sermon too, that I 
was confounded, and quite discouraged in the design. However, 
T sent it to Mr. Wilson, seeing I had written it. He approved 
tlic motion of printing it ; but withal told me, tliat the printers 
would hardly take such an interlined copy. AVhereupon, though, 
by the foresaid discouragement still remaining with me, I had no 
heart for publishing it ; yet I resolved, come what will, that I 
would transcribe it over again. 

Vitlh January. — I began to transcribe it; but on the 15th at 
night, while I was busy with it, there came an express to me, 
calling me to go to Dunse, to my brother a-dying. So I laid it 
aside, wondering at this next dash. I took it with me, and 
shewed it to Mr. Brown; who did encourage me to publish it; 
and I think, if I had not met with him, I had not recovered that 
damp to the design given by the person aforesaid. So Providence 
made use of that my being called away from the work, to forward 
it, which it is likely had lain if that had not come. 

I went off Sabbath afternoon, IGth January, after sermon, and 
returned next Saturday's night. My sermon was studied before, 
and so it was (except a very little) the last time I had occasion 
to be so abroad. So does the Lord encourage me to study. My 
brother grew better, while I was there ; and, for my own use, I 
received an instruction and warning, and a check, from the 

lUh January. — After the Queen's death. King George safely 
arriving, had a peaceable accession to the throne : for which cause 
there was a thanksgiving appointed to be observed 22nd January 
1715. But at that time, I having been called to Dunse, as is 
above related, we could not observe it on the day appointed. 
Howbeit we kept it on the 3rd of February; which day I 
preached on Esther ix. 1, "Now when the king's commandment 
and his decree grew near to be put in execution, in the day that 
the enemies of the Jews hoped to have power over them (though 
it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them 
that hated them)." 

6^//, February. — This day being the Lord's day, in the time of 
the first prayer, in the pulpit, one drew my sleeve ; which put 
uie into some disorder : quickly after, I heard a muttering about 
me ; which struck me with terror : so, recommending the case to 


God, whatever it was, I closed the prayer. {N.B. — I think, upon 
reflection, I should have immediately stopped upon the first sign 
given, and known what the matter was, ere I had gone further ; 
for I could have no composure till I had done that, and that sign 
was a providential call, under which I knew not what might he.) 
Then I was told that one was a-dying at the park-foot, betwixt 
that and the water, little more than a stone-cast from the church. 
The congregation being set to sing a psalm, I went out ; but he 
was dead ere I got to him. He was a strong old man, about 
seventy-six years old, who having come over the hills from Upper 
Dalgleish four miles a-foot, and having taken a drink of the 
water, and said he had left the rest about a quarter of a mile 
behind him, never spoke more, but fell down, gave two shivers, 
and died between the water and the western park of the glebe. 
Thus coming to the church, he came to the churchyard : he came 
heartily and cleverly to his grave, instead of being borne. Lord, 
teach me so to count my days, as I may apply my heart to 
wisdom. Reflecting on my being so lately alarmed, and obliged 
to ride on the Lord's day, and this day again brought out of the 
pulpit, on the occasion of death, I thought it had a language to 
me, fearing the next might be a more home stroke. 

V)tlh February. — Having received letters desiring me to come 
to the presbytery, I went, contrary to my inclination ; but out of 
conscience towards God, lest His cause by my absence should 
suffer any detriment, upon which account I durst not sit at home. 
The Lord made it a comfortable and happy journey : for not only 
was the ]3usiness (the affair of Mr. J. D.) kept from going farther 
wrong ; but the Lord honoured me to be the instrument of peace 
in the presbytery (which had been split the day before by pro- 
testations and counter-protestations), and brought that business 
to the desired issue, with respect to the presbytery's management 
of it.^ I have often found it good, to follow duty over the belly 
of inclination. 

The aforementioned alarming dispensation led me, on the 
following Lord's day, to a new ordinary, 2 Cor. v. 1, "For we 
know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dis- 

^ [The affair is that of Jlr. James Davidson, to whom a presentation had been 
given by the Duke of Roxburgh to be conjunct minister with Mr. Arch. Deans, 
minister of Bowden. The Presbytery, owing to the divided state of the parish, 
refused (on 10th February) to settle him ; and on appeal the Synod upheld the 
Presbytery's decision. In the Presb. Jlinutes of 10th February Boston's name 
occurs only in the sederunt ; but at an earlier date he had been appointed to impugn 
Mr. J. D.'s thesis (Minutes, 15th July 1714).] 





1712-1717'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 281 

solved," 1 etc., on which I dwelt till 22nd May, that, for the 
sacrament, I entered on Heb. x. 22, " Let us draw near with a 
true heart, in full assurance of faith," 2 etc., pressing the confidence 
of faith. On the same text was the action-sermon, as were also 
some sermons after the sacrament. 

lUh February. — In answer to the former calls of Providence, I 
spent this day in fasting, prayer, and meditation, with respect 
to my leaving of the world. I endeavoured to antedate my 
reckoning with my judge, acknowledging my sins, and applying 
to the Lord, through Christ's blood, for pardon. I made a 
comfortable review of my evidences for heaven. I neither could 
nor durst name what sort of death I would desire to die; but 
renewed my covenant with the Lord, with a view to eternity, 
leaning on that bed (my closet-bed) which perhaps may be my 
deathbed, taking the several quarters of it witnesses, that I had 
gone in under the covert of blood, the covert of the covenant, 
for deatli. I laid over my wife and children on the Lord. There 
was one little circumstance (the recording of which may be of 
some use), namely, that at night, about the latter end of this 
exercise, while I was at prayer, a dead-bell ^ tinkled downstairs, 
the hearing of which surprising sound made some impression on 
me. It was gifted by Sir William Scot to the parish, and at 
that time it was, though not expected so soon, brought home by 
John Currie, who had been at Edinburgh, about the printing of 
the sermon, and brought home a specimen of it. In the remain- 
ing part of that week, I set in order my worldly affairs, by a 
will written with my own hand. And this, I think, was the first 
time I made my testament; the which I always after kept by 
me, but several times renewed, destroying the preceding one. 
And I reckon it was about this time that my contract with my 

1 [Works, III. 22.] 2 [Woj.i,g_ jx. 399.] 

2 [" In Hawick it was customary, at no very remote period, for one of the burgh 
officers to proceed through the town, when, lifting his liat and ringing the bell at 
regular intervals, he said, ' I hereby take ye to wit that — our brother (or sister) 
departed this life at — of the clock, according to the pleasure of the Lord.' " 1839, 
New Stat. Acct. Hawick. The Ettrick bell, bearing date 1715, is still preserved 
in the manse. Boyish memories of its note may have inspired the Ettrick 
Shepherd to make Grizzy of Thirlstane say in The Pedlar — 

" O lady, 'tis dark, and I heard the dead-bell, 
An' I daurna gae yonder for gowd or fee." 

The donor of the bell was Sir AVni. Scott of Thirlstane, son of Sir Francis 
who in 1G99 married the Jlistress of Napier, and so brought that ancient peerage 
into the family.] 


wife was destroyed, with consent; the settlement being made 
more to her advantage. 

On the 10th of March, John Currie being at Edinburgh to 
bring out the copies of the sermon, I met at Selkirk with him 
who had the oversight of the press ; who surprised me with the 
news that the press was stopped, one of this parish having 
brought word to him for that eti'ect, as from me or the publisher ; 
which was a groundless mistake. This occasioned me thoughts 
of heart ; the rather that the sacrament being to be celebrated 
at Edinburgh at that time, many there were desirous, on that 
occasion, to have had it ; and it was thought this had marred 
the going off of many upon that occasion, some himdreds, as he 
expressed it. But on second thoughts I was satisfied in the 
favourable conduct of Providence ; for had they come forth at 
such a nick for sale, I could not have judged of the acceptance 
of the book by that means. On the 26th I received a copy; but 
withal saw another fair occasion for the sale of them lost, though 
I had endeavoured to secure it. I could perceive no reason for 
it, but that so Providence saw it meet, and I believe for the 
same reason foresaid. And one delay of bringing the copies out 
came one week after another, till John Currie going in at length 
to bring them, there were fevf left to be brought out. It is the 
usual way of Providence with me, that matters of moment come 
through several iron gates. I could not but observe, that, by 
holy Providence unknown to me, at what time the press was 
stopped, I had no freedom in prayer about it, but several times 
forgot it, and wondered how I had forgot it. But when the work 
went on, it was not so. The publication of that sermon was my 
first-fruits in that kind. I had a comfortable account of its 

\Wi Ajjril. — I received a letter from Mr. Wilson, shewing 
me, that two persons had written to him from Edinburgh about 
the sermon (though he had written to none there about it) ; the 
one desiring him to deal with me for more, which it is heard are 
ready by me, and assuring of the esteem of the godly and judicious. 
The other's letter he sent to me, l)earing, that it had there a very 

welcome reception from all having any sense of religion. 

" Seasonably " (says the author of the letter) " it came to my hand, 
— at a time when I was under much deadness and hiding of the 
Lord's face ; I was walking in darkness, and saw no light ; yet 
by a secret power was kept from drawing rash conclusions while 
I was reading it. I can compare it to nothing more fitly than a 

,712-1717'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 28 


cordial to a fainting spirit, or a ray of light shining in a dungeon. 
The surprising turn which it gave to my sunk spirit, is beyond 
what I can express. The heavenly eloquence and divine rhetoric 
which was in it, brought some transactions to my remembrance, 
which liad been for some time out of sight, and I made a new 

Amen to the marriage-covenant." This melted my soul in 

thankfulness and admiration of the goodness of God to vile me, 
and sent me to my knees immediately with tliese impressions. 
It also tilled me with courage : and now 1 was well content to lie 
down and receive my lashes from other hands ; for now I had 
a pleasant view, how CJod would be beforehand with me, laying 
in tliat timely to prepare me for other sort of entertainment. 
And indeed I am \vell hired to abide all. 

\Mli May, Saturday. — I spent a part of this day in humiliation, 
renewing my covenant w'ith God, and prayer for the Lord's 
presence in the w^ork of the sacrament of the supper to be cele- 
brated here, last Sabbath of this month. The Lord was pleased 
to help me to confidence, believing in God as my God. 

\^th May. — Since Saturday last, I have had most sensible 
experience of the solid joy and peace, in believing God to be 
my God in Christ. I find it is a blessed means of sanctification. 
It strengthens to duty ; for I have been helped in my work of 
visiting since that time. It nourishes love to the Lord ; and 
consequently love to and desire of the thriving of His work in 
people's souls. It creates a sweet calm, and quiet of mind, in 
doubtful events ; for I have been tried, and yet am with a pro- 
spect of the Lord's keeping back the one-half of my helpers in 
the work before me ; but I have no anxiety that way. It 
sweetens other enjoyments, and carries above things wdiich at 
other times are irritating, and create disgust. I have compared 
flashes of afiection, \vith a calm sedate tender love to the Lord; 
and I prefer the latter to the former, and liave been, and am, 
happy in it. 

Tith May, Friday. — In the time foresaid, I tbought I would 
meet with a trial. It came just on the morrow, being my study- 
day. The text I had in view for the Sabbath was that, "This 
cup is the new testament in my blood." And I had a great 
desire to be at it, that my soul might dip into the sweetness of it. 
But though in this case I set about it, God bound me up, it would 
not do with me. I could neither go forward in it, nor come ofi' 
from it. Thus I spent that weary day, praying, thinking, striving 
to keep up my confidence that the Lord would help. My con- 


fidence in the Lord was tried now ; and though I got it kept up 
better than ordinary in such a case, for some time ; yet at length 
it was brought to a low ebb, and almost exhausted. In this 
weary time I got a seasonable letter from my friend, shewing, my 
helpers were secured for me. So the Lord lightened my burden, 
while my strength was less, and also gave some new discovery 
that it is not in vain to trust Him. About eight o'clock at night, 
another text was given me, namely, Heb. x. 22, " Let us draw 
near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith," etc. And then 
my heart was taken off the former. I was well guided to this, 
as pursuant to what I had been upon since the man's sudden 
death at the park-foot, 2 Cor. v. 1, and agreeable to what the 
Lord had been secretly teaching me, by experience, before. I 
studied the sermon on it to-morrow, which I preached on the 
Lord's-day. On the Monday we kept the family-fast. I had not 
recovered my former frame ; but, in reference to our prayers, 
w^as helped to believe that word Matt. vii. 7, " Ask, and it shall 
be given you," etc. I drove heavily in studying the communion- 
sermon. This day I had a sweet while in confidence on the Lord 
as my God, grasping the promise over the belly of felt foolishness. 
1st June, Wednesday. — On the 29th of May the sacrament 
was celebrated here. All the three days there was some rain ; 
but on the Lord's-day it was exceeding great, and greatest of all 
in the time of the tables ; only it was fair weather in the time of 
the first two. Yet the Lord made it a great day of the gospel ; 
assisted his ministers, and the people generally, to very much 
composure, though several went away for fear of the rising of the 
waters. It was somewhat discouraging to me, in respect of the 
disturbance it might create to the people ; but I was helped to 
submit to it as a trial to them and me. I cried to the Lord in the 
morning-prayer, to preserve the people from bodily hurt ; for there 
was a great wind with the rain ; and I have not yet heard of any 
that was the worse of it ; but some whom we suspected might be 
the worse, particularly a woman that had lately been ill of the 
flux, were well carried through safe. Being warned by experience 
formerly, I was helped to hold off from two rocks I split upon at 
the last sacrament. One was concerning self-examination : what- 
ever was done in it on the Monday, being the family-fast day, I 
set about it on the Saturday's night, got a humbling view of sin, 
and a satisfying view of the grace of God in me. The other was 
the mixing of my own spirit with influences from heaven. The 
danger from this quarter had been frightful to me, and in secret I 

ijrs-nn^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 285 

had been remarkably carried out in prayer against it, and for a 
solid frame of spirit, and a feeling of what I was to speak. And 
indeed the Lord lieard me, preserving me from that unhallowed 
mixture in the sermon, in some measure, and giving an unusual 
measure of solid, serious feeling, in the rest of the work, especially 
the invitation (where influences began to rise higher), the prayer 
for consecration of the elements, and the discourse at the table. 
In the sermon I had not the desired feeling. The elements after 
consecration being declared to be no more common bread and 
wine, but sacred symbols of the body and blood of Christ, I felt 
in my spirit a sensible change accordingly ; I discerned the 
sacramental union of the signs and the thing signified, and was 
thereby let into a view of the mystical union. I saw it, I believed 
it, and I do believe it this day. I do not remember myself ever 
to have been so distinct in the view and faith of this glorious 
mystery ; and that with application, for I do believe that Christ 
dwells in me by His Spii-it, and I in Him by faith. And the 
objection, How can this be ? is silenced. I feel the sacrament of 
the supper to be a divine ordinance; I see it, and beUeve it. 
This is the second time I have most remarkably felt that change 
on my spirit, upon the declaring as above said. jMay I never miss 
to declare,^ as said is, in the administration of that ordinance. 
In partaking I was helped to the exercise of faith, took God for 
my God in Christ, claimed Him as my God, and laboured to 
improve the claimed interest, by believing the promises of the 
covenant, which was the scope of the action-sermon. My wife 
with the child in her belly, and the other children by name, I 
gave away to the Lord with myself. And having been in fear 
about my wife's death in the bringing forth of that child, I had 
there, in that solemn approach, a concern on my spirit about that 
case; but could not see it dangerous, whatever it may turn to 
after. This made me to hope, that a stolen dint (with profoundest 
reverence be it spoken) would not be taken of me. But yesterday, 
praying in these terms, in that case, that the Lord would not take 
a stolen dint, I durst not abide by that petition ; thinking with 
myself, what if God keep the tormenting impressions of her death 
from ofi' my spirit, is that unkind \ So I knew not what to make 
of that petition, but left it to the Lord, to do as He saw best. My 
wife parted with the ministers the same day as never to see them 
more. At parting with Mr. Golden, he desired there might be no 
discouragement in her case. I told him, I could not see the 
^ [/.c. to declare the elements no more common bread and wine.] 


danger ; and he told me, it was so with him too, with respect to 
that case. The sermon was more than two hours long, which I 
think was too much. A certain gentleman said, it was above his 
capacity ; upon which a minister (Mr. Golden) observing the need 
professors have to be better informed in the doctrine of the gospel, 
moved, that I should write practically on the doctrine of justifica- 
tion ; which inclined me somewhat to publish the sermons on 
Phil. iii. 3.^ A godly countryman told me, that he had not so 
much of that sermon to carry away as ordinary. 1 resolved to be 
shorter ; and learned from these things, that however my gift 
seems to be plain, I have need of dependence on the Lord, even 
for plainness in treating of gospel-mysteries. Satan was at my 
heels ere that work was over. Being surprised to hear singing of 
psalms in the kirk, and stunned to see the people running away 
into it, leaving the solemn work we were at ; so that the rump of 
the meeting seemed only to remain, being in the south-west side 
of the churchyard : having sent one, and after that another, to 
stop that disorder, and it continuing still ; I went and put a stop 
to it, with a sharpness, which no doubt irritated the brother who 
was the cause of it. So we became snares to one another. And 
so quickly did my spirit go without bounds. I knew God was not 
the author of this confusion ; but the way of my spirit in removing 
it was, and is, humbling upon reflection. It hung about me most 
heavily, till, the whole day's work being over, I had occasion to 
shew him the sorrow of my heart, that Satan should so soon have 
got advantage against us, and to intreat him to join with me in 
withstanding the progress of this liame that the tempter had 
kindled : and hereunto the good man shewed all readiness. I have 
sometimes observed the Lord's being very gracious to me in 
matters of public management : Init the keenness of my spirit, at 
the last synod, in the case of Mr. J. D. aforesaid, and in this, shews 
me, that my natural modesty and diffidence is not a sufficient 
guard to my spirit, in public appearances, though they be very 
few. To Thee, then, Lord, I will look for it. That day's work 
was concluded with a most savoury sermon, by that brother, though 
he was out of humour when called to it. So the Lord can outshoot 
the devil in his own bow. When I was about to make this review, 
I found my spirit out of order : and finding the disorder of my 
natural spirits contribute thereto, I went out, and walked, to 
refresh myself ; then returned, and set to the w^ork. It is hard to 
play, when the instrument is not in tune. 

1 [Works, IV. iQQscq.] 

1712-17171 MR. THOMAS BOSTON 287 

The week before the sacrament Satan stirred up the spirits of 
some neighbours against tlie work and me, apprehending there 
would be a great gathering, whereby their corns would suffer. 
And one of my few elders (from w^hom I have little help) was at 
least a silent witness to the rage and spite. But the cloven foot 
was too visible, to discourage much. In a little time after the 
sacrament, the same person acted with the same spirit of spite 
against me in another case. However, there was no complaint of 
the corns ; whence I may know there was no ground, though indeed 
the company was great. At this time there were ten tables, though 
we use to have but about seven ; and the tables were longer than 
ordinary, and people came from a far distance. 

Having been taken with the design of Cross's Taghmical Art 
aforementioned,^ I would fain have understood it ; but could never 
reach it to my satisfaction. The nature of the subject treated of, 
the indistinct way of the author's writing, and the false printing 
of the book, which was to a pitch, made the difficulty insuperable 
to me. What pains I was at before and about this time, to under- 
stand that book, and to gather the author's meaning, by comparing 
passages, may be seen in an octavo paper-book, whereof forty-four 
pages were written for that end, consisting mostly of excerpts, and 
partly of my own reasonings and conjectures thereon. But all to 
very little purpose ; so that at length I laid the matter aside. 

But the kind reception the Everlasting Esjjousals met with, 
whereof 1200 copies being printed, were mostly dispatched by 
the end of May, recovered my courage for publishing the Fourfold 
State, which had sunk as aforesaid. And after some time spent 
in prayer about it and my wife's case, on 16th June I began on 
that view to transcribe it over again. The acceptance of the 
sermon appeared in the gathering aforesaid ; and that very thing 
apprehended was the rise of all that rage above mentioned. I 
had encouraging testimonies about it, from the feeling of some 
godly ministers. 

7th June. — This day the affair of Mr. J. D. aforesaid, which lay 
weighty on my spirit, had a happy issue, in a committee of the 
synod.'^ And having laid it over on the Lord before I went into 
the church, my heart was filled with thankfulness in the issue. 
My spirit also in the management of the matter, so far as I was 
concerned, was kept from what I was afraid of. It is good to 
keep the way of duty : for though we were generally ill looked 
on by others in that matter, the Lord brought forth our righteous- 
UP. 271.] 2 [P. 280.] 


ness as the noon-day ; and there was not a man had a mouth to 
open in the cause that we were set against, ere all was done. I 
desire from this to learn to act faith in such matters, and with 
confidence in the promises to recommend them to the great 
Master of the vineyard. 

Wi July. — This day Mrs. Martin, spouse to Bailie Martin in 
Hawick, tenant in Crosslee, was buried. She came to this parish 
at Whitsunday, was present at the fast before the sacrament, but 
that night was seized with indisposition, which so increased that 
she had no access to be witness to more of that work. I saw 
her on the Tuesday after, much broken with that dispensation ; 
for she was a godly woman, and minded to have partaked. Her 
case grew worse and worse, till she sickened unto death, having 
a bloody flux ; in the time of which she miscarried ; and the flux 
continuing, on the tenth day from the birth of the child in the 
seventh month, she died. In the time of her sickness, on many 
accounts, her case lay very near my heart, and I was full of 
hopes that the Lord had not sent the good woman to die here. 
Her coming hither was by several in this parish looked on with 
an evil eye, according to their uncharitable, selfish disposition, etc. 
So that foolish I thought the honour of God was almost engaged 
for her life. And her death was an astonishing dispensation to 
me, calling to eye sovereignty, which challengeth a latitude. 
Besides, my hopes in her case miscarrying, quite perplexed my 
hopes as to the case of my own wife. I had been preaching on 
contentment for some Sabbaths ; and Sabbath the 17th of this 
month, being our marriage-day, and her reckoning out on the 
15th, that 17th day was of a terrible prospect to me. Wherefore 
yesterday I gave myself unto prayer, to intreat the Lord for her, 
and to provide for the worst ; and came away with that, namely. 
That God will do the best. 

On Saturday, 9th July, my wife had some pains, and also on 
the Sabbath morning ; at which time I had thoughts of sending 
for the midwife. I went to prayer, which produced some reluctancy 
to it ; and thereafter my wife shewing her unwillingness, I easily 
yielded, being the Lord's day. Afterwards in prayer my heart 
was fully calmed in that matter, that all would be well for that 
time. And so it was. But next morning betwixt twelve and 
one I sent off the lad for the midwife, who was at the distance 
of about eighteen miles. 

Ilih July. — On Friday the 15th of that month, my wife was 
delivered of a daughter, about one after noon, our last child, 

17/2-/7/7] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 289 

called Katherine ; who, on the 20th, was baptized by my friend 
Mr. Wilson. The day before, I studied my sermons for the 
Lord's day, and giving some directions against discontent, some 
things came so pat to my feared case, that I was astonished 
somewhat with it. I was brought in that matter to a resignation 
unto the will of God ; and having been helped, by the sermons 
on contentment, to believe that all that God does is best done 
(which I bless God has now, for a considerable time, been much 
on my spirit), I often left it on the Lord in these terms, that 
He would do the best, without determining one way or other. 
And behold He has heard my prayer, and hitherto wrought the 
deliverance very graciously. I see the way of trusting in God 
at all times, with positive resolutions not to distrust Him, what- 
ever He will do with us (which was much the language of my 
heart, and lips too, at that time), is the true way to rest, in the 
time of doubtful events, and also to get one's will. I myself have 
been several times, on this occasion, taking a view of death; 
and I have found, that faith in God through Christ makes another 
world not quite strange. I have seen so much of late, how God 
baffles hopes and fears, that my spirit seems disposed to leave 
all to the Lord ; et nee sperare nee extimcscere, sic exarmaveris ; — 
neither to fear nor hope, but according to God's promises and 

Being invited to assist at the sacrament in Morbattle and 

Maxton, the one immediately after the other, which appeared 

inconvenient for me ; the which Mr. Wilson considered ; but I 

wrote to him, that I was content the Lord should lead, and I 

follow ; and therefore that he should not incommode the work 

for me. And I saw in end, that He guided better than I could, 

if I had had my will. So I went from home 5th August, and 

returned not till 18th August. When I was going away, and to 

leave my wife lately delivered, and my family, I was helped to 

apply the promise made to the Israelites going up to the solemn 

feasts, with respect to the safety of their families left behind; 

and it stuck with me while I was abroad. And indeed it was 

accompUshed to me far beyond my expectation ; being, upon my 

return, quite surprised with the case of my wife's health, which 

had advanced to the degree I could not have looked for ; there 

being something preternatural in her case when I left her, which 

I judged could not miss to weaken her exceedingly; but the 

event was quite otherwise. That day I rode to Morbattle, I met 

with a man providentially, and the water being great beyond 



expectation, I got a fright by it, as it was ; but had I been alone, 
the event might have been dangerous. I preached at Morbattle 
on Saturday the 6th, and Sabbath the 7th of August, from Eev. 
xxi. 22, " And I saw no temple there." On the Monday two of 
the elders there desired a copy of the sermons transcribed, in- 
sinuating their design to print them ; which I took to considera- 
tion. On "Wednesday thereafter I preached in Oxnam parish; 
on the Thursday, Saturday, and Lord's day afternoon, at Maxton ; 
on the two last days from the text just mentioned, Eev. xxi. 22 ; 
and for some time had thoughts of preparing the whole for the 
press.^ I hope the Lord owned all these sermons, but that on 
the Saturday at Maxton seemed to me most countenanced of 
God. For my private case, I had not guided well at Morbattle. 
So on the Thursday thereafter, in Mr. Wilson's prayer and 
confession, I got a broad view of the corruption of my nature ; 
which afterward in secret proceeded to that, that I thought it 
needless (so to speak) to confess particulars, being ready to cry, 
Guilty, to whatsoever the broad law of God forbiddeth. But 
after that, my running issue (as Mr. Wilson termed it in his 
action-sermon) broke out, so that on Lord's day morning at Muir- 
houselaw ^ I was in a dreadful case, in the fields there. At which 
time, in the great bitterness of my spirit, that word came, 1 Cor. 
vi. 9, 10, 11, " Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit 
the kingdom of God ? Be not deceived : neither fornicators, nor 
idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves 
with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor 
revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And 
such were some of you : but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, 
but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the 
Spirit of our God." I walked up and down with the Bible in 
my hand opened at that place, holding it up towards heaven, as 
God's own word, pleading and improving it, for the cleansing of 
my vilest soul. how seasonable a support was it to my fainting 
soul ! Mr. Wilson's great sermon of the good news brought in 
the gospel, from Luke ii. 10, was as balm to a wounded soul, and 
good news from a far country. And there I put all in Christ's 

^ These four sermons were transcribed from the author's original copy, he not 
having transcribed them himself, and were published in a pamphlet, with two 
others, in 1772. [Not in Works.] 

^ [A farm about a mile south-east of Maxton village. Boston may have been 
staying there, instead of at the manse.] 

1712-1717^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 291 

While I was abroad, the news of the invasion came, and a 
bond of association contrived by some honest people at Edinburgh,^ 
to resist with armed force, came to my hand for our parish, and 
the whole country was astir that way. But on the Monday 
morning 15th August an express came to me, calling me to Dunse, 
to my brother's burial ; and on the morrow there I found, that 
the proceeding in that association was stopped from court, the 
invasion being found to be laid aside for the time. Here I saw 
the favourable conduct of Providence, in carrying and keeping 
me so long abroad : for I had good ground to think, that our 
parish would have given the association but very cold entertain- 
ment; not from any other cause but their selfish principle and 
disposition. As to the invasion, I was afraid of myself, for that 
I could not be afraid of it. 

At these two communions I preached, as I have already said, 
on Rev. xxi. 22, a text that for many years I had in view. When 
I began it, I expected little of it but a sermon for Sabbath 
afternoon. But all that about the preciousness of the ordinances 
came forth to me in the breaking. 

Now the oath of abjuration was in hand again, being to be 
imposed with some alterations, which I saw. Being much hurried 
with business after I came home, but getting one free day, I set 
myself to seek the Lord in that matter, and took it again under 
consideration. The result of all which was, that it seemed to me 
like the house with the leprosy in the walls, under the law, that 
nothing could cleanse but the pulling down of the walls.^ So a 
meeting of nonjurors being appointed at M.^ 30th August, I 
went thither, purely out of conscience towards God, to discharge 
my conscience in that matter. And Providence opened my way 
to it through iron gates ; for when I took my horse, I knew not 
what I was to do, to go, or come back ; but the Lord cleared my 

About the latter end of August, the rebellion having broke 
out, the King's army began to draw towards Stirling. On the 
28th I closed my sermons on the ten commandments in the 
forenoon, which were begun about two years before, and which I 

' [On 1st August 1715 two associations were formed at Edinburgh, the one an 
"Association of men of quality and substance," who each subscribed a specific 
sum ; the other of men prepared to serve on any emergency. These associations 
issued a strongly worded circular appealing for support. The Court, disliking 
such voluntary associations, discountenanced the movement. Hill Burton, VIII. 
(1897) 26S-9. See the circular in full, Struthers, Hist. Scotl. I. 286.] 

^ [Lev. xiv. 33-45.] ^ [Melrose.] 


often feared, through the difficulty of the times, I should not have 
had occasion to finish. I bless God who led me to that subject, 
where I met with things, which otherwise, through the course of 
many years' preaching, would hardly have come in the way. It 
gives great ease to my heart upon reflection. In the afternoon, 
for the case of the times, I entered on that text, Isa. xxxii. 2, 
" And a man shall be — as the shadow of a great rock in a weary 
land."^ Next Sabbath, being 4th September, in my sermon, I 
took occasion, not only to shew the people their danger, but to 
excite them to a due concern for religion and liberty, and to be 
ready to act in defence thereof. But not very long after, I found 
that all was but as the sounding again of the mountains,^ the lying 
stories of enemies so prevailing, that the reflection of some that 
seemed to be somewhat was, that I was more afraid than I needed. 
Finding the heart-staying doctrine of that text was unseasonable, 
because not needed (I mean not to make no exception at all, I 
believe it was seasonable to some, though very very few), I was 
obliged to cut it short; and on Sabbath 25th September, entered 
on Amos iv. 12, "Therefore thus will I do unto thee, Israel: 
and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, 

Israel." And upon this I dwelt for several months of the 
public confusions. Sabbath, 2nd October, in the morning, I 
received a letter from one of the lieutenant-deputes for our shire, 
with an intimation for all betwixt sixteen and sixty to rendezvous 
at Selkirk on the 6th, and desiring me to send the roll of these to 
the review. I called for one reckoned the most judicious of our 
elders, and proposed to him a meeting of the parish at the kirk 
on the 4th ; which he quickly agreed to. I desired him to speak 
with some others, and give me notice ere I went into the pulpit, 
if it was their mind that the parish should meet, that I might 
warn them from the pulpit. The intimation being read by the 
precentor, I exhorted accordingly ; and having received notice, as 
above said, I intimated the meeting. When they met on the 4th, 

1 told them, I w^ould not take it on me to make a roll of the 
fencible men, but proposed to them to make it themselves. 
Accordingly it was done, and I gave them my roll ; out of which 
they made anotlier, casting out and putting in as the meeting 
thought fit : but I wrote it. When this work begun, I foreboded 
my ease in this place (which never was great) to be at an end ; 
they usually wreaking themselves on the ministers as the cause 
of all public evils. I was not out in my conjectures : for accord- 

1 [Works, IX. 220.] - [Ezek. vii. 7.] 

t7is-i7i7\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 2^3 

ingly they gave themselves the loose, and that very night I heard 
of burning my house, etc., upon the account of that day's work. 
However, on the morrow I drew up an address for them, and went 
towards Selkirk, the place of the review, to help them all I could. 
Next day, within two miles of the place, several of the parish 
being in company, the elder aforesaid, who also was present at 
the making of the roll, fell on me bitterly in that matter. And 
there was not a man that had a mouth to open in my behalf, in 
all the company, except one servant, who (as he told me) spoke 
to him secretly : but another told me, he heard me reflected on 
upon that score.^ I saw myself hardly bestead, and evil rewarded 
for good: and therefore desired tliem to meet me in the town, 
further to consider of the matter. There while I was sitting with 
them, in great distress, not knowing what to do, and not having 
as yet entered on the business, I was called to speak with one in 
another room ; with whom conversing, being a brother of the 
presbytery, I found the review of his parish had been made 
without a roll. Thus Providence most seasonably discovered a 
way to extricate me out of this perplexity ; and calling for the 
roll from the clerk, I secretly burnt it, shewing them I would 
rather undergo censure from others, than fill their hearts with 
prejudice against me, to whom I must preach next Lord's day, 
and giving them the address, I left them, and went to the 
presbytery, which (unknown to me before) met that day; for 1 
had no other design in the town that day, but to see their business 
managed equitably. The issue was, all the rest of the parishes 
called thither that day were reviewed, and the rolls produced : 
ours was called ; but none were in the town when called, except 
a few, none of whom answered. 

The southern army of rebels being a-forming, several went 
through our parish in their way to the appointed place. On 
Saturday, 8th October, their general, with seven or eight with 

him, lodged at C m and C e,'- and the standard with 

them, which fell as they were riding by T.^ barn-yard. On the 

Monday's night lodged the Earl of Winton at M p,'* and about 

as many with him. On the Tuesday,^ while I was at T. I saw 
seventeen pass by. The water being exceeding great, I was in 

^ [/.c. as having no defender.] - [Crookwelcom(e) and Crosslee.] 

» [Tushielaw. ] •» [Midgehop(c). ] 

* [" On the llth (Tuesday) the Jacobites, under Lords Kenmure and Carnwath, 
assembled in the neighbourhood of Loch Maben. . . . They then marched to 
Moffat, where they had made arrangements to meet tlie Earl of Winton and his 
party."— Hill Burton, AlIL (1897) 291.] 


fear they would lodge about the kirk all night. So being in 
concern for my family, I made after them ; but being come to Ri 
I saw them on the other side, and was thankful. On the Thursday 
we were alarmed with their new army's being at Moffat : and at 
night a brother whom they had taken prisoner by the way, but 
dismissed again, came to my house, and told us, they were on 
their way to Dumfries. Which made us fear blood there that 
night, the country about having gone into the town to resist 
them. The rebels not daring to attack them, turned eastward. 
But all this did not awaken us. 

The highlanders having landed at Northberwick the latter 
end of this week,- an intimation was made on Sabbath, the 16th, 
by the lieutenant-depute's orders, intreating all to meet at Kelso, 
with their best arms, on the morrow, to receive orders, so as the 
country might be defended. And I had a letter from one of 
them, to come on the head of our parish, to the place where our 
shire was to meet, that they might go together to Kelso, being I 
was to go to the synod, which met on Tuesday the 18th. I 
exhorted the people, and read to them Prov. xxiv. 11, 12, "If 
thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those 
that are ready to be slain : if thou sayest. Behold, we knew it not : 
doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it ? and He that 
keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it ? and shall not He render 
to every man according to his works ? " Judg. v. 14-23, " Out 
of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek ; after thee, 
Benjamin, among thy people : out of Machir came down governors, 
and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer. And 
the princes of Issachar were with Deborah : even Issachar, and 
also Barak : he was sent on foot into the valley. For the divisions 
of Eeuben there were great thoughts of heart. Why abodest 
thou among the sheep-folds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks ? 
For the divisions of Eeuben there were great searchings of heart. 
Gilead abode beyond Jordan : and why did Dan remain in ships ? 
Asher continued on the seashore, and abode in his breaches. 
Zebulun and Naphtali w^ere a people that jeoparded their lives 
unto the death in the high places of the field. The kings came 
and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Tanaach by the 
waters of Megiddo ; they took no gain of money. They fought 
from heaven ; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. The 
river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river 
Kishon. my soul, thou hast trodden down strength. Then 

' [Ramsaycleuch.] ^ [On the night of Wednesday the 12th.] 

1712-1717] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 295 

were the horse-hoofs broken by the means of the pransings, the 
pransings of their mighty ones." I went off on Alonday, but not 
one person more out of the parish ; nay, I could not have so much 
as an elder to go to the synod. The rebels who were at Hawick 
on the Lord's day, were expected on the Monday at Selkirk ; ^ so 
I knew not whether I could get to Kelso or not. However, I 
resolved, if possible, to be there. And from that time the Lord 
graciously gave me an unusual courage, which continued with me 
always till the danger was over, and I came home ; and then my 
spirit returned to its ordinary. I met with no trouble that day, 
nor did the rebels come to Selkirk at that time. 

On Tuesday the 18th, when I went into Kelso, the horse 
were out to observe the enemy, and the town was looking for 
their approach to attack them, for they were at Jedburgh the 
night before. People from all corners, and from our neighbouring 
parish of Yarrow particularly, had come in to the help of the Lord 
against the mighty ; which made me ashamed, considering that 
there was none of ours there. The thoughts of the synod's 
meeting, and the sermon, were given over for that day at least, in 
respect of these circumstances ; and it cost Mr. Wilson and me 
no little struggle ere we could obtain them ; which at length, 
with much difficulty, we did, about three in the afternoon, being 
desirous to be found in the way of duty, whatever should happen. 
The synod appointed a committee to draw up a warning against 
the present rebellion ; who meeting that night, and discoursing a 
little on it, left it on me to prepare a draft thereof: but I 
refused it, not daring to undertake it, from a real persuasion of 
my unfitness for it. So when the synod met next day, there was 
nothing done in that affair. Whereupon the synod appointed Mr. 
Ramsay and me forthwith to withdraw, and bring in one ; which, 
with much reluctancy, for my own part, I obeyed. So we brought 
in a paper ; in the framing of which, it was acknowledged, with 
the no small joy of several brethren, that the Lord had honoured 
me to do good service to the church.^ It passed with little 
difficulty, in respect of the present circumstances. that I 

^ [At Hawick, alarmed at the smalluess of tlieir force, the rebels had determined 
to return, and had actually marched two miles in the direction of Selkirk, when 
news reached them of the rising in Northumberland. Turning, they marched to 
Jedburgh, and on Wednesday readied Kothbiiry.] 

" [Not a few Synods at this time, led by the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, 
published earnest admonitions to persons of all ranks in their congregations to 
quit themselves like men for tbeir king, for their people, and for the house of 
their God. Struthers, Hist. I. 318.] 


could learn from this, not to shift occasions of doing service, 
when I am called thereto, though it may appear a burden too 
heavy for my shoulders ! The synod rising that day, I came off 
in the afternoon ; but immediately my horse failed ; and with 
much difficulty getting to Mackerston, I was obliged to hire 
another there to carry me to Maxton. It was as plain to me, as 
if written with a sun-beam, that God was, by that, contending 
with me for a heart-sin hid from all the world, namely, the mis- 
giving of my treacherous heart, upon those pieces of service the 
Lord honoured me with at the synod : for tho' Mr. Wilson's zeal 
did excite me much to the former, and the cowardly weakness of 
my heart frighted me from the latter, till I was in some sort 
compelled to it ; yet when they were done, such was the base 
weakness of my spirit, that I could not carry even under the 
same, but wofully miscarried through vanity, as if poor I had 
been somewhat. But thanks be to a good God, that quickly 
pursued me, till T was laid low again. This is not the first time, 
that, on such occasions, I have fallen into this shameful sin, and 
quickly have been rebuked for it. I desire, in time coming, to 
watch on such occasions, if ever I have more, which God may 
justly deny me. The enemies passed on Tuesday toward 
Northumberland, not coming near Kelso. So the people dropped 
away. When I came home, I found, that a report having come 
that day I went away, that the rebels were coming down Tima, 
several were in no small consternation and confusion : but by 
kind Providence, it was kept from my wife's knowledge till 
the fright was over; wherein I could not but observe the 
Lord's hand eminent. The army aforesaid having joined the 
Northumberland rebels, and the highlanders having come from 
Lothian, and all joined together, they came to Kelso on 
Saturday the 22nd.^ 

Sabbath, 23rd October, I read the paper aforesaid, according 
to appointment, before the congregation ; enlarged on the par- 
ticulars, and laid before them the singularity of their carriage, in 
the present conjuncture ; which was the more heavy to me, in 
respect of my circumstances concerning the oath. This week one 
came running, and another riding full speed to me, telling me the 
highlanders were at Thirlestane ; whereupon presently I went up 
the brook, and then towards the head of the hill, my family being 
in great distress, expecting to be plundered. A little after, one 

^ [For their doings there, especially ou Sabbath and Monday, see Hill Burton, 
VIII. (1897), 296 se(?.] 

nI2-I7l^^ mr. thomas boston 297 


came and told me, it was a false alarm ; but in my eyes it was a 
kind providence that I was tried with a false alarm, before I 
should get a true one. Next Sabbath, being the 30th, upon a 
report tliat the rebels were coming our way toward the west, I 
was advised to set watches in time of sermon. Accordingly one 
was set on E. hill, another on E. hill.^ The Lord gave a calm 
within, and there was no disturbance from without. Sabbath, Gth 
November, an order from the general, inviting men to the King's 
service, was read. I sat till it was done ; but knowing it would 
be in vain as to us, as it was, I said nothing. The issue of it was, 
that I found I had the concern of religion in the war to teach 
again : which gave occasion to these notes in the Sermons, p. 72,^ 
App. No. 2. 

\Wi November, Sabbath. — Tiie which day the battle of 
Dumblane ^ was fought ; and that day also they fought at Preston, 
beginning on the Saturday ; but it was the Alonday at noon ere 
all was over. The said day an order was read for our parish to 
set out four militia-men. The letter about it came not to me, 
till I was in the pulpit : but the sermons were so pat to the 
emergent, that not having the desired effect, they proved 
irritating; which shortly after I felt. Now they could shift no 
longer; so they went about it, not owning me in the least in it, 
nor I them. Only notes of the sermon were invidiously used 
against me. The four men they hired all out of the parish, 
except one, who had been a while in it. Masters and servants, 
and old men, all paid alike 5s. 6d. sterling, which occasioned 
great clamour. And being singular in this, beyond all their 
neighbours, the managers were ashamed of it. My servant being 
called among the rest, I found means to shew them, that I 
thought he was not obliged to pay. But about the 22nd or 
23rd of November, a constable, with three militia-men, came to 
my house, and, by orders, they said, from a principal heritor of 
the parish, demanded the militia-money for my servant, and my 
son (not fourteen years of age); and, failing him, for myself. 
And they shewed me the roll, wherein I saw my son and servant's 
name. I told them, that I regarded no such orders. Thus my 
shewing them their duty, was resented with sufficient contempt. 

' [There are no hills -with these initials near the church. Perhaps the refer- 
ence is to the liigh farm-ground of Ettrickhall and Kamsaycleuch, almost opposite 
each other and within a mile of the church. A shepherd speaks of his hill in that 
sense. ] 

- [These sermons are not in 184S Works. See App. 2, p. 486.] 
^[Lc. SherifTmuir.] 


The servant paid. That day I left them at Selkirk, I made an 
overture to the presbytery, that ministers should contribute to 
the raising of men for the support of the government; which 
being fallen in with by them, was ordered to be laid before the 
synod ; and I spoke to a man with that view. But the synod, at 
that time, saw it not needful to go into it. That morning I went 
off to the synod, I did secretly advise Tushilaw ^ to call the heads 
of the parish (seeing I was so unacceptable to them in these 
matters), and counsel them to look to themselves, and offer some 
men to the government voluntarily. But this advice was 
rejected by him. So I would heartily have given of my money 
in a suitable way ; but to be compelled thereto, and that by them, 
was what I could not comply with. 

Being wrestled out of breath with the parish, in this time it 
began to sit down on my spirit very much, beyond what it had 
done formerly, that I was very unfit for them, and that they 
would require a man of another temper. And the first day of 
December being the last day for the oath, after which I could 
not preach more with the countenance of authority according to 
law, I began to be very apprehensive, that my work in this place 
was near an end. And several things concurred to the strength- 
ening of it. On the last Sabbath of November, being the 27th, I 
fell on that part of the text,^ namely, preparation for trials, which, 
though the main thing I had in view when I chose that text, yet 
providence kept me off till then, several things coming forth in 
the breaking, very seasonable. When I was about to study that 
sermon, consulting former notes, I was somewhat moved to find, 
that that was the last subject I handled at Simprin before the 
farewell-sermon. 8th November was the first diet for examina- 
tion, which day proved so stormy, that I could not get out. On 
the 10th, in another place, I had a diet, where I was attended but 
wnth one man, and a few women and children. In other three 
places after, it was not very much better. My wife was much of 
the same apprehension as I, and observed that I preached as 
when I was to leave Simprin. My getting through the ten 
commands looked like my getting through those subjects I was 
on in the last months I was in that place. And my present 

1 [Michael Andison or Anderson of Tushielaw, who purchased the estate in 1688 
from his brother-in-law, Walter Scott, last laird of that name, and in whose family- 
it remains to this day. He was a thorn in the flesh to the minister of Ettrick. 
Of. Angus, Ettrick mid Yarrow, 43-4. Lovers of poetry will recall Hogg's Queen's 
IFakc, where the Fourteenth Bard's song is " Mary Scott of Tushielaw."] 

" [Amos iv. 12.] 

17 12-17 n\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 299 

circumstances answered to the uneasiness I had from neighbours, 
ere I left that place. What the Lord's design in these things is, 
I know not yet : but in my circumstances they could hardly miss 
to make some impression. 

\st Deceiiiber. — Being the last day for taking the oath, I spent 
some time in fasting and prayer, I found my courage for suffering 
was not such as on the former occasion of this oath. Thougli I 
could not ward off the thoughts of that foresaid, yet I desiderated 
such an impression of the thing as might make me speak to them 
as about to leave them ; therefore I begged to be led of God, 
whether I saw or not, as He had led me to my amazement, for 
some time past, and so left it on Him. At night my natural spirits 
being sunk, I was sore broken and discouraged, seeing the law so 
hard upon the one hand, and the parish on the other. This held 
me under for three days following. That same night, I think, the 
Lord made my wife, being sick, and unable to converse, to speak 
two words in season to me. I told her, that I found I had not 
courage for suffering, etc. Her answer was. You need it not yet. 
My heart, said I, is alienated from this place. She answered, It 
seems there is need for it. This matter of the oath I altogether 
kept up from the people, looking for no sympathy, by the dis- 
covery of it, but ailliction upon my aliliction, if they should know 
of it, as I got the last time I had this trial. Some time before the 
last sacrament, being asked news, I told the elder aforesaid, it was 
said the abjuration-oath would be imposed again. His answer 
was, " I think we must even let you all do as ye like, and strive 
to know Christ and Him crucified ; " as if we had been seeking it, 
or had no conscience, but as guided by them. 

Uh Deccm.her, Sabbath. — Thus shattered and broken in body 
and spirit, I preached my first sermon in my new circumstances ; 
but recovered somewhat ere I came out of the pulpit. That very 
same day, Mr. Taylor, who has made a new schism,^ preached in 
Eskdalemoor, got several of this parish to hear him, and those 
such as were not wont to wander, whatever number he had of 
others formerly of another temper. At night I heard of two new 
deserters said to be broke off from me, one whereof I was told 
broke off on account of my meddling in the rolls aforesaid. The 
burthen of the parish lies on me alone, having no tolerable support 
of my interest in it, from any. And the word not having efficacy 
on people's consciences, and those of the schism being in every 
corner of it, it is little wonder poor I am unable to stem the tide. 

1 [See p. 272.] 


I have for some time been much afraid of being cast over the 
hedge ; but otherwise an honourable discharge from Him who sent 
me hither, has often been beautiful in my eyes. But when I 
think on leaving them, the case they will apparently run into in 
these circumstances, is terrible to me. So I am tossed as from 
one sharp rock upon another every way. 

The conduct of Providence in leading me in my preaching, 
in this place, has often been remarkable ; but never more so than 
of late amidst these discouragements. Since the 4th of September 
that I preached first to stir up the people as above said,^ what day 
the lecture fell, Jer. iv., where we had a most lively description of 
the calamities of war, etc., I have often been amazed to see the 
Lord leading me in lectures and sermons, in my ordinary, so pat 
to the dispensations of the day, as they fell out one after another, 
and to my own case with the parish, that I could not but say, 
This is the finger of God. The Sabbath after the rendezvous at 
Selkirk, the lecture fell Jer. ix. ; the Sabbath after the victories, 
Jer. XV. ; the Sabbath after the oath, Jer. xvii. ; and few days 
there were, wherein was not something most seasonable in them, 
as may appear by comparing what is noted above with the order 
of the chapters, allowing one to each Sabbath. As for the sermons, 
I have dated that before the battles, Gth November, and that on 
the very day of the battles, 13th November. This has been no 
small stay and support to my heart. 

As to the Fourfold State, though, the rebellion breaking out, 
I saw there was no access to publish it, yet I went on (as the 
time would allow), and by the 21st of November had the three 
first states transcribed, minding to do no more till I see what 
comes of that. I have often and again committed it to the Lord, 
and for preservation particularly that day foresaid, if He have any 
use for it. For now it has been, and often is heavy to me, that 
the season of publishing it is slipt; and the confusion of the 
times has made me afraid of the losing of the copy ; and, to my 
apprehension, the fittest season for publishing it is gone. Only 
I know the Lord has before this served His own holy wise ends, 
by my folly, cowardice, and bastard-modesty,^ in His cause. 1 
have formerly related how the design was stopped when I went 
into Edinburgh, to get it put to the press.^ It was indeed an 

1 [P. 292.] 

^ [Of. Sermon, Ex. xxiv. 11, Works, X. 119. " It is bastard humility to belie 
the grace of God."] 
3 [Pp. 275-276.] 

I7i2-J7i7'\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 301 

ungrateful advice given to me in the time ; but the thing being 
so feasible, I thought I could not in modesty resist it. The kind 
reception the printed sermon got, recovered my courage and 
resolution for the book; though some professors of this parish, 
my constant hearers, thought it not enough to slight that sermon 
when printed, but not obscurely shewed their grudge and indigna- 
tion against it, on no other reason I can divine, but that they 
grudge anything tending to my reputation. In the transcribing, 
several things are left out, with a design to shorten it, some 
few things put in, scripture-texts filled up that were only cited 
before, a great many expressions altered, and the copy divided 
into chapters or sections, or what else may be thought meet to 
call them. And for these causes I undertook the transcribing of 
it. It was a remark of Mr. Flint's on the state of grace, that the 
texts cited were often not filled up. And an observe of Mr. 
Hallyburton's, in the Memoirs of his life, namely. That when he 
found the word had done good, it was usually God's own word in 
the scripture, brought in in his sermons,^ carried that remark 
home on my conscience which Mr. Flint had made. And by this 
means I suppose it will be found little shorter, if anything at all, 
than formerly. I heard no more of the sermons at Morbattle, 
the rebellion breaking out soon after. 

In the first week of January 1716, I was, by the good hand 
of God upon me, moved yet again, to attempt inquiring into what 
Mr. Cross calls the Taghmical Art, viz., the sacred stigmatology, 
or accentuation of the Hebrew Bible. And having by prayer 
addressed the Father of lights expressly on that particular. He 
was graciously pleased to help me afterwards therein, to my great 
satisfaction. And I came to be persuaded of its being of so great 
use for understanding the holy Scriptures, that, it being a time 
of great confusions, I was satisfied I might have full peace within 
myself, to be found by public troubles in the study thereof.^ 

And here began the most busy time of my life, which 
continued while my strength lasted. 

16^7t Jamutry. — Being on my way to Edinburgh, on the account 
of a project on foot for clearing the nonjurors to the government, 
daylight failed us between the Craig and Blackhouse, there was 
a drift in our face, and we were in fear of wandering ; yet came 
safe to Blackhouse, almost senseless w^th the stress. While I 
went up that burn, walking, not daring to ride, that word, " Lord, 

^ [HalyburtoTi, Memoirs, IV. iii. (Jolmst.) 191.] 

^ [I.e. through his being found in that study, owing to the public troubles.] 


Thou preservest man and beast, how precious is Thy grace ! 
Therefore in shadow," etc., was sweet and encouraging. There 
was no proceeding in the journey for the storm : so coming back 
again on the morrow, I wondered how we had got through in the 
night in that case, having so much ado with it in the daylight. 

After I had ended my ordinary on Amos iv. 12, " Prepare to 
meet thy God," etc., before I had access so much as to enter on 
another, there began a distress in our parish, by a storm, such as 
they had not felt for forty-two years before. And this led me to a 
new ordinary, viz. Eom. viii. 22, " For the whole creation groaneth, 
and travaileth in pain together until now." ^ I entered on it 
22nd January, and continued till 4th March. The Lord's day 
was such, that but few could come out. I had once thoughts of 
taking another subject ; but the discourse being so seasonable, and 
believing that He who had given me that, could give me more, I 
resolved to preach it, however few should hear it. So to a few 
in the house I delivered it with much satisfaction. 

Since, by reason of the woful unconcernedness of the people 
in the public cause, I could not appoint a congregational fast for 
the King's army, for the Lord's help to them, I had no confidence 
to move for one upon the account of the storm, which was our 
private cause in a special manner, and heavy to the parish, and 
by which I saw the Lord was pleading against us on account of 
our unconcernedness about the public cause. Therefore, on the 
morrow after, being the 23rd, I kept a family -fast for both, and, 
as to myself in particular, for the divine assistance in the study 
of the Hebrew accentuation. And being helped to confidence in 
the Lord as my God, I was made the more freely to lay out my 
requests before Him. As to the study of the Hebrew accentuation, 
nobody, considering what pains I had been at to understand Mr. 
Cross's book, and that the Hebrew Bible was my delight, will 
doubt but by this time I had some notion of that accentuation, 
however lame, dark, and confused : and I resolved to put in 
writing what I thought I had reached of it, to the end I might 
not forget it. 

%icl February?- — We kept a fast by order of the presbytery. 
The Lord heard the prayers of His people ; and on the Saturday 
thereafter, the thaw began. The storm aforesaid was followed 
with an extraordinary mortality in our parish, such as none, I 
could hear of, pretended to remember of the like therein : and I 
heard of no such thing neither, in the places about. My dear 
1 [Works, IX. 263.] - [Thursday.] 

J7 12-1717'] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 303 

child Katherine died among the rest. In April the mortality 

Tlnd February. — Last Lord's day being quite out of case ere 
I went into the pulpit, I prayed to the Lord ; and remarkably He 
heard me, and made all right beyond expectation. I have been 
most comfortably surprised with discoveries of the Lord's mind 
in His word of the Hebrew text, which He has been pleased to 
make to me by means of its accentuation. Particularly, the 
discovery of the true sense of that passage. Gen. xlix. 10, by 
that means, did so affect, strike, and transport me, that it did 
most sensibly affect my very body, and that from head to foot.^ 
And by the light into the Lord's word so given me, I have found 
my soul sanctified, and made to love the Lord. This makes me 
to account the better of these titles of the law, as divine. By 
this means I am persuaded, that these accents are the key to the 
true version and sense of the Hebrew text. 

1\st March. — This day we spent some time in family humilia- 
tion and prayer, on the account of the death of our youngest 
child Katherine, who departed on the 12th instant; and the 
hand of the Lord still on Thomas and Alison by the chincough ; 
also for the state of the public ; and as to myself, for my study 
of the accentuation. That child was very comfortable to me; 
but I bless Him I was helped to part with her; and saw and 
believed much of the Lord's goodness in that dispensation. 
Coming home from Selkirk on the 2nd instant, and thinking on 
the time of the land's trial, I had two main questions as to my 
family. The one was the case of that dear child, the other the 
then case of my wife. I dare not say I was faithless as to either, 
but believed God could see to them very well in the worst of my 
circumstances. As soon as I came home, I found the Lord was 
in His way to answer the last ; and shortly after the other was 
hid. I never had such a clear and comfortable view of the Lord's 
having other use for children than our comfort ; for which ends 
He removes them in infancy ; so that they are not brought to the 
world in vain. I saw reason to bless the Lord, that I had been 
made the father of six children, now in the grave, and that were 
with me but a very short time; but none of them lost; I will 
see them all at the resurrection. That clause in the covenant, 

^ The author, in a manuscript, containing a new translation of the last fourteen 
chapters of Genesis, thus translates this passage: "The sceptre shall not depart 
from Judah ; and a lawgiver, from between his feet : until that Shiloh come ; and 
to him le, the gathering of the people." [See, too, his Tract. Stigm. p. 76.] 


"And the God of thy seed," was sweet and full of sap. The 
mortality in our parish is not over yet, though I hoped my child 
had closed it : but just while I was writing this, I heard of the 
death of a mother of four small children, who I am told has not 
been well these twenty days, but never lay ; was better yesterday, 
but carried off at night by a sickness, so far as I could understand, 
not above two hours long. Alas ! we have provoked our God. 

By the awful voice of Providence continuing, I was led to 
Zech. xii. 12, "And the land shall mourn, every family apart," 
etc., on which I dwelt from 11th March till 20th May; and for 
some time after, on Ps. cxxvi. 5, " They that sow in tears, shall 
reap in joy." ^ Upon the former of these I pressed the duty of 
personal and family fasting, among other things. And this was 
not without fruit. I knew that some were engaged in these 
duties; particularly James Biggar's family, on which the hand 
of the Lord lay long and heavy, and carried off several of them ; 
in their death, as in their life, comfortable to me, as above said.^ 

Immediately after the family-fast of 23rd January, I pursued 
my resolution of putting in writ what I thought I had reached 
of the accentuation ; the which I reckoned, when I began it, I 
might comprise in two or three leaves : but even what I designed 
for introduction thereto, swelled to about six sheets; and was 
not finished till 23rd March ; the bread, by the divine blessing, 
increasing in the breaking. Eeading the Hebrew Bible, I was 
most pleasurably, beyond what one can readily without feeling 
imagine, surprised with discoveries of the Lord's mind in His 
word; by means of that intrinsic light I perceived it to be 
illuminated with, by its own accentuation. Thus I came to be 
fully persuaded, as of what I saw with my eyes, that the accents 
are the true key to the genuine version and sense of the Hebrew 
text ; and that they are divine. As from time to time, in that 
happy study, I met with new discoveries of that nature, I often 
thought with myself. What a trifle my digging up gold in some 
mine I might have fallen upon in Peru or elsewhere, would have 
been, in comparison of this, which I found in my accentuated 
Hebrew Bible ! 

Just on the morrow after my finishing of what I designed for 

1 The author afterwards transcribed his uotes on Zech. xii. 12, and they were 
published in 1734, under the title of A memorial concerning personal and family 
fasting, annexed to his View of the covenant of grace [Works, XI. 343] ; and the 
sermons on Ps. cxxvi. 5, were published in 1772, in a small collection, with some 
other of his sermons. 

- [See p. 226,] 

nis-nn^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 305 

introduction, and have now 80 intitled, came to my hand 
Wasmuth's Institutio accentuaiionis Hehrcecv; the which I took 
for a token for good. Having glanced it the week following, I 
found it miring, and perceived that it wanted the tables often 
tlierein mentioned. So I was set anew to turn my eyes towards 
the Lord, from whom my help behoved to come ; and to depend 
on Him for that effect. And here I cannot but admire and adore 
the conduct of sovereign wisdom towards me in that matter. I 
had no character of Wasmuth aforehand, to prepossess me ; and 
before his book came to my hand, I was set a-seeking the know- 
ledge of the accentuation, by the study of the sacred Hebrew 
text itself, considering the same as it stood accentuated. And I 
found so many turnings and windings, and heaps of irregulars, 
in that learned man's account of the accentuation, that I saw 
nothing therein to remove me from the method of inquiry I had 
been led unto, to the study thereof instead of it. Upon the 
account of the defect above mentioned, that copy of Wasmuth's 
book was returned ; and some time after, I got another copy 
thereof having the tables, the which is yet among my books. 

About this time I received letters from Edinburgh, moving 
the reprinting of the Everlasting Espousals, because of the con- 
tinued demand for the same : the which, after being laid before 
the Lord, and considered, was ordered to be done. So in a short 
time after, there was a second edition of that sermon. 

2Uh March. — An old temptation recurred : but I bless God 
the edge of it is now much blunted, in comparison of what it has 
been. But my heart bleeds afresh for my dear child Katherine. 

On 29th March I began to make collections on the accents 
themselves; encouraged, and more fitted thereto, by what had 
fallen out, in the case of the aforesaid introduction, which is in 
retentis. Eeading the sacred text, I studiously gathered what I 
could observe. And what was of great use to me, as my pole- 
star in this study, was a notion, which by the discoveries afore- 
said I was confirmed in ; namely, That the true construction of 
the words of the text was to be determined by their accentuation, 
as the rule thereof to us ; and not the power or value of the 
accents, by what seemed to us the construction of the words. 
This natural and most rational point was, I think, originally 
owing to my reading somewhere in Cross's Taghmical Art, that 
the verbs of the first hemistich, Ps. ii. 2, were to be repeated 
in the following one. I very well remember that that had a 
particular light with it to me. And accordingly, considering 


other texts at this rate, and thereby obtaining convincing dis- 
coveries of their true sense, I was fixed in that point : so 
Wasmuth's notion of the ambulatory value of the accents, could 
not take with me. 

1'^th April. — This day I kept a secret fast, 1. To seek light in 
the matter of a transportation to Legertwood,^ proposed to me 
when at the synod ; in the matter of adding to the eldership here ; 
my wife's journey to Fife ; the determining about the celebration 
of the sacrament ; and the disposing of the MS. on the Fourfold 
State of Man. 2. To seek the Lord's presence and help in my 
study of the accentuation, and His blessing on the second edition 
of the sermon, now, I suppose, in the press. 3. On the account 
of the affliction of my wife and cliildren, and of James Biggar's 
family, Mr. Borthwick, Lev-Muir.^ 4. The case of the church, the 
parish, and the vacancy of Simprin. These things I laid before 
the Lord, with some confidence in Himself, minding to hang on 
for them. The mortality is ceased. 

4^7i May. — But alas ! I found, three or four days ago, that I 
had not hung on ; and therefore God has pursued me with 
darkness in the point of the sacrament, being extremely perplexed 
and embarrassed in that matter, which should have been deter- 
mined on Wednesday last, but I am not cleared in it as yet. I 
have seen my mismanagement, in that I have not prayed and 
thought about it more; and have got a dear-bought lesson, to 
pursue by thinking, for light, in what I consult God by prayer. 

Meanwhile, since that time, some tilings have looked better 
in the parish. On the day after, the examination was frequented 
unordinarily. On the Lord's day two contumacious persons 
submitted. On Tuesday, one that has been of the new separation 
by Mr. Taylor ^ near a year bygone, and whom I parted with last 
summer as no more one of my flock, came to me, and acknowledged 
her sin ; declaring, that from the Sabbath night after I had spoke 
with her, she had no rest in her mind ; but that that wore off in 
some measure, yet a great while ago returned more vigorously ; 
that it has worsted her private case, and wishing never any might 
do as she had done, and bring such bitterness to their own souls. 
These things had weight against the business of Legertwood. 

lltli May, Friday. — I was almost on the 9th resolved to 

^ [Legerwood. The previous minister, Rev. James Campbell, M.A., had been 

deposed in 1714 for immorality. In January 1717 the Rev. Thomas Old, M. A., was 
settled as his successor. ] 

-[? Misprint.] 3 [P. 272,1 

I7i2-i7n^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 307 

celebrate the sacrament on the first Sabbath of June, and to 
venture over difficulties standing in the way, minding to seek 
the Lord on Saturday morning for a full determination. But this 
night arrived an express from Mr. Murray, obtesting me, as I 
would not have a hand in strengthening a most sinful schism, to 
come and assist him on the last Sabbath of this month at the 
communion there. This carried my perplexity to the height. I 
went to the Lord with this, took with my sin in not insisting as 
aforesaid after the fast, endeavoured and was helped to believe 
over the belly of that provocation. Thereafter I found the light 
clearing, to my answering of that call to Penpont ; and having sent 
for two elders, they advised to it. Thus I was both punished for 
that sin, and matters were kept open for sending me thither. I 
have but four elders at tliis time, but design an additional number. 
While assisting at that sacrament, was conceived a project of 
transporting me to Closeburn, a parish in that neighbourhood ; of 
which I shall take more notice afterwards. 

\^th July. — On the 15th the sacrament was celebrated here. 
The fast-day was extraordinary stormy with wind and rain ; but 
the three days fair ; and for some time before, and since, there has 
not been one fair day to an end. On Wednesday, in studying my 
action-sermon, I was sore bound up ; and little better on the 
Tuesday afternoon, when I began it. But on the Thursday, being 
the fast-day, the Lord sent us two sermons with much of His 
countenance : hence my heart was loosed, and I resolved to try 
the study of the sermon again. Accordingly on the morrow I 
studied the last half of it anew, to more satisfaction to myself. It 
was delivered with some measure of solid seriousness. But in the 
invitation I was straitened, and yet more in the prayer for con- 
secration of the elements : I laboured to improve the declaring of 
them no more common bread and wine, yet not with the desired 
effect. But my spirit opened a little ere the table was ended. I 
communicated as I preached. The work, from the beginning to 
the end, had a savour of God upon it ; felt, I am persuaded, in the 
spirits of many : and His servants were remarkably helped in their 

Having been at the communion in Maxton 12th August, and at 
the presbytery for Mr. B.'s business on the 14th, I have to remark, 
1. The Lord's hearing of the joint prayers of His people, and that 
in two instances. One was, I had been led in the Saturday's 
sermon, which was on Ex. xxiv. 11,^ to beseech for and require 

1 [Works, X. 99.] 


the prayers of serious Christians, for the private cases of ministers, 
which I doubt not had influence on several of that sort in the 
meeting ; and it went well with me at that communion. I think 
I saw the lights ^ spoke of in that sermon, and believed. The 
other was my wife, who minded to have been there, but was 
taken ill just the night before I went away ; her case was 
remembered not only in private, but in the public prayers, as 
one kept from that occasion by the afflicting hand of God. And 
the Lord made it a good time to her soul. 2. The hearing of 
prayer, and the good fruit of dependence on the Lord in presbyterial 
management, being sensibly assisted to a clear uptaking of matters 
in that difficult business. 3. The Lord's leading the blind by the 
way they knew not, being sweetly surprised with a providential 
management of matters, in two particulars, to a better account 
than otherwise the}'' could have been brought. 

As I came by Closeburn house,^ in my return home from the 
communion at Penpont in the end of May, the chaplain met me, 
and told me, that at supper on the Sabbath night they were 
speaking of transporting me to that parish. He had no orders 
that I know of to speak of it to me ; so I gave a suitable return, 
without any shadow of encouragement. When Mr. Murray was 
at the sacrament here in July, he proposed it to me in earnest ; 
and I, with all the earnestness I was capable of, discouraged the 
motion : so that I thought it might be laid aside. But some time 
in harvest I received a letter from him, shewing that the parish 
of Closeburn were to apply to their presbytery for that effect. 
This letter I judged meet neither to make public, nor yet to keep 
altogether secret ; so I imparted the purpose of it to one of our 
elders. And about the 11th of September 1 wrote a most pathetic 
return, to stop that procedure of that parish. 

At the which time I was writing my collections on Silluk, in 
a folio book I had prepared for putting down my materials in.s 
And herein I so prospered, by the good hand of my God upon me, 
that, as I reckon, I began from that time to apprehend, tliat this 
business I had engaged in, for my own private benefit only, might 
possibly in end turn to a book for public use. And all along 
thereafter, until it was done, I looked upon that study as the 
business of my life. 

^ [Q. Sights: ft'c^e sermon 2?assM/i.] 

^ [Closeburn House, then inhabited by the proprietor, Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 
was burned down in 1748 by some drunken servants.] 
' [See Tract. Stigm. S5.] 

IT 12-17 ii\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 309 

About the end of this month of September, came an account 
to our parish, that a call to Closeburn ^vas drawn up for me. 
Herewith they were much alarmed ; and, in their own rough way, 
shewed a mighty concern for my continuance among them. And 
thus the trouble of the parish about me began just about the time 
wherein, the year preceding, my trouble with tliem was going to 
the highest pitch. 

What influence the awful steps of Providence that followed 
upon this last, as above narrated, had upon them, I cannot say. 
But as the spring of comfort, from the study aforesaid, was most 
seasonably struck up to me in my closet, when without I was so 
much oppressed ; so, about the latter end of April, some things in 
the parish began to look with a better face towards my encourage- 
ment, as I have related above, p. 306, insomuch that they had 
weight with me against a transportation to Legertwood, which at 
the April synod had been proposed to me ; so as I had been 
obliged seriously to seek the Lord's mind in it, and was one of the 
causes of the secret fast above mentioned. Moreover, whereas the 
session had been reduced to a very small number, by death and 
otherwise, I prevailed this summer to get their number increased : 
so that, on 12 th July, being the fast-day before the sacrament, 
there were seven added to the eldership.^ Among these seven 
was Thomas Linton in Chapelhop, a man of weight and activity ; 
who, together with another elder, and Michael Anderson younger 
of Tushilaw, went in December to Closeburn, by conference and 
reasoning to divert the storm of the designed transportation 
thither : but it prevailed not. But tliis was perhaps the last 
journey that Thomas Linton made ; being seized with a sore and 
vehement trouble in his mouth and head, which kept him till he 
died [about the end of the year 1718. He had been a notable 
sufferer in the time of persecution, and spoiled of all his goods ; 
but was become very wealthy : and moreover he had a heart given 
him to do good with his wealth, and was very useful in the country 
that wa}-. On him I bestowed this epitaph, which I suppose is to 
be found on his tombstone in Mary churchyard in Yarrow : 

"All lost for Christ, an hundredfold 
Produc'd, and he became 
A father, eyes, and feet unto 

The poor, the blind, the lame."* 

^ An excellent sermon on 1 Tim. v. 17, preached on this occasion, is inserted in 
the author's Body of Diviidiy, vol. iii. p. Z^clseqq. [Works, II. 239.] 

-[Mr. Garment, F.C. minister of Yarrow, informs me that the stone, a large 
horizontal one, is in the middle of the little cemetery. On the face is the personal 


Tushilaw younger died also not very long after. He was a man 
of a gentle disposition, and likewise was endued with a principle 
of beneficence to mankind ; so that, dying before his father, he 
was much lamented, as a father of the country. 

\M}i Novemhcr. — Being at Edinburgh to put my son to the 
college, and all comfortable views I had had as to the disposing 
of him for his quarters, having failed, I was directed to a stranger : 
but there were some things in that case that disgusted me. I 
had laid the matter over on the Lord ; and behold, at the nick 
of time, when I was come to the last point, just going out at the 
chamber-door, to agree with that person for his quarters, because 
I could do no better, one came to me, and told me of a religious 
private family, which I knew nothing of, desirous of my 
acquaintance, and therefore of entertaining my son. This 
appeared to me the finger of God, and I lodged him there. 
This step of kind Providence was big in my eyes. After 
I came home, I was perplexed as to his learning, fearing 
his rust in that point should expose him ; -.but within three 
wrecks after, by a letter from the boy himself, I was delivered 
from that fear. 

1st January 1717. — I spent some time in prayer, and humilia- 
tion, concerning the affair of Closeburn, my study of the 
accentuation, the case of some aiHicted in the parish, and some 
other particulars in my own case, and that of my family, and 
renewing my covenant with God, not without some soul-advantage 
in the time. By this time I had seen the Lord's jealousy against 
me, for sinking so far under my pressures ; and against the people, 
for their having been such a burden to me. 

I had, on the 19th of the preceding August, begun an ordinary 
of subjects, for pressing unto the life and power of religion ; and, in 
pursuance thereof, preached on walking with God,^ the study of 
the holy Scriptures,^ and the observing of providences.^ But while 
I was on the sweet subject last mentioned I was, by scandals 
abounding at that time, obliged to cut short, and forced away 

notice, and on one of the sloping edges, deeply and clearly cut, is the inscription 
referred to. If it be a fair specimen of B. 's verse, he perhaps did wisely in destroying 
his other efforts.] 

^ The sermons on this subject are printed in the volume, iutitled, The Christian 
Life delineated. [Works, X. 580.] 

- These sermons are inserted in the author's Body of Divinity, vol. i. p. 67 
et seqq. [Works, I. 56.] 

^ These also are inserted in that work, vol. i. p. 260 et seqq. [Works, I. 193.] 
AH the three are Justly esteemed most excellent discourses. 

ly 12-17 17\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 311 

from it (the which hath oftener than once been my lot), unto the 
doctrine of repentance, which I began on 27th January, and, 
pursuing it from several texts, ended it not till the 21st of 
October following.^ But I had no sooner ended the sermons on 
observing of providences, but, by the commencement of the process 
of transportation aforesaid, Providence did, in their sight and 
mine, begin a web which filled both our hearts and hands, till in 
August following it was wrought out. So the very first of these 
sermons on repentance, delivered 27th January, as aforesaid, was 
heard by one or more of the commissioners from Closeburn, who 
had obtained the calling of the presbytery to hear them, on the 
Tuesday after. 

1th February. — This forenoon I spent in secret prayer. My 
ordinary affliction and temptation so set upon me at first, and 
embittered my spirit, that I was like to have given over the work. 
But reading the 59th of Isaiah for my humiliation, that word, 
ver. 19, " When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit 
of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him," met me most 
seasonably when I was as one like to be carried away with a 
flood. I went to God with it, and pleaded it. And though it was 
not presently accomplished ; yet, after about two hours and a half 
heartless work for the most part, it was made out ; the temptation 
was banished away, and my heart was touched with His hand put 
in by the hole of the lock. Among many other ills of my life, I was 
particularly convinced, 1. Of my sin of superficial reading of the 
Scripture, not subjecting my soul, in reading it, unto it, as the 
divine word ; whereby it has come to pass, that I have not had the 
feeling of the power of it that otherwise I might have had. 
2. The remissness of my spirit, and heartlessness, in family- 
worship : 3. Not depending more on the Lord, in the work 
on Ezekiel, that I am now upon. 4. ISTot wrestling with God more 
in secret for the congregation, and some particular persons. Two 
things I had a comfortable view of — 1. An unfeigned desire of 
universal and perfect holiness, however vile I am. 2. That though 
my departures are many. Thou knowest, Lord, that I am 
not wicked, nor have I wickedly departed from Thee ; not daring 
to do deliberately what I think to be an ill thing, and being 
in some measure tender aa to endeavouring to know the mind of 

^This whole course of sermous was published in 1756, in a volume with other 
sermons, except some on Prov. iii. 17, a considerable part of which is now unhappily 
lost. The concluding discourse on that subject is inserted in the Body of Divinity, 
vol. iii. p. 336. [Works, II. 411.] 


God with respect to the way I should go. I was concerned 
in the affair of Closeburn, Dr. Trotter's indisposition, the 
affliction of those of Midgehop/ etc. Concerning the affair of 

Eemark 1. About the time of my great trouble by this 
parish last year, the trouble of this parish by that business began 
this year. 2. The Lord has punished them and me both, as above 
noted, by the terror of the prospect of that affair. 3. Just as I 
was writing this, a stranger came in, and gave me a most 
discouraging account of that parish. 4. I was led this day to 
pray for a blessing on that parish, and some particular persons 
in it. 5. On 29th January, the commissioners for Closeburn 
produced their commissions before our presbytery. I saw what 
I judged a flaw in that from the parish, urged it, and the 
commission was rejected thereupon. AVhat moved me to this was, 
that I thought strict justice did not require the sustaining of 
that commission ; and I durst not make a compliment of it, lest I 
should seem to lead, and not wait to be led by. Providence : and 
I knew not what might be in that minute circumstance. 6. But 
the rejecting of a commission was also the first step in the 
business of the transportation to Etterick. 7. The commissioners 
being in our house on the Wednesday's night before the 
presbytery, the ordinary sung in the family was Ps. xviii. 41- 
45. After we had done with the family-worship, Mr. Murray 
bid me to take notice of ver. 43,^ if I right remember. I took 
little notice of it on that; but on Monday night immediately 
before the presbytery, we sung at their family-worship the same 
part of the 18th psalm, and then I could not but notice it. 
8. While in our house those of that place spoke of the benefice 
there, I cared no more for it, nor was moved by it, than by dirt. 
I bless the Lord, my weak side lies not there : but the Lord let 
me see, that I was not to be secure on that quarter ; for hearing, 
what I yet apprehend may be a lying story, but of that kind, my 
heart was catched ; which I quickly perceived to my shame 
and sorrow ; but through grace I got over it. 9. On the morrow 
after the presbytery, riding with the men commissioners from 
Closeburn, some women came forth, and wept; which much 
moved me, as an emblem of what would likely follow in the event 
of a transportation. So I gave over talking with Mr. Murray, 

' [The Liutous.] 

-["Thou mad'st me free from people's strife, and heathen's head to be: 
A people whom I hare not known shall service do to me. "J 

iyi2-i7i7'\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 313 

with whom I could prevail nothing ; and spoke with the other 
two men, till we parted in a hurry, and they appearing more 
hopeless than ever. This I pursued, and this I had satisfaction 
in, that I had discharged my conscience ; and if they do 
return, it is on all grounds of hope from me (which I never 
designedly gave tliem) razed by me ; so that if there be any 
further procedure in the matter, there is clear ground for holy 
Providence to work on. That word, Ps. Ivi. ult. " Thou hast 
delivered my soul from death ; wilt Thou not deliver my feet from 
falling ? " has been big in my eyes, and often in my mouth, on this 
occasion. And that w^ord this day was staying to my heart in 
some measure, Prov. iv. 12, " When thou goest, thy steps shall not 
be straitened ; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble." 

Tltli February. — On Monday last came Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, 
with two ministers of the presbytery, and W. G. from the parish, 
in their way to Selkirk, to prosecute their call.^ Their coming 
was stunning : they staid about three quarters of an hour. When 
they were gone, I went and poured out my soul to the Lord, and 
was very remarkably carried out, to be very particular, that God 
would frustrate the errand they were going on. Their commission 
was again rejected, and they appealed to the synod. This day 
returning with the two ministers and W. G. their management 
and converse was such, that my heart was extremely set against 
that place. 

On the 27th of March, a congregational fast was kept, at the 
desire of the session, on the account of the threatened desolating 
of the parish, by the transportation foresaid. Three brethren of 
the presbytery, being invited, preached : and that day, an heritor 
of the parish, who all along to that time had deserted my 
ministry, came to the kirk, being zealous for my continuance 
in the place.^ He gave due attendance all along thereafter 
while he lived : but in a few years he died. 

Meanwhile, though that heritor had thus laid aside his 
opposition to me, Satan had beforehand stirred up another 
adversary to fill up his room ; and w^ho was far heavier to me 
than ever he had been. This w^as ^ 

He had been educated under my ministry, 

^ [Unfortunately, the Presbytery Records are blank from 2nd January 1717 to 
2nd December 1719 ; and the earliest extant minutes of Closeburu Session are of 
14th May 1780.] 

- [Cf. p. 214.] 

^ [The minister of Ettrick, in forwarding me the name of the delinquent, adds, 
" But let it remain blank for ever." Amen ! ] 



profited in knowledge, and gave hopeful signs of his seriousness ; 
so that he was admitted to the Lord's table : but he was snared 
with youthful lusts, and first convicted of fornication on 14th 
December 1710, But not being duly humbled on that occasion, 
but making great difficulty in satisfying the discipline, he fell into 
one mire of filthiness after another, some being legally discovered, 
some spurning all means of legal discovery : so that I had almost 
a continual fight with him for many years after. And to this 
day he continues an adversary; only he never deserted the 
ordinances: and I still think he hath some good thing about 
him, that may at length prevail against this profaneness, pride, 
and vanity. 

21th A^ril. — In the end of March my wife and I spent some 
time in prayer on the affair of Closeburn. Last week the synod 
sustained the commission rejected by the presbytery, appointed 
the presbytery to meet on this affair on the first Tuesday of June, 
allowing the pursuers to appeal to the synod, to meet on the third 
Wednesday of June; and this, that there might be no ground 
of complaining of them to the general assembly. Howbeit, the 
pursuers appealed to the general assembly. Yesterday I spent 
some time in prayer, laying the call of Closeburn before the Lord ; 
having received it at the synod, but never opened it till before 
the Lord in that exercise. I observe, 1. Whereas three ministers 
preached at the fast in the congregation, the first was remarkably 
carried out in prayer for averting of this stroke; the second 
touched it but little ; the third, least. Both the times aforesaid, 
in secret, I was remarkably carried out for my own private case, 
but less when I came to that business. The first of these times, 
the stream of influences ran, in wrestling with God for grace 
towards personal holiness; yesterday, in embracing personally 
the covenant, or covenanting with God ; in the which the Lord 
was pleased so to blow upon me, that I think, in all my life, I 
never had more, if ever so much, clear and distinct uptakings of 
the gospel-offer, solid, distinct, and hearty acceptance of it, and 
confidence in managing it. I had an unusual view, and in some 
measure yet have, of God as Creator loving His creatures, and 
giving His own Son for sinners, to bring them to be happy in the 
enjoyment of Himself ; producing in me confidence in, and love 
to, this bountiful and gracious God. 2. Having spread the call 
of Closeburn before the Lord yesterday, though the subscriptions, 
being 118, did touch me; yet I could have no view of the matter, 
but as leaving behind me a broken parish, and one I must be rent 

nis-nn^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 315 

from, to go to another broken parish, where I must expect but 
cold entertainment : so that nothing of a call from God appears 
to me in it. Otherwise, I was helped to be easy about the matter, 
having laid it over on the Lord. 3. I remember not, that ever I 
had, on an occasion of weight, at the synod, so much ado to fix 
my feet, in point of confidence in the Lord, when praying about 
the particular, as I had at the synod last week in this affair. 
Some untenderness in my conversation at home found me out, 
and hung about me there ; so that it cost sore struggling. 4. The 
minute circumstance of the commission, p. 312, has now brought 
forth a great matter, viz., the carrying the matter of the trans- 
portation so as it cannot come before the next general assembly 
for decision, though it do otherwise. And though it go to the 
commission, and I should be laid under their sentence without 
hght in my own breast, I would look on that as a light matter, 
in comparison of a sentence of the general assembly in such 
circumstances. I am fully satisfied in my following the conduct 
of Providence nicely on that little head : In minimis Deus maxi- 
mus. 5. Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick owned to me at the synod, 
that my letters to Mr. Murray put him to a stand, but that he 
came the second time upon hearing that I would be submissive ; 
though, much I think to the confounding of us all three, it was 
owned that the most I said was these words, " No less will make 
me to go to Closeburn, than what would make me to take a 
mountain on my shoulders." 6. The heritor aforesaid, who would 
never come to the kirk since my settlement in this parish, by the 
prospect of this transportation was brought to come on the fast- 
day, and continues so to do, being zealous for my staying among 
them. Meanwhile scandalous outbreakings in the parish have 
abounded more since this business commenced, than for a good 
while before. 

Is;! May. — I went to Edinburgh to the general assembly, and 
returned on the 17th. On the last of April, I designed to have 
taken journey, my wife being indisposed. I was ready to take 
my horse; but going to prayer with my wife, to commit the 
family to the Lord, I could not get my family committed to Him 
as usual. So rising up from prayer, I presently concluded I could 
not and should not go. It was well ordered ; for afterwards my 
wife was better, and I found there was no need of the haste which 
I then apprehended there was. 

In Edinburgh I found some were impressed with my inclina- 
tion to go to Closeburn, which I endeavoured to carry off. On 


the 8th of May I had a toss with Mr. Murray before Sir Thomas, 
he affirming, and I denying, that I had given them ground by 
word or deed ; and Sir Thomas declaring, that if he had not been 
informed so, he would not have insisted. When the business 
came before the committee of bills, Mr. P.^ opened up the case of 
the parish of Closeburn. This obliged me, otherwise unwilling to 
speak, to open up the case of Etterick too; which, with much 
difficulty I obtained leave to do, a plain sway to the other side 
appearing in that committee; which much oppressed my spirit. 
When it came before the assembly, our synod was mostly absent, 
those of them present little to be trusted (and the truth is, I saw 
none of our synod there, but those of our own presbytery, I could 
have confidence in), and the same sway appeared there. This 
made me break silence there, which I had kept for seventeen 
years in that judicatory : and being touched, the Lord helped me 
to speak without fear. I cannot but observe kind Providence 
that suffijred Mr. P. to make that unseasonable discourse on the 
merits of the cause, and that our synod was mostly absent when 
it came before the assembly ; for these things obliged me, other- 
wise unwilling, to speak ; whereby the respective judicatories 
could not but perceive how I stood affected to the thing. 

The issue of the conference with Mr. Murray and Sir Thomas, 
and of the sway I perceived in the committee and assembly, ready 
to make a compliment of the business, was, that still there 
appeared to me less of God in the matter ; and so it tended to 
my farther clearing, as to my not being called to go to that 

The synod of Dumfries seemed at first (according to my 
information), while they thought I was willing, not to be disposed 
to be active in it : afterwards they seemed to be keen. Wherefore 
meeting with one of their leading men, I represented some things 
concerning myself, that I thought might cause them to remit of 
that keenness, as my not employing jurors, etc. (though by the 
by what I have done that way is merely on the ground of offence, 
not that I am straitened in my own conscience as to such joining) ; 
and it seemed to have something of the desired effect. So in the 
end I became very easy. 

At that assembly, the affair of Mr. John Simson,^ professor of 
theology in the college of Glasgow, pursued by that great man, 
Mr. James Webster, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and which 

^ [Rev. John Pollock of Glencairn.] 

2 [On tills and the matters that follow, see Introduction.] 

iTis-nn'l MR. THOMAS BOSTON z^l 

had been in dependence for several years, was ended, with great 
softness to the professor; who, from the attempts he had then 
made against the doctrine of the grace of Christ, hath since 
advanced to attack the doctrine of the person of Christ, and to 
overthrow the foundations of Christianity. The said affair being 
ended at one of the diets, in the following diet was taken in a 
proposition, calculated by the presbytery of Anchterarder, for 
opposing the erroneous doctrine of Professor Simson, on the 
occasion of a suspected young man on trials before them. This 
proposition, called in derision the, Auchtcrardcr creed, was all at 
once at that diet judged and condemned; though some small 
struggle was made in defence thereof. And poor I was not able 
to open a mouth before them in that cause ; although I believed 
the proposition to be truth, howbeit not well worded. It was as 
follows. " It is not sound and orthodox to teach, that we must 
forsake sin, in order to our coming to Christ, and instating us in 
covenant with God." For this, when I came to my chamber, my 
conscience smote me grievously ; for that I could speak in my 
own cause, as said is, but could not speak in the public cause 
of truth. And I was obliged yet to speak upon it, and exoner ^ 
my conscience, when it was out of season ; that is, upon the 
reading over of the minute about it, in the following diet. But 
this was made an useful lesson to me afterward ; and gave me 
something to balance my natural diffidence and bashfulness, 
and to incite me to speak when I saw the cause of truth call 
for it. 

And here, namely, in the condemnation of that proposition, 
was the beginning of the torrent, that for several years after ran, 
in the public actings of this church, against the doctrine of grace, 
under the name of Antinomianism ; and is unto this day over- 
flowing. Meanwhile, at the same time sitting in the assembly- 
house, and conversing with Mr. John Drummond, minister of 
Crief, one of the brethren of that presbytery above mentioned, 
1 happened to give him my sense of the gospel offer, Isa. Iv. 1, 
Matt. xi. 28, with the reason thereof ; and withal to tell him of 
the MarrO'W of Modern Divinity. Hereupon he, having inquired 
in the shops for the said book, at length got it ; and from him 
Mr. James Webster getting it, was taken therewith ; and after- 
ward, Mr. Drummond himself being hardly allowed time to read 

^ [I.e. exonerate, commonly used. Cf. 1713, Humble Pleadings for the Good 
Old Way, 213. "The man . . . was earnestly desii'ous of an opportunity to exoner 
bis conscience by public confession."] 


it through, it came into the hands of Mr. James Hog, minister of 
Carnock; and in end was reprinted in the year 1718, with a 
preface by the said Mr. Hog, dated at Carnock, 3rd December 
1717. The mentioning of that book in the said conversation, 
I had quite forgot ; and that these things followed thereupon, 
I did not at all know, till about half a score of years after this, 
that Mr. Wilson my friend, having got the account from Mr. 
Drummond occasionally, did relate it to me. But the publishing 
of that then obscure book, at that time, having been so remark- 
able in its consequences, and this to the signal advantage of the 
truth of the gospel in this church, I could not but rejoice from 
my heart in that relation, reckoning it a great honour the Lord 
had put upon me, that by such a beautiful step of providence I 
had been made the remote occasion thereof. 

At this time my daughter Alison, having a trouble in her nose, 
got by a fall when a child, for which, of a considerable time that 
season, we had, by advice of a surgeon, washed it by the help of 
a syringe ; I, in the time of the assembly, having been advised 
by my wife that the trouble had grown worse, consulted two 
surgeons about it. And they, apprehending danger, moved that 
she should be brought in to Edinburgh to them, for cure. So 
coming away, I left my son John in the town indisposed, and 
returned home, looking on myself as a candle burning at both 
ends, considering my son's case behind me, and my daughter's 
before me ; but labouring to encourage myself in the Lord. On 
the 26th of May, I had advice that my son was sick of the 
measles. The 29th was prefixed for carrying in Alison, for the 
end foresaid : but the Lord mercifully broke that appointment, 
by my wife's becoming unfit for travel, the night before; and 
on the day appointed there was an extraordinary fall of rain. 
Then that day eight days was prefixed for the effect foresaid: 
but on the intervening Saturday, after some time spent in prayer 
that morning, my wife and I sitting together in the garden, 
were surprised to hear by the servant, that something had fallen 
out of the child's nose. The same being taken up, and brought 
to us, was found to be a piece of the cartilage, and to smell very 
rank : but there was no rank smell in the nose any more, nor 
yet any wound; but as the deliverance came in an instant, it 
was perfect too, and most seasonable. My son, having been sent 
for, came home in health on the "Wednesday after; which was 
the day that had been determined for carrying in my daughter. 
This was a surprising deliverance in a case appearing very hope- 

I'jis-nni MR. THOMAS BOSTON 319 

less, and was wonderful in our eyes. the wisdom and goodness 
that appeared in it, and in timing it and my wife's indisposition, 
and in making the rain to come on that day, whereby our purpose 
was broken ! This was a most signal piece of the conduct of 
Providence towards me, of a most diffusive usefulness in point 
of practice, however it has been improved. 

Being called to exercise the last Sabbath night I was in 
Edinburgh, I had prepared to speak on Gen. v. 24, " And Enoch 
walked with God, and he was not ; for God took him." Betwixt 
sermons I got notice, that I behoved to have that exercise in 
another house than had been designed, the family of that other 
house having received that morning the news of a son dead 
abroad. The suitableness of the text to that unexpected occa- 
sion, was worth observing : He leads the blind in the way they 
knew not. 

The affair of Closeburn coming again before the presbytery, 
they refused the transportation. The pursuers appealed to the 
synod, which met at Kelso on the 18th of June, and sat but one 
day. I went thither, secure that the synod would refer it to the 
commission, and that I would not need to speak much on the 
business. When I came there, my measures were quite altered 
by means of my best friends, who judged it necessary that the 
synod should come to a sentence, and that I should speak very 
fully. The pursuers were most vigorous in their management, 
which obliged me to produce what I thought to have kept up 
till the commission. So I told the synod plainly, that it was 
not only contrary to my inclination, but to my light ; and that 
unless my conscience were convinced, I could not comply, and 
mere human authority would not do it. The synod refused it 
also, and so the pursuers appealed to the commission, I found 
myself at a great loss, in point of confidence in prayer for light 
and furniture for speaking before the synod: having thought 
there would be little need of speaking there, I had been very 
little concerned to prepare for it, and now there remained no 
competent time for it. But in the very little time I had, I 
endeavoured to fix my confidence in the Lord, notwithstanding 
my former security, making free grace my refuge, labouring to 
believe His grace should be sufficient for my throughbearing, 
as if I had been at all pains before. Here I saw the advantage 
of my heart's being impressed with the doctrine of free grace ; 
whereas had I been in fetters that way, I would here have 
had no way to have settled my heart in the faith of the promise. 


After the synod was over, some of the members seemed to in- 
timate to me, that I would certainly be transported by the 
commission. This damped me exceedingly, judging them to be 
such as might know the minds of the leading men there: and 
this damp continued long with me at home. 

loth July. — This day having spent some time in prayer about 
the affair of Closeburn, I found my heart was much quieted, in 
that I was conscious to myself, that, whatever my aversion 
thereto is, I would be ready to put the knife to the throat of 
my inclinations, if the Lord should discover His mind in favour 
thereof, though no such thing as yet appears. I found also a 
serious concern in my spirit to be guided of the Lord in it ; even 
of Him who leads the blind in the way they know not, and to 
whom all His works are known from the beginning ; seeing 
myself in hazard of falling into some piece of mismanagement 
that afterwards may prove a snare. And for this in particular 
I put myself in the Lord's hand. 

On Thursday 15th August, the affair of Closeburn came before 
the commission, for final decision. Much dealing there was with 
the members, by both parties. The spate ran high for the 
transportation, when we came to town ; but by dealing with 
members it was somewhat abated. Advocates were employed 
on both sides : but after reading of papers, and hearing of parties 
and their counsel on both sides, when we were to be removed, I 
did with great affection, being in deep concern, deliver before 
them, from a paper I had prepared, besides my answers to the 
reasons of transportation, a speech, the tenor whereof, as setting 
my case and circumstances in due light, here follows. 

" Moderator, 
'•' It is with the utmost concern I see myself sisted before the 
Rev. Commission of the General Assembly, in a process for 
transporting me to the parish of Closeburn ; having sometimes 
hoped, that such an obscure person as I might have finished his 
course and ministry, without being heard in such a judicatory, 
at least on such an occasion. But since, by an excess of charity 
towards me, in the Honourable persons and Eev. ministers con- 
cerned in the call of Closeburn, whose undeserved respect I 
shall always be sensible of, this appearance is forced upon me, 
my hearty concern for the good of the parish of Etterick, which 
is very dear to me, for the true interest of the parish of 
Closeburn, and for my own welfare, obliges me, freely to speak, 

J7i2-J7i7\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 321 

before you, the thoughts of my heart, in this affair ; resolving 
rather to run the risk of being accounted imprudent, than to 
mince the matter so as the cause may suffer, wherein 1 judge the 
interest of the gospel, and my comfort, lie so much at stake. 
And if anything shall, in my discourse, be set in the light which 
otherwise should have been veiled with silence, I humbly beg 
the Kev. Commission, those of mine own parish, and the pur- 
suers, will only impute it, as it ought to be, to the extreme 
necessity I am reduced to, for my own defence, in which I am 
not indifferent, but in earnest. 

" Moderator, When I consider how hard my work has been, in 
the parish of Etterick, by reason of the divisive temper which 
has prevailed in that place, it fills me with confusion and terror, 
to think I am in hazard of being thrown into a far hotter flame. 
I own God is just in it ; but I hope for compassion from Him, to 
whom the quarrel is open and manifest ; and I expect it also from 
His servants, to whom the cause of this is not certainly known. 
I enjoyed the fruits of peace, for some years, elsewhere ; otherwise 
perhaps the want of it had not been so bitter to me : but since 
that time, my eyes have seen but little of it. I have stood as in 
a pass, for the space of ten years ; and possibly if I had had less 
trouble, others had got more. Had I been so happy as to have 
seen the breach in the parish of Etterick healed, there had been 
some appearance of reason, in putting me on new work of that 
kind ; for then would I have had hope of success. But it is not 
so. I have said in my answers, that the breaches in the parish of 
Etterick are still as wide as they were that day I came first among 
them : but, what is truth, now necessary to be discovered, they are 
indeed far wider. The Old Dissenters ^ whom I found there at my 
coming, continue as they were, having lost none of their number 
but one, who, being educated in that way, left it about a year ago. 
But I have lost many, who, breaking off from under my ministry, 
have separated themselves from the communion of this church. 
This deserting of my ministry began not long after I was settled 
in that place : and while I was grappling with these difficulties, it 
pleased the Lord, in His holy, wise providence, for my further 
trial, to remove by death, and otherwise, several of the eldership. 
And though, for several years, I made attempts again and again 
to get the session supplied; yet could I not prevail to get a 
competent number of elders, till about a year ago. And I am 

^ \_I.e. the Cameronians. At the close of his life B. writes, " The old dissenters 
continue immovable," p. 476.] 


persuaded I had not obtained it at that time neither, but that, no 
end of the deserting humour appearing, and finding the misled 
persons, time after time, confirmed in their prejudices, by absenting 
from the ordinances, a considerable space before I knew that they 
were led aside, I was like to sink under my burden ; which I 
discovered to some ; whose hearts were at length moved with 
compassion, and otherwise, to take part with me and the rest, in 
the Lord's work in the congregation ; whereby my heart has been 
encouraged, and my hands strengthened. And now that I have 
obtained this, must I see I have obtained it, only to the end I 
might leave them ? that I have tasted of the comfortable fruits 
thereof, only that by the plucking them from my mouth, my being 
condemned unto my former uncomfortable work might be made 
more bitter ? Must I be obliged to leave that congregation, just 
when, by the good hand of God upon me, I am put in a capacity 
to be more serviceable among them than ever I was all the nine 
years preceding ? 

" Although I cannot own this change in the state of the parish 
of Etterick to be owing to the struggle made for this transportation, 
since it was begun ere the least motion was made in that afl'air ; 
yet it is evident, the congregation of Etterick in the communion 
of this church, have all along, in the progress of that business, 
cordially adhered to me, and exerted their utmost endeavours for 
my continuance among them ; and that there is no removing of 
me out of that parish, but by renting me from them ; which I 
hope may be admitted as an evidence, that my labours have not 
been altogether in vain there. I beg the Very Eeverend Commission 
to consider, what will be the consequences of renting me, by this 
transportation, from that congregation. The desolating of that 
parish, which lies at such a distance from neighbour-kirks, as has 
been represented ; and that in a mountainous country, which it is 
hard to travel to or from in the winter-season, as appears from 
their not having one sermon in their church for eight or nine 
Sabbaths successively, in time of their last vacancy ; the desolating, 
I say, of that parish in such circumstances, would challenge the 
serious regard of our Reverend judges, though both they and I 
were indifi'erent in the matter of this transportation. But since 
it is far otherwise, on their part, as well as on mine, how can I 
think on their case, as left irritated, both heritors and people ? 

" Moderator, I was planted in that parish under a great 
disadvantage, with respect to most of the honourable persons, 
heritors of it ; yet now it is quite against their mind that I be 

1712-1717^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 32 


removed. And I doubt they think themselves but harshly treated 
by the judicatories of this church, if my removal from, and my 
settlement in, that parish, be so much of a piece as this trans- 
portation will make them. And as there is very little hope, that 
they and the people will agree in the choice of another nnnister, 
so it is hardly to be expected, but that the manner of my settle- 
ment in that parish will be remembered, on another such occasion, 
to the prejudice of the interest of the gospel there, and I fear (not 
without ground) to a more public prejudice. What shall become 
of the irritated people, bereaved of their pastor, to whose ministry, 
by the good hand of God, they have adhered, notwithstanding of 
their manifold temjjtations to desert it, and the communion of 
this church ? How will the scorn of their deserting neighbours 
work on their passions ? Can any who know the circumstances 
of that country, obtain it of themselves to think, that such a fair 
occasion for promoting the schism there will be neglected ? Will 
not those who have kept their meetings several times within the 
bounds of the parish since I was settled there, return again to the 
churchyard, where they have met in the time of the last vacancy ? 
The parish of Etterick is almost quite surrounded with neighbour- 
ing parishes, notably broken, as well as they are themselves ; in 
one of which, Eskdalemoor, separatists of different factions have 
their distinct parties, and their meetings one after another : and 
some of my congregation are almost as near to a church which 
the presbytery has seldom, if ever, access to, viz. Wamphray, as they 
are to their own church. I am loth to be more particular on this 
head ; I wish the Eeverend Commission may in due time inquire 
further into the state of that country. But from what is said it 
appears, that the parish of Etterick, lying in the centre, is, by this 
transportation, threatened to be made the very seat of separation 
in that country. 

"Moderator, the parish of Closeburn is so considerable, 
numerous, and divided, that it is a burden quite too heavy for 
me, and requires a minister endued with qualifications I cannot 
pretend to, and withal of another spirit than I am ; being very 
unfit, on many accounts, to appear in the world in any such post, 
even though it were an unanimous parish. But as it is a parish 
notably divided, I am still the more unfit for it. I have had too 
much acquaintance with myself, in the management of the parish 
of Etterick, to think I am fit to undertake the charge of the parish 
of Closeburn, wherein (I am persuaded) the work of the gospel 
would egregiously suffer in my hands. I know that little stress 


is sometimes put upon professions of this nature ; but I do in- 
genuously declare, that, in my most retired thoughts of this 
transportation, the disadvantages I find I labour under from 
myself, in managing my work in the congregation I am set over, 
do so stare me in the face, that I cannot encourage this design, 
without a witness against me in my own bosom, testifying I should 
be injurious to the parish of Closeburn, in accepting their call, 
which I plainly perceive has proceeded on a mistake concerning 
me. For though it has pleased the Lord sometimes to make my 
preaching-gift acceptable to His people ; yet it is well known 
to those of my acquaintance, I labour under some uncommon 
disadvantages, which render me unfit for such a post. 

" Besides, Moderator, I have seriously considered the matter of 
this transportation again and again, and I can have no other 
apprehension of it, but that it will be a renting of me from a 
congregation whose hearts are pierced with the thoughts of my 
removal from them, and a throwing me undesired into another. 
I am convinced, that upon whatever views that parish made 
choice of me to be their minister, when they signed their call to 
me, matters are now so far altered, that had some things, with 
relation to the parish of Etterick and to myself, which in the 
progress of this affair have manifestly appeared, to the conviction 
of all unbiassed persons, been believed before this process was 
commenced, they had not proceeded therein. And whatever 
reason the pursuers may have to go on, since they have begun, I 
hope our Very Eeverend Judges will find themselves obliged to 
determine as the present state of affairs requires. Several persons, 
commissioners from the parish of Closeburn, at different times, 
have had the trouble of several long journeys in this affaii', which 
I am heartily sorry for. And I freely own, that Sir Thomas 
Kirkpatrick, and another of that parish, have all along appeared 
cordial and serious in that matter : but I must have been 
unaccountably blinded, if, by repeated evidences otherwise, I had 
not perceived the parish of Closeburn not inclined to be hard on 
the parish of Etterick in this affair. And however this might 
perhaps be deemed to be of small importance in the case of one 
inclinable to embrace their call ; yet it cannot but have weight 
with our Eeverend and compassionate judges, in the case of a fixed 
minister, whose congregation and himself must both be violented, 
in order to the casting him in upon another that desires him not. 

" Moderator, I need not put the Reverend Commission in mind 
of the great end of this project, namely, the healing of breaches 

ly 12-1717"^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 325 

there : but I heartily wish it may be duly weighed, whether this 
transportation be a means proper for attaining that end ? And 
one would think, some more than ordinary certainty was necessary 
in this point, especially considering that the widening of the 
breaches in Etterick, and the adjacent parts, will surely follow 
upon the event of this transportation; and that a mistake, or false 
step, in an affair relating to such a broken country as Nithsdale 
is, may be of dangerous consequence. I am persuaded, with the 
Eeverend synod of Merse and Teviotdale, that this transportation 
will not answer the end ; and think it strange, if any who know 
all circumstances be otherwise minded. Whatever measures the 
wisdom of some other person, who shall be called to that parish, 
may suggest unto him for compassing the desired end, I find 
myself so straitened in that respect, that I cannot forbear to say, 
with all deference to my Eeverend Judges, that the transporting 
me to Closeburn, will in effect be a driving me into a snare, 
where, to which hand soever I turn, I must be broken. 

" Now, Moderator, will the justice of the Reverend Commission 
allow them to lay a congregation desolate, which was planted 
with so much difficulty, has been managed with so much un- 
easiness, and, upon the event of this transportation, must become 
the very seat of separation in the country, and which there is so 
very little hope of the comfortable supply of, they in the mean- 
time so vigorously reclaiming ; and all this in a time wherein 
there is so very little need of transportations, but the parish 
pursuing may be otherwise settled, to far greater advantage ? 
Will their respect to the peace of this church suffer them to give 
such ground of irritation to a congregation in these circumstances 
I have narrated ? Will their compassion allow them to take one 
whose spirit is already shattered with the effects of the divisive 
temper, and cast him into another place, where it must be far 
more so ? or to lead out one, and set him upon the ice, where he 
knows no way (in the course of ordinary Providence) how to keep 
his feet ; and when he falls, must fall for nought, T mean, no 
advantage to the church gained thereby ? Nay, Moderator, I 
cannot believe these things. 

" I have the greatest aversion to this transportation ; and whoso 
considers what I have represented, will not think it strange. I 
hope the Reverend Commission will not violent me ; which they 
will do, if they transport me to Closeburn. The case of the 
Eeverend ]\Ir. Warden's transportation to Falkirk, and of the 
Reverend ]\Ir. Wodrow's to Stirling, which were refused by the 


Commission, though each of these parishes is more considerable 
than the parish here pursuing, are such instances of the lenity of 
this Very Eeverend Judicatory, that it will be thought exceeding 
strange, if it shall be my lot only to be violented. 

" Moderator, I have been twice settled already ; and I bless the 
Lord, who was pleased, in both, convincingly to shew me His own 
call coming along with the call of His church. And I have felt 
so much need of the former, its accompanying the latter, that I 
would be most inexcusable to venture on removing to another 
parish without it. I was persuaded in my conscience of the 
Lord's calling me to Etterick ; and my clearness as to my call to 
that place, was never overclouded, no not in my darkest hours ; 
and had I not had that to support me there, I had sunk under 
my burden. Now I have endeavoured, according to the measure 
of the grace bestowed on me, to set aside my own inclinations, 
and the consideration of the case and satisfaction of my own 
heart, and to lay this matter before the Lord, for light, to discover 
His mind about it, labouring to wait upon Him in the way of His 
word and works. But I sincerely declare, after all, I have no 
clearness to accept the call of Closeburn, nor a foundation for my 
conscience, in this transportation, which ought not to rest on 
human authority. I have all deference for the authority of this 
church, and my ministry is very dear to me : so I cast myself 
down at your feet, begging that you will not grant this trans- 
portation, which has been refused by the presbytery and synod 
whereof I am a member ; and who are best acquainted with the 
state of the parish of Etterick, and what concerns me ; whereas 
both that parish and I are known but to very few of our now 
Eeverend Judges. But if it shall please the holy wise God, to 
suffer me now, for my trial and correction, to fall under your 
sentence, transporting me from the parish of Etterick to the 
parish of Closeburn ; since it is a charge I have no clearness to 
undertake, I resolve, through grace, rather to suffer, than to enter 
upon it blindfolded. Though, in the meantime, I cannot help 
thinking, it will be hard measure to punish me, because I cannot 
see with other men's eyes ; especially considering that the 
presbytery of Selkirk, and the Eeverend Synod of Merse and 
Teviotdale, have, by their respective sentences, continued me in 
Etterick, upon very weighty grounds, contained in the sentence 
of the latter in this affair." 

The deep concern I was in, naturally formed the delivery of 

77/^-/7/7] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 327 

the speech. Parties being removed, I went into a seat in the 
church alone, and gave myself to prayer, it being in the night- 
season : I cast myself over on the Lord, to follow still as He 
should go before, but no otherwise ; and in case of the sentence 
going against me, was resolved to protest for liberty to complain 
to the assembly, and never to undertake that charge, unless light 
broke up to me, which had not yet appeared. But by a vast 
majority, the sentence passed in our favour : and others, as well 
as I, were convinced, that the speech I delivered, was that which 
influenced the Commission, and moved their compassion. 

Thus ended that weighty affair, for which several of the godly 
through the country, particularly those of the meetings for 
Christian fellowship in Galashiels, had been concerned before the 
Lord. About fourteen days before, at the sacrament of Maxton, 
laying hold on the covenant, which is a covenant of promises, I 
was helped to some distinctness in applying the several sorts of 
promises, as those for pardon, for sanctification, for direction, etc., 
and this with a particular view to that business then before me. 
And I must say, the Lord was with me in the management, 
giving me in that hour, both what to speak, and courage to speak 
it ; and even when I ran. He left me not to stumble. One of our 
heritors that I had confidence in, quite failed me : but Sir William 
Scot, the principal one, surprised me with his personal appearance, 
and standing by me in judgement, which he had all along refused. 
My inclinations in that matter having been most injuriously 
misrepresented by some ministers and others, by the issue they 
were silenced. That which was the real ground of my aversion 
to Closeburn, was, that I had a most uncomfortable life in 
Etterick, and my work among them had all along been exceeding 
heavy ; through the disposition of the people, selfish, conceited, 
and bending towards the schism, which has most deep rooting in 
this place : hence proceeded contempt of ordinances, ministers, 
etc., to the great breaking of my spirit. To have gone to 
Closeburn, a parish of the same character, I reckoned would have 
been just to begin my weary task anew ; in one word, to have cast 
me out of the frying-pan into the fire. Otherwise, to have been 
transported from Etterick, and gone any whither, where the 
gospel would have been heard and received at my hands, would 
have been most gladly embraced by me, if the Lord Himself had 
but said it. Besides, I had been advised, that the air did not 
agree with my wife's constitution, and tended to impair her health ; 
and that it would overcome me at length. Of these my heavy 


circumstances in this place, I had been speaking to Mr. Murray, 
and he took occasion to provide this remedy of the transportation 
to Closeburn, which I looked on as ill as the disease, in respect of 
the uncomfortableness of my work, which the more wholesome 
air could not counterbalance to me. As for my wife's conduct 
in the matter, it was as became a Christian, spoke forth much 
self-denial, and resignation to the will of the Lord ; making not 
the least uneasiness to me in point of my conscience. The design 
of Providence in the whole affair I take to have been, as at first, 
to rebuke the parish and myself; and, I would fain hope, to 
cement and knit us more closely for the time to come. And they 
seem to have a sense of the mercy. 

This toss hindered the administering of the sacrament this 
year ; which was the only interruption it had met with, from the 
year 1710, that the course of it was begun. 





Ffrom the transportation to closeburn refused, 
TO the notable breach in my health, and 
alteration in my constitution 

AFTER this affair was over, my wife went from Edinburgh 
^ to her own country, to breathe her native air a while for 

her health, as had been advised in her case. That the air of 
[Etterick did not agree with her, was declared to us: and that 
was an argument used by the pursuers for the transportation. 
It was also declared to me, by my dear friend Dr. Trotter, that 
it would overcome me too at length. But what could we do for 
relief in the case, in the circumstances above narrated ? 

But as the effects of the rebellion cured our people of their 
unnatural fondness for public confusions, so that that disposition 
never appeared among them since, as before ; so the attempt to 
transport me to Closeburn, did bring them to themselves with 
respect to me ; and made my life among them tolerable. Howbeit, 
since that time I have not wanted enough to keep me from for- 
getting wdiere I am. 

On 18th September there was, by appointment of our session, 
a congregational thanksgiving observed, upon the account of the 
favourable issue of the process aforesaid ; which was ground of 
thankfulness to me, as well as to the parish. But to balance the 
victory I had obtained, I came home from that struggle with a 
sore rheumatic pain in my arm, which kept me a considerable 
time after. On the thanksgiving-day Mr. Henry Davidson, 
minister of Galashiels, Mr. Gabriel Wilson, and I myself, 

Mr. Davidson aforesaid was, by that time, become a third 
with Mr. Wilson and me, in our bond of strict friendship : A man 
of great gravity, piety, and tenderness; learned and judicious; 
well acquainted with books ; a great preacher, delivering in a 
taking manner, masterly thoughts, in an unaffected elevated 
style ; endowed with a gift of prayer, in heavenly oratory, beyond 


any man that ever I knew ; extremely modest, and reserved in 
his temper ; but a kind and affectionate friend. This friendship, 
most comfortable, and useful as a threefold cord, does by the 
mercy of God continue inviolated to this day. We have always 
been so happy as to speak the same thing in public differences.^ 

I had sent in unto Mr. John Flint,- one of the ministers of 
Edinburgh, who had revised the Fourfold State, and was noted 
for his skill in the Hebrew tongue, two sheets of the performance 
on Ezekiel, above mentioned. And, being in Edinburgh about 
the middle of November, he was pleased to tell me, that he 
judged no great thing could be done by the accents ; and advised 
me to make no bustle about them, as he termed it. On the 
account of this discouraging event, and other things, I did, on 
the 23rd of tliis month, spend some time in prayer. And 
thinking on that study, the conviction I had, made upon me by 
the light into some passages of the holy text by means of the 
accentuation, remained to be such, as that I could not see how 
I could give over the study thereof. And having begged of God 
a token for good, I was that same night surprised with a light 
into Jacob's vow. Gen. xxviii. 20, 21, 22, " If God will be with 
me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me 
bread to eat, and raiment to put on ; so that I come again to my 
father's house in peace : then shall the Lord be my God. And 
this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: 
and of all that Thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth 
unto Thee," new to me, and that arising from the accentuation. 

By reason of the many avocations I had now for a good 
time had, there was little done by me in that study, being of 
such a nature, as it could not be managed by parts. But a 
week or two after the October synod, I made some collections 
on the subject. And the winter being come on, which in these 
days was the time I spent to my greatest satisfaction, I began, 
27th November, to proceed in my book of materials mentioned 
above, p. 308. 

Plying it eagerly thereafter, I was, on 22nd December being 
the Lord's day, at night, laid under a deep conviction of the 
woful disposition of my heart, pursuing like fire the study of 
the accents, so that I could hardly ever get my heart from 
off them. I went to God, and bewailed my case, cried to get 
my heart under command with respect to that matter : and 
I got, from my prayer-hearing God, my heart filled with 

1 [See p. 243.] - [See the notice of liiin in Wodrow, Corrcsp. I. 315.] 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 331 

love to Jesus Christ, and set for Him as the one thing 
needful. I had by that time, through the good hand of God 
upon me, made a comfortable progress in that study : but 
towards the latter end of that week, beginning to make the 
observations on the majors, I stuck, day after day. At length 
I resolved, for that cause, to set some time apart for prayer, 
which necessarily fell to be 1st January 1718. But the said 
resolution being laid down, I was helped to make some progress 
ere the appointed day came. 

1st January. — I accordingly spent some time in prayer, 1. On 
the account of my study aforesaid ; 2. For the distress of 
the parish by the storm lying on the ground, etc. : and the Lord 
was with me. That day, reading 1 Sam. ii. in the original, new 
light broke out unto me, particularly as to two things, 1st, The 
abusing of the text by interrogations, where it really bears none, 
particularly 2 Kings v. 26, Job ii. 10. 2nd, Some inkling of quite 
new light into the repetition of the same majors ; with some 
other things : and my soul was filled with joy in the Lord, and 
I was made to cry out again and again, " What am I ! " As to 
the storm, the Lord seems to refuse to be entreated therein by 
congregational fasting with prayer: for it was in my mind to 
have had it done last week ; but on the Lord's day, when it might 
have been appointed, there was a fair thaw; and when the 
occasion of appointing it for that week was over, the thaw mis- 
gave. I designed it again on Tuesday the 7th, and offered to 
have kept it on the 6th : but I was told the people could not 
be present, being to flee with their sheep that day and the next. 

In February, having been for some time diverted from my 
beloved study, and, whereas I was then to enter on the minors, 
being in much confusion, not knowing where to begin my work, 
I did on the 13th spend some time in prayer, for light, botli as 
to matter and method; which last I was obliged very particularly 
to seek of the Father of lights. And having essayed it the same 
day, I found myself in a hopeful way as to both ; and that the con- 
fidence I had, through grace, had in the Lord, was not in vain. 

At that time I was lecturing on Genesis ; and being allured 
by what I met with in the original, studying my lectures, I 
began that week to translate as I went on. Afterwards I wrote 
notes too on the translation. This performance, begun at Gen. 
xxxvii. is carried on to Ex. xxxv. and to be found among my 
papers. But this way of doing retarded me in my main study : 
wherefore finding I had not time for it and other things too, I 


broke off; and, to the best of my remembrance, left off lecturing 
on the Old Testament. 

IWi March. — The interjections and interrogations being then 
before me, I spent some time in prayer for the divine assistance 
in my studies, and some distress relating to some in my family : 
and the Lord was found of me, and quickly gave me help and 
relief, in all the cases that then lay upon me. 

A part of my stipend coming in about that time, I did on 
the 30th lay by fifty merks thereof for pious uses : and all along 
since that time, I have kept a private box, making up into it 
yearly the said sum of fifty merks ; laying it in mostly by parcels, 
and giving out of it, as occasion requires : and I always keep of it 
in my left-side pocket. The dealing to poor at the house for 
their food, continues as formerly, without respect to this : only 
what wool is given them in the summer, since I have none of my 
own, is bought out of this fund ; out of which also our Sabbath's 
contributions are taken. This course I have found to be profit- 
able to the poor, and affording much ease to myself : for I have 
thereby been in case, to give considerably on special occasions ; 
and that with more ease to myself, than otherwise I could have 
liad ; always looking on that part of my yearly income as not my 
own, but the Lord's. 

After shutting up the doctrine of repentance, in my ordinary, 
I did, on 27th October 1717, return to the catechism; beginning 
at the doctrine of the application of the redemption purchased 
by Christ. And handling these subjects practically, as well as 
catechetically, at considerable length, I proceeded therein until 
the sacrament this year, 8th June, at which time I closed my 
sermons on adoption ; ^ only, being just entered on justification, 
I was by some incident or incidents led off to Num. xxxii. 
23, " Be sure your sin will find you out ; " - upon which I 
dwelt a considerable time. A third adultery was about that 
time, after much pains and toil, discovered ; the adulterer being 
the same man who first filled my hands in that kind, viz. the 
unhappy J. N. now in the parish of Moffat, as he also was in 
the time of this last of his adulteries in this parish. Moreover 

a bastard of above alluded to, being at nurse in E.^ fiery 

peats were found lodged in the thatch of the nurse's house, two 

1 [Works, I. 529-642.] - [Works, III. 180.] 

^ [Perhaps Eockvale or Riskenhope. An extraordinary amount of space is 
given in the Session Records to the cases in which this man figured. As the 
details are utterly unquotahle, so let the name he utterly forgotten.] 

i7n-i724\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 333 

nights, but still discovered before any hurt was done. There 
was a great stir about this, and search made : but it remains to 
this day a hidden work of darkness, I and others vehemently 
suspected it to be purely a trick to screen the nurse and her 
husband from the displeasure of the father ; she having become 
scarce of milk, and the child begun to go back. Meanwhile, it 
was weighty to me, that the truth of the matter could not be got 
discovered. In this case, on the fast-day before the sacrament, 
I read to the congregation the passage relating to the expiation 
of uncertain murder, Deut. xxi. 1-9 ; and praying, made con- 
fession in that matter accordingly. And in fencing the table 
on the Lord's day, I did particularly declare to be debarred, the 
author or authors, and accomplices, in that vile action : but when 
the table came to be filled, the suspected person immediately sat 
down at it. My case through the whole communion-day did 
very much answer my case in the family-fast before it. I had 
now and then some remarkable tenderness, but that for the most 
part wanting. But a solid concern for the good of souls, with a 
deliberate choice of God in Christ for my God, being left me, I 
was not discouraged. In self-examination I had some comfort- 
able views of the grace of God in me, particularly of faith and 
love. At the table, the Lord let me in into a glorious view of the 
fulness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in our blessed Eedeemer, 
and so into a view of the fulness of the body broken for me, and 
exhibited to me in the sacrament; so that my soul feeding on 
Christ, fed on the glorious attributes and perfections of God. 

On the Tuesday after, my helpers Mess. Simson, Wilson, and 
Davidson, revived the project of publishing the sermons on man's 
fourfold state, and offered to advance money for that effect. 
That matter had been laid aside through the removal of my 
dear friend Dr. Trotter, the first mover, by death ; and Providence 
seemed about this time to be laying the gravestone upon it, by 
carrying off also Thomas Linton in Chapelhop above mentioned,^ 
who, having some time appeared like to fill up Dr. Trotter's 
room in the matter, w^as now a-dying. This motion was sur- 
prising. I thought, that, should the Lord prosper the work of 
the accentuation now in hand, that book might prosper after the 
acceptance thereof. But Mr. Wilson representing this as carving 
out by one's own wisdom, when we were near to part, impressed 
me more than anything that had been said. For the way of 
carnal wisdom, for many years, has been always frightful to me : 

1 [P. 309,] 


and that disposition of spirit, which I was conscious to in my- 
self, afforded me a comfortable reflection with respect to my 

On Monday the 7th of July I had taken a vomit ; on the 
morrow after, physic, and likewise on the Thursday again : and 
that Thursday's night I was sent for to see Thomas Linton, 
supposed to be a-dying; which at first view was stunning and 
confounding, in respect of my bodily hazard. I had thankfully 
observed, and offered my praises, for that, during the time I was 
under that course, I had got liberty to keep the house : but this 
trial came ere all was done. On the Monday afternoon one came 
to me, desiring me to go and baptize his child, supposed to be 
a-dying : I, never having administered baptism in a private 
house without previous intimation to the congregation, refused ; 
and the parent seemed to be much affected with the refusal. 
This set me to beg the life of that child. Going to God to seek 
direction upon the express from Chapelhop, I found I durst not 
sit 1 the calL So I went away that same night, owning my all 
to be at the Master's disposal, in prosecuting the ministry I had 
received from Him ; and withal, with a certain satisfaction in the 
Lord's laying trials to my hand. I returned on the morrow, 
without the least discernible harm to myself; and the parent 
came again, shewing the child to be better, and to be baptized 
orderly next Lord's day in the church. And here I must remark, 
that, through the whole course of my ministry, then eighteen 
years, never a child died without baptism through my sticking 
to that principle. Glory to a good God for it. 

On Monday, 14th July, the saddest trial of all came. I was 
awakened that morning, to hear the doleful account of a woman's 
bavins murdered herself in Etterick-house ; and while I was 
making ready to go thither, word came that I behoved to go 
quickly over to Chapelhop, to see Thomas Linton a-dying; and 
on the Sabbath I had been desired to come down on the Monday 
to see the goodwife of Andleshop, who also seemed to be going 
off. So I went off extremely confounded with the dispensa- 
tion; beheld the woman lying dead by her own hands, so far 
as is known; then I went to Chapelhop, and came about by 

On the Tuesday after, I attempted to spend some time in 
prayer: but through confusion and heaviness, that work was 
marred. On Tuesday the 22nd, I spent some time in that exer- 
J [/.c. disregard. Cf. the Scotcli phrase to sit a s^onmons.] 

i7i7-i724\ MR- THOMAS BOSTON 335 

cise, embraced the covenant anew, and addressed the throne of 
grace, with an eye to the sacrament at Maxton, what to preach 
on to my own people, the case of another poor woman under 
trouble of the same nature, and for the Lord's determination as 
to the point of publishing the book on man's fourfold state, or 
not. The Lord was with me in some measure. I have had much 
ado to stand under the thoughts of publishing that book ; being 
tossed betwixt two, namely, the venturing such a mean piece into 
the world, while many whose books I am not worthy to carry, 
are silent; and the fear of sitting the call of Providence to it. 
Thus it has lain so heavy on me, that I have been as tossed on 
a sea ; and sometimes it has almost quite sunk my spirits. And 
as yet 1 know not what to do ; but desire to wait on the Lord, 
if He will give me a token of His mind ; being conscious to myself 
of desiring to sacrifice my credit to His call fairly laid before me. 

Being at the communion in Maxton, 3rd August, two par- 
ticular providences were remarkable. 1. Mr. Wilson told me, 
that in his visiting of the parish before that communion, he had 
ordinarily that word, " Lay your hand to your heart, and halt no 
more : " and the Lord led me to that text for that occasion, " How 
long halt ye between two opinions?"^ which was countenanced 
with some influence, especially on the Saturday. 2. Having been 
quite at a loss what to do as to compliance with the motion for 
publishing the book aforesaid, and being just waiting for Pro- 
vidence moving, Mr. Wilson's sister told him in my hearing, 
that Mr. Pobert Wightman, treasurer of the city of Edinburgh, 
who unknown to me had been addressed for encouraging it, by 
Mrs. Schiell, his sister, through Mr. Wilson's means as I think, 
had said, he would do nothing in it till such time as he should 
see the MS. So I, being just waiting for the moving of Providence 
in the matter, was natively brought to resolve on sending the 
copy to him. 

By the melancholy event of 14th July I was led to preach 
on Ps. cxlvii. 11, "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear 
Him, in those that hope in His mercy." - The which, being begun 
27th July was ended 31st August. After which I entered on 
the Saviour's commission, Isa. Ixi. 1, " The Spirit of the Lord 
God is upon Me ; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach 
good tidings unto the meek ; He hath sent Me to bind up the 
broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the 

^ [1 Kings xviii. 21. Works, IX. 245 (misprinted chap, xvi.).] 
H Works, IX. 66.] 



opening of the prison to them that are bound ; " ^ and insisted 
thereon till 22nd February in the year following. 

Being again engaged, this winter, in the study of the accentua- 
tion, and occupied in writing in my book of materials, I stuck. 
Upon which event, and for other causes, I resolved to spend some 
time in prayer. A thanksgiving for the good harvest proposed 
at the synod, did not take. It was proposed to me to observe it 
however here. But my heart had a secret aversion to it, and I 
delayed it, to see whether the commission would appoint one or 
not. These two last Sabbaths I waited for word about it; but 
none came, nor could I hear what they had done. I saw God 
was angry with me, and hereby testified His displeasure against 
my former subtle aversion to it : I therefore on the 3rd of 
December spent some time in prayer on these accounts. And 
the Lord was with me. Examining myself for evidences of grace, 
I found, 1. I was carried out of all confidence in myself to Jesus 
Christ, on whom my soul relied with confidence, finding I have 
no other plea before the Lord. I was sensibly brought to this 
by confession ; setting God's mercies to me, and my sins,' from 
my birth, through the several periods of my life, childhood, youth, 
etc., the one over-against the other, in confession, before the Lord.^ 
2. My conscience bearing me witness, of hating and despising all 
things in comparison of Christ ; being desirous to cleave to Him, 
and the way of duty, over the belly of all smiles and frowns that 
would carry me away. 3. A desire of universal and perfect 
holiness, being conscious my hopes are as earnest for sanctifica- 
tion, as for justification, from Jesus Christ my Lord. What I 
had most at heart in this exercise, was my study of the accents, 
the thanksgiving, the case of my absent children, the afflicted 
in the parish, etc. My daughter Jane about two months ago 
having gone to Dunse, I had a special concern on my spirit for 
her. And by her letter I was refreshed, both in that it was well 
with her soul, and my prayers for her have been heard. I saw 
myself much indebted to the divine goodness, in that all my 
children now appear to have a capacity for learning. I had a 
special concern on my spirit this day, for being helped to die to 
the glory of God, that, when it comes, I may be full of days, ripe, 
and content cheerfully to go away. Between the laying down of 
the resolution for this exercise, and the performance, I saw what 
way to get over the particular difficulty whereat I stuck in my 

1 [Works, IX. 507.] 

2 [Cf. Mem. on Fasting, VII. vi. 2. Works, XI. 364.] 

iyi7-i724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 337 

study of the accents. This is the second time I have found that 
promise fulfilled in this matter, " Before they call, I will answer," 
Isa. Ixv. 24. 

1\s,t Decemher. — My wife brought me in mind of a story of one 
of my daughters which I had forgot, that happened in the begin- 
ning of 1712, or some time before that. A poor boy came into 
the house begging, having such a defect in his speech, that he 
pronounced the words /a/J/ic?- and mother, feet and moa: at which 
my wife and others smiling, desired him to speak over again what 
he had said. In the meantime the child stood looking on, with 
the tear in her eye, in great distress ; and at length came to her 
mother, and said, Mother, did God make that laddie? She 
answered. Yes, my dear. Then she replied, Will He not then be 
angry at you for laughing at him ? for my book says, " He that 
mocketh the poor, reproacheth his Maker." And the boy being 
very naked, she was in mighty concern to get old clothes for 

Tlnd Decerribcr. — Having had a particular concern this morning 
on my heart for grace to the young ones, I spoke affectionately to 
my little child Thomas, about the state of his soul, and prayed 
with him. Being risen from prayer, and his mother come in, 
he burst out a-weeping. Taking him aside, and asking what was 
the matter, he said, he knew not how to get an interest in Christ. 
I said he was to seek it, and believe the gospel. He said he 
knew not how to seek it. He went into the western room there- 
after, I being abroad, and being asked, said, he went in to seek 
an interest in Christ, and to tell Christ he would be His. I 
note this for an encouragement to hold on to teach and stir 
them up. I am sorry I have not kept an account of the early 
movings that were in the rest. 

Is;; January 1719. — I had resolved to keep my time for prayer, 
the week following, and not to separate myself any manner of 
way this day. But Providence laid a necessity on me to do it 
this day. Treasurer Wightman, having glanced the MS. on the 
Fourfold State, wrote to me, that he found a vein of true 
Christianity in it, and therefore would contribute to the publica- 
tion of it ; and this requiring an answer, gave me an unlooked- 
for errand to the throne of grace at this time. He intimated 
withal, that the style would be nauseous to the polite world, and 
that no book had yet been written on the depraved state of man, 
with true spirit and elegancy of expression. This did not much 
move me ; for I do not think that way of writing he is so fond 


of, is the way the Lord has used much to countenance for the 
advancing of true Christianity. Meanwhile it left me much 
undetermined what to do with the MS. Three things especially 
I had in view in this exercise: 1. My management as to that 
MS. ; 2. The study of the accents ; 3. Divine assistance in 
revising the larger overtures for discipline in this church, laid 
on me by the synod, and on some other brethren. In the 
beginning of this secret exercise, the Lord was pleased to 
countenance me : but after that I drove very heavily, till 
towards the end, wherein He was pleased to help to freedom and 
confidence in Himself. 

The aforesaid overtures having been long in print, the General 
Assembly had committed them to synods and presbyteries, to be 
considered by them, in order that being ripely advised, they might 
be turned into standing rules. The synod had appointed some 
few of their number to consider them accordingly ; of whom I 
was one. And, having been almost ever since my entering into 
the ministry, dissatisfied with several things in our constitution, 
especially the manner of admitting to the Lord's table, and 
planting of churches, I embraced that opportunity to endeavour 
to get such things rectified : and accordingly I did, some time 
after, apply myself closely to consider of these overtures ; and 
wrote several remarks on them, together with new overtures for 
admission to the Lord's table, and debarring from it ; the v;hich 
are to be found among my papers.^ Howbeit, the synod did not 
call for them. Nevertheless, by order of our presbytery, they 
were laid before the commission, or their committee appointed to 
receive such remarks. But the matter was dropped ; and, for 
anything I know, no more insisted on since that time. And I 
apprehend the malady will be incurable, till the present constitu- 
tion be violently thrown down. 

On the 15th of March I returned to the catechism, entering 
on the question of sanctification. And from that time I went 
through the whole that remained of it, till I came to the end 
thereof, in the spring in the following year.^ Meanwhile, with 
these catechetic sermons were joined others directed against 
formality, from Eom. ii. 28,^ 29, and profaneness, from 2 Tim. ii. 
19,* and Eom. i. 18,^ ended 8th November in this year. 

This was another year remarkable on the account of the abjura- 

1 [Appendix 3.] - [Works, I. 653 and II.] 

3 [March and April, "Works, IX. 334.] " [May and June, Works, X. 9.] 

6 [Works, III. 214.] 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 339 

tion-oath, as the 1712. Towards the latter end of the preceding 
year, the nonjurors at Edinburgh thouglit meet, that one should be 
sent to court, to represent the loyalty and good affection of that 
party to his Majesty, notwithstanding that they could not take 
the oath of abjuration imposed by law. And a form of an oath 
which they could take, was condescended on, with an address for 
that effect.^ The said address was handed about to be signed by 
nonjurors ; and withal, money desired of them to bear the charges 
of this mission. I refused to sign the address, having no clearness 
for it; and so did also my two friends Mr. Wilson and Mr. 
Davidson. However, being clear and willing, that our loyalty 
and good affection to King George should be represented, I gave 
my money, a guinea as I remember, towards the bearing of the 
charges for that effect. Mr. William Gusthart, then minister 
of Crailing, afterwards transported to Edinburgh,^ was the man 
whom they sent to court. And upon his retftrn, what money 
was left, was restored. Their project so far took at court, that 
the addressers got the oath so as they embraced and took it. 
And the first day of June was the term appointed by the act 
for the taking thereof: and that act did withal bar all yoimg 
men from being licensed or ordained without taking it. So the 
body of those who formerly had been nonjurors, were carried off 
into it at that time : and there remained but a few recusants ; 
among whom, through the divine favour, were my two friends 
and I still. From the year 1712 to this year, the nonjurors made 
near a third part of our synod ; and so we were regarded by our 
brethren jurors, and were in case to be useful among them ; but 
from this time, the few that remained were quite borne down, 
and could do little in the synod.^ 

Whatever answer I had given to the above-mentioned letter 
from Mr. Wightman, about the Fourfold State, I liad afterwards 
again laid aside thoughts of the project, and requii'ed back that 
part of the copy which was at Edinburgh. But it was refused ; 

^ [See the address and oath in full, dated 8th December 1715, Wodrow's Corresp. 
II. 687.] 

-[Settled at Crailing 1708; colleague to Rev. J. Webster of the Tolbooth 
Church, Edinburgh, 1721.] 

'[The Abjuration Oath was reimposed by Act of Parliament of 1719. In this 
act the oath was amended on the lines of a draft sent up by the Assembly's 
Commission (Wodrow, II. 429-30). According to Hill Burton (VIII. 385 and 
authorities), the deputation from the Commission reached Loudon 9th February 
1717. It was in April that same year (1717) Gusthart was in London with the Non- 
jurors' address (Wodrow, II. 245). Boston's statement of the events Icadingup to 
the reimposition is not quite accurate. ] 


and the week before the sacrament, which was administered 7th 
June, I had another letter from Mr. Wightman aforesaid, bearing, 
that he had agreed with Mr. James Macewan to print it on his 
ov/n expenses, and to give me a hundred copies : and for encourage- 
ment of the undertaker foresaid, he generously advanced to him 
a considerable sum of money for a time. After the sacrament 
was over, I laid the matter before the Lord, as it had been in 
the letter aforesaid proposed to me ; and having considered it, 
could not see how I could with safety of my conscience refuse 
compliance with this fair offer, and to let it go out into the 
world. Accordingly I signified my compliance therewith. My 
being threatened with silencing on the account of the oath again, 
as anew exposed now to the lash of the law, had great weight 
herein with me ; as also the providential bringing about the 
matter in a manner I expected not, when the apparent instru- 
ments of it were carried off one after another; and that this 
point it was brought to when I had again given over thoughts 
of it. 

Meanwhile I had by this time for some years found my strength 
decaying. And the preceding winter's study had much weakened 
me ; having in March 1718 completed my sixth septenary, being 
then forty-two years of age. 

Now being thus again called to lay my account with suffering 
on the account of the oath aforesaid, I wrote a paper, intitled, 
Reasons for 7rf using the ahjuration-oath in its latest form, 1719; 
the which is in retcntis, together with a printed copy thereof 
incorrectly done. This, a considerable time after, came surprisingly 
to my hand, not knowing how it came to be published. 

As to the sacrament in June, I have little to remark for 
comfort in my own case. My furnace was hot, partly by reason 
of the business of the abjuration-oath again, which came on like 
a thunder-clap ; and partly, by the affliction of one of mine. The 
Lord was pleased to withdraw from me in my studies, so that 
for the two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, I could do nothing 
therein satisfyingly : but I behoved to go forward as I could in 
the explication of the text, on Wednesday's night ; and on Friday 
hammered out a sermon on it, with no gust at all. Howbeit I 
got some gust of it in meditating on it afterwards ; and that was 
increased in the delivery of it. A madman was so unruly, that 
I was much confounded in fencing of the tables ; recovered some- 
what at the table : but when I had done, I was much disturbed 
and cast down. This, however, the Lord was pleased to make 

iTn-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 341 

use of, to the further discovery of my sinfulness and emptiness, 
issuing in a melting of heart, under a sense of my own naughtiness, 
and tlie goodness of God, which was the frame of my spirit in 
communicating. It was a melancholy time at the sacrament 1712, 
the first year of the oath ; and this in some measun? kept pace 
with it, tho' not so ill. The reflecting on that made me 
wonder the less at this. Surely it is to keep me humble and 

Great was the stumbling and offence of the people in the 
Forest and Teviotdale, on the account of the oath, in its new, 
as well as in its old shape ; but the combination among the 
ministers was now become strong, and the few recusants were 
treated as aliens by their brethren. The people being in a 
ferment, there was desired a meeting of our presbytery with the 
presbytery of Jedburgh at Hawick, to confer with the people, 
in order to bring them to peace, and to hear the word from those 
with whom they were offended. To this meeting I went, with 
a sincere desire to contribute my endeavours towards the desired 
peace. But appearing among them, they, to my great surprise, 
did by tlieir vote force me into the chair, contrary to all right 
and reason ; the moderator of the presbytery of Jedburgh being 
ex officio moderator of that meeting, since it was a meeting of 
that presbytery within their own bounds, to which our presbytery 
had been invited. But the design, proceeding from their jealousy, 
was, that I might not have access to speak much in the affair: 
and indeed they made the seat most uneasy to me ; and carrying 
things with a high hand, nothing was done for healing of the 
breach betwixt them and the people. But they appointed a 
committee of their number, to meet at Lilliesleaf in our bounds, 
for a new conference with the people. When they met there, 
they tacked about, and without any ceremony set another in the 
chair, though I, as moderator of their constituent judicatory, was 
their moderator ex officio. But I made not the least hint to 
reclaim. They minded then, that- 1 should have access to speak : 
and out of conscience towards God, I did all I could towards 
accommodating the matter betwixt them and the people ; and 
the best was made of it that circumstances would allow, a peace 
being patched up. After all was over, I told their leading men 
the sense I had of their manner of treating me at both meetings ; 
but that I liad resolved to be what they pleased, for reaching the 
end : upon which they owned, I had acted as a good man and a 
Christian. Meanwhile, in the harvest-season, orders came from 


court to prosecute the nonjurors : but the execution was put 

When I think on my refusing to sign the address for the oath, 
which the addressers got granted them, accompanied with barring 
all young men from being licensed or ordained without taking it, 
I am thankful from the heart, I was kept from putting my hand 
to that unhallowed business. 

About the beginning of August, I began and transcribed what 
remained of the Eternal State, and ended all 24th October. 
This was the second time I had wrote over that book. And 
about the middle of November, thirteen of the printed sheets 
came to my hand, the press having advanced to the head of 
regeneration. I spent therefore the 24th of November in prayer, 
for a blessing to be entailed on that book, not only in the time 
of my life, but after my death ; as also for the divine assistance 
in my study of the accentuation, which I was then to fall upon 
again ; for the case of the church, my family, and particularly 
the children at Edinburgh, and the congregation. And I came 
away with confidence in a prayer-hearing God. 

It was but a little after this, that having closed that exercise, 
and sit down to dinner, an express from Edinburgh arrived, 
calling me thither ; for that my daughter Jane was dangerously 
sick of a high fever, and roving.^ This surprising alarm touched 
me to the quick. Presently the cause was manifest. I had 
taken her and her brother John to Edinburgh, and left her 
uneasy with the cold, as he also was ; and just at my coming 
home on the 14th, being attacked with a certain temptation, 
which often has been ruining to me, I was thereby carried quite 
off my feet ; my heart in the meantime fearing my dear children, 
whom I had left, might smart for this. It was ground of comfort, 
that the Lord had begun early to deal with her soul; and, by 
good providence, about an hour ere the express came, I had cast 
my eye on the passage of 21st December 1718, above, p. 337. 
At five o'clock I took my horse, and journeyed all the night. 
Many thoughts about her went through my heart like arrows, 
while I was by the way : but still I held firm by this, that what- 

^[" You know that an order came down about a month ago ... to prosecute 
all Non-jurors. . . . The order was returned about three weeks ago, with a desire 
that it might be sent down direct to the Magistrates of Edinburgh. No answer is 
yet come down, and the Magistrates seem resolved not to engage in that affair." — 
17th Augi;st 1719, Wodrow to Wright, Corresp. II. 454.] 

" [I.e. raving. Cf. 1712 Halyburton in Memoirs, IV. vi., "A great deal from a 
dying man will go for canting and roving."] 

i7n-i724\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 343 

ever the Lord should do in her case, it would be well done, it 
would be best done, and my soul would approve it as such. 
And the faith of this was my anchor. I considered all my 
children; and, if any of them was to be removed by death, 1 
was satisfied it should be lier, though she has had a very parti- 
cular room in my affection : for I looked on her as the fittest 
for that change. At Peebles, the passage concerning Peter's 
wife's mother coming before me in prayer, I was helped to pray 
that God would rebuke the fever. Betwixt eight and nine next 
morning I arrived in Edinburgh ; and having asked if she was 
alive, my trembling heart was eased with the answer, that she 
was better ; and I found it was so when I saw her. I continued 
in Edinburgh from that "Wednesday till the Friday was eight 
days after, 4th December ; and she was still better. During 
that time, I was willingly employed in private houses, in the 
Lord's work, since the melancholy work of burying my daughter, 
which I had feared, was taken out of my hand. She had got 
out of the bed six days before I left her. This was a great 
mercy in my eyes ; and I was often made to thank my God, 
for the kind rebuke He had given me ; for while He smote with 
the one hand. He embraced with the other. It was kindness, 
that the alarm found me as I had been employed that day. 
John Currie was to have gone to the Merse that day, and I 
thought he had been gone ; but Providence had stopped him, 
that he might go with me. There being a sick man in the 
Crosslie, I thought it best to visit him as I passed, notwith- 
standing my haste, and the occasion of it ; and God moved the 
heart of one of the servants there to guide us over the hills : 
the night being so dark, that, going up the hill, I could not 
discern the horse that rode before me, I caused one put on his 
shoulder a white linen cloth for that end ; but to no purpose. 
The waters were up ; but we got another guide through Yarrow : 
and thereafter the two procured us another, who guided us to 
the Paddoch Slacks.^ We got on our way without mistaking 
it, but that we were somewhat puzzled to find the road through 
two brooks. 

On Tuesday, 8th December, I spent some time in prayer, 
singing of mercy and judgement, and for my daughter, the book, 
the accentuation, etc. One thing more occurred to me, thinking 
on the trial, that I had not made a more solemn business of the 

^ [A steep descent of two miles into Newhall, where the parishes of Yarrow and 
Traquair march. Locally pronounced Paddy Slack.] 



children's going away, by setting some time apart for prayer 
on that account, either in the family, or by myself; and that 
I had not put the children themselves to it : and on Jane's going 
to Dunse, I had a check for the same omission. Meanwhile, 
ever since I came home, I had been wrestling with the tempta- 
tion aforesaid renewed : so that that day I saw myself standing 
on the ice, and my flesh trembling for fear of God, and I was 
afraid of His judgements. 

On Friday, 11th December, what I feared came on me, 
receiving a letter that Jane was taken ill of the small pox, and 
that they had broken out on Tuesday the 8th. The account 
not being very bad, I staid, and preached on the Lord's day, 
and went off after sermon. On that morning, such a damp 
took me in prayer, that I could neither pray for her recovery 
nor salvation ; which made me ready to conclude she was dead. 
It continued in the public prayers, till the last one after the 
sermon, wherein my bonds were loosed to pray for her; which 
sent me away with hope. I got to Edinburgh on Monday by 
four o'clock. Her pox were many, and of a dangerous kind. 
On the Thursday, the pox being about their height, she fell 
feverish. Fears of her death came then to an extremity ; and 
while I was thus hardly bestead, awful impressions of the 
sovereign God sitting on His throne in the heavens, having 
the matter in His hand wholly, to turn it what way He pleased, 
were seasonably, by His grace, fixed on my spirit, commanding 
me silently to wait the issue. And that word, Ps. Ixxxv. 12, 
" The Lord shall give that which is good," was the word I was 
led to for resting in, during the long time of her illness. When 
the worst was past on the Monday after, new straits arose, and 
I was plunged in difficulties : but deliverances came, which were 
sweet as the answers of particular petitions to the Lord. I was 
employed there in private houses, not without countenance from 
the Lord. I left my daughter in a hopeful way of recovery, 
but weak, 31st December, and came home on the morrow, the 
first day of the new year. And the 5th, being Tuesday, I 
spent some time in secret prayer for my daughter's case, and 
several other causes, particularly the accentuation and the book ; 
renewed the covenant as usual at such times ; and was let in 
to the application of the Eedeemer's blood. I would fain hope 
this quarrel is not to be pursued farther. 

The first week of my being in Edinburgh this second time, 
new orders came down for prosecuting the nonjurors. And 

i7i7-i724\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 345 

Mr. John Flint, and Mr. William Miller, two of the ministers 
of the town, formerly nonjurors, but now takers of the oath, 
having visited us in our distress, told me at parting, that they 
were just going to the President of the court of Session, to 
endeavour to divert the storm ready to break out. 

Mrs. Balderstone, to whose prayers I recommended my study 
of the accentuation, with the rest of my case, was a daughter of 
Mr. Henry Erskine's, formerly mentioned, whom I account my 
father in Christ, and a person eminent for piety, Christian 
experience, and communion with God.^ 

Wi January 1720. — My son Thomas, going in seven, having 
discovered something of his case to his mother, I did, at lier 
motion, converse with him thereon, and found him sensible of the 
stirring of corruption in his heart. He told me, he was troubled 
with ill thoughts ; that he would not tell them, for that he could 
not do it, but with a grieved heart ; that he resisted them, by 
saying over questions of the catechism, and reading (adding, 
Sometimes I read whether I will or no ; meaning, his going over 
the belly of his averseness to it), and sometimes by saying to them, 
Go away. He told me further, that God did not hear his prayers ; 
and that for that sometimes he forgot his prayers at night : that 
he wondered why God made the devil, for he tempted men ; but 
that he thought it was to destroy liars : that he found his heart 
fain on some things, when he got them first ; but he prayed to 
God to take away that fainness. I informed, instructed, and 
directed him, in the whole case, the best I could. 

2Qth January. — On the 9th, I received letters, shewing, that 
orders for prosecuting the nonjurors were again come from court.- 
This was the third time since June preceding. The first orders 
for that effect came in harvest ; the second, that week I went last 
to Edinburgh ; and now the news of this last came with the 
account of my daughter's recovery. They were now put in the 
hands of sheriffs, magistrates of burghs, etc., and I waited the 
issue. And for that cause I spent some time in prayer this day 
(with other particulars, and particularly the accentuation) ; and 
embracing the covenant anew, laid myself for time and eternity 

^ [Jeau Erskine, daughter of Rev. Henry Erskine (p. 8), h\ his first wife, 
married c. 1687 Mr. George Baklerstoiie, surgeon. She died 19th October 1738 in her 
eiglity-sixtli year. 1831, Eraser, Life of Eh. Erskine, 44-5. See, too, ibid. pp. 162, 
203, 517.] 

" [In a letter dated 11th January 1720, Mr. Webster informs Wodrow that the 
Magistrates of Edinburgh had received a letter from Sir David Dalrymple, with 
orders to prosecute. II. 358.] 


on God in Christ, with an eye to the trials before me ; and, with 
the same view, laid over my wife, children, and servants, that 
may be with me in my trial, on the same God ; and also the poor 
parish. And now let the Lord do what seemeth Him good. 
Howbeit, this storm, which so often appeared on the point of 
breaking forth, has been, through the mercy of God, averted unto 

this day. 

By the disposal of that holy Providence which all along hath 
kindly and wisely balanced my worldly affairs, tho' my tenement 
in Dunse had been profitable to me while I was at Simprin, yet 
after my removal to Etterick, it afforded me little profit and much 
trouble. For which cause, I had sold it to my brother John : but 
he dying, that bargain flew up. But, about this time, it was sold 
for good and all to John Dunse there ; my eldest son, when major, 
ratifying the sale, on the occasion above mentioned. 

In the spring-season this year, I was greatly indisposed and 
weakened, sometimes fearing when I lay down at night, I should 
not rise in the morning. Great also was the distress of the parish, 
and my toil by that means. Having ended my sermons on the 
catechism 3rd April; on the 10th I entered, by the call of 
providence, on Ps. xc. 12, " So teach us to number our days," etc. 
And on the 27th we kept a congregational fast for the great sick- 
ness and mortality.^ There was not one of my family, save myself 
only, that had not been one way or other laid by, for a time, 
during that period of general sickness. 

But the 10th day of May this year, was a day remarkable 
above many to me and my family ; being that wherein my wife 
was seized with that heavy trouble, which hath kept her all along 
since that time unto this day, in extreme distress : her imagina- 
tion being vitiated in a particular point ; and that improved and 
wrought upon, by the grand adversary, to her great disquietment : 
the which has been still accompanied with bodily infirmities and 
maladies, exceeding great and numerous. Nevertheless, in that 
complication of trials, the Lord hath been pleased, not only to 
make His mighty power appear in preserving her life, as a spark 
of fire in an ocean, but to make His grace in her shine forth more 
bright than before. 

Now, the Marrow of Modern Divinity, part 1, being as afore- 
said reprinted at Edinburgh, anno 1718, with a preface by Mr. 

1 The sermons preached on this occasion are annexed to the author's Body of 
Divinity, vol. iii. p. 606, and may be usefully read on such occasions, which are not 
infrequent. [Works, II. 659.] 

i7i7-f724\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 347 

James Hog minister of Carnock, a man of great learning and 
singular piety and tenderness, there had been a mighty stir made 
about it, especially in Fife, where, for several years before, a 
contest had been agitated, touching the covenant of grace, whether 
it is absolute or conditional. So that Mr. Hog found himself 
obliged to publish an explication of passages excepted against in 
the Marrow ; the which was printed early in the year 1719, 
Thereafter several pamphlets went abroad on that subject, the 
same year ; as for some years after also. And Mr. James Haddow, 
principal of the college of St. Andrews, did, in his sermon before 
the synod of Eife, 7th April 1719, attack the book foresaid: the 
which sermon was printed at the desire of that synod, under the 
title of The record of God, and duty of faith therein required. This 
humour going on, the Marrow was complained of to the general 
assembly that year. And thereupon they appointed their com- 
mission to take care, that the purity of doctrine might be 
preserved, and to call before them any authors or recommenders 
of books or pamphlets containing any doctrine not agreeable to 
the Confession of Faith. At the same time complaint was also 
made to them, on Professor Simson's printed answers to Mr. 
Webster's libel against him, to which the Professor continued to 
refer in his teaching : but that matter was dropped, and the 
motion for inquiring thereinto repelled. The commission of that 
assembly accordingly appointed a committee of their number for 
the effect foresaid ; who sufficiently shewed their zeal, but all 
upon one side, namely, to preserve the doctrine from the mixture 
of Antinomianism, which the hue and cry was now raised about. 
That committee divided themselves into two ; whereof the one 
sat at St. Andrews, and prepared excerpts out of the challenged 
books and prints, and sent their remarks to the other, who met at 
Edinburgh. Before these last, about the beginning of April this 
year, were called to answer for themselves, Mr. James Hog 
foresaid, Mr. Alexander Hamilton minister, at Airth, afterward 
transported to Stirling, Mr. James Brisbane at Stirling, and Mr. 
John Warden at Gargunnock ; all of them noted preachers of the 
doctrine of free grace, and withal nonjurors too.^ These brethren 
were examined severally and apart, by the committee. Mr. Hog 
being called, the first query proposed to him was. Whether he 
owned himself author of the preface to the last edition of the 
Marrow of Modern Divinity ? To which he answered affirma- 

' [Brief notices of these four will be found in Wodrow, Corrcsp. I. 23-6 ; ibid. 
I. 45 ; Fraser, Life of Eb. Erskine, 336 ; Wodrow, II. 400.] 


tively ; and, moreover, told them, that that book, whereof he knew 
nothing before, came most unexpectedly to his hand, and he read 
it over as soon as he could ; that he had no thoughts of the 
reprinting of it, but complied witli the motion thereto, after the 
project had been laid by others ; that at the earnest desire of 
some who managed the business, he wrote the preface ; that the 
Lord had blessed the reading of the book to many excellent 
persons of diverse ranks ; and that he knew an eminent divine, 
then in glory (whom I judge to have been Mr. Fraser of Brea, 
minister at Culross), who left it in record, that the reading an old 
edition thereof, was the first notable means blessed of the Lord, 
for giving him some clearness of impression concerning the gospel ; ^ 
and that for his own part he owned, that he had received more 
light about some important concerns of the glorious gospel, by 
perusing that book, than by other human writings which 
Providence had brought into his hands. This account of that 
matter I have taken out of a MS. narrative of what passed in 
that committee, done by Mr. Hog himself. 

This run of affairs quickly issued in the general assembly's 
condemning of the Marrnio of ALoclern Divinity, by their act of 
the date 20th May 1720.- And three days before, viz. 17th May, 
it pleased the Lord to call home to Himself, by death, the great 
Mr. James Webster ^ before mentioned ; a man eminent in main- 
taining the purity of the doctrine of the gospel, a nonjurant to 
the last breath, and in or about the last time he was in the 
judicatory, where the matter of the Marrow was considered, 
expressed his concern that they would beware of condemning it. 
My friend Mr. Wilson was a member of that assembly, but 
abhorred that their act, which he and others nevertheless could 
not stop. Upon which occasion he some time after wrote the 
letter, intitled, A letter to a gentleman at Edinliirgh, a ruling elder 
of the church of Scotland, concerning the proceedings of the last 
general assembly, ivith reference unto docti^ine chiefly: the which 
was published the year following, and was wont to be called The 
London letter. 

12th June. — The sacrament being administered here, I was in 
great fear as to my holding out, by reason of bodily weakness : 
yet I was not only strengthened to preach an hour and a half, but 

^ [Fraser, Mem. (1891, Invern.) 232. "I was much helped by Luther . . . and 
Calvin's Institutions ; something more by tliat book called the Marrow of Modern 
Divinity. "] 

2 [See this act in full in Struthers, Hist. Scoil. I. 420.] » [See p. 11.] 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 349 

to go through the rest of the work with competent ability, with a 
solid seriousness all along ; and, to my wonder, found myself after 
all less weary than I formerl}^ used to be. jNIy wife was under 
great weakness, and in a hazardous condition ; but was also carried 
through beyond expectation. It was a refreshing time to many 
of the people of God here gathered together, and a savoury work 
all along. While my son John was at the table, I had such a 
concern for him, as ever a travailing woman for tlie bringing 
forth of her child. At the table I had several particular suits, 
namely, about my wife's weakness, Jane's going again to Edinburgh, 
the book in the press, my study of the accents, Mrs. Balderstone's 
son abroad, and how to be carried through in defence of the truth 
of the gospel, the doctrine of free grace, which had got a stroke 
by the aforementioned act of assembly ; judging, that, as matters 
were now going, I might be called also to an account for some 
things in the Fourfold State, if once published. 

After handling of occasional subjects relative to the sacrament, 
before and after, I entered, 10th July, on the communion of saints 
as one bread, from 1 Cor. x. 17, " For we being many are one bread, 
and one body : for we are all partakers of that one bread." ^ The 
which subject I studied with particular care and considerable 
earnestness, as a very important point ; and dwelt thereon till 
30th October. 

B. S. told me, that the first sermon she got any good of, was 
that on the Sabbath afternoon at Morbattle, on these words, 
" Where is the God of Elijah ? " and that before that time, having 
no knowledge of me so much as by face, but hearing her sister 
speak of me, she could not endure my name, but had a particular 
aversion to me beyond any minister. This is a pretty odd 

30^/i August. — I went to Edinburgh on account of the book. 
Having read the sheets once and again, wliich the printer had 
sent out to me, I was greatly confounded to see the book pitifully 
mangled, being full of typographical errors; and, besides, Mr. 
Wightman had so altered it in many places, that he liad quite 
marred it. I had now put the most material errata in order for 
the press, and resolved to reprint several leaves : for in July the 
book was near printed oil", and they had sent to me for the title- 
page and preface. Thus I was on this pitiful occasion necessitated 
to go in to Edinburgh, leaving my wife in great distress, her 
trouble being now come to an extremity : and my two dear friends 

1 [Works, III. 591 (undated).] 


Mr. Wilson and Mr. Davidson, went along with me. When we 
came in, one new difficulty came on the back of another: Mr. 
Macewan, the printer, was at Glasgow ; the corrector could not 
be found for some time ; Mr. Wightman had set the press a-going 
to reprint the first three sheets, with his corrections : in the 
meantime the authentic copy could not be got, most of it being 
destroyed by the printers after they had done with it. I stopt 
the press quickly, till they should get new orders from me. I 
saw a part of Mr. Wightman's preface, wherein I found him 
recommending the modish style ; though some time before I had 
expressly wrote to him, not to do it, for that it was fast coming 
in, while what is a thousand times better is going out proportion- 
ably, as is usual in a declining time of the church. He had also 
again altered the title-page. But in midst of wrath the Lord 
remembered mercy. I was by kind Providence directed to Mr. 
William Hogg, merchant,^ to devolve the management of this 
perplexed affair on, with the printers : and few men could have 
bestowed so much time and pains on it as he did. Ever since 
that time I have had his friendship most beneficial to me, he all 
along since sparing neither pains nor expense, to manage for me 
the affairs which have in my late years lain nearest my heart. 
May the Lord reward to him and his, that his labour of love, in 
those things wherein the honour of God, and my comfort, were so 
much concerned. With him, dipping into the business, a long 
time was spent, in preparing eleven leaves to be reprinted, nine 
of which, I think, Mr. Wightman's meddling had occasioned ; and 
on considering the errata to be printed. Eesolving not to be 
imposed upon more, I went to Mr. Wightman, and modestly dealt 
with him, to forbear the reprinting of the three first sheets ; to 
let alone recommending the modish style ; and recovered my own 
title-page. I recovered also of the authentic copy from p. 315 
thereof, which is to be found among my papers. I dropped one 
of his unhappy corrections to him, speaking a little on it, with 
which he seemed to be stunned. His preface new modelled he 
promised to send me ere it should be printed. We soon saw the 
beautiful conduct of Providence, in carrying Mr. Macewan to 
Glasgow at that time, and directing to Mr. Hogg ; for that matter 
could not have been managed betwixt the former and us to the 

^["Mr. William Hog, merchant, Edinburgh, was a character well known as 
another Gains, at whose house all the pious ministers were wont to meet. He was 
very active in all the societies for promoting religious and beneiicent objects in his 
day." — Wodrow, Corrcsp. II. 546 nofe.'l 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 351 

advantage it may be betwixt them two now. And the time of 
our coming in appeared to have been directed by the wisdom of 
Him who leads the bUnd in the way they knew not ; the printers 
having, just the day before, begun to set for reprinting the fore- 
said three sheets, which if done had been a most unhappy step. 

7^A Seijteiiiber. — This day I spent some time in prayer, about 
my wife's case, the case of the book, and the assembly's act 
condemning the Marrow. As to the first, I had recommended it 
to the concern of Mrs. Balderstone, before the Lord. But as to 
the last, I am afraid the Lord honour me not to bear testimony for 
Him in the cause of His truth. {Nota. — But blessed be Jehovah, 
I have been disappointed in these fears.) The case of the book is 
an amazing and awful dispensation. Mr. Wightman had desired 
liberty to smooth some expressions in it, as, for horribly, to read 
too much : I gave it him freely, and withal that he might delete 
whole sentences. This was all that passed betwixt him and me 
on that head ; and indeed it was too much. But I never once 
dreamed, that he would have extended that liberty at the rate 
he has done. It was well he had not gone through the whole, but 
that a good deal in the former and latter part of the book had 
escaped : but he had used so much freedom with it, from the head, 
Of man's utter inability, to that Of the resurrection inclusive, as 
created me a deal of vexation, and new labour. And, so far as I 
yet understand, the cause of the Lord's punishing me in this 
manner, was my base cowardice, and having men's persons in 
admiration ; so as, after I had brought it by study and prayer to 
the case it was in, I let it fall into another hand, with so little 
caution, as to allow any alterations to be made therein, without 
first seeing them, and being convinced of the necessity or 
expediency of them. These things were particularly engraven to 
me, on that, whereas I had put on the title-page of the book, as 
the very language of my heart, 1 Cor. iv. 10, "We are fools for 
Christ's sake," he without any ceremony had blotted it out ; and 
I being urged to set my name to the book, which really from the 
beginning I designed not to do, could not then do it for a new 
reason, namely. That they had so mangled it : and from my own 
conviction I dropped that scripture, forasmuch as I saw I had 
declined to be a fool for Christ's sake, in that point ; and therefore 
the Lord had made me a greater fool than I needed to have been. 
{Nota. — But the wisdom and foreknowledge of God ! This has 
been of good use to me since that time, to cure me of these 
weaknesses, and to resolve to see with mj' own eyes in such 


matters, whatever be other men's character for piety, or learning, 
or both. And I hope thro' grace it shall be useful to me, in 
these matters, while I live. I have seen more into men, and how 
much they are to be ceased from, since that time, than ever I was 
able to see all my life before. And considering what a scene of 
life the Lord has led me out to, since that time, and is continuing 
with me to this day, 5th September 1727, I do with profound 
reverence adore that infinite wisdom and goodness which laid on 
me that heavy trial, and on the bended knees of my soul return 
Him thanks for every step or part of it, even the blackest. Amen.) 
Continuing in this exercise only, from six to about eleven, my 
spirits were exhausted. 

The act of assembly condemning the Marrow was, by concert, 
brought before our presbytery ; Mr. George Byres, minister of 
Lessudden,^ a judicious, plain, good man, being, as I remember, 
employed to move it. And it was by our presbytery laid before 
the October synod, that they might consider of it. It was put on 
me to shew what was offensive therein ; to which was joined also 
what was offensive in their act for j)reaching catechetical doctrine.^ 
I felt the consideration of the a^ssembly's authority a great weight 
on me ; and I had almost no help at all, but by Mr. Wilson. So, 
instead of getting the synod to seek redress of these things from 
the assembly, we were borne down. And the truth is, the cause 
was but weakly managed : I fear the Lord has not yet given a 
spirit for contending with this declining generation. My uneasi- 
ness on the account of the management of that affair, deprived me 
of much of that night's rest. Wherefore, on the morrow, catch- 
ing the occasion of bringing in tliat affair again, I exonered my 
conscience with less ceremony and more freedom, than had been 
used the day before. I cannot but notice the dispensation of 
Providence, in that I w^as called to make this invidious appearance, 
at the very time my book was coming forth : but I rested on that 
holy Providence, which, doubtless on a becoming design, had kept 
in that book, till that time of darkening the doctrine of free grace, 
and would not allow it to appear before. 

As my two friends and I were on our way returning from 
that synod, Mr. Wilson moved, that a letter should be written to 

1 {I.e. St. Boswells. Mr. Byres was minister there from 1G97 to 1730. lu 1730 
he was succeeded by his son (p. 364), who afterwards adopted the views of 

" [Act for preaching catechetical doctrlnr, 7olfh directions therein. The offen- 
sive expression in tlie act was, " free justification through our blessed Surety, tlie 
Lord Jesus Christ."] 

J7i7-i724\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 353 

Mr. James Hog above mentioned ; shewing what had passed in 
that judicatory, on the affair foresaid, and our readiness to concur 
with others, to seek redress therein, of the assembly itself immedi- 
ately. And at their desire, I afterwards wrote a letter accordingly. 

Meanwhile I understood that the book would be published 
the week after the synod's meeting, if not before. And consider- 
ing, that I have made several steps in the study of the accentua- 
tion of the Hebrew text ; and that my health was much impaired 
last spring, and I know not what may be the issue, I have 
resolved to begin to write an essay on that subject, though my 
materials are not so fully gathered as were necessary ; because 
the former part of my collection of materials is such as nobody 
but myself can rectify, range into order, and fill up to my mind, 
being what first occurred when I entered that thicket ; though 
the latter part, and still the nearer to the end, is more distinct 
and perfect. For which causes I spent some time in prayer, 26th 
October, viz., for the Lord's blessing to go out with the Fourfold 
State, and for His presence with me, and blessing in the essay now 
to be made. The Lord helped to cry to Him in both these : and 
for some time I spread the Hebrew Bible, and my written 
materials, before the Lord in prayer, crying to the Father of 
lights, my Father, over them, for liglit, life, strength, time, and 
conduct, into all truth ; the which practice I found useful to my 
upstirring. And upon that word, Matt. xxi. 22, " And all things 
whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive," 
I was helped to confidence of being heard in both these things. 
At night I attempted to begin to write, wrote the title of chap. 1, 
but could do no more. On the morrow's night I essayed it again, 
wrote the first paragraph, but was diverted. 

It has pleased the Lord to recover my wife from that extremity 
she was brought to. She was taken violently ill of her headache 
four days, which being superadded to her other troubles, seemed 
to threaten death : but from thence was, and began, her recovery,, 
and no other way that I could perceive. Thus in the evening- 
time it was light ; and not by might, nor by power, etc. But 1 
would fain hope these have yet a further look. 

'ird Novemler. — This was the first free day I had to bestow on 
the essay upon the accentuation : and there was a third beginning 
of it, the former being laid aside. But whether it was precisely 
on that day, or not, it was begun, has already escaped me. 
However, I may reckon it so, the first chapter being entirely new. 
So hard was it for me, once to get entered on it : withal other 


temptations were hanging about me in that time. And a bound 
copy of the Fourfold State having on the 6th come to my hand, 
I did, on the morrow after, spread it before the Lord in prayer, 
for His blessing to go out with it, and to be entailed on it, while 
I live, and when I am gone ; and that it might be accepted. And 
indeed I think God hath heard these prayers : and ofttimes, 
when I have considered the acceptance that book met with, not- 
withstanding the disadvantages wherewith it was attended, I 
could not but impute it to an over-ruling hand of kind Providence, 
that would needs have it so.^ On the Tuesday I sent my son to 
Edinburgh, to wind up that whole business. He returned on 
Monday the 14th, with the good account of the business comfort- 
ably brought to an end, and that the book was going off well; 
which sent me to God with thanksgiving for His holy conduct of 
that affair, and His wise and merciful dealing in it. 

Now after some time I received from Mr. Ealph Erskine 
minister of Dunfermline, and son to the worthy Mr. Henry 
Erskine above mentioned, an answer of the letter aforesaid sent 
to Mr. James Hog; and then a return from Mr. Hog himself, 
bearing their readiness to concur in seeking redress of the injury 
done to truth by the act of assembly foresaid. And I did, on 
2nd January 1721, spend some time in prayer, for my own private 
case, perceiving the danger of my health and life in the ensuing 
spring ; for divine direction with respect to these motions about 
the said act of the assembly 1720 ; and for the divine assistance 
in the essay on the accentuation, which I was now engaged in. 
Thereafter, on the 8th, I entered, for my ordinary, on preaching 
of Christ directly, from Pro v. viii. 35, 36, " For whoso findeth 
me, findeth life, and shall olitain favour of the Lord. But he that 
sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul : all they that hate 
me, love death." Upon which I insisted for a considerable time.^ 

In pursuance of the motions foresaid relating to the assembly's 
act, there was sent from the brethren above mentioned, a draught 
of a representation to the assembly : with which draught my two 
friends and I not being satisfied, I at their desire made another. 
This was conveyed to the brethren aforesaid ; and a meeting was 
appointed to be at Edinburgh, in the latter end of February, to 
consider of that important matter. Both these draughts are to 

' That book has now undergone betwixt twenty and thirty impressions. [Works, 

^ The sermons on this text begin the volume lately published, intitled, The 
Christian Life delineated. [Works, X. 489.] 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 355 

be found among my papers ; the one indorsed, Co'py of a re^^resmta- 
tion to he given in to the assemlly 1721 ; the other, TJie original 
dran'jht of the representation given in to the assernhly 1721. 

On 1st February I spent some time in prayer, for the same 
causes as before, and the divine guidance to my son at Edinburgh : 
in which I had much ado to fix my feet ; for at this time there is 
such a current carrying the young generation to folly, as, I think, 
I never observed before, and seems to be ominous. As also with 
respect to my daughter's going to Edinburgh, rememljering the 
dispensation of Providence last year in her case. 

lAth February, Tuesday. — Last Lord's day there was a roll of 
seven sick persons in the parish prayed for, wliereof there was 
one in Crosslie, another in Falhop, another in Dalgleish. Consider- 
ing it would take me a day for each of these, I designed Monday 
for Crosslie, Tuesday for Falhop, and Wednesday for Dalgleish : 
in the meantime it was a storm of lying snow. The consideration 
of this toil, and of so much time to be cut off from my beloved 
work in my closet, raised in my corrupt heart a secret grudge. I 
had dispatched the Monday's work as said is ; and this day going 
towards Falhop, I understood at Cossarshill the person was 
removed by death. Keturning by Etterick-house, I visited the 
sick there, and then went towards Dalgleish ; but by the way I 
was told, that the sick person there was removed also that 
morning. This struck me to the heart, as shewing the anger of 
a holy jealous God against me, for the secret grudge aforesaid ; 
and that as lie needed none of my service, so He would have none 
of it that way : for which I flee to the Redeemer's blood, desiring 
grace to take this lesson ; and hereafter cheerfully to be ready at 
my Master's call. I visited one at Craigyford, another at Deep- 
hopgreen, and so returned home. The person at Falhop I had 
visited oftener than once; but knew nothing of the person at 
Dalgleish his being sick, till he was prayed for on the Lord's day. 

About the latter end of February I went in to Edinburgh, to 
the meeting above mentioned. And here began a plunge into 
public affairs, which so filled my head and hands, that now the 
proceeding in the essay on the accentuation was laid aside ; inso- 
much that, excepting a little done in it in the April following, I 
made no more progress therein for a long time. 

There met then, in the house of Mr. William Wardrobe, 
apothecary in Edinburgh, Mr. James Kid, minister at Queensferry, 
Mr. Ebenezer Erskine at Portmoak, his brother Mr. Ealph afore- 
said, Mr. James Wardlaw at Dunfermline, Mr. William Wilson 


at Perth, Mr. James Bathgate at Orwell,^ my two friends,2 and I. 
The first meeting was spent mostly in prayer ; and the Lord was 
with us at that and other following ones. We went through the 
act of assembly in order, shewing what was in it stumbling to us, 
and conferring thereon. In these meetings two things were 
observable. One was, that no debate was kept upon selfish 
motives, but each one was ready to yield to scripture and reason, 
by whomsoever advanced. Another, that when we stuck, and 
could not get forward, but were in hazard of falling asunder, 
Providence still interposed seasonably, causing something to be 
cast up, which cleared our way, and joined us. And it was agreed, 
that there should be a representation to the assembly about it ; 
the forming whereof was committed to Mr. Ebenezer Erskine, 
with whom our draught was lodged for that effect; and the 
revising of it when formed, was committed to the brethren in 
that country. And another meeting was appointed to be in the 
latter end of March, in the same place. 

From this meeting, Mr. Wilson at Perth, and Mr. Ebenezer 
Erskine, were absent. Mr. Sethrum, minister at Gladsmuir, 
was with us at one or two diets, but staid not. Mr. Hog's 
absence was thought expedient by some of ourselves, because of 
his particular interest ; he having writ the preface to the Marrow. 
Mess. Hamilton at Airth, Brisbane and Muir at Stirling, and 
Warden at Gargunnock, though invited, came not, to our great 
discouragement. Then the draught of the representation sent 
from us in the south, after several alterations and additions made 
thereon, was signed by all there present.^ And the next meeting 
was appointed to be the first night of the assembly's meeting in 
May ; and it was designed for prayer : but in regard of my cir- 
cumstances, I was allowed not to come in till the Monday after 
the assembly's sitting down. 

The first night of the assembly the meeting was in the same 
house again, accordingly : and Providence so ordering that I was 
chosen a member of that assembly, I met with them. Mr. James 
Hog, whose absence hitherto had been judged expedient, in 
regard of his prefacing the ]\Iarrow, did join us. Moreover, there 
came in to us a goodly company of brethren, with whose 
appearance I was much encouraged. But, behold ! they turned 

^ [Mr. Bathgate was the youngest of the twelve representers, and he died 30th 
March 1724.] 

- \I.e. Gabriel Wilson of Maxton, and Henry Davidson of Galashiels.] 
^ [See this representation in full in Struthers, Hist. Scot!. I. 498-506.] 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 357 

our meeting, designed for prayer, into a meeting for disputing, 
jangling, and breaking our measures : in the which, the main 
agent was Mr. John Warden above mentioned; and next, Mr. 
Moncrieff of Culfargie.^ Two things they mainly insisted on, 
besides picking quarrels with the representation. One was, a 
conference with the leading men before anything should be 
done : the other, that all should not subscribe, but only some 
few, the rest being reserved for managing, judging, and voting in 
the assembly. This last none of us who had already subscribed 
could go into. I was brought to yield to the first, together with 
Mr. Bathgate, on condition that the time of giving in our 
representation should not be cut off. But when it came about to 
my two friends, they smelling the unfair design tliat I had no 
dread of, that was stopped, as not to be yielded to. It was good 
Providence, that their unfair dealing could not blind us all, else 
we had in all appearance been ensnared and mired. Thus the 
whole weary night was spent, till daylight, that they left us in 
much worse case than they found us. Thus left of our new friends, 
it was proposed by Mr. Kid to drop the things quarrelled by them 
in the representation ; among which was an entire head, viz., chat 
of the fear of hell : and this, that our brethren might be obliged 
to stand by us in the assembly. In this step, unhappily gone 
into, we took the way of carnal policy ; and I liked it not, but 
could not oppose it, because I had drawn the paper. However, 
our politics, in the just judgement of God, failed us. The repre- 
sentation being transcribed accordingly, was signed by the 
twelve brethren,^ as in the printed copy, and was that same day, in 
the afternoon, given in by us to the committee of bills, Mr. Kid 
presenting it, being a man of singular boldness. This haste was 
made, to prevent our being teased anew, as the night before. Mr. 
John Bonar,^ who lodged in Mr. Wardrobe's, where we had our 
meetings, after signing it with us, went away home : and I do not 
remember his appearing with us afterwards, if it was not once, 
at which time he was called home by an express. Mr. John 
Williamson of Inveresk made his first appearance amongst us at 
signing of this last draught ; but was very useful after, being a 

^ [Rev. Alex. Moncrieff of Abernethy, one of the four founders of the Secession 
Church. He inherited from bis father, wlio died when he was about thirteen years 
old, the estate of Culfargie on the banks of the Earn. His action on this occasion 
is discussed in 1849, David Young, D.D., Memorial (U.P. Fathers), xxxvi.] 

^ [Biographies of all of tlie twelve will be found in Brown's Gospel Truth (1S31), 



man of a clear head, a ready wit, and very forward. Mr. William 
Hunter at Lilliesleaf signed it in the church, just before it was 
presented. It was not then read, but promised to be read at their 
next meeting. We understood afterward, that Principal Haddow, 
the spring of that black act of assembly, was in his way to the 
committee of bills, to bring in some motion about that act, it 
would seem for explaining it, etc., but that hearing the tabling of 
the representation had prevented him, he was disappointed, and 
forbore. Next diet it was read ; and at another diet we were to 
receive their deliverance thereon. The committee for overtures 
had it under their consideration ; and it was resolved, that unless 
we desired a conference, it should be transmitted to the assembly 
quamprimum. They came in great numbers from the committee 
of overtures to the bills, and made a terrible company against us. 
They who would have appeared our friends fell upon us, urged us 
to desire a conference, told us that otherwise it was resolved to 
transmit it to the assembly quamprimum, and what the conse- 
quences would then be. The matter was so managed to put us 
in fear : but they prevailed not to fright us from what we had, 
not rashly, but after much serious inquiry and deliberation, 
resolved upon. On Monday the assembly met, and determined in 
the matter of a call ; as also on Tuesday, but did no business, 
only appointed the choosing of the commission, the King's 
commissioner being indisposed. On Wednesday we expected, as 
we had done the day before, that our representation would have 
come before them : but beliold, that day the assembly, in regard 
of the commissioner's indisposition, was dissolved, after they had 
referred our representation, without reading it, to the commission. 
Howbeit, the commissioner was present in the assembly both 
that day and the preceding, and without his presence they did 
no business. No man spoke a word against the dissolution ; but 
all was carried on in profound peace. Thus our brethren, who 
reserved their appearing for truth to their management in the 
assembly, and would not join us in the representation, had all 
occasion of saying one word in the assembly about it, cut off. 
On the Thursday we were called before the commission; 
and Mr. Hog not being ready at the call, and Mr. Bonar gone 
away home, it was my lot to appear first in that cause. The 
eleven brethren being sisted before them, our representation was 
read : after which Mr. Hog spoke a little. Then follovv^ed a flood 
of speeches, about the number of thirteen, by which we were run 
down, no man standing by us. And among these speakers was 

17 n- 17 24^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 359 

Mr. John Warden aforesaid, a man well seen in the doctrine of 
free grace, but of some vanity of temper. Mr. Hog offered to 
answer in the time, but a hearing was refused ; so they went on 
without interruption. Thus the cause and we were run down, 
and the audience impressed, which seemed to be the design of 
this management. After this we were allowed to speak, before 
we should remove : and the Moderator desired me to speak ; which, 
lifting up my heart to the Lord, I did for a little ; but was quickly 
answered.^ Other brethren spoke also ; and particularly Mr. 
Williamson was happily guided to tell them, that we had heard 
such a multitude of speeches against us, that it was not possible 
to remember them, so as to answer them ; but that we would 
recollect, and afterwards answer. We being removed, they 
appointed a numerous committee to consider of that affair, to 
meet on Friday. That day we were called before them ; and at 
that time, to the best of my remembrance, a motion being made 
to purge the house, it was said to have proceeded from us ; which 
being denied by us, after some jangling, they agreed to have the 
doors thrown open ; which was effected through my friend Mr. 
Wilson's means chiefly. And kind Providence so ordered it, 
that the career they were on the day before, was, through the 
divine mercy, stopped to conviction, at that and the following 
meetings. Particularly Mr. Williamson did, in a point in debate, 
fairly lay Mr. Allan Logan, minister of Culross : and I was 
encouraged by the success of an encounter with Principal 
Haddow. We were warned to attend them again on the 
Monday at ten o'clock: but nobody came then to call us, till 
about twelve, a minister came to tell us, we were to attend against 
two. We waited on till betwixt six and seven after noon, that 
some of us went away ; and afterwards we heard we were to wait 
on upon the morrow. Thus we spent that day : they had 
difficulty in agreeing as to their own management. On the 
Tuesday we were again before them, and on the Wednesday 
before the commission : at which time we were warned to attend the 
commission in August, and the sub-connuittee the day before the 
meeting of the commission, and betwixt and that time, if called. 

The beauty of Providence, in this matter, shines in my eyes. 
The Lord laid us very low at our first appearance, on the Thursday, 
before the commission, that we might see, that it was not to be 
done by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord : but 

^ ["Mr. Boston and Mr. Eben. Erskine spoke with some modesty, and many dis- 
tinguished them from several others among them." — Wodrow to his wife, II. 585.] 


afterwards He raised us up, that our adversaries could no more 
triumph over us. Many times the appearance before the assembly 
had been a terror to me, and broke my sleep ere it came : but the 
Lord was with me in the appearance we made, and that terror 
evanished at length ; so that, to my own wonder, I was helped to 
speak without fear : " It shall be given you in that same hour 
what ye shall speak," Matt. x. 19. Expcrtus credo. I have 
learned to beware of men, and that all men are liars ; but God 
is a promise-keeping God. 

At the April synod, Mr. Wilson being in the chair, I was left 
alone to bear the shock, and was run down at an unusual rate 
about a fast ; which being appointed by the church, I had observed ; 
but in a few weeks was appointed to be observed again, by the 
King's proclamation, for the very same cause, without the least 
notice of what the church had already done in it. This I and 
others observed not. Returning home, I then said in my heart, 
" that I had a place in the wilderness ! " etc., Jer. ix. 2. 

11th June. — The sacrament was administered here. I and 
some others in this church were now become a wonder to many ; 
and God tried me at that occasion, but was very gracious to me, 
and saved me from the reproach of men. On Thursday Mr. 
Wilson came, but not Mr. Davidson, of whom I had made no 
doubt : so that I preached that day with Mr. Wilson, with much 
help from the Lord, having been seasonably led the day before, 
by foreseeing Providence, to have my thoughts that way. Mr. 
Simson, one of my three helpers, being under sickness, I had 
invited Mr. Kid ; but on the Saturday I received a letter, 
shewing him also to be kept back by the Lord's afflicting hand. 
So the work lay on my two friends, who preached that day, and 
myself. The communicants appearing, by the tokens, to be near 
a third part more than usually before, double tables were set, 
whereas before we had used only a single one. Saturday's night 
and Sabbath morning were great rains ; so that awaking early on 
the Sabbath, and beholding the waters swollen, and the rain fall- 
ing, threatening to bar those on the other side, my soul said, " What 
wilt Thou do unto Thy great name ! " For now many eyes were 
on us ; and should the people, gathered from places at many 
miles' distance, have been so disappointed, I thought it would be 
interpreted Heaven's sentence against them and us. I was helped 
to submission, and to see and adore holy becoming designs of 
Providence, if it should be so ; and to be easy, believing God 
would do what is best. But He sent down, and delivered us from 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 361 

the reproach of men, gave us sweet days of the gospel, and not 
one shower all the time of the work, Sabbath or Monday; jjut 
for a great part of that thne, spread His black clouds over us, with 
some intermixed sunshine. That threatening Sabbath morning 
kept the usual Sabbath-day's multitude away from us ; so that 
there was no great difference betwixt the Sabbath meeting and 
those of the other days. The wind of divine assistance in the 
sermon blew upon me, fell, and rose again. The Lord was with 
my brethren. I preached also on the Monday with them ; so 
spoke none at dismissing of the congregation, which I am never 
wont to omit. I thought I saw in the conduct of Providence at 
this communion, as in an emblem, what is, and is like to be, our 
case : the multitude carried off from us ; the most tender of the 
godly and Zion's mourners cleaving to us ; protection allowed us 
as to the storm hanging over our heads from the church ; with a 
blink now and then, and perhaps another communion allowed me 
here. I had a signal instance of the answer of prayer in my wife's 
case ; who being in deep distress of a long time, it seemed to 
come to a great height the week before, that I was put to cry 
that the Lord would at least heave up the cloud, so as it might 
not deprive her of partaking at His table. In this I was heard ; 
and she attained to so much composure, that she was not only 
not barred from it, but gave a very Christian account of the 
actings of her soul in the case ; which was the doing of the Lord, 
and wondrous in my eyes.^ 

On the 10th of July, a motion was so made to me by my two 
friends to write notes on the Marrow, that I was obliged seriously 
to think of it. At length having spent some time in prayer, 
purposely for discovering the Lord's mind therein, I was deter- 
mined to essay it, on this consideration, that, as matters now stand, 
the gospel-doctrine has got a root-stroke by the condemning of 
that book ; and that whatever else be done for retrieving it, it will 
be but to little purpose, while that book lies among the pots, 
people being stumbled and frighted at it. And this day I began 
that work, being obliged to lay aside thoughts of other business, 
viz., the preparing of the Fourfold State for a second edition, and 
the publishing of some sermons ; both which I am engaged to do 
to Mr. Macewan ; and my great work on the accentuation. 

Having plied that work two weeks, on the Saturday's night 
of the second, awaking out of sleep, I was taken extremely ill of 

^ [On the following Sabbath Boston began preaching onSongviii. 5. Works, X. 



a kind of heart-swooning, a most vehement heat and sweat being 
felt by me, my wife nevertheless testifying me to be cold as dead 
in the time. While in my extremity death stared me in the face, 
the doctrine of the Marrow concerning the gift and grant, and 
that scriptm-e, 1 John v. 11, " And this is the record, that God 
hath given to us eternal life ; and this life is in His Son," ac- 
cordingly understood, That God hath given unto us mankind- 
sinners (and to me in particular) eternal life, etc., whereby it is 
lawful for me to take possession of it as my own, was the sweet 
and comfortable prop of my soul, believing it, and claiming 
accordingly. The effects of that illness hung about me for some 
time : so that I had much ado to preach the two Lord's days after 
it, before the communion at Galashiels, 1st August. There I was 
very ill on the Saturday, and had much ado to get through the 
preaching. I was better on the Lord's day, and the Lord was with 
my spirit, and signally owned the whole work. On the Monday 
afternoon we went in to the commission, Mr. Wilson and I having 
been both brought within sight of death, threatening that we 
should not have access to appear in that cause again : and both 
about the same time, he by a fall from his horse, I as aforesaid. 
Thus the Lord dealt with us as with His own, and gave us a sight 
of death, to cause us to take heed how we manage in His matters. 
The Lord's staying my soul in the sight of death on that foundation 
of faith above said, controverted at this time in our present 
struggle, was, and is, very confirming. We waited on three days ; 
were never but once called before the committee, on the Wednesday, 
to tell us that the committee had prepared an overture about our 
affair, to be laid before the commission ; and on the Thursday 
before the commission, to tell us that the commission had prepared 
an overture about it, to be transmitted to the assembly ; and we 
were appointed to wait on in November again. We were still 
deserted by all, not one offering to join us. My courage for 
appearing before them, and reasoning, was low at this time ; for 
there was little or nothing to do with it. 

On the 22nd of August I spent some time in prayer, for the 
case of my own soul, and a multiplicity of business laid to my 
hand, while in the meantime my strength was much decayed ; yet 
desiring to be found so doing. That business then was, the 
writing notes on the Marrow ; the preparing of the Fourfold State 
for a second edition, which Mr. Macewan, the publisher, did 
demand ; the preparing some sermons for the press, desired also 
by the same person, and which I had some way yielded to ; and 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 363 

above all, the essay on the accentuation, the proceeding wherein 
my heart trembled to think of being deprived of an opportunity 
for ; all which require a great deal of time, and strength too. I 
laid my soul over on my Lord Christ, and desired to go on in my 
work as I was able, that if the Lord should take me away in the 
midst of it, I might be found so doing. (But now I thank my 
gracious God, that, however trying the prospect I then had 
thereof was, in respect of the state of my health, I have by this 
time [1730] got through all that business for the service of my 
God, and more too, which hath cast up since that time.) 

I was now led, for my ordinary, to treat of the two covenants, 
which lasted a long time. I began on the covenant of works, 27th 
August this year : and handling it at large, from several texts, I 
insisted thereon till May in the following year.' I studied it with 
considerable earnestness and application ; being prompted thereto, 
as to the close consideration of the other covenant too afterwards, 
by the state the doctrine in this church was then arrived at. 

My friend Mr. Wilson having been moderator of the April 
synod, at which I was run down, he, as in the chair, having little 
access to help, preached before them in October a faithful and 
excellent sermon ; at which they took fire. And immediately they 
commenced a process against him, on the account of that his 
sermon; which ended not till the general assembly 1723 put an 
end to it. The sermon is extant in print, intitled. The Trust, 
to be judged of by posterity : and was before four synods, as many 
committees of the synod, before the commission, and at length 
came before the general assembly ; as one ma}^ see in the preface 
to it, done, I think, by Mr. Kid.- It may easily be guessed, what 
a loss both these affairs meeting together at once would occasion. 
And indeed we were by this time become still more strangers to 
our brethren, and as aliens ; and saw, that our mothers had borne 
us men of contention. Besides what concerned the doctrine, there 
were in these days many occasions of difference in the matter of 
national fasts ; the appointments for which sent from England, 
bare evident marks of little honour had for our church ; such as 
the appointing of them to be observed on some of their superstitious 
days, and particularly on Fridays, contrary to all reason that could 
be drawn but from their superstition. These often occasioned us 
much uneasiness, and diHerent practices from our brethren, most 

^ This valuable performance was published in 1772. [Works, XI. 171.] 
- [The Preface (pp. .xii.) to this line sermon is unsigned. But it is clearly the 
work of "a man of singular boldness" (p. 357).] 


of them at least : but I am not ripe in the history of that affair, 
which hath been of a long course. However, for some time 
national fasts have been very rare. There was also introduced 
from England, into some of our civil courts, the corrupt custom of 
swearing upon the book ; which being laid before our synod, 
occasioned some debate before this time : but we could prevail 
nothing in that matter with them, towards moving for redress. 
But my friend Mr. Wilson exposed it, in his " New Mode of 
Swearing, tactis, et deoscnlatis cvangeliis," printed anno 1719. 

In the month of November, we appeared again before the 
commission. There we were told, we were to answer certain 
queries to be given us in writing by them. And having gone 
away together to consult, wdiat were best to be done in that 
matter, I was clear, that whatever should be the consequences, we 
should receive and answer them. What determined me to this 
was, that I thought we were to lay our account with parting with 
our brethren, as being cast out by them ; and, in that event, it 
would be safest, both for the cause of truth, and our own reputa- 
tion. This was agreed to, and the queries were received with 
a protestation. And thus they turned the cannon directly 
against us. 

While I was thus engaged in public trials, I met with a 
breaking disappointment in the case of my son John, whom I had 
designed for the holy ministry. Being, in that view, concerned to 
have given him a suitable education in every necessary branch of 
literature, I took care to have him taught at the college. Humanity, 
Greek, Hebrew, Mathematics, as well as Philosophy ; and allowed 
him for that end a course of five years there. But that course 
being ended this year, he would not once enter on the study of 
Theology, w^hich I had designed him for. But, after some struggle 
with him, all in vain, I behoved to advance him money, for 
betaking himself to the employment of a sheep-master. This 
disappointment lay with a particular weight upon me, when my 
strength failing more, I greatly needed help : but all expectation 
of help from him was cut off ; especially when I saw his comrade 
Mr. George Byres, son to Mr. George above mentioned,^ in case to 
help his father, still vigorous, and fit for his own business. But, 
! the admirable conduct of Providence, challenging an entire 
resignation ! The said Mr. George Byres, elder, is now removed 
by death : and I am yet spared, doing my work, though in much 

i[r- 352.] 

iji7-i724\ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 365 

In March 1722, we appeared again before the commission, and 
our answers to their queries were then given in. They are extant 
in print, with the protestation above mentioned prefixed to them. 
These answers were, as I remember, begun by Mr. Ebenezer Erskine ; 
but much extended and perfected by my friend ]\Ir. Wilson : 
where his vast compass of reading, with his great collection of 
books, were of singular use, and successfully employed.^ 

In May we appeared before the General Assembly, where the 
affair was at length brought to an end, by their act 21st May 
1722, which may be consulted : and we were admonished and 
rebuked. Easily foreseeing what would be the issue, in the 
assembly's determination of the affair, I drew a protestation 
while I was yet at home, and carried along with me. And the 
admonition and rebuke being received with all gravity, the said 
protestation, subscribed by us all, was given in by the hand of 
Mr. Kid ; and instruments taken thereon in due form. But the 
assembly would not read it, but quickly closed the sederunt. The 
said protestation is also extant in print. I received the rebuke 
and admonition as an ornament put upon me, being for the cause 
of truth. This affair was brought to the issue foresaid in the 
afternoon-session of that day : and their meeting for that black 
work being appointed to be at three o'clock that day, there came 
on, a little before the hour, a most dreadful storm of thunder 
and hail, by means whereof their meeting was for a considerable 
time hindered.'-^ In the time thereof, I came down, with some 
others of our number, from the Westbow-head, to the chamber 
where we attended till called ; and that almost running, the street 
being in a manner desolate. I well remember, with what serenity 
of mind, and comfort of heart, I heard the thunder of that day, 
the most terrible thunder-clap being just about three o'clock. It 
made impression on many, as Heaven's testimony against their 
deed they were then about to do : though in this it is not for me 
to determine. 

Thus ended that weighty affair, by means whereof I received 
another sensible increase of light into the doctrine of grace ; 
especially as to the gift and grant made of Christ unto sinners of 
mankind, and as to the nature of faith. In which last, my friend 
Mr. Wilson was the most clear and distinct: and my clearness 
and distinctness therein I owe to him, as the mean of conveying 

^ [These noble answers, couched in ^vol■thy language, will be found as an 
Appendix to the Marrow. Works, VII. 465.] 
"■ [Till five o'clock. Wodrow, II. 652.] 


it unto me. He hath since that time travelled in that subject, 
with peculiar concern and industrj^ to great advantage ; and is 
the man, of all I know, fittest to write upon it. Moreover, that 
struggle hath been, through the mercy of God, turned to the great 
advantage of truth in our church, both among some ministers and 
people ; having obliged both to think of these things, and inquire 
into them, more closely and nicely than before : insomuch that it 
has been owned, that few public differences have had such good 
effects. Meanwhile it is not to be doubted, hut others have, on 
that occasion, been carried further to the side of legalism, than 
they were before ; and that through the prevalence of their 
passions and prejudices : the gospel of Christ is by this time, with 
many, especially of the younger sort of divines, exchanged for 
rationalism. So that I believe the light and the darkness are 
both come to a pitch, that they were before far from in this church ; 
of the which posterity may see a miserable and a glorious issue. 

Having ended my sermons on the covenant of works, 6th May, 
I did on 1st July enter on the covenant of grace, the which 
ordinary, meeting with occasional interruptions, and being pursued 
from several texts, lasted near about two years. 

In the beginning of the month last mentioned, I finished the 
notes on the Marrow of Modern Divinity; which afterwards in 
the year 1726 were printed with the Marrow itself; in the which, 
out of regard to the authority of the church, that yet in that 
matter I durst not obey, I took to myself the name of Philalethes 
iRENiEUS, as bearing my real and sincere design therein, viz. truth 
and peace. In compiling of these notes, I had in view what was 
advanced against the Marrow in the several prints extant at that 
time, and which had come to my hand ; especially Principal 
Haddow's Antinomianism of the Marroiu of Modern Divinity 
detected; but naming nobody. The unacquaintedness with these 
prints, may occasion posterity's judging several of the notes quite 
needless : but at that time many had been at much pains to find 
knots in a rush.^ 

The sacrament of our Lord's supper was this year celebrated 
on the 19th of August. On the fast-day, being a presbyterial fast 
too, I had no help. But the Lord laid liberally to my hand, and 
I came easily by the several texts to be insisted on the Sabbath 
before the fast-day, and the communion-day. After the fast-day 
I was seized with the toothache, which I was not acquainted with 
before. It broke my rest on the Friday's night: and from the 

1 [Works, VII. 143.] 

iyj7-n24^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 367 

Saturday all along there was a train of trying incidents and 
temptations came on me ; so that I lost much of the Saturday's 
night's rest too. On the Lord's day my toothache was mercifully 
removed; and I was all along helped to trust God in that 
matter.i As for my case, I was carried through, in heaviness, 
with some pleasant blinks and gales now and then ; and the Lord 
was with my two helpers, for I had no more. 

Wi Scptcmler. — I assisted at the sacrament in Yarrow. The 
matter being laid before the Lord, the light calling me to go 
thither for the service of our common Master, made me put the 
knife to the throat of my own inclinations. Great was the im- 
easiness among many in this parish on that account ; beyond what 
I really expected. As for the work itself, I endeavoured to eye 
the ordinance as the ordinance of God ; and indeed in my personal 
duty of communicating, etc., and my public ministration there 
(except serving the table), it was well with me. The Lord was 
with me ; and what I met with there, both in public,- private, and 
secret, leaves yet a savoury impression on me. Particularly I had 
a plain answer of prayer, for assistance in the duty of public prayer. 

On the Wednesday after I came from Yarrow, I spent some 
time in prayer, for direction as to what I should next take in 
hand. The notes on the Marrow were finished in the beginning 
of July last. My doubt now was, whether to revise some notes 
concerning family and personal fasting and humiliation, or to 
proceed in the essay on the accentuation, which last was laid aside, 
by reason of the affair of the Marrow, some time in February 1721, 
excepting that a little was done therein the April following. I 
could not get clearness to fall on the former, and therefore 
necessarily fell in with the latter, as what was already begun. 
So I put pen to paper again in that work 12th September. 

At the communion-table in Maxton, 14th October, having 
upon my spirit a particular concern for the salvation of my family, 
and the case of my children; I think I was helped to believe, 
with particular application, the great promise, " I will be thy God, 
and the God of thy seed ; " and am verily persuaded it will be well 
with them at length. 

It was with much fear and trembling that I entered at first 
on the subject of the covenant of grace; and being, after some 

^ The author preached the action-sermon from Ps. cxlii. .5, which, with .some 
more sermons on it afterwards, were published in 1773, in the volume entitled. The 
Distinguishing Characters of True Believers. [Works, V. 44.] 

■ [He preached on 2 Tim. ii. 1. Works, III. 280.] 


interruption, to return thereto, I did, from a sense of my great 
unacquaintedness with the mystery, on 25th October, being the 
day before my study-day, spend some time in prayer, for the 
Lord's manifesting His covenant to me, and for some other causes. 
And soon after that, I saw, the Lord had been graciously pleased 
to hear me ; and He gave me some sweet views of the mystery. 
And the truth is, that, notwithstanding of what light into the 
doctrine of grace I had by the divine favour reached, at several 
distant periods above marked, I was still all along dark and con- 
fused in my notions of that covenant, until I entered on it at this 
time to preach it ; and in the progress therein, things were, by 
the good hand of my God upon me, gradually cleared unto me, 
endeavouring to study it, with the utmost application, in depend- 
ence on the Lord for light thereinto.^ 

\^th February 1723. — I entered on Ps. xv. and for a consider- 
able time dwelt on vers. 1 and 2, judging it meet to intersperse 
the doctrine of the covenant of grace with that kind of subjects ; 
that I might jointly teach the people the doctrine of grace and 
Christian morality.'-^ 

The general assembly, in the month of May this year, put an 
end to the process against Mr. Wilson, on the account of his 
synodical sermon aforesaid.^ It came before them by a reference 
from our synod ; who being bent to find error in the sermon, were, 
in the schoolhouse of Kelso, upon the very point of giving the 
stroke, but with great difficulty were got to stop. In the morning 
before the reference there was a meeting of a few, whether as a 
committee of the synod, or a private meeting for conference, which 
I rather suspect, I cannot be positive. There proposals were 
made for ending the affair : and I made them one, tending to 
peace, without prejudice to truth ; which, though coldly received, 
yet all hopes of its taking were not cut off, till we came to the 
synod. But being read there, Mr. James Eamsay, minister of 
Kelso, fired upon it; and, as I remember, offered to dissent in 
case it should pass : and, on the contrary, he proposed a severe 

^ The author's sermons on this important subject, as transcribed and prepared 
for the press by himself, were not published till 1734, two years after his death. 
[Works, VIII. 377.] 

" The sermons here mentioned are inserted in the volume, intitled, The Dis- 
tinguishing Characters of True Believers, published in 1773. [Works, V. 92.] 

3 [Cf. Struthers, Hist. Scotl. I. 51f.-6. " This afternoon (13th May) Mr. Wilson's 
afTair came in, and took near iive hours, as everything does from that quarter." — 
Wodrow to his wife, III. 46. See also Christian Instructor, I. 78-82. The sermon 
" Tlie Trust" has been frequently reprinted.] 

77/7-/7^^] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 369 

decision ; against which I was resolved to dissent, in case of its 
being gone into. So the synod,^ perceiving the affair would go 
before tlie general assembly, which way soever they should take, 
agreed to refer it to them, as it stood before them still entire. 
At the general assembly, where the proceeding was more wary, 
Mr. Wilson came off honourably; not one error being fixed on 
his sermon, notwithstanding all the clamour had been made 
against it. For his peculiar zeal and faithfulness, his brethren 
had shot at him particularly ; but his bow abode in strength. 
And the truth is, he was never till that his trial known to them ; 
but it set him in a clear light, and exceedingly raised his reputa- 
tion. The publishing of his trial hath been much desired. I 
was comforted, in seeing the affair brought to such an issue. 
Howbeit, by my going in to Edinburgh to the assembly on that 
account, my proceeding in the essay on the accentuation was 
again interrupted. 

On 9th June I administered the sacrament of the supper. I 
was much hurried by means of my necessary absence from the 
parish, in May, on account of Mr. Wilson's affair. My wife was 
in great distress, and I had no help on the fast-day : but kind 
Providence made my work easy; so that I got the fast-day's 
sermons on the Monday, and ttie action-sermon on Thursday and 
Friday. On the Friday's night, by reason of the scurvy struck 
out on me, I slept little ; on the Saturday's night none at all ; 
which made me very heavy on Sabbath morning. But I 
remember my great concern was for the efficacy of the word. 
God mercifully helped me ; so that I minded not my want of 
sleep during my work, till it was over. Thus my troubles and 
trials increased ; but the hand that laid them on, helped. My 
wife with much difficulty got out to the table. It was at and 
after that communion the sermons were preached, which since 
that time have been published, under the title of The Mystery of 
Christ in the Form of a Servant} The notion of Christ's state of 
servitude, there advanced and improved, I had been led unto by 
my study on the covenant of grace. 

On the 30th, I entered on the subject of the good fight of 
faith ; being led thereto by my wife's case, and indeed much for 
her cause. And this was not ended till 20th October.^ 

lA^th July. — Mr. Henry Davidson and I were at the sacrament 
in Penpont. It was the second time to him, and but the third 

' Mr. Wilson's speech delivered at this meeting is inserted in the Appendix, Xo. 4. 
■ [Works, VII. 520 (no place or date).] ^ [Works, YI. 619.] 


to me, though often desired. It was very much against my 
inclination to go thither, ever since the first time in the year 
1709 ; ^ but I could not evite ^ it, though I left my wife in great 
distress. The conduct of holy Providence hath been very strange 
and mysterious, with respect to my going to that place all along. 
All the three times the Lord was with me remarkably in my 
work there, especially on the Saturday the first time, and on the 
Sabbath afternoon the two last times. Old notes have still been 
most blessed, in my case, in that place. The first time I had but 
one sermon studied for it, and it was not delivered at all there. 
The second time I had two sermons studied, but one of them was 
new studied out of old notes ; and that was it the Lord made 
most sweet both to them and me. This last time we had kept 
a presbyterial fast on the Wednesday before we went thither, 
on account of a drought altogether extraordinary : and the rain 
came on that Sabbath we were at Penpont. Several other 
presbyteries kept it that same week, and the Lord heard prayer. 
Foreseeing what I thus had to do, having two free days the week 
before, I attempted to prepare for Penpont ; but by no means 
could get anything for it. Next week I had no time to prepare 
for it. I was brought to desire of God a message for that place, 
old or new as He pleased : and I was determined to use old 
sermons, and fully satisfied and easy therein, as I use not to be 
in such a case. My trials on all the three occasions of going 
thither have been remarkable. The first time, the elder that 
went with me died there, and I lost my horse, as above narrated. 
The second time, I remember no notable thing that befel me 
there : but out of my being there at that time rose the business 
of Closeburn, which was a very considerable trial to me. While 
I was busy about the notes on the Marrow, Mr. Davidson went 
in my room ; and the Lord was with him. But within a mile of 
Moffat, his horse was some way wounded in the foot, that he 
went into Moffat bleeding all along ; and with difficulty enough 
he got to Penpont. He was so late a-returning next week, that 
I was in great pain about him, and thinking of going or sending 
to see what was the matter. This was occasioned by his horse's 
illness. At this time, just as we were got into Moffat water, I 
discerned my horse crooking. Alighting, I ript his feet, but 
could see nothing but a hurt on his heel, which seemed to be an 
old one, altogether unknown to me. Mr. Davidson fell ill of the 
gravel at Craigsbeck. But we made forward, lost our way in the 

1 [P. 22S.] '■' [/.e. sliui), obsolete.] 

1^17-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 371 

hills beyond Moffat, going through mosses, etc., till in our greatest 
extremity, not knowing what hand to turn to, by kind Providence 
we saw a lad w^ho set us on the way. Under night we lost the 
way again; but at length got to a house, where we were provided 
of a guide. My horse went crooking all along to Penpont. I 
industriously forbare to speak anything of my horse that night, 
and on the morrow I spoke of him to a servant only : and the 
servant having taken him away some miles in the morning, told 
me he saw nothing ailed him. When we came off on Tuesday, 
my horse was perfectly right ; but no sooner did Mr. Davidson 
begin to move with his, but two persons standing behind oljserved 
his horse to crook, and told him of it. Yet in a little the crook 
left him ; and we arrived safe at Etterick that night, with much 
thankfulness to the Lord. On the morrow Mr. Davidson went 
home, and fell ill of the gravel : and I was indisposed always till 
the Thursday was eight days after, by which time I had com- 
pleted my studies for the sacrament at Maxton, to which I went 
off on tlie morrow : but notwithstanding of my toil, and a little 
of a sore throat I got there, I was very well after I came home. 
If there is anything in this matter to be attributed to the agency 
of evil spirits, or not, I cannot say ; but be it as it will, I know 
that nothing can fall out without the supreme management of my 
Father ; and from His hand I take it, as a deep of holy Providence. 
5^/t September. — The writing of the essay on the accentuation 
of the Hebrew Bible, interrupted by my going to the assembly 
in May, being again entered to on the 6th of August, was ended 
this day, being Thursday, and laid before the Lord with thanks- 

IQth Septemher. — This day I spent some time in thanksgiving 
to the Lord, upon the account of the mercy of that book now 
ended ; and prayer, for a blessing on it, and that the Lord may 
find out means, whereby it may become of public use, for ad- 
vancing of scripture-knowledge ; and for some other particulars 
in my circumstances, particularly with respect to my wife's 
atfliction, etc. I had a heart-meltin^ view of the conduct of holv 
Providence towards poor me, from my childhood even until now. 
! how am I deeply indebted to a gracious God preventing me 
with kindness, and working about me for ends I knew nothing 
of in the time ! I have had much sweetness in the original text : 
and it made me this day to think, how inconceivably sweet must 
the personal Original of the original text be ! how sweet to see, by 
the light of glory, the glory of God in the face of Jesus ! When I 


got Cross's Taghmical Art from Mr. Macghie, I knew nothing of 
the matter: but the Lord gave me some sweet discoveries, by- 
means of the accentuation, when He had so led me to notice it. 
Holy and wise was that Providence, by which I in vain tried to 
understand and digest in order Mr. Cross's system ; and that kept 
Wasmuth from me till I was begun to write ; and that I had 
nothing of his character nor his books from anybody : and Pfeiffer 
I had not till the year 1720. By this means I was kept free of 
being preoccupied and impressed by anybody's authority ; I was 
led to trust nothing but as I saw it with my own eyes. While 
I was making my collections of materials, which I did by reading 
attentively and observing the sacred text, they made me many 
errands to the throne of grace, finding myself travelling as in a 
pathless way, especially in making the observations ; and being 
often as in a thicket, where when I had set down one foot, I knew 
not where to set down another. But God, the Father of lights, 
is in my experience the hearer of prayer. Ofttimes was I afraid, 
that death should have prevented me : but glory to His name for 
life continued, for time and opportunity for study allowed, for 
strength to make use of that time, and for a blessing on my 
endeavours therewith made. It is the doing of the Lord, and it 
is wondrous in my eyes, that He has hid these things from many 
truly wise, and has revealed them to a babe : and I still find the 
sense of this humbles my soul within me, before Him ; as being 
thereby made a great debtor : and it fills my heart with love to 
Himself. I see there is one thing wanting in it, which I desire to 
wait on the Lord for, if so be He may be pleased to discover it to 
me, namely, the reason of double accentuation, which I have not 
yet been able to reach to my satisfaction. Whatever other wants 
there be in that essay, towards the perfecting of the knowledge of 
that subject, this is a palpable one. 

Having now of a long time had a great desire, to translate the 
Hebrew text agreeable to the accentuation, or sacred stigmatology, 
I spent some time in prayer, 30th October, for direction and 
assistance in that work ; and on the morrow after I began it. 
Having dipt into that work, it proved at length quite another 
thing than I at first designed. Herein I was employed that 
winter, and the spring following ; wherein, having carried it to 
the 15th chapter of Genesis, translating, and writing notes on the 
translation, I left it in 

A'pril 1724 ; at which time my daughter Alison was taken 
ill of a fever. That was but small progress made in so long 

1717-1724^ MR. THOMAS BOSTON 373 


a time : but afterwards it was much less. For my plan was, by 
degrees brought on, still more difficult and laborious; and was 
but carried to its height on the 18th and 19th chapters : and this, 
in the regress on it, made me much new work, towards the 
beginning of the book. One will hardly have a just notion of the 
huge toil in tossing lexicons and the Hebrew concordance, for 
finding out the formal significations of the Hebrew words, set 
down in the literal translation, without one make trial of it 
himself. But the more hard anything was to reach, I had usually 
the greatest satisfaction and pleasure in it when discovered ; and 
was on the whole abundantly rewarded. 

On the 7th of June the sacrament was celebrated.^ I had had 
much weary work from the family of J. A., he having repeated his 
abominations, and another of that family having fallen into 
fornication. Mrs. A., spouse to the said J., had much ado to bear 
my proceedings in these odious cases ; but her husband being a 
peaceable man, things were kept in tolerable case betwixt them 
and me. But he dying in February this year, she of a long time 
after came not to the church. Having come at length, some time 
before the sacrament, she on the fast-day, I think, desired of 
me a token to partake. Now a woman had gone out of the 
family, and absconded, being famed to be with child ; and another 
had deposed, that she told to Mrs. A. that she thought the party 
foresaid was with child, the deponent and she being fellow-servants, 
and lying in one bed together. This relating to the time before 
tlie absconding ; I did, upon the occasion of demanding the token 
aforesaid, lay this matter before her : whereupon she, taking it 
heinously, came not to the sacrament, and all along to this day 
hath turned her back on the public ordinances in the church. I 
have dealt with her again and again ; her children also have dealt 
with her, to return : but all in vain. She remains wilful, and goes 
nowhere on the Lord's day ; but some few times has appeared 
at Mr. Macmillan's meetings, which now are very rare in the 
country. To this she has added, not to come into our house for 
so many years, to visit my wife in her long distress. This is 
a piece of malignity whicli one must lay his account with, in 
following duty. 

At this sacrament having only my two helpers, and my wife's 
case being at a great extremity, I have it to notice to the praise 
of free grace, that the Lord however made it a very comfortable 

^ The action-sermon was on 1 John iv. 14, and was published in a volume in 1753. 
[Works, VI. 294.] 


work, and orderly : yea a special care of the divine Providence 
was about it. Mr. Wilson the week before had a fit of the ague, 
and not coming up on Friday's night, I had laid my account to 
preach on the Saturday : and when he came up on the Saturday, 
I had given orders about sending for Mr. G. providentially at 
Cavers ; ^ but no more was done in that. I was helped to trust 
the Lord for carrying on His own work, and had not much 
uneasiness that way : hereto contributed my remembering that 
I myself fell indisposed on Wednesday, but was mercifully 
recovered, so as, on the morrow, I went about the whole fast-day's 
work alone, comfortably. Mr. Davidson that week was threatened 
with a fit of the gravel, but mercy stopt it. He was taken ill of a 
headache, about the latter end of the Sabbath work forenoon here : 
it left him when he went out to preach the afternoon-sermon. In 
a word, nothing was lacking, neither strength of body, nor what 
was necessary for edifying the body of Christ. My wife being all 
the time in great distress fixed to her bed, and a great throng in 
the house ; yet things were managed with discretion and order. 
However, her case was evidently worsted by the weight of 
people's coming in to visit her. But to Him I give thanks who 
has happily carried througli this work : for my wife was not 
without thouglits, that it might be the time of her departure : and 
on Tuesday, ere the ministers went away, she seemed indeed to be 
at the point of death ; so that not only they, but a neighbour, were 
called to be witnesses to the issue. The frame of my spirit, on 
the Saturday and Sabbath morning, I found to be flat : but now 
for some time that my bodily strength is sensibly decayed, I have 
in some measure learned to trust in the Lord more, though 
my pains in secret duties are less than sometimes they have 
been, when my strength would bear more. And my trust was 
not in vain. At the table, even about the time of distributing 
the bread, my false heart was unseasonably carried off to a 
thought, which was stunning and stumbling : but pressed with 
the sense of need, I was thereby stirred up to the exercise of 
faith on Christ, for the sanctification of my unholy nature. But 
O that hereby I might learn to watch ! 

This summer 1724 has been the most trying time that ever my 
family had since we were a family. I had made some alterations 
in the house before the sacrament, turning the barn into a kitchen, 
the hall into a cellar, and so making two low bedrooms, which we 

^ [Cavers was then vacant. Rev. Robert Bell, M.A., had been called to Crailing 
in 1721.] 

77/7-/7^'^] MR. THOMAS BOSTON 375 

had not before. The design we had in view, was chiefly my wife's 
case, in her heaviness, requiring the little room ; and then to have 
more room for strangers at the sacrament ; for which cause a new 
bed was made, and set up in the low room. But Providence had a 
design in it unknown to us, namely, that it might be a convenient 
sickbed room ; and for that use it was for more than two months. 
On Lord's day, 14th June, I closed my subject of the 
covenant of grace : my notes tliereon being written so largely, 
that, in transcribing them since for the press, I needed rather, for 
the most part, to contract, than to add and enlarge. 

On the following Sabbath, the 21st, having come in from the 
sermons, and sat down to dinner, I fell indisposed ; endured the 
time of dinner ; but while we were singing as usual (I think the 
psalm was Ps. cvii. 23, and downwards), after it my trouble 
came to a height, and I went off, with much ado, to my 
closet, where a prodigious vomiting and exquisite pain seized 
mo, which afterwards I knew to be a fit of the gravel, which 
I had never been acquainted with before. It kept me till the 
Wednesday thereafter; though not always agonising. It was 
told me, that one fit of the agony lasted about five hours, another 
about seven hours. In the meantime of my trouble, my wife, 
whom all had enough ado to wait on before, was helped to 
go up and down stairs, betwixt me and the children, then sick, 
and to be helpful to both. When all were recovered, I was 
thinking on a day for a family-thanksgiving ; but was some way 
diverted from it : but that day, or the morrow after, the clouds 
returned after the rain : my son John fell sick, and at the same 
time our servant-woman. His case was of all the most dangerous. 
The fever took no turn in the daughters till the eleventh day, in 
the sons till the thirteenth ; but in the servant-woman on the 
sixth. Thus was the summer spent ; but no breach was made on 
us. They all came out of their fevers insensibly, without a 
distinct crisis ; but my eldest son was very long a-recovering, even 
till about the middle of Auijust. Towards the end of that month, 
we had a day of family-thanksgiving ; the whole family, except 
the man-servant, having been under the rod. 

I was sensibly helped to the exercise of faith in the time 
of our first distress ; and had a sweet view of the Lord Jesus as 
administrator of the covenant, being a skilful pilot to carry us 
through the deep waters ; which view was kept before me 
all along, after we were entered into them. ]\Iy personal trouble 
was turned to my advantage. It was sore indeed ; but kind 


Providence made it short, and timed it so happily, that my public 
work was not interrupted by it. I saw therein a palpable 
difference between groaning and grudging. For while in my 
agony I could not help groaning and crying, so that I was heard 
at a distance; yet my heart, sensible that I had had much 
health, was made by grace to say, Welcome, welcome ; and kissed 
the rod, for the sake of Him who groaned and died on the cross 
for me ; and I was even made to weep for joy in His dyino- love 
to me. The fou