CLOUD OF WITNESSES
ROYAL PREROGATIVES OF JESUS CHRIST:
THE LAST SPEECHES AND TESTIMONIES
WHO HAVE SUFFERED FOR THE TRUTH IN SCOTLAND.
SINCE THE YEAR 1680.
WALTER SMITH was a devoted follower of Mr Donald Cargill; he was taken at the same time, and suffered along with him. Patrick Walker has a life of him; "A Short Account of the life and death of that truly pious and worthy minister, Mr Walter Smith," etc. In substance, it is in John Howie's "Scots Worthies." The work, "Steps of Defection," referred to in the following testimony, is given by Walker; also, "Rules and Directions anent private Christian Meetings;" together with a letter written by him when he was studying at Utrecht, to Janet Fimerton, a singular Christian, of deep exercises, high attainments, and great experience in the serious exercise and solid practice of godliness. The letter is a very excellent one, and speaks much for Smith's piety and Christian knowledge.
Two books are specified in Walter Smith's testimony
1. "The book which contains the Confession of Faith," etc. This is the volume that in Scotland usually bears the title of the Confession of Faith, although it includes the Catechisms, the Covenants, the Directory for Worship, and the Sum of Saving Knowledge. It is not known by what authority the Sum of Saving Knowledge has been put along with the others, for it has never been sanctioned by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The "Causes of God's Wrath" seems to have been bound up in the same volume in Smith's time. Wodrow assigns its authorship to James Guthrie of Stirling, who suffered at Edinburgh, June 1st, 1661. The first words of the full title fix its nature and date: "Some General Heads of the Causes why the Lord contends with the land, agreed upon, after seeking of the Lord, by the Commission of the General Assembly 1650, with the advice of divers ministers from several parts of the kingdom, met at Edinburgh 1651." One of the steps of defection from the Covenant mentioned is, "The authorising of commissioners to close a treaty with the King for the investing him with the government, upon his subscribing such demands as were sent to him, after he had given many clear evidences of his disaffection and enmity to the work and people of God, and was continuing in the same." The "Causes" was condemned, along with Rutherford's "Lex Rex," in a proclamation by the Committee of Estates, dated September 19, 1660, and both were burnt, October 17th, at Edinburgh, by the hand of the hangman. "No doubt," says Wodrow, "by order of the Committee, though I do not observe any clause for this in the proclamation. It was much easier to burn those books than to answer the reasonings and facts in them." The "Causes" is now somewhat rare. It occupies eighty-five pages in Henderson's collection of tracts, entitled "Testimony-bearing Exemplified," 12mo, Paisley, 1791.
2. Shepard's "Sound Believer." Thomas Shepard was a native of Northampton; but went out in 1635 to New England, and was speedily settled at Cambridge, where he was the chief means of erecting and endowing the well-known Harvard College, an institution that in this century has renounced the opinions of its founders, and become the chief seat of unitarian error. Shepard was an able and successful Gospel minister. His works, comprising twenty different publications, have been lately collected. He is best known on this side the Atlantic, by his "Parable of the Ten Virgins;" and his "Sound Believer," a treatise on evangelical conversion; both of which have been frequently reprinted in this country.ED.]
Mr. WALTER SMITH,
Student of Theology,
Who suffered at the Cross of Edinburgh, July 57, 1681:
"DEAR FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES,As I desire, while in the body, to sympathise somewhat with you, in lamenting your various cases, and the case of the Church, whereof we are the sons and daughters; so I must lay this request upon you, and leave it with you, that ye take some of your time, and set it apart particularly to solace your souls, in blessing and magnifying your God and my God, for the lot He hath decreed and chosen out for poor unworthy me, from eternity, in time, and to eternity; in the immediate enjoyment of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, incomprehensible and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth; and that, because He hath made me a man and a Christian. And now I set to my seal to all His truths revealed in His word, and particularly these:
"First, That He is one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. But alas! who can think of Him? who can hear of Him, or write of Him aright? Oh! He is God! He is God!
"Secondly, That He made man perfect. And though we have destroyed and incapacitated ourselves to do anything that is right, while out of Christ, yet we are under the obligation of the whole law, which is the perfect rule of righteousness.
"Thirdly, That my Lord (yea, through free grace I can say, my Lord Jesus Christ), came to the world to save sinners. And, though I cannot say that I have been the greatest of sinners, yet I can say, that He hath covered, pardoned, prevented, and hid from the world, sins in me that have been heinous by many aggravations.
"Fourthly, That except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. My friends, this is the new birth, this is regeneration that I am speaking of, to which the great part, even of professors, I fear, will be found strangers.
"Fifthly, I set to my seal to the truth of that precious promise, Josh. 1.5, etc.; repeated, Heb. 13.5: 'For He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,' together with all the other promises to that purpose; and, I am sure, He hath carried me through divers conditions of life, many various and singular difficulties, and damping discouragements. But omitting these things, whereof the profane persecutors may as much boast as to the outward as any, He hath led me through the several steps of soul exercise, and the pangs of the new birth, into Himself. This, this, my friends, is the cognisance and distinguishing character of a saint indeed; and by this, and this only, we pass from death to life.
"And, as I adhere to the Confession of Faith and work of reformation (as I shall afterwards speak to), so particularly, I set to my seal to these truths, in the 18th chapter thereof, anent the assurance of grace and salvation. Alas! the ignorance of this generation is great. My dear friends, I leave this as my last advice to you, make use of that book which contains the Confession of Faith, Catechisms, Sum of Saving Knowledge, Practical Use of Saving Knowledge, Directory for Worship, the Causes of God's Wrath, etc. And let none think this work below them; for the spiritual enlightening of the mind, which requires the literal with it, is the first work of the Spirit, after we first begin to come to ourselves, or rather to what we were in innocency, and ought to be by grace. But as to this, I do confidently refer you to Shepard's 'Sound Believer,' which, in my poor apprehension, is the soundest and surest ye can meet with.
"And Sixthly, I set to my seal to the Covenant of Grace, particularly that clause of it (Isa. 59.21), 'As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; my spirit that is upon thee,' etc. And here I leave my testimony against all atheists, speculative (if there be any such) and practical, and all mockers at godliness, all formalists and hypocrites, Quakers and enthusiasts, who either pretend to the Spirit, neglecting the word, or lean upon the word, neglecting the teaching of the Spirit. And what shall I more say, but by what of truth I have in experience seen, I am bold to believe what I have not seen; His testimony is a ground sufficient, and there can be no deceit under it.
"And now I am to die a martyr; and I am as fully persuaded of my interest in Christ, and that He hath countenanced me in that for which I am to lay down my life, as I am of my being. And let the world and biassed professors say their pleasures, I am here in no delusion. I have the free and full exercise of reason and judgment; I am free of passion and prejudice, and, excepting that I am yet in the body, I am free of Satan's fire and fury. I have no bitterness nor malice at any living, so that what I am owning and dying for, I am solidly and firmly persuaded to be truth and duty, according to my mean capacity. And this is the main point this day in controversy, upon which I was peremptorily questioned, and desired positively to answer, yea or nay, under the threatening of the Boots, viz.: Whether I owned the King's authority as presently established and exercised; which I did positively disown, and denied allegiance to him, as he is invested with that supremacy proper to Christ Jesus only. And who knoweth not that at first he was constituted and crowned a covenanted King, and the subjects sworn in allegiance to him, as such, by the Solemn League and Covenant? This was the authority wherewith he was clothed; and the exercise of it was to be for God, religion, and the good of the subjects. And is not all this, as to God and His people, overturned and perverted? But secondly, The whole of this pleaded-for authority at present, is established on the ruin of the land's engagements to God, and to one another. But I say no more as to this. Consider things seriously, and ponder them deeply; zeal for God is much gone. Look to it, and labour to recover it; your peace shall be in it, as to duty; though Christ's righteousness, I see, is the only sure foundation.
"I leave my testimony against malignancy, ungodliness, and profanity, and whatsoever is contrary to sound doctrine, professed and owned by the reformed anti-erastian presbyterian party in Scotland, whereof I die a member and professor, being fully satisfied and content with my lot. And as to my apprehending; we were singularly delivered by Providence into the adversaries' hand, and, for what I could learn, were betrayed by none, nor were any accessory to our taking, more than we were ourselves; and particularly let none blame the Lady St John's Kirk in this. [It was the lady St John's Kirk who persuaded Smith and Boig, against Cargill's judgment, to leave the house where Cargill would have passed the night, and go to Covington Mill, where all three were taken. Patrick Walker blames her very much.ED.] I have no time to give you an account of the Lord's kindness and tenderness to us, in restraining the adversaries' fury. For they began very brisk, by making us lie all night bound, and expressly refused to suffer us to worship God, or pray with one another, until we came to Linlithgow. But the Lord hasteneth to come. Beware of going back. Wait for Him. Be not anxious about what shall become of you, or the remnant. He is concerned; His intercession is sufficient. Get Him set up, and kept up in His own room in your souls, and other things will be the more easily kept in theirs. Be tender of all who have the root of the matter, but beware of compliance with any, whether ministers, or professors, or adversaries.
"As to my judgment, insignificant as it is, I am necessitate to refer you to the draught of a paper which I drew at the desire of some societies in Clydesdale, entitled, 'Some Steps of Defection,' etc. Beware of a spirit of bitterness, peremptoriness, and ignorant zeal, which hath been the ruin of some, and will be the ruin of more, if mercy prevent not. I was withdrawn from by some, as having given offence to them by my protesting against their way in a particular, wherein I am sure as to the manner they were wrong; and though they had been right, it was not a ground to have made such a separation from me, much less from those who joined with me. And if any division be longer kept up upon that account, they will find it a great iniquity, if rightly considered.
"I can get no more written, nor see I great need for it; for the testimonies of martyrs are not your rule. Farewell.
"From the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, July 27, 1681.
"Sic subscribitur,"WALTER SMITH."BEING come to the scaffold, Walter Smith accosted the multitude to this purpose: "All ye beholders who are come here upon various designs, I entreat you, be not mistaken anent the cause of our suffering this day; for however ye may be misinformed, yet it is of verity that we are brought here upon the matters of our God; because we testified against the supremacy, and would not consent to the setting of Christ's crown upon the head of him who had by usurpation aspired thereto, contrary to his former engagements."
Upon this they caused beat the drums, which obliged him a little to silence; but, beckoning with his hand, he said, "I shall only say something to three particulars: And first, Anent that which some are apt to believe, that we are against authority; but we detest that, and say that we own all the lawful exercise of authority; and we hope there are none that are Christians who will allow us to own the unlawful exercise, or rather tyranny of authority."
At this the drums were again beat, and so he sung a part of the 103d Psalm from the beginning, and prayed; which done, he turned his face to the Cross, and said, "I bless the Lord I am not surprised, neither terrified, with this death, or the manner of it. I confess the thoughts of death have been sometimes very terrible to me, when I have been reflecting upon my misspending of precious time; yea, sometimes the strength of temptation, and my own weakness, have made me herein to raze the very foundation of my interest; but my God builds faster than He permits the devil and my false heart to cast down. I have had some clouds even since I came to prison; but blessed be God, these are all removed; for my God hath said to my soul, 'Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee.' And the faith of this makes me not to fear grim death, though it be called the king of terrors, yet it is not so to me; for this that you think a cruel and sudden death, is but an inlet to life, which shall be eternal. Let none be offended at Christ and His way, because of suffering; for I can persuade you there is more of Christ's help, and supporting grace, and strength, in a suffering lot, than all that ever I heard of by the hearing of the ear. But now I am made to find it in my own experience; and I can say, 'He is altogether lovely.'
"But a second thing that I promised to speak to is, that I detest and abhor all popery, prelacy, erastianism, and all other steps of defection from the truths of God, and turning aside to the right and left hand. Also, I testify against all errors, as Quakerism, Arminianism, and all that is contrary to sound doctrine; who walk not according to the Scriptures, and make not the Word and Spirit of God their rule to walk by. I have lived, and now am ready to die, a Christian, a Protestant, and a Presbyterian in my judgment; therefore let none hereafter say that we walk not by the Scriptures, for once Britain and Ireland, and especially Scotland, were deeply sworn to maintain what now they disown; therefore beware of standing in the way of others, seeing ye will not go in yourselves.
"Thirdly, I exhort all you that are the poor remnant, to be serious in getting your interest cleared; you that are in the dark with your case, take not flashes for conversion; study a holy conversation. Be at more pains to know the Scriptures, and believe them. Be serious in prayer. Slight not time. Take Christ in His own terms, and resolve to meet with trials, and that shortly. Slight not known duties: commit not known sins, whatever suffering ye may meet with for your cleaving to duty. Lippen [i.e., trust] to God, and you will not be disappointed. Construct well of Him under all dispensations. Weary not of suffering. Lie not at ease in a day of Jacob's trouble.
"I have one word more to speak, to all that are going on in persecuting the way and friends of Christ, and it is in the very words of our Lord; remember, 'Whatever ye do to one of these little ones, ye do it unto Me.' I pray the Lord that He may open the eyes of all the elect, who are yet strangers to regeneration, and also convince such of them as are fallen from their first love.
"Now, my friends, I have this to say in my own vindication, that however I have been branded by some, and misconstrued by others, yet I can say in the sight of the Lord, before whom I am now to appear, that I am free of any public scandal; I say I am free of drunkenness, I am free of whoredom, thefts, or murder; therefore, let none say that we are murderers, or would kill any, but in self-defence, and in defence of the Gospel. I truly forgive all men the wrongs they have done to me, as I desire to be forgiven of the Lord; but as for the wrongs done to a holy God, I leave these to Him who is the avenger of blood; let Him do to them as He may be glorified. Now, I say no more, but pray that all who are in His way may be kept from sinning under suffering, and that every one may prepare for a storm, which I do verily believe is not far off."
Then stooping down, he saluted some friends, and said, "Farewell all relations and acquaintances; farewell all ye that are lovers of Christ and His righteous cause." And beckoning to the multitude, he said "Farewell also." And so he went up the ladder with the greatest discoveries of alacrity and magnanimity, and seating himself upon it, he said, "Now, this death of mine I fear not, for my sins are freely pardoned; yea, and I shall sin no more, for I am made, through my God, to look hell, wrath, devils, and sin eternally out of countenance. Therefore, farewell all created enjoyments, pleasures, and delights; farewell sinning and suffering; farewell praying and believing, and welcome heaven and singing. Welcome joy in the Holy Ghost; welcome Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; into thy hands I commend my spirit."
When the executioner was about to untie his cravat, he thrust him away, and untied it himself, and, calling for his brother, threw it down, saying, "This is the last token you will get from me." After the napkin was drawn over his face he uncovered it again, and said, "I have one word more to say, and that is, to all that have any love to God, and His righteous cause, that they will set time apart, and sing a song of praise to the Lord for what He has done to my soul, and my soul says, to Him be praise." Then letting down the napkin, he prayed a little within himself, and the executioner doing his office, threw him over.