Letter to the Reverend Mr. Michael Potter, minister of the gospel at Kippen, as an answer of his letter to the Reverend Mr. Ebenezer Erskine
Reverend Mr. Michael Potter
Miniſter of the Goſpel at Kippen;
ANSWER of his Letter, lately ſent by him to the Reverend Mr. Ebenezer Erskine Miniſter of the Goſpel at Stirling, upon Occaſion of that ſlanderous Reproach that doth go thro' this Land on his Name, that he doth yearly receive Money from Rome to work unhappy Diviſions in the Church of CHRIST in this Land.
Eph. v. 2. Walk in Love together, as CHRIST hath loved us, and given himſelf for us.
Pſal. cxxxiii. i. Behold how good and how pleaſant it is for Brethren to dwell together in Unity.
By your affectionate Well-wiſher, W———m G———y.
Printed in the Year M.D.CC.XXXVIII.
A LETTER, &c.
Lanark, April 28. 1738.
I HAVE lately ſeen a letter of yours, directed by you to Mr. Erskine miniſter of the goſpel in Stirling, as an anſwer to his letter ſent lately by him to you, upon occaſion of that ſlanderous reproach that doth go through this land on his name, that he doth yearly receive money or bills from Rome to work unhappy diviſion in the church of CHRIST in this land, which I am loath to believe that he does, or any of his dear brethren aſſociate together with him for the exerciſe of church government in a presbyterial capacity in order to bring about a covenanted work of reformation in this land, which is well known to all ſerious chriſtians, both miniſters and people, who will let their conſciences ſpeak the truth from their heart, upon examination of the laws and conſtitutions of this our reformed church from the year 1638 to 1650, they will ſee how far we are departed from the way of our worthy anceſtors, who gave teſtimony to the world, that the teſtimony they held, was the teſtimony of our Lord JESUS , and many of them ſealed the ſame with their blood before GOD, angels and men, and ventured their ſouls everlaſting ſalvation upon the faith of the ſame, which blood, I fear, hath a loud cry to heaven againſt many families in Scotland to this day; for as Abel's blood cried to heaven for vengeance on Cain, ſo, I fear, the blood of theſe worthies in Scotland doth cry aloud for vengeance on the ſhedders of it and their poſterity, Exod. xxxiv. 7. I will viſit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Where was it ever ſeen or heard that ſuch great iniquities, ſuch as the blood-ſhed of our worthy anceſtors, or the burning of theſe ſolemn covenants in ſeveral places of Scotland, was put in as cauſes in our faſt- days as the ground of GOD's wrath againſt this land? Alas! it is little repented of to this day, for which GOD ſeems, in his juſt diſpleaſure, to be contending with us; for inſtead of repentance and humiliation for theſe Sins, and our own daily backſlidings, we are daily going backward to greater and greater iniquities, and homologating what our perſecuting fore-fathers did. There ſeems to be a perſecuting ſpirit raging in the hearts of both miniſters and profeſſors in this church at this day; for tho', bleſſed be GOD, the civil government does not as yet favour them with their aſſiſtance, to take away the lives of thoſe who are contending for the rights and privileges of our reformed church, yet they bite and devour as much as poſſible they can, by caſting evil reproaches upon their name and reputation, tation, in order to flop the ſucceſs of the goſpel in their hands, which is an evident token to every ſerious ſoul, that the cauſe they have taken in hand, is the cauſe of CHRIST, becauſe the Devil and the men of the world are ſo much oppoſing it, and doing all in their power to ſuppreſs it; John xv. 19. If ye were of this world, the world would love its own, but becauſe ye are not of the world, but I have choſen you out of the world, therefore the world hatcth you; and ver. 20. If they have perſecuted me, they will alſo perſecute you; but for my part, whatever the world and reproachful tongues may advance against them, I think I ſee more than an ordinary meaſure of the ſpirit of GOD aſſiſting them in their miniſterial labours, and I am verily perſuaded their labours are not without ſucceſs in fever corners in Scotland; and it is ſtrange to me, or any well thinking ſoul, how that the Pope or his emiſſaries ſhould make uſe of ſuch an inſtrument to advance his kingdom of darkneſs, for I truly think, if there be any enemies to his kingdom in this land, they are ; and how that the Pope can think to enlarge his kingdom by theſe brethren, is a great deep for any well thinking ſoul to comprehend. Our Lord JESUS ſays expreſly Math. xii. 25. And JESUS knowing their thoughts, Said unto them, Every kingdom divided againſt itſelf is Brought to deſolation, and every house or city divided againſt itſelf fall not ſtand ver. 26. And if Satan caſt out Satan he is divided againſt himſelf, how then ſhall his kingdom ſtand?
But now to give a more particular anſwer to the reverend Mr. Potter; Mr. Erskine docs not ſay, that you did take in hand to prove that he received money or bills from Rome, but that it was only told him by a private perſon, whom he did not name, that you ſaid it, and only wanted you to clear your ſelf in a private letter to him; but I cannot find any thing in your anſwer that favours any thing of a goſpel ſpirit, which ought to be in every miniſter of the goſpel of the meek and lowly JESUS, Matt. xi. 29. Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. See i Pet. ii. 2-5. Who when he was reviled he reviled not again; when he ſuffered he threatened not, but committed himſelf to him that judgeth righteouſly. See likeways the example of the holy Apoſtle Paul, i Cor. iv. 12. Being reviled, we bleſs; being perſecuted, we ſuffer it But I cannot find in the whole of your letter any thing of the leaſt favour of ſuch a ſpirit; but on the other hand, to expreſs yourſelf by way of banter,in ſuch fooliſh like discourſe,as lays both yourſelf and him open to the carnal world to laugh and jeer at you it puts a object in their Hands to mock and ridicule religion, and lays a ſtumbling block in the way of the righteous. It is much to be lamented that there is ſo much mocking at religion and thoſe that worſhip GOD, altho’ thoſe that are miniſters of the goſpel give no occaſion to ſuch an abounding ſin. But now what I would ſay to you, and all others, both miniſters and people that entertain ſuch reproaches in his name, whom I, for my part, Take to be faithful in the cauſe of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, and as labouring with all his might to maintain the rights and royal prerogatives of our great King of Zion. Now if you know that to be a truth that is laid to his charge, why do you not, for the love that you ought to have to your lord and maſter,whom you profeſs to ſerve, and the love you ought to have for the ſouls of poor ſinners, who adhere to their teſtimony which they have ſent out to the world, now I challenge you and all others, for the Lord JESUS Sake, if you know that to be a truth, which you, and many others in Scotland, lay to his charge, to bring him forth from under that mask of covetouſneſs, that it may be known to the world whether or not he be a penſioner of Rome, or one of his miſſioners ſent forth to deceive that poor unthinking part of mankind, as you call them that adhere to their way; for ſure I am, if you did think right, and conſidered your great duty, you would not be ſtill telling ſuch wild ſtories in a mocking way, but on the other hand, would be lamenting the fame, and bewailing the ſad State many poor ſouls are in that are taken captive by that way; and you would be as buſy in ſetting apart faſting and humiliation days for prayer and ſupplication to GOD, that he in his holy providence may bring him from behind that curtain of hypocriſy, and undeceive that ſhall remnant that you ſay are led away by him to no leſs than ruining principles, as he and the reſt of his brethren are buſy in ſetting apart faſting and humiliation days in ſeveral corners of this land to deceive them, as you call it. My friends, it is not matter of ſmall moment to ſee ſo many poor ſouls ruining themſelves, and you to ſtand afar off, and not put to your hand to help them; for ſure I am, if that were known to be a truth that is laid to his charge, whatever he has built upon that foundation would ſoon be thrown down: But really it appears to the eyes every ſerious ſoul, that it is nothing but an
men's contriving to put a ſtop to the ſucceſs of the goſpel in their hands, and mar their deſigns for carrying on a work of reformation in poor harlot Scotland, who hath wickedly departed from GOD and that glorious work of reformation that our worthy anceſtors brought about in this land under the conduct of our glorious king of Zion.
You ſay again in your letter, that his letter is not good grammar. It is much to be lamented that there is ſo much ſtudying of learning at this day, and ſo little ſtudying the doctrine of a crucified CHRIST: Alas! for it is much to be lamented that the great part of our preachers of the goſpel are more buſied in ſtudying a nice and well connected ſermon, to ſet forth the brightneſs of their parts in a fine ſtile and dialect to rickle the cars of their hearers, then they are to awaken the conſciences of carnal ſecure ſleepy ſinners: The doctrine of a crucified CHRIST ſeems as if it were an offence to many at this day; a ſermon of heathen morality ſeems to take much better with many, than a ſermon of repentance towards GOD, and faith towards our Lord JESUS CHRIST; not that I am to condemn morality, for ſure it is that none can pretend to be true followers of the lamb that do not obſerve all the precepts of the moral law, as well as the precepts of the goſpel; but as ſure it is, that where the doctrine of morality hath converted its thouſands, the doctrine of a crucified CHRIST hath converted its ten thouſands: Acts ii. 37. when Peter was preaching a ſermon of a crucified CHRIST, it is ſaid, when they heard this they were pricked in their hearts, and said to Peter and the reſt of the apoſtles, men and brethren, what ſhall we do? And immediately it follows in ver. 44. That the same day there were added to the church about three thouſand ſouls. Paul ſays Rom. i. 16. For I am not aſhamed of the goſpel of CHRIST, for it is the power of GOD to ſalvation i Cor. i. 18. For the preaching of the croſs is unto then that periſ fooliſhneſs, but unto us which are ſaved it is the power of GOD. But. alas! many of our preachers at this day ſeem as if they were aſhamed of a crucified JESUS; but what is it in him you are aſhamed of? Are you aſhamed of his mean and low birth? Or are you aſhamed of his low and humble converſation in the World? Or is it becauſe his converſation was moſt with the meaneſt and moſt deſpiſed ſet of people among the Jews, ſuch as poor fiſhermen, publicans and ſinners, not like many of the miniſters of the goſpel at this day, whoſe converſations are most with the great ones in the land, while they overlook the the meaner rank of mankind as not to be ſo much regarded: It were heartily to be wiſhed that you could gain them to CHRIST by your converſation with them, and drive them from their impious lives, and engage them to obſerve the Sabbath and keep it holy, and wait upon the ordinances of the goſpel, and ſet up the worſhip of GOD in their families; this would end much to the glory of GOD, and the good of this poor land; but, alas! the Sabbath is little regarded by a great part of them; many of our great ones in this land, whom our church judicatories hath inveſted with power to plant congregations with paſtors, gives little or no countenance to ordinances themſelves; yea many of them do not obſerve the morality of the Sabbath, but in open contempt of the authority of GOD, are as buſy about their paſtimes that day as on other days of the week; and even ſome of them, who are not ſo openly profane and give ſome ſmall attendance on ordinances, the greateſt length that they come to is to attend the afternoon; and alas! many of their carriages and behaviour, when they look rather as if they were attending balls and play houſes than attending on the GOD of ordinances, Eccl. v.and i. Keep thy foot when thou goest unto the houſe of GOD, and to he more ready to hear than to give the Sacrifice of fools. Little do many believe, that we muſt all appear before the awful bar of GOD’s judgment-feat, 2 Cor. v. to.- For we muſt all appear before the judgment feat of CHRIST, that everyone may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Now let Church judicatories judge and ſee whether or not ſuch men can be fit for chuſing of faithful miniſters to take care of the poor flock of CHRIST, to feed them with knowledge and underſtanding: They cannot endure the ſtrictneſs of religion themſelves, as little can they endure to hear faithful miniſters preſs home ſuch things upon them. But pray tell me what is it our church judicatories hath now in their view in planting congregations? Is it the glory of our great king of Zion, and to get ſons and daughters born unto him, that it may be ſaid of this and the other congregation, that this man and that man was born there, Pſal Ixxxvii. 5. But alas! this ſeems little to be the deiſigns of out church judicatories at his day; but on the contrary they ſeem to have nothing in their view but to get bread to this and the other preacher, that is recommended to them by this and the other lord and laird through the land, whatever may be their other qualifications; and then you will pleaſe, tho' you run the riſque of the diſpleaſure of GOD, by putting a ſtop to the ſucceſs of the goſpel in many congregations through this land, and making many to groan under foul oppreſſion. Sirs! Is bread to this and the other man to be laid in the ballance with the bread of life that is to be diſperſed to the ſouls of the hear (illegible text) of the goſpel?
Our Lord JESUS thought his dear blood worthy to be ſhed for the redemption of periſhing ſinners; he ſpared not himſelf for their ſakes but came travelling in the greatneſs of his ſtrength over all difficulties, to ranſom them from the power of hell and death: But our church judicatories ſeem at this day not to be ſparing of the flock, but by force and cruelty to rule over them, like thoſe ſhepherds reproved by the prophet, Ezek. xxxiv. 4. that they would conſider how they muſt anſwer for their management of the flock to the great ſhepherd of the flock, at the great day of his appearance, when he will require the flock at their hands: They will not then be allowed advocates to plead for them at the bar of GOD's juſtice, as they have now allowed by our church judicatories before our eccleſiaſtick courts. O that they would think upon that awful reproof, Ezek. xxxiv. 2. We to the ſhepherds of Iſrael, that do feed themſelves, could they not feed the flock. Ver. (illegible text) Thus faith the Lord God, Behold I am gainſt the ſhepherds, and will require the flock at their hands.
It is the great duty of miniſters of the gospel of the bleſſed JESUS, to ſet the trumpet to their mouth, when they ſee wrath coming upon a land, and warn them of their danger, (illegible text) xlviii. 1. Cry aloud and ſpare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, here my people thy tranſgreſſions, and the houſe of Jacob their ſin tell the great as well as the ſmall, tell them their Sabbath-breaking, tell them of their contempt of the ordinances of the goſpel, and neglecting of family and ſecret prayer, tell them of their prophane balls and clubs, and their abominable night aſſemblies; tell them of the precious time that they ſpend in exceſſive drinking; tell them of their horrid curſing and ſwearing and profaning the holy name of GOD, le(illegible text) you bring the blood of their ſouls upon your heads: Better warn them in time, however ill they may take it than to hear them curſing you in hell, when it is too late, and there can be no recovery for them.
For my part, whatever be the reproaches that you or any others caſt at thoſe men, whom you ſo much bear down; call them what you will, it is evidently to be ſeen that the LORD hath ſent them forth with more than an ordinary meaſure of the ſpirit to this poor church at this day, however their hearts may be with GOD that is what only belongs to the ſearcher of all hearts, who will ere long bring the ſecrets of all hearts to light before angels and men at the great day: But ſure it is to the eyes of every one that knows the conſtitutions and laws of our reformed church, which we in this land have wickedly departed from; yea, your own conſciences knows it, if you would let them ſpeak the truth, that what they are acting at this day is moſt agreeable to the word of GOD and teſtimony of JESUS CHRIST, and the ſtandards of our religion, contained in the holy ſcriptures of truth, the Confeſſion of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechiſms, and Books of Discipline, to which we in theſe lands are ſolemnly bound by the oath of the great GOD, with uplifted, hands to heaven before GOD, angels and men.
Yea, it is well known, that they are doing nothing but what is their duty, to ſupply the oppreſt heritage of GOD through the land, that is groaning under your oppreſſion in many corners in Scotland, by thruſting in Intruders upon them, over the belly of all the good laws and conſtitutions of our reformed church, which. GOD in his holy providence was pleaſed to ſettle among as in this land; but indeed to ſpeak the truth, we need not lay the blame of our oppreſſion ſo much upon patrons, as upon presbyteries and preſentees; for no ſooner is a preſentee preſented to a pariſh, but as ſoon he presbyteries gives all the aſſiſtance poſſible that they can to pleaſe that and the other laird, and lord in the land, however diſpleaſing it may be to GOD and hurtful to the ſouls of the people in that place : And it is evidently ſeen by the bitter fruits of ſuch violent ſettlements in this land, that you mar the very deſigns of the goſpel.
And now when theſe men were uſing the freedom of faithful miniſters of the bleſſed JESUS, and teſtifying againſt theſe and the like corruptions, of the day and time we live in, you and the reſt of your brethren thruſt them out your communion in a moſt violent way a manner, as the like parallel was never known the church of Scotland, that one part of pr(illegible text) feſt Presbyterian miniſters thruſt out the other part for nothing that could be laid to the charge, but that they were faithful to the lord and mailer’s cauſe, and teſtifying against the great wrongs that hath been done to our great King of Zion and head of his church. Bleſſed be GOD the father, who hath laid the government upon his shoulders, and will reign king Zion in ſpight of all the malice of men at powers of hell to the end of the world, though be may be provoked, for the great back-ſliding and defection of the day, the abounding of (illegible text)ror, vice and prophanity, and the abounding ſin and abominable wickedneſs, not to be named amongſt chriſtians in a profeſſing land, ſuch horrid curſing and ſwearing, profaning the ho(illegible text) name of GOD in a moſt fearful manner, drunkenneſs and all manner of uncleanneſs, lying and ſtealing, unjuſtice betwixt man and man, (illegible text) ſwearing, unlawful oaths and acts, that the church and land hath gone into of late, prophanation of the Lord’s day, abuſe of the ordinances of the goſpel, neglect of family and secret prayer, ſelf-examination, mortification ſin, crucifying the fleſh with the affections and lusſts, breach of ſolemn vows and. engagement both national and perſonal, for which our land become guilty of the higheſt of perjury; for the above mentioned and like ſins awful judgment are threatned, Lev. xxvi. 16, 17, 25. D(illegible text) xxviii. 23,24,25. Pf- Ixxviii. 9. 10. Iſa. xxr 5, 4, Jer. xi. 9, 10. Hoſ, viii, i.Rev, ii.j. Now, Reverend Sir, If you and the reſt of your brethren were duly conſidering this, and aying them to heart, you would ſee cauſes enough as well as thoſe aſſociate brethren, to ſet apart faſting and humiliation days for prayer and ſuplication to GOD, that GOD in his mercy may be pleaſed to ward off the ſtroaks of his threatened judgments and diſpel theſe clouds of darkneſs that are hovering over our heads at this day, and not be imployed ſo much in contriving all the plots poſſible you can to ſuppreſs theſe men from doing their neceſſary duty, which GOD in his holy providence is calling them forth to at this day, it is evidently ſeen by the ſmall ſucceſs that the goſpel hath at this day in this land, that GOD hath in a great meaſure with- drawn his holy ſpirit from both miniſters and people. Little is to be ſeen among the profeſſors at this day but deadneſs, formality and hypocriſy; a ſpirit of ſlumber hath ſeized our hearts: So that the Lord may be provoked in his juſt diſpleaſure to give his church up to the hands of her enemies for the trial of their faith, and to ſeparate the chaff from the principal wheat; for it evidently appears that the judicatories of this church are doing all that they can to bring this poor church again under ſupreme tryanny, if the civil government would aſſiſt them; for if there were as much of a perſecuting ſpirit in the civil government as appears to be in the eccleſiaſtick government, our ſtreets would have been running with blood ere now, which we hope that the Lord in his mercy ſhall prevent, and yet diſpel theſe clouds of darkneſs that are ſpreading over this land, and ſend glorious day of his power, that religion and ſincere holineſs, love to GOD and love to one another may yet thrive and flouriſh in this land. Let us therefore pray for the peace of Jeruſalem, that peace may be within her walls and joy within her palaces; that the glory o GOD may ſhine in a bright manner in this land to laſting generations.
Now, Reverend Sir, if what I have ſaid be not grammar, I hope you will not blame me for I never was taught it. So farewell. I reſ(illegible text) your Well-wiſher,