John Hepburn: “He ay joucked to the lee side, in persecution, and out of persecution” #History #Scotland

Robert Smith, a minister without ordination from Douglas in Lanarkshire and a key figure in the post-Revolution, Cameronian, Society people, was sharply critical of two other ministers, John Hepburn and John MacMillan, on his death bed in 1724.

From ‘The Dying Testimony of Mr. ROBERT SMITH, Student of Divinity; who lived in Douglas Town, in the Shire of Clydesdale, who died (about two o’clock in the Sabbath Morning,) Dec. 13, 1724, aged 58 years.’:

‘In the next place, that I may give my judgment of this late dispensation of the gospel; and how far different from that under, or in the persecuting period [before 1689], by our faithful martyr ministers, Messrs. Richard Cameron [d.1680], Donald Cargill [d.1681], and James Renwick [d.1688]. And how defection came on gradually, I shall not insist upon what pains and diligence the honest suffering contending party were at, after the death of Mr. James Renwick [in 1688]; and defection of Messrs. Alexander Shields, Thomas Linning, and William Boyd [in 1690]; with the general bulk and the body of the party, who then went alongst with them; whom the Lord raised up (as it were) out of the former ashes, by conferences, &c. with Mr. [John] Hepburn and his party; and after with Mr. [Hugh] M’Henery [minister of Dalton parish], Mr. Farquhar, &c. before we had any appearance of any thing hope like, by Mr [John] M’Millan [from the end of 1706].

… After he had joined with them, and they with him, upon the terms and heads of their testimony; to be seen in their Informatory Vindication, Testimony against the Toleration, and their declaration emitted anno 1692, &c. After he had gone (I mean Mr. [John] M’Millan) through the land [from late 1706], in baptizing our children, and marrying to the general contentment, and satisfaction of the whole party. If ever the gospel had any sweetness, and success amongst us, it was then and at that time; for then. [>p217] as people’s frame was most tender, so he seemed to be most tender in the cause and testimony. But these Hallicon, or peaceable times lasted not long, Satan the enemy of man’s salvation, envying at our well or good, began to. sow the tares of discord and dissention amongst us, viz. betwixt minister and people. For within two, or at most three years [of 1706], that controversy betwixt us, about [his] keeping on the elders of Balmaghie, who had been constitute in his predecessor’s time, or during the time of his defection there, men of unsound judgments concerning the testimony; and his baptising compliers children there, and elsewhere.

Together with his unfreeness in doctrine, concerning the testimony. All these came to be complained of, regrated, and represented unto him in Dumbarton; and some in Kilmalcolm [in Renfrewshire] fellowships withdrew, because of want of freedom in doctrine, &c.

After five years wearisome, and undesirable contention, anent the Balmaghie affairs (to which, in the mean time, he added that of his marriage [to Jean Gemble in late 1708, which was conducted by John Reid, minister of Carsphairn parish]) a considerable party in Tinwald [parish], &c. withdrew, when no appearance of amendment by him. What satisfaction the generality had, with reference to his marriage, did not heal the wound unto all, but some were grieved, yet continued hearing, still hoping for a better of matters; but instead thereof things grew worse still. Neither had he long comfort of enjoyment, of that dear bought pleasure, by marriage; for within a few years his wife died [on 12 June, 1711], leaving him a sickly infirm child behind her, which did not long survive. […]

To heal all, and to make up the breach, it was thought that renewing of our covenants [at Auchensaugh in Douglas parish in 1712], by confession of our sins, &c., and participation of the Lord’s Supper, might prove effectual, whereupon sundry draughts of the steps of defection being drawn up, they were at last put in order, by way of acknowlegement of sins, and engagement to duties; (as it is to be seen in the Auchensaugh work [in 1712]) but neither had this the success expected: for though all were invited [including the Hebronites], such as had withdrawn, as well as others, yet they came not. Yea, instead of being a mean of bettering us, many turned worse and worse, from that day backward, as having taken on the vows of God, neglected, and forgot to perform the same. […]

Not long after, there being a change in their corrupt government, [Queen] Ann Stewart dying [in 1714], the nations called and set up George Lewis of Hanover, as their head and king, not after the old covenanted way, nor of a covenant qualification, but of the same profane kidney with the former. A representation, but really an address, was drawn up and sent to this man, through the instigation of some evil instruments amongst us. And when done, notwithstanding of all the evil consequences that it had, would not be so [>p219.] unmanly as to retract it, nor would not be resiled from, as its abettors and favourites. Mr. [John] McMillan, with some of the leading men among the people, having once avouched it, would not own their fault, though we should all break, and go off on that head. Thus, the state of our quarrel was changed into the common Form of the corrupt present establishment. This was fairly and fully testified against, by Edinburgh fellowship; but little regarded by the addressing party, and so the more afflicting, and wounding to the more tender and contrary party, in the general meeting, who were loath to leave Mr. [John] McMillan, &c., if they could have got any thing like satisfaction; but the more they strove, the worse he grew. Many proposals were given, among the rest, that a declaration should be drawn up; which accordingly was done, but rejected, because of its honesty. And after that a second, and a third draught of one At length a sham one admitted, and read out of a tent, several years after, when they had done all the ill they could before, by breaking and dividing the party, after Edinburgh friends had made their minds known to the general meeting, against the address: not long after they emitted a declaration in print against Hanover; yet by reason of the manner of publishing it, and their after divisions, that fell in amongst themselves, the fewer espoused it. This woful address, caused many to withdraw both from ministers and general meeting, leaving their testimonies behind them, and protestations against that, and other steps of defection; but neither were the defective party bettered thereby, but went on from evil to worse; for the Jacobites rising against the Hanoverians [in 1715], Mr. [John] M’Millan and his party fell in tampering with Messrs. [John] Hepburn [James] Gilchrist [minister of Dunscore] and [John] Taylor [in Wamphray parish], and their party.

Meeting after meeting was appointed and held: at length a manifesto was agreed on to be drawn up, containing both parties [>p220] principles and ground of quarrel. But before it could be agreed to, by both parties, the wars ceased, and both got leave to be as formerly. There were many secrets here among some of the ministers, of dangerous consequences, if they had succeeded, that never came to the ears of many of the people, particularly betwixt Mr. McMillan and Mr. [James] Gilchrist. After [the Earl of] Mar’s year [of the 1715 Jacobite Rising] was over, Mr. M’Millan causing his general meeting, protest in favour of Mr. Gilchrist, &c. and Mr. Gilchrist marrying Mr. M’Millan [to Mary Gordon (1681-1723), second daughter of Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun and his more militant wife, Lady Earlstoun (d.1696), in 1719]. Both which had their own bitter fruits afterwards, to the more tender.

[p232>] ‘Of Mr. [John] Hepburn, I say if he had been as clear, tender, and distinct in the cause and testimony, as he was said to be tender in his walk, the Lord might have honoured him, but because he ay joucked to the lee side, in persecution, and out of persecution; and pushed at the more tender, and straight in the testimony, with head and shoulder. I fear his name be not written among Scotland’s worthies. He that hath been Reuben like, unstable as water, shall not excel. I agree with what is said, in our first declaration after the Revolution [in 1692], whether it be meant of him, or comprehend others. With reference to Messrs. [James] Gilchrist [in Dunscore parish] and [John] Taylor [in Wamphrey parish], I think they were beguiled by him; (i. e. Mr. [John] Hepburn) But neither can their unstraight dealing in the cause of God be approved of, but rather condemned. For as long as they own that throne of iniquity, and him that sits thereon, they cannot be said to be faithful witnesses for the Lord, and his cause, or any other that bends that way.’ (A Collection of Dying Testimonies, 216-20, 232.)


~ by drmarkjardine on August 22, 2016.

One Response to “John Hepburn: “He ay joucked to the lee side, in persecution, and out of persecution” #History #Scotland”

  1. […] Some of the McMillanites in Kilmacolm parish later withdrew from John MacMillan. […]

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