Donald Cargill’s Letter to James Skene of November, 1680 #History #Scotland

The following letter was sent by Donald Cargill to James Skene, after the latter was condemned to death on 24 November and imprisoned in Edinburgh Tolbooth. Skene was executed on 1 December. Cargill may have sent an earlier letter to Skene. He also wrote to the two men executed with Skene.

The letter to Skene is as follows:

‘Dearest Friend,—There is now nothing upon earth that I am so concerned in, except the Lord’s work, as in you and your fellows; that you may either be cleanly brought off, or honourably and rightly carried through. He is begun in part to answer me; though not in that which I most affected, yet in that which is best.

My soul was refreshed to see any that had so far overcome the fear and torture of death, and were so far denied to the affections of the flesh, as to give full liberty to the exoneration of conscience in the face of these bloody tyrants and vile apostates. And yet these, by our divines, must be acknowledged as magistrates! which very heathens, endued with the light of nature, would abominate, and would think it as inconsistent with reason to admit to or continue in magistracy; such perjured, bloody, dissolute, and flagitious men, as to make a wolf the keeper and feeder of the flock. But every step of their dealing with God, with the land, and with yourself and brethren, is a confirmation of your judgment anent them, and sufficient ground of your detestation and rejection of them; and it is the sin of the land, and of every person in it, that they have not gone along with you, and these few in that action. But since they have not done that, they shall not now meet with the like honour, if ever they meet with it, till vengeance be poured out upon them; and they and their king shall either be keeped together in wrath or divided in wrath, that they may be one another’s destruction.

But go on, valiant champion; you die not as a fool, though the apostate, unfaithful, and lukewarm ministers and professors of this generation think and say so. They shall live traitors, and most part of them die fools. I say, traitors; as some men live upon the reward of treachery, for their quiet and liberty; if it may be called a liberty, as it is redeemed with the betraying of the interest of Christ, and the blood of His people. But He Himself hath sealed your sufferings, and their thus saying condemns God, and His sealing condemns them. But neither regard their voices, nor fear; for God will neither seal to folly nor iniquity. He then not only having sealed your sufferings, but your remission, go on to finish and perfect your testimony, not only against them, but against all that subject [i.e., yield] to them, side with them, or are silent at them.

And as for these men that will be our rulers, though they have nothing of worth or virtue in them; I am persuaded of this, that none can appear before them and acknowledge them as they have now invested themselves; standing on a foundation of perjury, which is an act recissory of their admission to the government, with Christ’s crown on their head, and a sceptre of iniquity and a sword of persecution in their hand; but must deny Christ. And in effect, the whole land generally hath denied Christ and desired a murderer; and as for that unsavoury salt that lately appeared, acknowledged them, and was ashamed of this testimony, and in so doing gave the first vote to your condemnation, and proclaimed a lawfulness to the rest of assizers and murderers to follow in their condemnations [i.e., Mr John Carstairs, elder, whom Skene mentioned in his unpubished testimony on 19 November], God shall require this, with his other doings, at his hands; and I am somewhat afraid, if he be not suddenly made the subject of serious repentance, that he shall be made the subject of great vengeance.

But forgive and forget all these private injuries, and labour to go to eternity and death with a heart destitute of private revenges, and filled with zeal to God’s glory; and assign to Him the quarrel against His enemies, to be followed out by Himself in His own way against the indignities done to Him, and against the mocking perfidiousness, impieties, and lukewarmness of this generation.

And for yourself, whatever there has been either of sin or duty, remember the one and forget the other, and betake yourself wholly to the mercy of God and the merit of Christ . Ye know in whom ye have believed, and the acceptableness of your believing, and the more fully you henceforth believe, the greater shall be His glory, and the greater your peace and safety.

Farewell, dearest friend, never to see one another any more till at the right hand of Christ. Fear not; and the God of mercies grant a full gale and a fair entry into His kingdom, which may carry sweetly and swiftly over the bar, that you find not the rub of death. Grace, mercy, and peace be with you.
Yours in Christ,
D[onald]. C[argill].’ (CW, 10-13.)

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~ by drmarkjardine on July 28, 2017.

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