Memoirs of the Life and Contendings of the Late Reverend Mr. David Forrest – David Forrest (1778)

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Transcript: MEMOIRS, &c.

PERIOD I.

I Design not to trouble the world with my secret, or private affairs; but only in so far as they relate to my public office.

On Sabbath the 26th March 1738, in the 15th year of my age, I went with others of the family to Barnsgill, near Linton, to hear the seceding ministers, where I heard the Rev. Mr Ralph Erskine and the Rev. Mr Thomas Mair: But I remember only their texts, and some of the psalms sung. However, the truth is, upon the very first sight I got of Mr Erskine coming to the tent, a strong desire was impressed on my mind to be a mister, like that man; which all the discouragements and oppositions I met with afterwards from within and without, could never remove: And of this impression I could neither give a rational nor religious account; how it was, I know not; that it was, I am certain. My view of it now is, that the Lord thereby said to me as to Cyrus in another case, Isai. Xlv. 5 I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: Or rather, I would fain think my case was something like that of young Samuel, I Sam. iii. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. for as neither Mr Erskine nor I knew that it was the Lord, so neither did Eli nor Samuel know, for some time, that the Lord had called the child: But as one well observed, when the Lord is in earnest in calling a person and that person knows it not, he will call again, and again, and again, until he knows the Lord is calling him, and not man.

About this time Mr Renwick’s Life and Testimony, vindicated by Mr. Shields came into my hand, with which I was so taken, that no man has ever since got so far {……} my esteem, for faithfulness, as that young minister {……} martyr of Jesus Christ: and I resolved to follow his footsteps, and was deeply impressed, that I would not meet with his sufferings, although I have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin, so faithfully as he did. I desire to give the glory of the one to sovereign goodness, and to take the shame of the other to myself.

In the 17th or 18th year of my age, I went to the grammar school, where I met with several interruptions; yet having acquired some tolerable acquaintance with the Latin tongue, and Greek New Testament, I went to Abernethy to the study of Philosophy about the year 1747; during the time I was there, a rupture happened in the Associate Synod, about the Burgess’s oath. Mr. McEwan, and I were put out of their meeting for prayer, because we had shown some dissatisfaction about making such differences a term of communion, and had they not too positively pushed that point, I had probably gone along with those called Antiburgers, being then, and still of opinion that witnesses for our covenanted principles, should join with, and strengthen one anothers hands, notwithstanding of differences in judgment, about matters of doubtful disputation, according to Rom. xiv. I. Phil iii. 16.

After the class was finished, I came home to my father’s house, not knowing what to do, hearing ministers on both sides of the question for some time, and the worthy Mr. Ralph Erskine being preaching a Sabbath at Linlithgow, I heard him, and waited until Monday, when he constitute the session, and as a moderator he subscribed to testimonial, and recommendation of me to his brother Mr. Ebenezer in Stirling, who then taught the students: and here the Lord made use of the same person a second time, in putting me to my work, when I had almost give it over. When I came to Stirling Mr. Erskine read my line, made me welcome, and said, You come last, like the Apostle Paul; wish you may be best. He appointed me a lecture, which I delivered, and a homily upon Mark xvi. 15. – Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature: which I never delivered. Little did that great man of God, or I know, at that time, he was giving me a text, to warrant me now, to relieve part of his congregation, when judicatories are making their pleasure the condition fine qua non of people having a right to Christ the gospel. Mr Erskine having dismissed the students (being no more to teach them) with a solemn prayer, and dedication of them in a manner to the work of the ministry, the like whereof I was never witness unto, nor probably ever will; I returned home with joy.

I went some time after, and taught a school in Stirchel, where I had both success and pleasure, and attended upon Mr. Fisher who then taught the students; he was so kind as to desire me to take some money he had, which was collected for the students. I thanked him, but told him I could not take it. Having entered on my studies with this view, if the Lord had any work for me in the ministry, he would provide for me otherwise, which he had hitherto done: and that I was in no need at the time; nor was I ashamed to work with my hands, when others were going idle; and indeed I had observed that those who were supplied by the contributions of others, were the most proud and haughty.

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Transcript: