Historical Children's Literature Collection

History of the life & sufferings of the rev. John Welch, sometime Minister of the gospel at Ayr [between 1840 and 1857?]

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 w JLaS
Mr. John Welch was born a gentleman, his father
being laird of Colieston, (an estate rather competent, than large, in the shire of Nithsdale) about
the year 1570, the dawning of our reformation
being then but dark, He was a rich example of
grace and mercy, but the night went before the
day, being a most hopeless extravagant boy; it waa
not enough to him, frequently when he was a young
stripling to run away from the school and play the
truant; but after he had passed his grammar, and
was come to be a youth, he left the school, and hU
father's house, and went and joined himself to the
thieves on the English border, who lived by robbing
the two nations, and amongst them he stayed till
he spent a suit of clothes. Then he was clothed
only with rags, the prodigal's misery brought him
to the prodigal's resolution, so he resolved to
eturn to his father's house, but durst not adventure, till he should interpose a reconciler* So it
his return homeward, he took Dumfries in his way;
where he had an aunt, one Agnes Forsyth, and with
her he diverted some days, earnestly entreating her
to reconcile him to his father. While he lurked ia
her house, hit father came providentially to the
house to salute his cousin, Mrs. Forsyth; and after
 ihey had talked a while, she asked him, whether ho
had ever heard any news of his son John ; to her
he replied with great grief, 0 cruel woman, how
can you name his name to me f The first news I
expect to hear of him, is, that he is hanged for a
thief. She answered, many a profligate boy had
become a virtuous man, and comforted him. He
insisted upon his sad complaint, but asked whether
she knew his lost son was yet alive. She answered,
Yes, he was, arid she hoped he should prove a better
man than he was a boy, and with that she called
upon him id come to his father. He came weeping
and kneeled, beseeching his father, for Christ's
sake, to pardon his misbehaviour, and deeply engaged to be a new man. His father reproached him
and threatened him. Yet, at length, by the boy's
tears, and Mrs. Forsyth's importunities, he was
persuaded to a reconciliation. The boy entreated
his. father to send him to the college, and there to
try his behaviour, and if ever thereafter he should
break, he said he should be content his father should
disclaim him for ever: so his father carried him
home, and put him to the college, and there he
became a diligent student, of great expectation,
and shewed himself a sincere convert, and so ho
proceeded to the ministry.
His first post in the ministry was at Selkirk,
while he was yet very young, and the country rude ;
while he was there, his ministry was rather admired'by : some, than received by many; for he was
always attended by the prophet's shadow, the
hatred of the wicked; yea, even the ministers of
^he country, w^ere more ready to pick a quarrel
irith his person, than to follow his doctrine, as may
appear to this day in their synodical records, where
we find he had many to censure him, and only some
to defend him ; yet it was thougat his ministry in
that place was not without fruit, though he stayed
but a short time there.    Being a young man un- ;;
married, he lodged himself in the house of one;
Mitchelhill, and took a young boy of his to be hm ~
bed-fellow, who to his dying day retained both a
respect to Mr. Welch and his ministry, from the '
impressions Mr. Welch's behaviour made upon his
mind though but a child.
The special cause of his leaving Selkirk, wi$a
profane gentleman in the country (one Scot oi
Headsehaw, whose family is now extinct) but
because Mr. Welch had either reproved him, or
merely from hatred, Mr. Welch was most unworthily abused by the unhappy man, amongst the rest
of the injuries he did him, this was one, Mr. Welch
kept always two good horses for his use,'and the
wicked gentleman when he could do no more,
either with his own hand, or his servants, cut off
the rumps of the two innocent beasts, upon which
followed such effusion of blood, that they both died,
which Mr. Welch did much resent, and such base
usage as this persuaded him to listen to a call ti>
the ministry at Kirkcudbright, which was his next
But when he was about to leave Selkirk, he
could not find a man in all the town to transport
his furniture, except ono Ewart, who was at that
time a poor young man, but master of two ^rsoa^
with which he transported Mr. Welch's goous, and
so left him, but as he took his leave, Mr. Welch
gave him his blessing, and a piece of gold for &
token, exhorting him to fear God, arid promised l\4'
should never want, which promise, providence made
good through the whole course of his life, as was
observed by all his neighbours.
 At Kirkcudbright he stayed not long ; but there
he reaped a harvest of converts, which subsisted
long after his departure, and were a part of Mr.
iSamuel Rutherfoord's flock, though not his parish,
while he was minister at Anwith: yet when his
call to Ayr came to him, the people of the parish
of Kirkcudbright never offered to detain him, so
his transportation to Ayr was the more easy.
Mr. Welch was transported to Ayr in the year
1590. and there he continued till he was banished,
there he had a very hard beginning, but a good
ending; for when he came first to the town, the
country was so wicked, and the hatred of godliness
so great, that there could not be found one in all
the town, that would let him a house to dwell in,
so he was constrained to accommodate himself in
the best he might, in a part of a gentleman's house
for a time, the gentleman's name was John Stewart,
he was an eminent christian, and a great assistant
of Mr. Welch.
And when he had first taken up his residence in
that town, the place was so divided into factions,
and filled with bloody conflicts, a man could hardly
walk the streets writh safety; wherefore Mr. Welch
made it his first undertaking to remove the bloody
quarrelings, but he found it a very difficult work ;
yet such was his earnestness to pursue his design,
that many times he would rush betwixt two parties of
men fighting, even in the midst of blood and wounds.
His manner was, after he had ended a skirmish
amongst his neighbours, and reconciled these bitter
enemies, to cause them to cover a table upon the
street, and there brought the enemies together, and
hegihing.with prayer he persuaded them to protest
themselves friends, and thou to eat and drink
together, then last of all, he ended the work with
unging a, psalm: after the rude people begat* to
)bserve his example, and listen to his heavenly
loctrine, he came quickly to that respect amongst
them that he became not only a necessary counsellor, without whose counsel they would do nothing,
but an example to imitate, and so he buried tho
bloody quarrels.
He gave himself wholly to ministerial exercises,
he preached once every day, he prayed the third
part of his time, was unwearied in his studies, and
for a proof of this, it was found among his papers,
that he had abridged Suarez's metaphysics, when
they came first to his hand, even when he was well
stricken in years. By all which, it appears, that
he has not only been a man of great diligence but
also of a strong and robust natural constitution,
otherwise he had never endured the fatigue.
But if his diligence was great, so it i3 doubted
whether his sowing in painfullness, or his harvest
in his success was greatest; for if either his spiritual experiences in seeking the Lord, or his fruitful-
ness in converting souls be considered, they will b§
found unparalleled in Scotland: and many years
after Mr. Welch's death, Mr. David Dickson, at
that time a flourishing minister at Irvine, was
frequently heard to say, when people talked to him
of the success of his ministry, that the grape
gleanings in Ayr, in Mr. Welch's time, were far
above the vintage of Irvine, in his own. Mr.
Welch, in his preaching, was spiritual and searching,
his utterance tender and moving ; he did not much
insist upon scholastic purposes, lie made no shew
of his learning. I once heard one of his hearers say, That no man could hear him and forbear weeping, his conveyance was so affecting.
There is a large volume of his sermons, now in Scot-
 land, wherein he makes it appear, his learning wn>:
not behind his other virtues: this also appears? in Bt&
other piece, called Dr. Welch's Armagaddon, prin-t$:\:
I suppose, in France, wherein he gives his meditation
upon the enemies of the church, and their destruction; but the piece itself is rarely to be found.
Sometimes before he went to sermon, he would
send for his elders, and tell them, he was afraid to
go to pulpit because ho found himself sore deserted ;
and thereafter desire one or more to pray, and then
he would venture to pulpit. But, it was observed,
this humbling exercise used ordinarily to be followed, with a flame of extraordinary assistance: so
near neighbours are many times contrary dispositions and frames. He would many times retire to
the church of Ayr, which was at some distance
from the town, and there spend the whole night in
prayer: for he used to allow his affections full expression, and prayed not only with audible, but
sometimes, loud voice, nor did he irk, in that
solitude, all the night over, which hath, it may be,
occasioned the contemptible slander of some
malicious"enemies, who were so bold as to call him
no less than a witch.
There was in Ayr, before he came to it, an aged
man a minister of the town, called Porterfield, the
man was judged no bad man, for his personal inclinations, but so easy a "disposition, that he used
many times to go too great a length with his
neighbours in many dangerous practices; and
amongst the rest, he used to go to the bow-butts
and archery, on Sabbath afternoon, to Mr. Welch's
great dissatisfaction. But the way he used to
reclaim him, was not bitter severity, but this gentle
policy; Mr. Welch together with John Stewart,
and Hugh Kennedy, his two intimate friends, used
to spend the Sabbath afternoon in religious Conference and prayer, and to this exercise they invited
Mr. Porterfield, which he could not refuse, by
which means he was not only diverted from his
former sinful practice, but likewise brought to a
more watchful, and edifying behaviour in his course
of life.
He married   Elizabeth Knox, daughter to the
famous Mr. John Knox, minister at Edinburgh,
the apostle of Scotland, and she lived with him
from his youth till his death.    By her I have heard
he had three sons: the first was called Dr. Welch,
a doctor of medicine, who was killed in the low
countries, and of him I never heard more.    Another
son he had most lamentably lost at sea, for when
the ship in which he was embarked was sunk, he
swam to a rock in the sea, but starved there for
want of necessary food and refreshment, and when
sometime afterward his body was found upon the
rock, they found him dead in a praying posture
upon his bended knees, with his hands stretched
out, and this was all the satisfaction his friends and
the world had upon his lamentable death, so bi&ter
to his friends.    Another he had who was heir to
his father's grace and blessings, and this was Mr.
•Josias Welch, minister at Temple-Patrick in the
north of Ireland, commonly called the Cock of the
Conscience by the people of that country, because
of his extraordinary wakening and rousing gift: he
was one of that blest society of ministers, which
wrought that unparalleled work in the north of
Ireland, about the year 1636, but was himself a
man most sadly exercised with doubts about his
own salvation all his time, and would ordinarily
say, That ministers was much'to be pitied, who
was called to comfort  weak saints and  had no
comfort himself.    He died in his youth, and,-left
for his successor, Mr. John Welch minister at Iron
Gray in Galloway, the place of his grandfather1!
nativity.    What business this made in Scotland, h
the time of the late Episcopal persecution, for the
space of twenty years, is known to all Scotland,
He maintained his dangerous post of preaching thi
gospel upon the mountains of Scotland, notwith,
standing of the threatnings of the state, the hatref
of the bishops, the price set upon his head, and all
the fierce industry of his cruel enemies.    It is well
known that bloody Claverhouse upon secret information from his spies, that Mr. John Welch was t<
be found  at some lurking place at  forty  mile{
distance, would make all that long journey in one
winter's night, that he might catch him, but when
he came he always missed his prey.    I never hearc
of a man that endured more toil, adventured upon
more hazards, escaped so much hazard, not in thc|
world.    He used to tell his friends who counselled
him to be more cautious, and not to hazard himself!
so much, That he firmly believed dangerous undertakings would be his security, and when ever he
should give over that course and retire himself, his
ministry should come to an end ; which -accordingly
came to pass, for when after Bothwell bridge, he
retired to London, the Lord called him by death,
and there he was honourably buried, not far from
the king's palace.
But to return to our old Mr. Welch ; as the duty
wherein he abounded and excelled most was prayer, i
ao his greatest attainments fell that way. He used
to say, He wondered how. a Christian could lie in
bed all night, and not rise to pray, and many times
he watched. One night he rose from his wife, and
went into the next room, where he stayed so long
yt secret prayer, that his wife fearing he might
catch cold, was constrained to rise arid follow him,
and as she hearkened, she heard him speak as by
interrupted sentences, Lord wilt thou not grant me
Scotland, and after a pause, Enough, Lord, enough,
and so she returned to her bed, and he following
her, not knowing she had heard him, but when he
was by her, she asked him what he meant by saying,
Enough, Lord, enough.    He shewed himself dissatisfied with her curiosity, but told her, he had
been wrestling with the Lord for  Scotland, and
found there was a sad time at hand, but that the
Lord would be gracious to a remnant.    This was
about the time when bishops first overspread the
land, and corrupted the church.    This was more
wonderful 1 am to relate, I heard once an honest
minister, who was a parishioner  of Mr. Welch
many a day, say, ' That one night as he watched in
his garden very late, and some friends waiting upon
him in his house and wearying because of his long
stay, one of them chanced to open a window toward
the place where he walked, and saw clearly a strange
light surrounding him, and heard him speak strange
w»rds about his spiritual joy,' I do neither add nor
alter, I am the more induced to believe this that I
have heard from as good a hand as any in Scotland,
that a very godly man, though not a minister, after
he had spent a whole night in a country house, in
the muir, declared confidently, he  saw such an
extraordinary light as this himself, Which was to
him both matter  of wonder and  astonishment.
But though Mr. Welch had upon the account of his
holiness, abilities, and success, acquired among his
subdued people, a very great respect, yet wae he
.never in such admiration, as after the great plagtte
which raged in Scotland in his time,
And erne cause was this: The magistrates of
forasmuch as this town alone was free, and the
country about infected, thought fit to guard th<*
ports with sentinels, and watchmen; and one daj
two travelling merchants, each with a pack of clotli
upon a horse, came to the town desiring ehtranct
.thatc-they might sell their goods producing a pap*
from the magistrates of the town whence they came
which was at tliat time sound and free ; yet not
withstanding all this the sentinels stopt them till
magistrates were called ; and when til
tlirv would do nothing without their
a ■vn;e; so Mr. Welch was called, and his opinion
asked ; he demurred, and putting off his hat with
his eyes toward heaven for a pretty space, though
he uttered no audible words, yet continued in a
praying gesture: and after a little space told the
magistrates they would do. well to. discharge'these
travellers their town, affirming with great asseveration, the plague was in their packs, so the magistrates commanded them to be gone, and they went
to Cumnock, a town some twenty miles distant,
and there sold their goods, which kindled such an
infection in that place, that the living were hardly
able to bury their dead. This made the people
begin to think Mr. Welch as an oracle Yet'as he
walked with God, and kept close with him, so he
forgot not,man, for he used frequently to dine
abroad with such of his friends, as he thought were
persons with whom he might maintain the communion of the saints ; and once in the year he used
always to invite all his familiars in the town to a
treat in his lianse, where tWe was a banquet of
holiness and sobriety.
And now the scene of his life begins for to alter ;
but before his blessed sufferings, he had this strange
One night he rose from his wife, and went into
garden, as his custom was, but stayed longer than
ordinary, which troubled his wife, who, when he
returned, expostulated with him very hard, for his
staying so long to wrong his health ; he bid her be
quiet, for it should be well with them.    But he
knew well, he should never preach more at Ayr;
'in \ accordingly before the next Sabbath* he was
r-ity  prisoner to Blackness castle.    After that,
i    v.uv  many  others  were brought  before   the
council of Scotland, at Edinburgh, to answer for
their rebellion and contempt, in holding a general
assembly, not authorised by the king.    And because
they declined the secret council, as judges competent in causes purely spiritual, such as the nature
and constitution of a general assembly is, they were
first remitted to the prison at Blackness, and other
places.    And thereafter, six of the most considerable  of them,  were  brought  under night  from
Blackness to Linlithgow before the criminal judges,
to answer an accusation of high treason, at the
instance of Sir Thomas Hamilton, king's advocate,
for declining,  as he alledged,  the  king's lawful
authority, in refusing to admit the council judges
competent in the cause of the nature of church
judicatories ; and after their accusation, and answer
was read, by the verdict of a jury of very considerable   gentlemen,   condemned  as   guilty of   high
treason, the punishment continued till the king's
pleasure  should be known, and thereafter their
punishment was made banishment, that the cruel
sentence might someway seem to soften their severe
punishment as the king had contrived it.
But before he left Scotland, some remarkable
 passages in his behaviour are to be remembered
And first when the dispute about church-government began to warm ; as he was walking upon the
street of Edinburgh, betwixt two honest citizens,
he told them, they had in their town two great
ministers, who were no great friends to Christ's
cause, presently in controversy, but it should be
seen, the world should never hear of their repentance. The two men were Mr. Patrick Galloway,
and Mr. John Hall; and accordingly it came to
pass, for Mr. Patrick Galloway died easing himself
upon his stool; and Mr. John Hall, being at that
time in Leith, and his servant woman having left
him alone in his house while she went to-the
market, he was found dead all alone at her return.
He was sometime prisoner in Edinburgh castle
before he went into exile, where one night sitting at
supper with the lord Ochiltry, who was an uncle to
Mr. Welch's wife, as his manner was, he entertained the company with godly and edifying discourse,
which was well received by all the company save
only one debauched popish young gentleman, who
sometimes laughed, and sometimes tnocked and
made faces; whereupon Mr. Welch brake out into
a sad abrupt charge upon all the company to be
silent, and observe the work of the Lord upon that
prophane mocker, which they should presently
behold; upon which immediately the prophane
wretch sunk down and died beneath the table, but
never returned to life again, to the great astonishment of all the company.
Another wonderful story they tell of him at the
same time; the lord Ochiltry the captain, being
both sons to the good lord Ochiltry, and Mr. Welch's
uncle in law, was indeed very civil to Mr. Welch,
but being for a long time, through the multitude
of affairs, kept from visiting Mr. Welch in his
chamber, as he was one day walking in the court,
and espying Mr. Welch at his chamber window
asked him kindly how he did* and if in any thing
he could serve him. Mr. Welch answered him,
He would earnestly entreat his lordship, being at
that time to go to court, to petition king James in
his name, that he might have liberty to preach the
gospel; which ray lord promised to do. Mr. Welch
answered, my lord, both because you are my
kinsman, and other reasons, I would earnestly
entreat, and obtest you not to promise except you
faithfully perform. My lord answered, He would
faithfully perform his promise ; and so went for
London. But though at his first arrival he was
really purposed to .present--the petition to the king,
but when he found the king in such a rage against
the godly ministers, that he durst not at that time
present it; so he thought fit to delay it, and thereafter fully forgot it.
The first time that Mr.. Welch saw his face after
his return from court, he asked him what he had
done with his petition. My lord answered he, had
presented it to the king, but that the king was in
so great a rage against the ministers at that time,
he believed it had been forgotten, for he had gotten
no answer. Nay said Mr. Welch to him, My lord
you should not lye to God, and to me, for I know
you never delivered it, though I warned you to
take heed not to undertake it, except you would
perform it; but because you have dealt so unfaithfully, remember God shall take from you both
estate and honours, and give them to your neighbour in your own time: which accordingly came to
pass, both his estate and honours were in his own
time transmitted to James Stewart J*on to captain
//> 1
James, who was indeed a cadet, but not the lineal
heir of the family.
While he was detained prisoner in Edinburgh
castle, his wife used for the most part to stay in
his company, but upon a time fell into a longing
to see her family in Ayr, to which with some
difficulty he yielded ; but when she was to take her
journey, he strictly charged her not to take the
ordinary way to her own house, when she came to
Ayr, nor to pass by the bridge through the town, but
to pass the river above the bridge, and so get the
way to her own house, and not to come into the
town, for, said he, before you come thither, you
shall find the plague broken out in Ayr, which
accordingly came to pass.
The plague was at that time very terrible, and
he being necessarily separate from his people, it
was to him the more grievous; but when the
people of Ayr came to him to bemoan themselves,
his answer was, that Hugh Kennedy, a godly
gentleman in their town, should pray for them, and
God should hear him. This counsel they accepted,
and the gentleman convening a number of the
honest citizens, prayed fervently for the town, as
he was a mighty wrestler with God, and accordingly after that the plague decreased.
Now the time is come he must leave Scotland*
and never to see it again, so upon the seventh of
November 1606 in the morning, he with his
neighbours took ship at Leith, and though it was
but two o'clock in the morning, many were waiting
on with their afflicted families, to bid them farewell
After prayer, they sung the xxiii psalm, and so
set sail for the south of France, and landed in
the river of Bourdeaux. Within fourteen weeks
after his  arrival,  such  was   the   Lord's  blessing
upon  his  diligence,   he  was   able  to  preach in
French, and accordingly  was  speedily called to
the ministry, first in one village, then in another;
one of them was Nerac, and thereafter settled in
saint Jean d' Angely, a considerable walled townf
and there lie continued the rest of the time he sojourned in France, which was about sixteen years.
When he began to preach, it was observed by some
of his  hearers, that while  he continued  in the
doctrinal part of his sermon, he spoke very correct
French, but when he came to his application and
when his affections kindled, his fervour made him
sometimes  neglect  the  accuracy  of the  French
construction: but there were godly young men who
admonished him of this, which he took in very good
part, so for preventing mistakes of that kind, he
desired the young gentlemen, when they perceived
him beginning to decline, to give him a sign, and
the sign was, that they were both to stand up upon
their feet, and thereafter he was more exact in his
expression through his whole sermon ; so desirous
was he, not only to deliver good matter, but to
recommend it in the neat expression.
There were many times persons of great quality
in his auditory, before whom he was just as bold
as ever he had been in a Scots village; which
moved Mr. Boyd of Trochrig once to ask him,
(after he had preached before the university of
Samure with such boldness and authority, as if he
had been before the meanest congregation) how ho
could be so confident among strangers, and persons
of such quality! to which he answered, That he
was so filled with the dread of God, he had no
apprehension from man at all; and this answer,
said Mr. Boyd, did not remove my admiration, but
rather increased it
There wa^i in his house amougdt m&ny other*,
who tabled with him for good education, a young
gentleman of great quality, and suitable expectations, and this was the heir of the lord Ochiltry,
who was captain of the castle of Edinburgh.    This
young nobleman, after he had gained very much
upon Mr. Welch's affections, fell sick of a grievous
sickness, and after he had been long wasted with
it, closed his eyes, and expired as dying men used
to do, so to the apprehension and sense of all spectators, he was no  more but a carcase, and was
therefore taken out of his bed, and laid upon a
pallat on the floor, that his body might be the more
conveniently dressed, as dead bodies used to be.
This was to Mr.   Welch a very great grief, and
therefore he stayed  with the  young man's  dead
body full three hours,   lamenting over  him with
great tenderness.    After twelve hours, the friends
brought in a coffin, whereunto  they desired the
corps to be put, as the custom is: but Mr. Welch
desired, that for the satisfaction of his affections,
they  would forbear the youth for a time, which
they  granted, and returned not  till twenty four
hours, after his  death, were expired;  then they
returned, with great importunity the corps might
be coffined, that it might be speedily buried, the
weather being extremely hot; yet he persisted in his
request, earnestly begging them to excuse him for
once more ; so they left the youth upon his pallat
for full thirty six hours: but even after all that
though he was urged, not only with great earnestness, but displeasure, they were constrained to forbear
for twelve hours yet more; and after forty eight
hours were past, Mr. Welch was still where he was,
and then his friends perceived that he believed the
young man was not really dead, but under some
apoplectic fit, and therefore proponed to him for
his satisfaction, that trial should be made upon his
body by doctors and chirurgeons, if possibly any
spark of life might be found in him, and with this
he was content: so the physicians are set on work,
who pinched him with pincers in the fleshy parts
of his body, and twisted a bow string about his
head with great force, but no sign of life appearing
in him, so the physicians pronounced him stark
dead, and then there was no more delay to be
desired ; yet Mr. Welch begged of them once more,
that they would but step into the next room for an
hour or two, and leave him with the dead youth,
and this they granted: Then Mr. Welch fell down
before the pallat, and cried to the Lord with all
his might, for the last time and sometimes looked
upon the dead body, continuing in wrestling with
the Lord till at length the dead youth opened his
eyes, and cried out to Mr. Welch whom he distinctly
blew, 0 Sir, I am all whole, but my head and legs :
and these were the places they had sore hurt, with
their pinching.
When Mr. Welch perceived this, he called upon
his friends, and shewed them the dead young man
restored to life again, to their great astonishment.
And this young nobleman, though he lost the estate
of Ochiltry, lived to acquire a great estate in
Ireland, and was lord Castlestewart, and a man of
such excellent parts, that he was courted by the earl
of Stafford to be a counsellor in Ireland, which be
refused to be, and then he engaged, and continued
for all his life, not only in honour and power, but
in the profession and practice of godliness, to the
great comfort of the country where he lived. This
story the nobleman communicated to his friends in
Ireland, and from them I had it.
 10   j
While Mr. Welch was minister in one of these
French villages, upon an evening a certain popish
friar travelling through the  country, because he
could not find lodging in the whole village, addressed
himself to Mr. Welch's house for one night.    The
servants acquainted their master and he'was content to receive this guest.    The family had supped
before he came, and so the servants convoyed the
friar. to his chamber, and after they had made his
supper, they left him to his rest.    There wan trill
a timber partition  betwixt him and   Mr. Welch,
and after the friar had slept his first sleep, he was
surprized with the hearing of a silent, but constant
whispering noise, at which he wondered very much,
and was not a little troubled with it.
The next morning he walked in the fields, where
he chanced to meet with a country man, who
saluting him because of his habit, asked him where
he lodged that night ? The friar auswered he had
lodged   with   the  hugenot   minister.    Then  the
country man asked him what entertainriient he
had ? The friar answered, Very bad; for, said he,
I always held there were devils haunting these
ministers houses, and I am persuaded there was
one with me this night, for I heard a continual
whisper all the night over, which I believe was no
other thing, than the minister and the devil conversing together. The country man told him, he was
much mistaken, and that it was nothing else, but
the minister at his night prayer.    O, said the friar,
does the minister pray any ? Yes, more than any
man in France, answered the country man, and if
you please to stay another night with him you may
be satisfied.    The friar got home to Mr. Welch i
house,   and   pretending   indisposition,   entreated
another night's lodging, which was granted bin.
Before dinner, Mr. Welch came from his chamber, and made his family exercise, according to
his custom- And first he sung a psalm, then read
a portion of scripture, and discoursed upon it,
thereafter he prayed with great fervour, as his custom was, to all which the friar was an astonished
withess, After the exercise they went to dinner,
where the friar was very civilly entertained, Mr.
Welch forbearing all questions and dispute with
him for the time; when the evening came, Mr,
Welch made his exercise as he had done in the
morning, which occasioned yet more wondering in
the friar, and after supper to bed they all went;
but the friar longed much to know what the night
whisper was, and in that he was soon satisfied, for
after Mr. Welch's first sleep, the noise began, and
then the friar resolved, to be sure what it was, so
he-crept silently to Mr. Welch's chamber-door, and
there he heard not only the sound, but the words
distinctly, and communications betwixt man and
God, and such as he knew not had been in the
world. Upon the next morning, as soon as Mr.
Welch was ready, the friar went to him, and told
him, that he had been bred in ignorance, and lived
in darkness all his time, but now he was resolved to
adventure his soul with Mr. Welch, and thereupon
declared himself Protestant: Mr. Welch welcomed
him and encouraged him, and he continued a constant protestant to his dying day. This story I
had from a godly minister, who was bred in Mr.
Welch's house, when in France.
When Lewis XIII. king of France, made war
upon the Protestants there, because of their religion, the city of St. Jean d' Angely, was by him
and his royal army besieged, and brought into
extreme danger,  Mr Welch was minister in the
town, and mightily encouraged the citizens to hold
out, assuring them, God should deliver them. la
the time of the siege a cannon ball pierced the
bed where he was lying, upon which he got up, but
would not leave the room, till he had by solemn
prayer acknowledged his deliverance. During the
siege, the townsmen made stout defence, until
one of the king's gunners planted a great gun w
conveniently upon a rising ground, that therewith
he could command the ..whole, wall, upon which the
townsmen made their greatest defence. Upon this,
they were constrained to forsake the whole wall in
great terror, and though they had several guns
planted upon the wall, no man durst undertake to
manage them. This being told Mr. Welch with
great affrightment, he notwithstanding encouraged
them still to hold out, and running to the wall
himself, found the cannonier, who was a Burgun-
dian, near the wall, him he entreated to mount the
wall, promising to assist him in person, so to the
wall they got. The cannonier told Mr. Welch,
that either they behoved to dismount the gun upon
the rising ground, or else they were surely lost;
Mr. Welch desired him to aim well, and he should
serve him, and God would help him; so the gunner falls a scouring his piece, and Mr. Welch runs
to the powder to fetch him a charge ; but as soon
as he was returning, the king's gunner fired his
piece, which carried both the powder and ladle out
of Mr. Welch's hands, which yet did not discourage him, for having left the ladle, he filled his hat
with' powder, wherewith the gunner loaded his
piece, and dismounted the king's gun at the first
shot, so the citizens returned to their post of defence..
This discouraged the king-so, that he sent to the
citizens to offer thsm fair conditions, which were,
That they should enjoy the liberty of their religion,
their civil privileges, and their walls should not bo
demolished : only the king desired for his honours
that he might enter the city with his servants in a
friendly manner. This the city thought fit to
grant, and the king with a few more entered the
city for a short time.
But within a short time thereafter the war was
renewed, and then Mr. Welch told the inhabitants
of the city, that now their cup was full, and they
should no more escape ; yhieh accordingly came
to pass, for the king took the town, and as soon as
ever it fell into his hand, he commanded Vitry,
the captain of his guard, to enter the town, and
preserve his minister from all danger'; and then
: were horses and waggons provided for Mr. Welch,
I to remove him and his family for Rochel, where
f he remained till he obtained liberty to come
to England, and his friends made hard suit,
that he might be permitted to return to Scotland ; because the physicians declared there was
no other way to preserve his life, but by the
freedom he might have in his native air. But
to this king James would never yield, protesting he should never be able to establish his
beloved bishops in Scotland, if Mr. Welch were
permitted to return thither ; so he languished at
London a considerable time, his disease was judged
by some to have a tendency to a sort of leprosy j
physicians say he had been poisoned ; a langour he
had, together with a great weakness in his knees,
caused by his continual kneeling at prayer: by
which it came to pass, that though he was able to
move his knees, and to walk, yet he was wholly
insensible in them, and the flesh became hard like
a sort of horn,   But when in the time of his weak-
ness, he was desired to remit somewhat of his excessive painfulness, his answer was, He had his life
of God, and therefore it should be spent for him.
His friends importuned king James very much,
that if he might not return to Scotland, at least he
might have liberty to preach at London, which
king James would never grant, till he heard all
Jopes of life wrere past, and then he allowed him
liberty to preach, not fearing his activity.
Then as soon as ever he heard he might preach,
he greedily embraced this liberty, and having access
to a lecturer's pulpit, he went and preached both
long and fervently : which was the last performance
of his life ; for after he had ended his sermon, he
returned to his chamber, and within two hours
quietly and without pain, he resigned his spirit
into his Maker's hands, and was buried near Mr.
Deering, the famous English divine, after he had
lived little more than fifty-two years.


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