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       Testimony of Mr James Hogg

James Hogg was a Presbyterian minister at Carnock in Scotland


JAMES HOGG. He was minister at Carnock, and died about the end of the 17th century. He thus speaks of himself: –


“The Lord began his saving work on my soul, with a deep conviction of my singular and unparallelled sinfulness and guilt. Apprehensions of my being chargeable with the guilt of Adam’s first sin, and of the corruption of my nature, so impressed my mind with a sense of my loathsomeness and danger, as filled me with strong fears, lest the Lord should, even in time, make me a terror to myself, and all about me, a monument of his dreadful indignation; as an awful warning to future generations against their abusing such advantages of education, and other valuable mercies, as I had enjoyed. These convictions preserved me, even when very young, from the common irregularities of children; and made me diligent in using the Lord’s instituted means of grace, public, private, and secret, which were sometimes attended with no small inward sweetness and enlargement. Some of my near relations told me, that they thought they observed evidences of the real grace of God about me, in my most tender years. But, regardless of their accounts, I looked upon myself as an heir of hell, a child of wrath, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger from the commonwealth of promise, having no hope, and without Christ, and without God in the world, Eph. ii. 12. This fearful pressure of my heart was produced, by conviction of such sins as could not be much observed by others.


“I had read nothing on conversion, and had little inclination to converse with any about my case. Such as did converse with me also, either took my distress to be no more than a natural melancholy, or thought too favourably of me. None, except Mr Thomas Hogg, whom I met with in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, among other prisoners persecuted for righteousness sake, searched me in answerableness to my real condition. I afterwards, when in great distress of mind, endeavoured to have access to converse with him, when he was prisoner in the Bass, but was refused it. Nevertheless, I got a letter conveyed to him, to which he answered a most profound, clear, and encouraging answer. Though my former heaviness was removed, I had no settled persuasion of my saving interest in Christ: but was tossed hither or thither, as my frames and exercise appeared favourable, or not. I got into familiar acquaintance with some godly persons, with whom I used a great deal of freedom; and, by much prayer and converse with them, received much light and pleasant instruction, which I greedily drank in. As we were all of one mind, I had little inclination to converse about the debates of the times, (between 1660 and 1688); but my chief concern was about that which related to the eternal salvation, and the particular case of my soul.


“After I had, for a considerable time, lived in great suspense, sometimes better, and sometimes worse, when I was not so much as thinking on my case, light suddenly broke into my heart. I immediately retired, sweetly meditating on that text, ‘Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eye to behold the sun,’ Eccl. xi. 7. O how sweet the light was to me, who had been long shut up in a dark dungeon! For some time, I could do nothing, but cry, O for light, for light, for more light! ‘O send out thy light and thy truth, that they may lead me, and bring me to thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles!’ Psal. xliii. 3. After I had thus cried, not without some experience of a gracious answer, and expectation of more, I quickly found my soul brought out of prison, and breathing in a free and heavenly air; altogether astonished at the amazing mercy and grace of God in Christ, and the surprising manifestations of it, which I enjoyed. But alas! I was soon tempted to think it all delusive, because I had not, immediately before, been under any spiritual exercise about my case; and to think none of my preceding concern had proceeded from the spirit of adoption, and so this could not be an answer to former prayers. In answer to these suggestions (1), I readily granted, that I, and all my best works, instead of meriting any regard from God, did more than deserve his most dreadful judgements, Is. lxiv. 6. (2) I saw the unsearchable riches of his grace, shining more clearly in the freedom of this mercy. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with this money; neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins; thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, &c. Is. xliii. 24,25. (3) I saw that the Lord thus prevented me from having any temptation to sacrifice to my own net. Had this singular manifestation immediately followed any fervent prayer of mine, my proud heart, and Satan, would have taken advantage against me, which now they had not. And the Lord of the mercy was the more endeared to my soul, as I saw him only in it; and that the whole praise belonged only, and wholly to him. And nothing has been more heavy to my soul, than my miscarriages under soul-exercise, and my hard thoughts of the Lord, and risings of heart against him, and my desponding fears that he would answer my prayers by terrible things in righteousness, Psal. lxv. 5. Never any in the world had less shadow of ground, to be taken up with any exercise of their mind, than I; and yet I had need to be weaned from this form of idolatry.


“Having opportunity of a providential retirement, I, for almost three or four days on end, had my soul filled with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6. O the inexpressible and ravishing beauty which I was made to behold in his person, offices, yolk, and cross; and in every thing by which he made himself known! Formerly, I had little more than an opinion, or rational deductions, concerning these things; but now, my soul was filled with the most glorious and delicious irradiations from the word, by the spirit and wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ. Having formerly much hurt my soul, by a legal and selfish manner of personal covenanting with God, at this time I did not incline to such dealing with him. But (1) I was not only firmly persuaded of Jesus Christ’s infinite ability and willingness to save to the uttermost, Heb. vii. 25; but I found the beginnings of salvation already wrought in me, in a deliverance from the power of sin and Satan, and giving me such views of the Pearl of great price, that I was in some measure ready to part with all things for him. (2) By this manifestation, my soul was exceedingly engaged to him, and to his way; earnestly desirous to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. (3) As I had destroyed myself, my desire was to be entirely under his hand, that he might recover me, and finish the work which he had begun in me, with shoutings of grace, grace unto it, Zech. iv. 6. (4) I humbly requested, that he would not let me lie as an useless weight upon the face of the earth, but graciously fit me for any service, however mean.


“Thus my transporting view of his stupendous condescension, and love in wooing, and offering, and giving himself, and all his fulness, to such a wretch as I am, did so delightfully overwhelm my soul, that I shall not say I gave myself wholly to him; but rather that he, by his Almighty power, and efficacious persuasion, did invincibly seize upon, and render me his most willing captive.


“Before this time I had much, but perversely, delighted in reading the Life and Letters of Mr Joseph Alleine; his applauded conduct being so like my own legal exercise. But I now saw, that his exorbitant complaints and labours, and his disabling of his body for the Lord’s service by them, or by his carelessness about it, flowed from his legal Baxterian principals. I was enabled more clearly to discern a legal spirit, doctrine or book. And I earnestly beseech my friends to avoid, to the uttermost, whatever is of a legal strain. These subtle and soul-ruining distempers, will most insensibly insinuate themselves, and poison both heart and practice, even under the choicest means for battering them down; and much more by legal sermons, or books, which shelter and feed them. Such doctrines are not the channel of kindly convictions, or sanctifying comforts. My soul, being now revived, began to learn a more excellent way.


“I perceived, (1) That all that which God hath testified concerning himself, is really to be found in him, and that not by parts, but by perfect unity; his holiness being nothing but himself, an holy God, &c. Deut. vi. 4. (2) Hence, it must be the want of the knowledge and faith of what God is in himself, that maketh us so ready to stagger concerning his truths, providences, or our duty, or any other spiritual thing, especially when we are sore tempted. If we beheld the beauty of the Lord, we would never fear, but only believe, Mark v. 36, Psal. xxvii. 4-13, Job xl. 2,4,5, and xlii, 2-6. (3) In perfect suitableness to their circumstances in this world, the Lord so reveals himself to all his people, as they see his glory in his word and providence, and know the truth in Jesus Christ, according to the measure of the light bestowed upon them, Luke x. 21. (4) As all divine truths centre in God himself, it is manifest, that according to the measure of saving light, the knowledge of him, and of his truths and ways, go together, John xvii. 3. The Lord is one, and his name, the manifestation of himself is one, Zech. xiv. 9. And, however, we may answer the quibbles of our spiritual enemies, by our reasonings, yet, till the Lord gives eyes to see, there will be no real deliverance; no change, making us children of the light, and of the day, not of the night, nor of darkness, 1 Cor. ii. 14, 1 Thess. v. 5. (5) Spiritual light, by manifesting God in Christ, who is all in all, fills the soul with correspondent joy, 1 John i. 1,4,5, John xvi. 22, Rom. xiv. 17, with Col. ii. 9,10. And as the discoveries of his being God, and of his being our God and our all in the promise, are inseparably connected in all the declarations, offers, and invitations of the gospel, there can be no real believing of God’s testimony concerning himself, without some assurance included in it, though a poor tossed believer do not discern it.


After he was ordained to the ministry, he speaks thus of himself:–


“My own sad experience of all mixtures of the covenants of work and grace, in legal doctrines and tempers, led me to the uttermost earnestness in discovering those deceits; and in shewing, that the law hath not the promises, nor can be the ministration of the Spirit, or the means of faithfulness to God in heart or life. The Lord even led me to discern the legal strain of some books, which were in great repute, and which I had highly esteemed, before the Lord had more clearly shown me his new covenant, Psal. xxv. 14, Luke xvi. 15. Though I was, in every respect, the most weak, sinful, and unworthy, that ever the Lord had thrust forth to labour in his vineyard, and before him, was fearfully guilty of sloth and carelessness, as to a previous digesting, in my own spiritual exercise, the matters which I preached to others, he made my practical discourses useful to the godly in my own congregation, and in other places which I sometimes sojourned. But they wrought in others a secret disgust; and the more plain they were, my hearers, who contented themselves with a form of godliness, held them to be the more dark and unintelligible. My sincere endeavours to discover the lie that was in their right hand, exceedingly galled them.


“After he had laboured in the congregation of Carnock between thirty and forty years, and his ministrations had remarkably blessed to exercised souls, he died at Edinburgh, amidst the prayers and supplications of his Christian friends.”




“HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF ACCOUNTS OF REVIVAL,” compiled by the Rev. John Gillies, D.D., 1754. Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981. pp 190-192.