Read CHAPTER XI of The Life of Col. James Gardiner Who Was Slain at the Battle of Prestonpans‚ September 21‚ 1745, free online book, by P. Doddridge, on ReadCentral.com.

EMBARKS FOR FLANDERS.

Towards the latter end of this year he embarked for Flanders, and spent some considerable time with the regiment at Ghent, where he much regretted the want of those religious ordinances and opportunities which had made his other abodes delightful. But as he had made so eminent a progress in that divine life which they are all intended to promote, he could not be inactive in the cause of God. I have now before me a letter, dated from thence October 16, 1742, in which he writes:

“As for me, I am indeed in a dry and barren land, where no water is. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because nothing is to be heard in our Sodom but blaspheming the name of my God, and I not honoured as the instrument of doing any great service. It is true, I have reformed six or seven field-officers of swearing. I dine every day with them, and have entered them into a voluntary contract to pay a shilling to the poor for every oath, and it is wonderful to observe the effect it has had already. One of them told me this day at dinner that it had really such an influence upon him, that being at cards last night when another officer fell a swearing, he was not able to bear it, but rose up and left the company. So you see, restraints at first arising from a low principle may improve into something better.”

During his abode here, he had a great deal of business upon his hands, and had also, in some marches, the care of more regiments than his own; and it has been very delightful to me to observe what a degree of converse with heaven, and the God of it, he maintained amidst these scenes of hurry and fatigue, of which the reader may find a remarkable specimen in the following letter, dated from Lichwick in the beginning of April 1743, which was one of the last I received from him while abroad. It begins with these words:

“Yesterday being the Lord’s day, at six in the morning I had the pleasure of receiving yours at Nortonick; and it proved a Sabbath day’s blessing to me. Some time before it reached me,” (from whence, by the way, it may be observed that his former custom of rising so early in his devotions was still retained,) “I had been wrestling with God with many tears; and when I had read it, I returned to my knees again to give hearty thanks to him for all his goodness to you and yours, and also to myself, in that he hath been pleased to stir up so many who are dear to him, to be mindful of me at the throne of grace.”

Then, after the mention of some other particulars, he adds:

“Blessed and adored for ever be the holy name of my Heavenly Father, who holds my soul in life, and my body in perfect health! Were I to recount his mercy and goodness to me even in the midst of all these hurries, I should never have done. I hope your Master will still encourage you in his work, and make you a blessing to many. My dearest friend, I am much more yours than I can express, and shall remain so while I am J.G.”

In this correspondence I had a further opportunity of discovering that humble resignation to the will of God which made so amiable a part of his character, and of which I had before seen so many instances. He speaks, in the letter from which I have just been giving an extract, of the hope he had expressed in a former of seeing us again that winter; and he adds:

“To be sure, it would have been a great pleasure to me; but we poor mortals form projects, and the Almighty ruler of the universe disposes of all as he pleases. A great many of us were getting ready for our return to England, when we received an order to march towards Frankfort, to the great surprise of the whole army, neither can any of us comprehend what we are to do there; for there is no enemy in that country, the French army being marched into Bavaria, where I am sure we cannot follow them. But it is the will of the Lord, and his will be done! I desire to bless and praise my Heavenly Father that I am entirely resigned to it. It is no matter where I go, or what becomes of me, so that God may be glorified in my life, or my death, I should rejoice much to hear that all my friends were equally resigned.”

The mention of this article reminds me of another relating to the views which he had of obtaining a regiment for himself. He endeavoured to deserve it by the most faithful services; some of them, indeed beyond what the strength of his constitution could well bear for the weather in some of these marches proved exceedingly bad, and yet he would be always at the head of his people, that he might look, with the exactest care, to every thing that concerned them. This obliged him to neglect the beginnings of a feverish illness, the natural consequence of which was that it grew very formidable, forced a long confinement upon him, and gave animal nature a shock which it never recovered.

In the mean time, as he had the promise of a regiment before he quitted England, his friends were continually expecting an occasion of congratulating him on having received the command of one. Still they were disappointed, and on some of them the disappointment seemed to sit heavy. As for the colonel himself, he seemed quite easy about it, and appeared much greater in that easy situation of mind than the highest military honours and preferments could have made him. With great pleasure do I at this moment recollect the unaffected serenity, and even indifference, with which he expresses himself upon this occasion, in a letter to me, dated about the beginning of April, 1743.

“The disappointment of a regiment is nothing to me, for I am satisfied that, had it been for God’s glory, I should have had it, and I should have been sorry to have had it on any other terms. My Heavenly Father has bestowed upon me infinitely more than if he had made me emperor of the whole world.”

I find several parallel expressions in other letters, and those to his lady about the same time were just in the same strain. In an extract from one which was written from Aix-la-Chapelle, April 21, the same year, I meet with these words:

“People here imagine I must be sadly troubled that I have not got a regiment, (for six out of seven vacant are now disposed of): but they are strangely mistaken, for it has given me no sort of trouble. My Heavenly Father knows what is best for me; and blessed and ever adored be his name, he has given me an entire resignation to his will. Besides, I do not know that I met with any disappointment, since I was a Christian, but it pleased God to discover to me that it was plainly for my advantage, by bestowing something better upon me afterwards, many instances of which I am able to produce; and therefore I should be the greatest of monsters, if I did not trust in him.”

I should be guilty of a great omission, if I were not to add how remarkably the event corresponded with his faith on this occasion; for whereas he had no intimation or expectation of any thing more than a regiment of foot, his Majesty was pleased, out of his great goodness, to give him a regiment of dragoons which was then quartered in his own neighborhood. It is properly remarked by the reverend and worthy person through whose hand this letter was transmitted to me, that when the colonel thus expressed himself, he could have no prospect of what he afterwards so soon obtained, as General Bland’s regiment, to which he was advanced, was only vacant on the 19th of April that is, two days before the date of this letter, when it was impossible he should have any notice of that vacancy. It also deserves observation, that some few days after the colonel was thus unexpectedly promoted to the command of these dragoons, Lord Cornwallis’s regiment of foot, then in Flanders, became vacant. Now, had this happened before his promotion to General Bland’s, Colonel Gardiner, in all probability, would only have had that regiment of foot, and so would have continued in Flanders. When the affair was settled, he informs Lady Frances of it in a letter dated from a village near Frankfort, 3d May, in which he refers to his former of the 21st of April, observing how remarkably it was verified “in God’s having given him” (for so he expressed it, agreeably to the views which he continually maintained of the universal agency of Divine Providence) “what he had no expectation of, and what was so much better than that which he had missed a regiment of dragoons quartered at his own door.”