[Rev John Porteous, the minister of Kilmuir (Easter Ross) from 1732 to 1775, was a gospel minister with a masterful ability to demonstrate spiritual truth through allegory. Here is an example. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).]
A farmer in Kilmuir was once engaged in thrashing corn. Having been busy all day, there was a considerable heap on the floor at night as the result of his labour. But when he came back to his barn next morning, all the thrashed corn was away. This occurred a second and third time, till the farmer could bear it no longer. So he resolved to watch all night, as well as work all day.
Having done so, he had not been long waiting when the thief appeared, and began to gather up the corn. Leaping upon him, the farmer tried to put him down, that he might either bind him or hold him there till help arrived. But the thief proved the stronger of the two, and he laid the farmer on his back, and had almost quite strangled him, when a friend came to his rescue. Having hold of the thief, after the farmer was on his legs again, his friend said to him, “What will be done to the thief?”
“O, bind him,” was the answer, “and give him to me on my back, and I will set off at once with him to the prison at Tain.” His friend did as he requested, and off set the farmer with his burden. But as he went out of sight of his friend, in a hollow in the road, the thief, with one effort breaking the cords that bound him, fell upon the farmer and gave him even a rougher handling than before. He would utterly have perished had not his faithful friend just come up in time again to save him.
“What will now be done?” his friend again asked. The answer was the same as before, only he added, “I will be more careful this time.” So again he started with his troublesome burden on his back, and all was quiet till he came to a dark part of the road, through the woods at Calrossie, when the fastenings were again broken, and the farmer maltreated even worse than before.
Once again his friend comes to his help, but now the farmer would not part with him till he had accompanied him to the prison. His request was granted, the jail reached, the thief locked up, and the farmer, forgetting his friend, with a light step set out for home. Just as he had banished all fear from his heart, and was indulging in anticipations of peace for the future, in a moment, the thief, having escaped from his cell and hurried to overtake him, sprang upon him from behind, and with even more than his former fury, threw the poor farmer to the ground, and would have now killed him outright had not the wonted help just come “in the time of need.”
Once again his friend asked, “What will be done now?” The farmer, worried and wearied, cast himself at his feet, and seizing him with both his hands cried, “Let the day never dawn on which thou and I shall for a moment be parted, for without thee I can do nothing.”
Text taken from Some Noted Ministers of the Northern Highlands by Rev Donald Beaton (Free Presbyterian Publications), available from the Free Presbyterian Bookshop.