Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

that as he was remarkably earnest in his prayers for the public interests of religion, so he was always for beginning every deliberation of importance with prayer. And it was observed, that both as to his expressions and manner in prayer, none could

go beyond him for profound reverence, or for freedom, fluency, and holy humble boldness ; and very few equal his constant mixture of these in so remarkable a degree.

In the latter part of his life he was uncommonly concerned for the peace of the church of Scotland. He had all along endeavoured to prevent strife and division to the utmost of his power. What pains he was at in procuring the peaceable settlement of vacant congregations, appears in part from papers on this subject found among his manuscripts, and is otherwise well known. He was equally against the extremes of encouraging an unreasonable opposition among the people on the one hand, and of violently imposing ministers upon them on the other. A call and appointment to the holy ministry by ordination, he thought a very solemn business, and not to be made on any account subservient to political

He considered the great design of the sacred function, the edification of the body of Christ, which he thought could never be promoted by violent measures, and fixing a pastoral relation amidst an universal opposition. The arbitrary methods therefore lately pursued, in not only appointing and authorizing such settlements, but deposing from the holy ministry such as for conscience sake refused to have an active hand in them, made very deep impression on his spirits, as a dismal presage of the decay of vital religion, and the pulling to pieces our ecclesiastic constitation, Moved by such considerations, he interposed his most vigorous efforts to stop the progress of so unprecedented and ru. inous measures. He acted, and wrote himself; and engaged others, who had talents for it, to write upon the subject.* Declining no step, however troublesome, unless it seemed to have a tendency to increase the flame.

measures.

* See 1. The terms of Ministerial and Christian communion imposed on the church of Scotland by a prevailing party in the general assembly, in opposition to the great bulk both of officebearers and private Christians. Printed at Glasgow, 1753.

2. An inquiry into the powers committed to the general As. semblies of the church, and the nature of deposition from the boly ministry, occasioned by the conduct and procedure of the

From this short account of things, it appears how active he was in matters of public concern, as well as in the more private duties of his office; so that one would think he could not spare much time for reading, especially as he was obliged to be often in company, persons of all ranks, who had any regard for religion, being fond of conversing with him. And indeed it was his duty, as well as his inclination, to gratify them. For he had such an inexhaustible fund of edifying pleasant discourse ; such a constant cheerfulness and flow of spirits, attended with the most serious piety; so obliging a readiness to hear others; and so unaffected a desire to make all about him happy: that there never was perhaps a 'man better qualified to recommend Christianity in the way of conversation ; nor were bis endeavours in this way

without

success.

Yet though so large a portion of his time was necessarily employed in action and conversation, he read a great deal to the last. There was hardly a new book of any note, but he made himself acquainted with it; nay, be found time to study and compose upon a variety of divine subjects. To account for which, we must consider, that as he had a very quick apprehension, so he was capable of extraordinary application, attended with a certain earnestness to finish every subject he had once begun. And then he generally retired several months in the summer season to the country, where his studies were both his business and recreation : for he never seemed to be weary of them, nor to give them up, except when necessarily interrupted.

At what time soever it was, 'tis certain he did write several valuable composures besides these published in this volume; such

essay on the prophecies relating to the Messiah--Of the difference betwixt enthusiasm and true christian piely.-- Of the Scripture Doctrine of continued

as,

assembly, 1752. By the author of the queries in the Scots Magazine for July, 1752, with an introduction by another hand, Printed at Glasgow, for John Gilmour, bookseller, 1754.

3. The nature of ecclesiastic government, &c. being a second conference on the terms of communion, &c. Printed at Glasgow, 1754.

He had a great regard for the Authors of these pieces, and took upon himself the chief care and trouble of publishing them.

forgiveness---Against the errors of the mystics*._A collection of remarks on the evidence of the miracles recorded in the New Testament. And several smaller pieces, viz. Letters on infant baptism-4 consolatory letter to Lady Frances Gardner, occasioned by the Colonel's death- Remarks on Mr. R's manuscript on the nature of faith. And some unfinished papers, as, Remarks on Mr. Stinstras' pastoral letter.- Remarks on lord Bolingbroke's insinuations against the scriptures in his Letters on History.

There are, perhaps, some of his manuscripts omitted in this list ; but from those mentionedit appears in part, (though his intimate acquaintances only can have a clear notion of it) how studious he was as well as active. It is indeed hard to say which of the two he was most remarkable for ; but he was never idle, and the great principle that visibly animated him all along, was a regard to the honour of his Saviour, and a zeal to promote his cause according to the opportunities afforded him.

Notwithstanding his incessant application, he enjoyed a very good state of health, seldom interrupted, except by some fits of a rheum in his head, and a pain and weakness

In spring, 1754, he was feverish, for some days, but soon recovered, and was so well as to attend the general assembly in May, where he had the pleasure to meet with the reverend Messrs. Tennent and Davies, agents for the college of New

in his eyes.

* Some have expressed their surprise, that he could be at the pains to search into these obscure writers ; but such as have read them without the prejudice of contempt (which may be more easily done, as some of them were men of a fine imagination and an affectionate heart) will soon perceive how apt they are to engage à devout reader. Upon several very important points, such as,

A constant sense of the divine presence, A supreme love and re. gard to the Deity ; Conformity to his will,” &c. they speak extremely well. But the great defect of the mystic divinity seems to be, that it overlooks, in a great measure, some of the peculiar doctrines and precepts of the New Testament, upon which our all depends ; such as, “ Justification by the blood and righteousness of the Saviour, and a zealous care to promote our own salvation and that of others.” This, Mr. M Taurin, no doubt saw, and upon this, and some other accounts, he might justly look upon the mystic scheme as the more dangerous, the greater resemblance it bears to real-religion.

Jersey ; a design to which he heartily wished well, as he did to all that tended to promote Christianity. It gave him great pleasure to see with what readiness the Assembly granted a collection for carrying on that good design.

After he came home, he had frequently in his hands a small volume of Mr. Shaw's pieces, one of which is entitled, A farewell to Life. About the end of August be complained much of the rheum in his head, which, notwithstanding the good effects of medicines for a short time, still returned. Yet he preached on Sabbath, August 25th, and went abroad next day, as usual. There were at that time some foreigners in town, who were desirous to be introduced to him, on account of the great esteem they had for his brother. As his humane, sociable, and Christian temper made him always behave in a very obliging manner to strangers, he waited upon them with great cheerfulness, and conversed with them in his usual entertaining and facetious way. He was again to have waited on them on Tharsday, August 29th, but found himself so much indisposed by the pain in his head, that he could not go abroad. About two in the afternoon he became suddenly so ill, that his memory failed him, and he could not express himself with his ordinary readiness. After that, he had a continual inclination to sleep, attended with a slow fe

At the same time a little swelling under one of his cheeks increased, till it became what the physicians call an erysipelas. On Sabbath, September 1st, though he did not speak with his former distinctness, his discourse, in the intervals of his drowsiness, was in the same heavenly strain it used to be on that day ; repeating many

comfortable

passages Scripture, and improving every thing that came in his way as the means of devotion, and a spiritual frame; taking occasion, from the cordials he was using. to speak of the fruit of the tree of life, and of the pure water of life. Afterwards his trouble increased, and

carried him off in the sixty first year of his

age, on Sabbath, Sept. 8th, near 12 at night: the end of a Sabbath on earth being the beginning of an eterpal Sabbath in heaven.

He was a man that had a very extraordinary degree of the most valuable gifts, and the most lovely graces united in him. A lively striking instance of the truth, power, and amjableness of Christianity : quite raised above the world: employed from day to day in some good design, without the

ver.

of

smallest appearance of vanity or ambition, or any interested view. And in general, so free from all discernible failings, that those who were most intimately acquainted with him may be appealed to, whether they could ever observe any ; except, that in the decline of life he sometimes grew too warm in expressing his honest zeal. And even this was, in a great measure, owing to the decay of his bodily constitution, for be was very uneasy at it himself, and used to desire his friends to put him in mind when he was in danger of it. And when it had overtaken him, he used in a very sincere and affectionate manner to ask forgiveness of the person or company whom he might have offended. As for personal injuries, he always bore them with a patience and meekness that was truly Christian.

There was a perpetual cheerfulness in his temper, attended with that decency of behaviour, and that useful and pertinent discourse, that, in conversing with him, one enjoyed the pleasures of the gayest company, along with the advantages of the most serious. His conversation was always pleasant, but never trifling. He was ingenious in making the best improvement of every occurrence. He equally disliked debates, and a sullen reserve of temper, and diverted every thing of this kind, by introducing what tended to cheer and edify.

He was eminently given to hospitality. And was always ready to distribute to the necessitous to the utmost of his power, if not beyond it.

His kind and affectionate heart to those who were in any sort of trouble, whether of body or mind, was such as cannot well be expressed ; and yet even when those who were dearest to him were under threatening diseases, he retained a tranquillity and cheerfulness of temper, always hoping for the most comfortable event; and when deeply afflicted hy the disappointment of these hopes, he on every occasion overcame the tenderest grief by the most pious and cheerful resignation.

As a minister of the gospel, he was very exemplary. The great subjects of his sermons were the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, which were the life of his own soul. In dealing with the consciences of men, he thought the

proper

method was (according to the scripture pattern, particularly in the epistle to the Romans) to convince them first of their having

B

« AnteriorContinuar »