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Darling Memorial Sketch Book
Carrubber's Close Mission


Carrubber's Close Mission. Another sphere of usefulness and influence in which Mr Darling took a prominent and active part, and in connection with which he was in due time chosen as a director, was the well-known Carrubber's Close Mission. He had been preceded in the management and work of this mission by a fellow church member, Mr Alexander Jenkinson, to whom in its earlier history, next to its venerable founder, Mr Gall, it was more indebted than to any other man. In its later and more expanded form, since the first visit of Mr Moody to Edinburgh, Mr Darling's labours were invaluable. In the work of organising meetings and securing acceptable speakers for the large weekly assemblies, he grudged neither time nor toil. And when all this had been done, he would go forth, some time before the hour of meeting, into the neighbouring streets and slums, and by every device of kindly moral suasion seek to induce men and women to "come and hear." And when this was accomplished, he would, with characteristic self-forgetfulness, withdraw into the shadow and be an earnest worshipper and listener.

There were occasions at this period of his life when he was induced to address such large meetings, and in the Bands of Hope for children he was a frequent speaker; but it was in conversation with individuals that he most delighted and excelled. His success in this latter form of evangelism was indeed remarkable. And there were qualities in the man, and in his manner of intercourse, which so far explain to us the secret of his success. There was nothing of a pharisaic air in his bearing, even to the most sunken and depraved. He remembered that it was "by the grace of God that he was what he was." And then he never would allow even those who were the most abandoned to despair of recovery, or to think that it was in vain for them to "try." He would remind them that the Gospel embraced in its compassionately urgent call the chief of sinners, that "God was not willing that any should perish," and that there was not an angel in heaven that would not be made gladder at the news of their repentance. And his look of compassion and goodness, beaming upon them all the while, charmed away suspicion, and made it impossible for them to doubt that he was intensely in earnest.

The mention of Mr Darling's organising zeal and power brings up to our recollection an evangelistic and temperance meeting remarkable alike for its vast numbers, its seemly order, and its seriousness, which was held about eight years ago on the Calton Hill, on the afternoon of a bright Sabbath day in summer, which in a great measure owed its arrangements as well as its origination to him. The impression produced by the very greatness of the multitude was great, and it became necessary to divide the multitude into sections, which should be addressed by different speakers. The outward scenery and surroundings added to the impressiveness and sublimity of the sight. Who that has ever stood on the Calton Hill on a bright summer afternoon, and looked around him on the wondrous picture which nature and art spread before him, could be surprised at this? We quote the words in which Principal Cairns refers to it, in a letter written on the occasion of Mr Darling's death:

"Another reminiscence illustrates his interest in open-air work connected with temperance. It falls, I think, about seven or eight years ago. It was after Gospel-temperance began to have so much emphasis laid upon it. Mr Darling, with other friends, on a lovely evening, I think, in the early autumn, organised a large temperance meeting on the Calton Hill. It was the largest open-air meeting that I ever addressed in Edinburgh. The view was exquisite, such as only the Calton Hill can equal, when day has not yet passed into evening, but has something of its sweetness. There was also the pensive sacredness of the day, not disturbed by the crowd, the song, and the life of an unwonted service. Of all this, not the least affecting figure that I recall is that of Mr Darling. It has often occurred to me, and is a monitor of what might be done did we take the great panorama of nature more with us."

Mr Darling's connection with Carrubber's Close Mission brought him into contact with not a few touching cases of sorrow which were the immediate fruit of sin. We mention one out of many. An afflicted father came to him with the sad story of a daughter who had wandered away from the family fold and disappeared. He was inconsolable, all the more that there were some things which led him to fear that the young creature had been decoyed into the way of transgressors. But where was she? Mr Darling's sympathy was at once awakened by the story, and he hastened to join with the father in searching for the wanderer. After much inquiry, and repeated disappointments, they found her weeping in a prison cell, and suffering punishment for a serious misdemeanour. The end was the moral recovery of the offender. In the deeper sense "the lost was found."

Instances came under his notice during his evangelistic visits, or otherwise, in which the subjects of his kindness had seen better days, but had sunk from competence into indigence through a succession of adverse providences. Cases like these awakened his special sympathy. The occasions were not few on which, before the family meal was begun, some of the choicest parts of the provisions on the table were selected, and at once sent away by a messenger to the hungry sufferers, that they might eat with them, as it were of the same food and at the same table. One is apt to think that the appetite of the givers would be improved by such charity. Most surely, at all events, their spiritual life would be benefited.


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