WHEN this remarkable man was
officiating as assistant to Dr. Chalmers, although not a member of the
Presbytery, he set off one day on foot to attend some special meeting in
the country. The ministers who were members were conveyed to their
destination in carriages, and on the way the brethren overtook a tall,
military-looking figure, which they would have taken at once to be Dr.
Chalmers’ helper but for the fact that he bore a pedlar’s pack upon his
stalwart shoulders, and was accompanied by the well-pleased owner of the
same, who was trudging by his side.
To the laughter and jokes that
hailed him, Irving presented a rather affronted and indignant aspect. He
could see no occasion for laughter or remark with regard to his thus
literally fulfilling the law of Christ. The pedlar was a poor Irishman
worn out with his burden, and, as Irving explained, "His countrymen were
kind to me," thus recalling and alluding to those days when, sick at
heart, he retired to Ulster, and found comfort in his wanderings among its
cabins. He knew and felt he was in the path of duty and of right, and so
he held on with the pack until its owner was well rested and ready to
It was while he was in Ulster, in
the year 1819, and in the twenty-seventh year of his age, that he received
Dr. Chalmers’ letter inviting him to Glasgow.