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Kilsyth, A Parish History
Chapter X


Battlefields and Churches—Principal Carstares—Interview with the King—James Robe—Presented by Lord Kilsyth—Parish Records—New Collections—The Communion Vessels—Church Repaired—Parish Administration — Compared with Edward Irving—A Faithful Ministry—Societies for Prayer—Pleurisy— Schismatical Controversy—A Period of Dearth—Operation of Holy Spirit—Sermons on Regeneration — Whitefield — The First Kilsyth Revival—Evidences of the Power of the Spirit— A Pleasant Work—Communion—A Gracious Time—Results— Testimonials—Opposition of Seceders—A Dignified Reply— Robe’s Literary Activity and Death.

We feel a mantling pride when we point to the places where our fathers fought and fell in the cause of religious freedom. There is the experience of a secret thrill by the rudely lettered slab or grey cairn where the severe and stern Covenanter sleeps his last sleep. To the simple Christian there is, however, a purer joy. We may feel it is a proud thing to be able to say that for the Church this man fought and that man fell, but we also feel it is a far nobler thing that we can point here and there, and aver that this man and that man have been born within her. Scotland is not only a land of battlefields, it is also a procreant spiritual bed. And what is true of Scotland generally is true of the parish of Kilsyth particularly. There is the interest which attaches to the battle of Kilsyth, but there is the graver and deeper interest which attaches to those seasons of spiritual effluence which have so distinguished its history. The parish has had its Gilboa and its Pentecosts, and with the latter the public attention has been more concerned than the former. If the men of the West fought most stoutly for the cause of religious liberty, it has also been in the West where, by singular manifestations, the power of religion has been most abundantly proved. The very districts the most severely scourged by the troopers of Claverhouse, were in after years the most distinguished for the blessed and gracious visitations of the Holy Ghost. And the parish of Kilsyth being of all the parishes in Scotland the most heavily drenched with Covenanting blood, there is a certain spiritual propriety that it should also have been the scene of the richest outpourings of the heavenly Grace.

When Robe entered on his ministry, the master-spirit of the Scottish Church was Principal Carstares. When William assumed the reins of Government, the National Scottish party had a king more in sympathy with their political aspirations than any other who had yet ruled They found, however, a taint of poison in the cup of religious liberty he presented to Scotland, and, notwithstanding all the other good ingredients of which it was composed, they immediately, and without a moment’s hesitation, rejected it. They bridled up and were prepared to fight William as stoutly as they had fought the last James and the two Charleses. Having required of the Assembly that the members should take an oath declaring him, both in fact and right, King of Great Britain, and having given orders that the Assembly was to be dissolved if they did not obey, the country received the peremptory order with consternation. The Assembly disobeyed. The Lord High Commissioner dissolved it in the King’s name, and refused to name a day for the next meeting. But he had not taken the size of the men he had to deal with. The moderator rose after him and dissolved it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the sole Head of the Church,” and appointed the date of next meeting. And so once more affairs were brought to a desperate pass. The Crown would not yield. The Church would not yield. Years of strife and bloodshed apparently lay once more before hapless Scotland. At this juncture Principal Carstares was the saviour of his country. Taking advantage of his friendship with William, he hurried to London. There was not a moment to lose. The King was in bed and sound asleep, but he must see him. Drawing the curtains, Carstares touched the King and he awoke. What was his astonishment to see the Scotsman at his bedside! Carstares said he was there to beg his life, as he had taken it upon him to stop His Majesty’s letter to the North confirming his former counsels. The King was furious. Carstares was, however, able to show him that all he had done was for the good of the new Government and the Church. William threw the letter in the fire; the crisis was overcome, and another prolonged struggle was thus averted In the dead of night the two men drew up another commission, which the King signed. A messenger at once bore it northward, and it was placed in the Commissioner’s hands just as the bells of St. Giles were ringing the meeting of the Assembly. And so it was that the Church had rest, and Robe was able to pursue his parochial labours in quietness, and free from that tumult of political strife so fatal to the nurture of the graces of the Christian life.

James Robe, M.A., was the son of “Michel” Robe, minister of Cumbernauld. He was educated at the University of Glasgow, and licensed by the Presbytery of Linlithgow, 30th November, 1709. His presentation to the parish of Kilsyth was amongst the last public acts of the third Viscount Kilsyth, before he fled the country after Sheriffmuir. His lordship clung so tenaciously to his right that he would not allow “the call” to be issued in his favour. The parish records during his incumbency are complete, and contained in four large volumes, bearing the appropriate motto from the 15th Ode of Horace’s 4th Book:

“Et ordinem Rectum evaganti frgena licentiae Injecit, emovitque culpas.”

The weekly meetings of session are evidence of untiring diligence and long - continued faithfulness. When we read how a woman was brought before the session for having on the Lord’s Day brought “a gang of water” from the well; and how another person was also dealt with for having visited Glasgow on the Sabbath for a secular purpose; and how a shoemaker was rebuked for giving out from his shop a shoe which he had repaired, and for which he had received the price of three half pence, that the owner might be able to attend church; when we read of such things, we may form some idea of the watchfulness of the ecclesiastical authorities in the time of Robe.

When Robe entered on his ministry the collections were taken in the manner still prevalent. There was a plate at the church door, and those who felt inclined to aid the poor were at liberty to do so. The contribution was voluntary. There was no pressure, and there seems never to have been any real lack of funds. In addition to these, Robe instituted collections as the congregation withdrew in aid of the Society for the Propagation of Christian knowledge, and other Christian objects. The first collection so taken amounted to £15 4s. 8d. Scots. The parish contained eleven hundred examinable persons, and the whole population would be nearly double that number. In 1742, Robe speaks of 200 as being the number of the communicants. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered in 1665, when, for the first time, communion cups, table-cloths, and a basin were obtained. What came of the chalices procured by Gabriel Graham is made clear by the following Act of Session, of date 4th June, 1731“ The Session also appointed the two cups to be put in the hands of Mr. Hamilton, Trader and Baillie on the estate of Kilsyth, and desired him to cause make two sufficient Communion cups, each of them containing a mutchkin and a half, the two cups to be weighed by the goldsmith, and that the new cups have engraven on the foot, ‘For the Kirk of Monaebrugh, 1731'. Which desire being made to Mr. Hamilton, present at the time with the Session, he was pleased to grant the same, and promised to get the cups ready as soon as possible.” On the 19th June there is the following record :—“Patrick Rankine gave an account to the Session that for the old Communion cups weighing sixteen ounces four drops net sterling, he had procured two new cups of sterling money weighing thirty-one ounces thirteen drops, and that he had delivered for the exchange eight pounds and eleven pence sterling, of which sum he had received seven pounds twelve shillings and eight pence, collected for the foresaid use, and that he has disbursed the rest, viz., eight shillings and three pence of his own. . . . The cups are delivered to the Treasurer to be kept for the use of the Parish.” These cups are still in use, and although they have now served the church for one hundred and sixty-two years, they have only been once repaired They are beautiful specimens of the silversmith’s art, and devout minds are touched at the thought that they are the cups which were blessed during the two great outpourings of the Holy Spirit on the people. The very coldest might realise the sacredness of these holy vessels when they think of the generations of parishioners that have lifted them, their spirits warm and trembling at the quick realisation of Crucified Love.

The two chalices of 1731 have now other two companions formed after the same pattern, and which bear the following inscription:—“ Given by Sir Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, Bart., M.P., to the Church and Parish of Kilsyth, mdcccxvii. These also are in solid silver, and were in use at the time of the second great refreshing as from the presence of the Lord. There are also among the sacred vessels two flagons, inscribed “Moniabrugh Kirk, 1772”; and two patens, inscribed, “Kilsyth Church, 1856.” There is as yet no creditable baptismal service.

After Mr. M‘Gill, the last Episcopalian clergyman, retired, the presbytery ordered repairs, after a visitation of the parish, to the extent of £212 1s. 4d. Scots. Mr. Hay, who succeeded him, got the roof of the old church renewed, and the north aisle and vault repaired (1697). Robe, however, had not been ten years minister when there came a demand for increased accommodation. On the 10th June, 1722, “he informed the Session that it was concerted between him and the factors upon the estates of Kilsyth and Banton that the aisle loft should be built and seats therein. That the seats in the aisle, both above and below the loft, should pay so much yearly to the Session; that the Session advance a sum of money for building the said loft, and receive the yearly income of the let seats until their sum be paid up both stock and interest, after which the yearly income of the let seats is to be applied for repairing the church.”

In Robe’s time, juries of matrons were impannelled to help the session in certain cases in the discharge of their judicial functions. The session also prosecuted causes before the civil magistrates of the place. The laws pertaining to the mortcloths were of the strictest kind: “ Whosoever damaged them in any way shall be obliged to make reparations at the sight of men chosen by the Magistrates of the place.” A cabal formed in the town under pretence of giving the mason’s word and suchlike nonsense, but which was really a company gathered to indulge in all-night drinking, caused Mr. Robe much trouble. Eventually he succeeded in extirpating it. His activity and zeal in all practical affairs did not render him the least unpopular, for, in 1733, received a call from the people of Kirkintilloch. The presbytery, being of opinion that Mr. Robe in Kilsyth was the right man in the right place, refused to allow the translation to take effect.

These things take us nearer to Mr. Robe’s personality, and help us to understand him. It is not to be forgotten, however, that James Robe is not held in remembrance as a parochial administrator, but as a man of God, a man learned in the Scriptures, full of the Holy Ghost and of power. The personalities of James Robe and Edward Irving have a certain correspondence. Robe was over six feet, and would be almost as tall as Irving; but than Robe, Irving never prayed more intensely for the descent of the Holy Spirit on his Church. When a season of special profit comes to any portion of the Church, it is always well to look back on what has gone before, and consider the nature of the instruments and means which the Lord has blessed. Such views will not only help us now, but will also be helpful when we come to the second great effluence of the Holy Ghost in the time of Mr. Burns.

One thing that clearly went before the first great season of blessing was a long, an energetic, and faithful ministry. M‘Gill had laboured sixteen years; Hay, eighteen years; and Robe, twenty-nine years. There had thus been sixty-three years of a super-diligent ministry before there came the joy-time of the great harvest. Every bonfire that blazes on a hill-top is witness of a gathering of fuel by industrious labourers. The fire that burned in the parish and lit up all the district round about was kindled by the Holy Spirit; but it was these laborious workers through the long years that prepared the pile. And another thing is clear : this ministry was not only faithful, it was richly cultivated. All the three clergymen named had pretensions to scholarship. Mr. Robe was exceeding well versed both in Latin and Hebrew, and, as a man of letters, he was in touch with a large audience scattered throughout the whole country. The itinerating evangelist has his place, but the Kilsyth revival of 1742 was certainly not his work. But the preparation was not wholly of a ministerial character. Mr. Robe had round him a most conscientious session and a goodly number of people ever ready with their help.

Then, the societies for prayer that had been established in the parish were another of those important influences that helped forward the coming of that gracious season. In the parish records of 3rd December, 1721, there is the following:—“In order to the bearing down of sin, and renewing the power of godliness, it is enacted by the Session that societies for prayer and conference be set up in the congregation, and that they form themselves with a particular eye to the reformation of the manners of the congregation, and to the provoking others to love and good works, and that this work may be managed for the glory of God in attaining these ends.” In the work of these societies, Mr. Robe took no part. He drew up a set of admirable rules for their regulation, and exercised over them some distant measure of oversight. Concert in prayer was an idea that was peculiarly dear to Mr. Robe, and the system he succeeded in engrafting on his parish, he succeeded in engrafting on the country. Recognising the advantages of fervent prayer to Almighty God, he organised throughout Britain and abroad, first a three years’ and then a seven years’ concert in prayer. These words are quoted from the preface to his sermons: — "The great King insisteth, yea, commandeth, you to wrestle with Him in prayer, giving the strongest assurances of your interest to prevail with Him. The Lord complains and takes it in ill part when His people are selfish and backward in this duty, and He takes it kindly the more public His people’s spirit is in prayer. When was it that Daniel obtained testimony from heaven that he was greatly beloved? Was it not when he was fasting and wrestling for the Church and the establishment thereof? Certainly there is much power in the concord and agreement of many in prayer, when they with joint supplications and a combined force do besiege heaven, as the petition of a shire or a county is more than a private man’s application.” “Can there be a greater inducement,” Mr. Robe asks again, "to all who love Zion, and yet more Zion’s God, to pray for such revivals, than the consideration that they advance the glory of the Church to the greater glory of the Lord? Should it not excite and set an edge upon our prayers, that, in praying for such revivals, we seek the best good of the Church, and wish that God’s name may be more glorified than it is, and that He may be worshipped and served more to His pleasure?”

A long period of faithful ministerial labour, and systematic and persevering diligence in prayer amongst the people, were the two main forerunners of the first revival. But there were others. In December, 1732, and January, 1733, the parish was visited by a distressing pleuritic affection. People of mature years were carried off after a few days illness. There were sixty burials in three weeks. The fever carried away many of the best and most religious minded. Great were the demands made upon Mr. Robe at that time; but enjoying a measure of health and strength he had never known before, from early morning till late at night he continued his work amongst the sick and dying. This visitation had a hardening effect upon the hearts of the people. The societies for concerted prayer declined. The interest in vital godliness rapidly decreased. Men went on in their sins as formerly. But the fever had scarcely passed away, when on 27th June, 1733, at mid-day there broke over the parish a fearful storm of thunder, rain, and hail. The last were of incredible size, many of them being three inches in circumference. Down from the hillsides the raging floods poured in devastating torrents, rolling into the valley huge stones and boulders many tons in weight. Some houses were swept away, a large number of cattle were drowned, and the corn in the low grounds was destroyed. So far from working any amendment of life, the teaching of the storm was as fruitless as the discipline of the fever.

Furthermore, in the midst of the decline in the spiritual life of the people, there grew a disputatious spirit. Rumours had come of the doings of the Associate Presbytery at Cairney Bridge, and matters of church government presented topics more agreeable to the people than those pertaining to purity of life and doctrine. Twelve persons deserted Mr. Robe’s ministry. All the societies for prayer came to an end. Mr. Robe exhorted the people to flee strife and sinful division, and this work he prosecuted so jealously that, in the midst of distressing surroundings, the life of Christian devotion was kept alive in the few who were made alive to God through Jesus Christ; others, too, had increase of knowledge “as a foundation laid beforehand for the Holy Spirit.”

Still further, on the heels of the Cairney Bridge wrangling came a period of dearth. The poor became exceedingly numerous, and many were on the brink of starvation. Mr. Robe, a close spiritual watchman on the towers of Zion, wholly failed to see anyone turning unto the Lord, who was smiting them. Theft and various immoralities increased. The return of plenty brought no change. There was a prevailing apathy. But the crisis was near. The long work of prayer, the visitations of fever, famine, storm, and schism were to work out a magnificent result. The giant preacher and pastor, now sowing in tears the precious seed of the Word, in a short time is seen enjoying a plenteous reaping time. His heart is failing him, but soon his mouth will be filled with laughter and his tongue with melody.

In the Church, excessive caution is much more common than excessive zeal. As, however, there have been now and again unmistakable times of refreshing as from the presence of the Lord, and as such seasons are likely to come again in the future as they have come in the past, I have thought well thus minutely to trace the various spiritual forces at work in Kilsyth which immediately preceded or led up to that first outpouring of the Holy Spirit which has now become so memorable. There are some who say that the operation of God’s Spirit cannot be so traced. There are some who say that His action is like the wind, which cannot be directed; that it is like the lightning, too swift to be marked; that it is like the dew or the fire, too subtle to be accounted for; that it is without observation and not to be described. But such views are the result of a partial or inadequate apprehension of Biblical truth. Steam is a viewless vapour, but when it acts in the cylinder, none the less on that account are we able to form an estimate of its power. We do not see it, but we see what it does. It is true that we cannot command the wind, that it bloweth where it listeth; but it is equally true that both on sea and land we are conscious of its movement, and can take advantage of its operation. In a time of revival, there is an invisible Operator and a visible operation,—an Agent that is unseen and comes you know not how, and a work that is apparent and not to be mistaken. The nature of the fire that burns in the heart of the devout we may not be able to tell, but still we may know that it can either be fed or quenched. The very name revival acknowledges these two things—a quickening spirit and a freshly budding life. When we go into the fields in the midst of the Spring, we cannot tell whence the Spring has come, we cannot explain the enigma of the little green daggers striking through the hard soil, the buds breaking on the prickly thorn. The mystery of the reviving season may be inexplicable, but not the less are we sure when we see green things in battalions and cohorts springing from the valleys and the mountain sides, when we hear far in the blue the lark singing his blithe roundelays, that the Spring has come, that the cold earth has been touched by its genial and quickening influence. It is true, in one view, that Spring cometh not with observation; it is equally true in another, that it blazes before the eyes of the spectator. And so is it with the work of the Holy Spirit. In a sense, there is no darker, no more mysterious operation, in another, there is no work more readily apparent. The Divine Will touching and quickening the human will is inexplicable; the “Written Epistle,” on the other hand, is known and read of all men.

The attitude of Mr. Robe was one of expectancy. More than they that watch for the morning, he watched for the coming of the Holy Spirit to fructify the seeds of the Word he had so diligently sown. In the year 1740, he began a systematic course of sermons on the doctrine of Regeneration. He pressed upon his flock the necessity of the New Birth as the genesis of the spiritual life :— “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” He next dwelt on the mysterious agency of the Holy Spirit in carrying it into effect:—“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth : so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” He went on to explain the nature and meaning of the New Birth, showing it to be both a Resurrection, a Life out of death, and a New Creation, the believer being God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works. He then described how Christ conquered the sinner to himself, and what was understood by circumcision of the heart, and the worthy partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The systematic treatment of the subject was brought to a close by a series of sermons on the reality and witnesses; of regeneration; the taking away of the stony heart, and the giving of the heart of flesh; the putting Of God’s law in the mind and writing it in the conscience.

This series of discourses was continued, with only a short interruption, till April, 1742. It proved acceptable, but nothing more. Some months after Mr. Robe began, Mr. M‘Culloch of Cambuslang also commenced delivering a set of similar discourses on the same subject. It is probable both ministers were influenced by Doddridge’s Letters on Regeneration, which were at that time in the enjoyment of a considerable popularity. Mr. M'Culloch had not the parts of Robe; he was a plain, unemotional pastor, and, like Mr. Burns and the other clergymen whose parishes have been visited with seasons of special blessing, as different a man as one could possibly conceive from the recognised “revival minister.” The more lately begun work at Cambuslang had the earlier results, but this was probably owing to the visit of George Whitefield. Some time previously, the great English preacher had a remarkable interview with Ebenezer Erskine and the Associate Synod at Punfermline. These first Seceders were anxious that Whitefield should only preach in the churches and congregations of their communion. The demand was worse than ridiculous, and Whitefield distinctly refused to comply with it. “If the Pope himself would lend me his pulpit,” he said, “I would gladly proclaim the righteousness of Jesus Christ therein.” In this matter the Seceders blundered, and alienated from them a large amount of sympathy which otherwise would have been theirs. Whitefield being eagerly welcomed to the pulpits of the National Church, this circumstance may serve to explain the extraordinary attitude which they assumed on the outbreak of the revival, and their exceeding bitterness against it. With the appearance of Whitefield at Cambuslang, the flowing spiritual tide in that parish reached its height, and at a communion service which was then held, and at which Whitefield and Robe were the chief ministers, there was such a crowd as had until that time probably never been gathered in Scotland. The congregation was variously estimated at from thirty to fifty thousand. There was much resemblance between the work carried on at Cambuslang by Mr. M'Culloch and that at Kilsyth by Mr. Robe. The only difference appears to have been that if the attendances at Kilsyth were smaller, the permanent impressions were much greater. In the one case the work was more diffused, in the other it was more intense.

When Robe heard of the rich blessing which was being poured out on the people of Cambuslang, he prayed fervently that it might not only be continued, but extended to Kilsyth. His prayers were answered. Mr. John Willison, minister of Dundee, on his way home from Cambuslang, called for Mr. Robe on Thursday, the 15th April. At Mr. Robe’s request, he preached on Friday morning. The notice had been short, but a large crowd assembled. The sermon was plain, and the congregation departed quietly, but a great and deep impressibn had been made. On the Sabbath, Mr. Robe chose for his text Galatians, iv. 19: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.” In opening it up, he spoke once more of the subject of regeneration, of which his soul was full, and on which he had been preaching constantly for the last two years. As he spoke, his voice grew tremulous with emotion, and a great seriousness fell on the congregation. For some Sabbaths he continued preaching on the same text, and each time with new testimony that the Holy Spirit was accompanying the ministry of the Word with greater and greater power. Great fear and quaking came upon some as they thought of their sinfulness, and the wrath of God abiding upon them. The Spirit was now a fire melting them, and again a tempest bowing them down to the earth. On Sunday, the 16th May, there came witnesses of the Spirit’s power that could no longer be gainsaid. After the preaching of the Word, “there was a great moaning in the congregation, as for the loss of an only son,” not only women, but strong young men, and older people cried out as they awakened to the distressing sight of their sinful and lost estate. After the service, Mr. Robe sung a psalm and attempted to pray with them. When, however, he tried to speak he could not be heard on account of the bitter cries and groans, blended with the voices of sobbing and weeping. That there might be no occasion either for reproach or calumny, Mr. Robe acted in the circumstances with the utmost caution. He sent at once for Mr. Oughterson, minister of Cumbernauld, got some of the elders to pray with the people, and dealt with the distressed individually in his own study. It being a matter of regret that no record was kept of the Stewarton revival, Mr. Robe profited by the mistake then committed, and entered each case dealt with in a journal. By this means he was able not only the better to deal with those in distress, but also to calculate the extent and permanency of the movement. On that, the first great day of the revival, he dealt with thirty cases, but a far larger number were deeply impressed, and dated their awakening from that Sunday. “It was pleasant,” writes Robe, “to hear those who were in a state of enmity against God, despisers of Jesus Christ, and Satan’s contented slaves, some of them crying out for mercy, some that they were lost and undone, others, What shall we do to be saved t others praising God for this day, and for awakening them, and others not only crying and weeping for themselves, but for their relations.

Seeing his opportunity had come, Robe determined to turn it to the utmost spiritual profit of the parishioners. When he lifted up his eyes, he saw what he had never seen before, the fields ripe unto the harvest. He heard also the Lord of the harvest commanding him to put in his sickle and reap. Instruction, consolation, and guidance being much needed by the awakened, he appointed Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays for meeting with them. They came so continuously and in such large numbers that he was occupied from morning till night. He found the task hard at first, and was greatly tempted to slacken his hand, but resolving not to spare himself, he says, I soon found it the pleasantest work I ever was engaged in. The doctrines he preached at this time were identical with the doctrines he had preached since he had entered on his ministry. He mixed the law and the Gospel in every sermon, and in setting forth the latter, the congregations were often in tears. He marked with interest that sermons he had preached on former occasions with little success, when preached again and with less force on his part were attended with an abundance of blessing.

In the midst of the falling showers of blessing, the people expressed a desire that the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper should be dispensed. Up till this time there had only been one communion a year in the parish, but the elders and people showed their earnestness by resolving to meet the necessary expenses, and down to the present time the minister still receives a small sum for the dispensation of the winter sacrament. After all arrangements had been made, twelve ministers came to Mr. Robe’s assistance. The services were held in the fields, and on the Sunday fifteen hundred people partook of the communion. On Monday the services were again held in the fields on account of the crowds, and the church was set apart for dealing with those in distress. Great blessing was vouchsafed to those who had come from a distance. It was a gracious time. The love of God was freely shed abroad in the hearts of multitudes by the Holy Ghost given unto them.

These desirable days of the Son of Man extended from the end of April 1742, into the middle of 1743. The visitation of the Holy Spirit was consequently neither of a brief nor of a fitful character. Men who at first were taken by surprise got time to collect their thoughts, and look quietly at what they saw passing before their eyes. The results and effects were in every way salutary. There was a marked rise in moral feeling, and an unmistakable deepening of the spiritual life. The manners of the people were purified and elevated. Parishioners took a warm interest in matters pertaining to religion, and an increased delight in the services of the sanctuary. There was a larger church attendance, and throwing aside all wrath and bitterness, the people became kindlier spoken. The societies for prayer were reconstituted. Family feuds of long standing came to an end. Swearing was abandoned. Family worship was established. The work done by labourers in the fields and workshops was better done than formerly. With the quickened religious feeling there was an increased sense of duty. The whole of the people were more or less influenced for good. Robe dealt personally with three hundred persons in unwonted spiritual trouble about the salvation of their souls.

There is a sorrow of the Winter, but there is also a sorrow of the Spring. Of the buds which the tree produces, how many survive to bear fruit and flowers? Only the smallest proportion. But no one will venture to say, because of the innumerable buds that perish, Spring is a failure. The fulness of Autumn will not permit of the statement. Mr. Robe regretted that many who were wakened lost their impressions, and the cares of life choked the Word and they became unfruitful. He regretted that many through ignorance, evil company, and the repeated reiterations of the Seceders that they were under delusions, resisted the operation of the Divine Spirit, and so provoked Him to withdraw His influence before they came to a saving issue. But after the fullest deductions that could be made, there was still an abundant and satisfactory result. Knowing that time would be the best test of the work, Robe took careful note of all upon whom the work of the Spirit had been most apparent. The result was that in March 19th, 1751, he brought before a meeting of session a list of above one hundred persons who had been “under notour spiritual concern in the years 1742, and 1743.” After these nine years the session was able to testify, everyone of them had maintained a walk and conversation befitting the Gospel. A declaration to this effect was signed by the members, John Lapslie, Alexander Patrick, Henry Ure, James Miller, John Rankine, Robert Graham, Andrew Provan, Henry Marshall, David Auchinvole, Walter Kirkwood, William Shaw, David Shaw, James Rankin, James Zuill, Mark Scott. A declaration to a similar effect was also signed by certain heritors, and by Alexander Forrester, “Bailie Depute of Kilsyth.” One hundred souls still following Christ after the lapse of nine years, was something to be proud of, and Mr. Robe had a pastor’s joy in their continued perseverance and growth in grace.

It was well that this venerable minister had resolved to proceed in all things with the utmost caution. His surmise was that the more the work prospered, the greater would be the opposition made to it, and “ the more Christ triumphed the more Satan would rage.” And he was right. Strong opposition sprang up in various quarters, and anonymous pamphlets were circulated in every direction. The strongest opposition came from a direction from which other things might have been expected. On the 15th July, 1742, the Associate Presbytery promulgated at Dunfermline an Act appointing a public Fast on account of the work of the Spirit then going forward in the Church of Scotland. They pronounced it a delusion, and the work of the Grand Deceiver. They went to blasphemous lengths, one Adam Gib excelling all the others. To their famous declaration Mr. Robe offered at once a dignified and convincing reply. He answered their objections one by one. He showed how the bodily distresses which marked the awakening of some could not be held inconsistent with the operation of the Holy Spirit. The work of the devil it could not be, for Satan’s work never yet produced godly sorrow for sin and the hatred of it, it never produced reformation of life and manners, love to man and the embracing the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Seceders said many through this work had been led to pay no heed to their testimony. Robe correctly replied that a stickling on a point of Church government was no mark of saving grace. “Can you find it in your hearts,” asked Robe, “to be like the Jews who prayed and longed for the coming Messias, and, when he came, rejected and crucified him? Can you be so unaffected with the glory of Sovereign grace appearing towards a judgment-deserving generation, as to say, You do well to fret and be angry at it, because you find your glory is lessened by it, and your credit beginning to suffer? Will you be so fearless, can you be so cruel to thousands of perishing sinners, who begin to fly to Jesus Christ as a cloud and as doves to their windows, as in the most solemn and public manner, with lifted hands to heaven, to pray that there may be a restraint upon the influences of the Holy Spirit, and that this outpouring of his grace may be withdrawn, and not spread through the length and breadth of this land? I can assure you that many godly souls with tears cry as Moses did in the rebellion of Korah, Lord respect not their offering And after our Lord’s example: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Robe, if not named, was still personally assailed as one who, by his missives, attestations, and journals, sought to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. Conscious of his desire to preach not himself but Jesus Christ the Lord, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, he replied it was his comfort to suffer in this what his Master had suffered before him, He also having been accused of having “deceived the people.” In conclusion, he fully vindicated the position of Whitefield, “whom he loved in the truth,” from the aspersions they cast upon him. Then, with a blessing full of the richest Christian sweetness and grace, that they might come to be like-minded one towards another, he brought this controversy with the Seceders to a close.

Of the blessed work of those years Robe published a Narrative. A further account was also given by him in the Christian Monthly History, a magazine which he edited, and of which six numbers were published in 174 , 1744. Being full of ideas, his pen was continually at work in the sphere of religious literature. He published separately several pamphlets, and in 1750 issued two thick volumes of his sermons, dedicated to the Right Honourable Selina, Countess of Huntingdon. His wife, Anna Hamilton, survived him, dying the 28th April, 1773. In the graveyard there stands a stone bearing the following inscription :—“To the Memory op James Robe, M.A., Minister of the Gospel, Kilsyth. Born 1688, Ordained 1713, Died 1754. Isa. xxvi., Dan. xii. 3. 1839.” The reference to Daniel contains the words :—“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”


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