Hector MacKinnon, A Memoir Chapter VI
"He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall
never call retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before His
judgment seat; Oh be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my
feet Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a
glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me; As He died to make
men holy, let us die to make men free, Our God is marching on."
THE call to Shettleston was clear and unmistakable, and the Highland
minister had a most cordial reception from the Lowland people. The
Induction took place on the thirteenth of April, 1905; and in the evening
there was the usual congregational social meeting for welcome and
presentation of robes. The evening meeting was a most enjoyable one, and
all the speeches were excellent ; but strangely enough, just as the robes
were placed on the minister's shoulders, the writer found herself
struggling fiercely with a sudden lump in the throat and vainly trying to
keep back tears which would not be stayed. The Minister never knew of
this, and often we wonder now, did anything whisper it was to be the last
robing but one? When, late that night, we retired to rest in a Glasgow
hotel, we asked if it was true that there was a debt of
£2,000 on the church hall. The Minister knew nothing of it. We had just
come from the building of a hall in Campbeltown; if it did seem a little
hard, we remembered that the only way to deal with difficulties was to
overcome them, so we laid ourselves down and slept, knowing that the way
was all marked out, and that our part was to follow the Guide.
In a letter to the Secretary of the Vacancy Committee,
written from Campbeltown, and dated February 25, 1905, Mr. Mackinnon
says—"I am deeply sensible of the responsibility which Thursday's vote has
imposed upon me, and I do intend to prove myself worthy of the confidence
which has thus been placed in me." We all know how the vow was kept.
The children had been sent to Crieff to be out of the
confusion and discomfort of the "flitting," and it was not until they were
brought back that the strange manse could be called "home." We were glad
at least that it was surrounded by green fields, and we had the kindest of
neighbours in Dr. Hill, of Barlanark, and his niece Miss Grahame.
But long before the manse could be got into order, the
Minister was in harness, visiting with his elders and fulfilling many
engagements both inside and outside of the parish. The congregation at
this time numbered 1,130 members; in November, 1912, the number of
communicants at Mr. Mackinnon's last Communion service was 1,780. At the
first and last Communion of the Shettleston ministry, the assisting
minister was Mr. Strang, of the Castlehill Church, Campbeltown, who had
also baptised both Mr. Mackinnon's Sons.
It was not long before we discovered that Shettleston
was not to be one whit behind Campbeltown in genuine friendliness and
kindness towards its minister, and those belonging to him. The change was
never once regretted, even when the battle was at its fiercest; for a
Herculean task lay in the ministerial work of those eight years.
It was whispered about a good deal after we came, that
the people of Shettleston Parish Church "do not give." Now, without
staying to inquire whether there were very many distinctly Shettleston
people amongst us, the ordinary observer could not fail to notice that
they were continually giving to one cause or another. The first appeal
made by the Minister from the pulpit on behalf of a Glasgow church was
responded to with ready generosity. Others followed, and were treated in
much the same way. The two quod sacra parishes at Tollcross and Carntyne
were in need of help, which was given cheerfully and without any
unnecessary delay, notwithstanding the fact that the Parish Church people
were themselves burdened with a debt of 2,000. The treasurer's financial
report never allowed us to forget that 600 at least was required annually
for the upkeep of the Church, and if, any year, more was required, or if,
owing to extraordinary circumstances, there was a deficit, it was always
made up by special effort.
It is true that at first the people seemed disinclined
to give to Foreign Missions, and it was a little hard to be told stonily
that "charity begins at home." But we hope to be able to show that a very
great change took place in this respect during the years of which we are
The first two years in Shettleston were marked by
rather trying and continuous ill health in the manse. The Minister himself
kept well, and indeed seemed to enjoy better health than he had had in
Campeltown. But the children had much trouble, and the minister's wife
ailed sadly. Vivid recollections of the first year are those of lying
listening daily to the tinkle, tinkle of the bell on the doctor's horse as
it scampered up the avenue. We weathered it all, however, and struggled on
for a time. But the manse was difficult to work; there was no gas, and on
this account, and also because it was " so lonesome," servants could
scarcely be got to remain for any lengthened period. So many fires were
needed because of the cold and damp, and this meant hard work and sore
hands, and girls are surely not to be blamed if they seek out the houses
where the work is easiest. But we were as happy as possible, only it was
hard to see so little of Daddy, who was out frequently all day, and not in
until very late. Once he managed to come in at five o'clock, and we were
all so delighted. The children begged for a "tea party" in mother's room
to mark the occasion, and one of them said, "Now how happy we are!" "Yes,
sonny," said Daddy; "if mother would only keep well." Nothing clouded his
spirit so much as the knowledge that any of his own were suffering.
After this came the bazaar, held in Glasgow, for the
quo sacra church at Tollcross, to which a stall had been promised. Every
one gave what they could quite freely, and there were plenty of willing
helpers. But, as we all know, it is one thing to get together
contributions for such purposes, and quite another to dispose of them,
even at reduced prices. After three or four days going backwards and
forwards into town, each one wearily endeavouring to get rid of articles
which no human being required, or was ever meant to require, getting home
late at night over a long dark road in boisterous wind and drenching rain,
one begins to wonder if the cost of some things is not out of all
proportion to their actual value.
That year there was a deficit in the funds of the
congregation, and we had perforce to get up another sale of work. It was
most heartily supported, and was moreover the means of bringing together a
band of workers who were afterwards always in readiness for service. There
is something more than a merely subtle difference between a "Bazaar" and a
"Sale of Work." Methods are frequently adopted at the former which cannot,
or ought not, to be tolerated under the shadow and in the interests of a
The congregational treasurer had asked for 30 to meet
the shortage in the year's accounts, and out of the efforts of a few weeks
we were able to hand over £40. Numbers of new people were coming into the
church, and nothing helps strangers to feel more at home in a congregation
than to be asked to help in one or other of its many activities. How often
help comes from quarters from which it is least expected.
Every one was most anxious that a beginning should be
made in the effort to clear off the hall debt of £2,000, so that they
might then be able to build a new manse for their minister. But as yet the
way was not clear for this. From first to last there was much in the
Shettleston ministry to vex the spirit. There are men who would perhaps
not have minded very much, but this man was keenly sensitive and highly
strung. His mission as a minister was to win souls into Christ's Kingdom;
and the necessity laid upon him of continually boring for gold and silver
to extinguish debt and for other purposes was alien to his fine
spirituality. Yet never once was he heard to complain; he toiled early and
late, visited the sick in their homes and in hospitals, and shepherded his
rapidly increasing congregation with unwearied and loving care. As a
platform speaker he excelled, and was overwhelmed with requests from
societies and organisations in and around Glasgow, while from Sunday to
Sunday he preached with a freshness, a vigour, and an intensity which made
many marvel. But the secret was that he kept himself low at the feet of
God. "The love of Christ constrained him." This was the heart of all.
Yet it was well, and Thou hast said in season As is the Master shall
the servant be; Let me not subtly slide into the treason, Seeking
an honour which they gave not Thee.
"Never at even, pillowed on a pleasure, Sleep with the wings of
aspiration furled, Hide the last mite of the forbidden treasure,
Keep for my joys a world within a world.
to Nay, but much rather let me late returning Bruised of my brethren,
wounded from within, Stoop with sad countenance and blushes burning,
Bitter with weariness and sick with sin.
Then as I weary me and long and languish, Nowise availing from that
pain to part, Desperate tides of the whole great world's anguish
Forced through the channels of a single heart.
Straight to Thy presence get me and reveal it, Nothing ashamed of tears
upon Thy feet, Show the sore wound, and beg Thine hand to heal it,
Pour Thee the bitter, pray Thee for the sweet.
Then with a ripple and a radiance through me, Rise and be manifest,
O Morning Star, Flow on my soul thou spirit
and renew me, Fiji with Thyself, and Jet the rest be far.
"Safe to the hidden house of Thine abiding Carry the weak knees and the
heart that faints, Shield from the scorn, and cover from the chiding,
Give the world joy, but patience to the saints." F. W. H. Myers.
The clouds which had continued to hang over the manse seemed to become
just then more threatening. Diphtheria had kept one of the boys in
isolation for weeks, and then, just as the anxiety was beginning to lift,
but before he was fully recovered, the minister's wife was stricken down
with serious illness. At the end of two days, and in the midst of much
consternation and alarm, an ambulance wagon was brought, and the Minister
went with his wife to a nursing home. How well we remember that journey.
It was a dreary winter afternoon; and at intervals as we rolled on through
the city there would be anxious questioning—"Were we all right?" "Was the
wagon shaking too much?" "Could he do anything?"
But all we wanted was that he should just "not go away." In the midst of
all the pain what hurt most was the spectacle of his anguish, and the
dread which only mothers know. The ambulance men were so kindly, assuring
us that they "always took people home again"; and as the stretcher was
about to be lifted in, one of them gave the order, "Shut your eyes now."
When we opened them again, there were four or five white-robed figures
hovering over us, and smiling reassuringly, as if there was nothing at all
wrong. We thought they might be angels, and found out afterwards that they
surely were! Then the Minister came in, but could not speak a word. After
a bit, "I'll come to-morrow; now, it's going to be all right now," and he
was gone. Presently he was sitting down to tea in the manse, with only his
little five-year-old son, as the other was still in
quarantine. Long afterwards we heard the story. The house was strangely
quiet ; the blessing had been asked, but the father did not begin, and the
child did not begin. And the father was having such a struggle with
himself that he could not see that the little heart was bursting. "Why
don't you go on, sonny? "he asked, and then caught sight of the downcast
face and tearful eyes. With one bound he was up, gathered his motherless
bairn to his heart, and together they sobbed.
"Now, sonny, it will be all right," said the Minister
after a bit, "please God mother will come back." "As one whom his mother
comforteth, so will I comfort you, saith the Lord."
The story of the following weeks can scarcely be told.
There was grave danger and sickening suspense: we were now of the number
of those "who in the morning say, would God it were night, and at night,
would God it were morning." But the burden over all was that there might
be no separation from those who needed us. It was then we realised the
depth of meaning in the beautiful little poem, entitled "The Mother," by
Katharine Tynan :-
I am the pillars of the house The keystone of the
arch am I; Take me away and roof and wall Would fall to ruin
* * *
I am the twist that holds together The children in
its sacred ring, Their knot of love from whose close tether No lost
child goes a-wandering.
I am their wall against all danger, Their door
against the wind and snow. Thou whom a woman laid in a manger, Take
me not till the children grow,"
For three long weeks the Minister missed no day in his coming, except the
Sundays ; so that the other patients, too, found themselves watching for
him. How he brightened up that room of pain for each of us ! Yet he spoke
very little, for all the while he was fighting down the shyness and
reserve he always felt in the presence of strangers. The very sight of him
in a sick-room was like a breeze from the Highland hills; he looked so
radiant always. And it falls to be told, too, how every day he carried
into the city from his manse a can of milk, because the effects of what
Robert Louis Stevenson called the "sweet whiff of chloroform" had turned
us against all elsewhich was in reality but the
sick man's longing for the "water that is by the gate at Bethlehem."
And how shall we tell of the heaped-up kindnesses at this time, the
anxious and incessant inquiries of our dear Shettleston people? There was
no day when flowers and delicacies were not sent, until the room was like
a bower. And those who went daily to the manse because their hearts were
sore for the Minister, and kept things going; guiding the house and
looking to the little ones while he was out at work! Not until memory
leaves us can we forget any of these things.
Then quite suddenly one day the doctor said we might go home, and we
wondered greatly, for as yet there was not even strength to turn. Did he
mean that we might just as well be allowed to die at home. "Oh no!"he exclaimed; it only meant that recovery would be prolonged and
tedious—a year or more perhaps—and we might wish to be spared needless
expense. So the ambulance was brought again, but this time the Minister's
face was beaming. What preparations had been made in the manse! Mother's
room had been got ready almost entirely by Daddy and
the boys, and how lovely it all looked. But we have no language in which
to express the deep, deep, thankful joy of restoration to loved ones.
There were yet other three weeks of extreme weakness,
during which no hired nurse could have done better, nor half so tenderly,
what the Minister did. He was so strong and gentle; so pleased and happy
because we thought him a "jewel of a nurse" ; so proud and glad when at
last his patient was able to walk from room to room. But he had another
patient, he said, who was alone and dying he feared, and could not take
the food which was being brought to her. Did we think we could manage to
make anything for her? So things were brought upstairs, something made
which might tempt a sick person, and sent down all wrapped up to keep it
warm. And the poor sufferer was so surprised, for she knew all about the
trouble in the manse, and told her minister next day that it was the only
food she had relished for a fortnight. Nothing made him so happy as to be
able to help people in these and other ways. Some one told us a little
while ago how he had gone to see a Highland lad in his lodgings in
Glasgow, and finding him ill in bed had lit the fire and tried to make the
room less dreary. It was just like him.
We can hardly go farther without introducing to our
readers "Bruce," the manse dog, and faithful, affectionate friend for
eight years. Bruce was a handsome black and tan collie, with a noble head,
soft liquid eyes, and a face full of intelligence. He had been most kindly
given to us, when he was only five weeks old, by a member of the
congregation, shortly after we came to Shettleston; and his upbringing was
a matter of great concern. As he grew older, his attachment to his master
was most touching; yet he knew quite well, although he had never been
told, that he must not follow the Minister when he went out; but he could
not be stayed from following every other member of the family. In the same
way he would lie perfectly still on the grass, and, with a look of abject
resignation, watch us walking off to church on Sundays. He had a welcome,
a little elephantine sometimes to be sure, for all who came to the manse,
especially for aunties, ministers, and assistant ministers! But he could
not tolerate bicycles or vehicles of any kind on the road leading past the
manse, and was frequently on this account guilty of glaring misconduct.
But was any member of the family ill? Then Bruce's place was beside the
sick-bed until restoration came. When he was taken on holiday with us, he
never failed to rebel vociferously against being put into the van of the
train. How his master laughed once at a far north railway station, to hear
the stationmaster, as he moved up and down the platform at six o'clock in
the morning, expostulating with delightful good humour, Noo, Bruce, if ye
dinna be qwyete, ye'll be pit 'oot." Alas, poor Bruce.
No one knew better than he did that there was something
very far wrong in the manse when, at the last, his master had to be taken
away in an ambulance. And although he was temporarily shut up and saw
nothing of what came and went afterwards, he whined and whined and sniffed
at the closed door of the quiet, quiet room. He never held up his head
after this, and when, on several occasions, he was missed from Buchanan
Gardens, he was always found lying prone on the cold doorstep of the
deserted manse, and within less than four months afterwards he sickened
and died. For days previously he had lain, unable even to lift his head,
but always answering with a deep groan, when we would say mournfully, "Oh,
poor Bruce." "Bruce broke his heart," said some One near by; and by a
strange coincidence, just at this very time we came upon the following
"Where in the whole world is there anything so
beautiful as devotion, whether of man to God, or man to man, or dumb
creature to his master? During 'the White Winter,' as any one may read in
Bob, Son of Battle, they found old Wrottsley, the squire's head shepherd,
lying one morning at Gill's foot, like a statue in its white bed, the snow
gently blowing about the venerable face, calm and beautiful in death. And
stretched upon his bosom, her master's hands, blue and stiff, still
clasped about her neck, his old dog Jess. She had huddled there, as a last
hope, to keep the dear dead master warm, her great heart riven, hoping
where there was no hope. That night she followed him to herd sheep in a
better land. 'Death from exposure,' Dingley, the vet., gave it; but, as
little McAdam, his eyes dimmer than their wont, declared huskily,' We ken
The time was now approaching when arrangements had to
be made to assist the members of the qud sacra church at Carntyne with
their bazaar in aid of endowment. Active help could not be given from the
manse on this occasion, but there were always willing and ready helpers,
and the work was carried through with great efficiency, and much
appreciation from the minister and congregation of the church at Carntyne.
Mr. Mackinnon's labours as Secretary of the Bridge of
Allan Convention were a delight to him. When he was sadly over-weighted,
as he too frequently was, the clerical work in connection with the
Convention would be handed over to others. The congestion of duties was
such, that no sooner would he have arrived at Bridge of Allan, than,
unfailingly, the manse telephone bell would ring, and with breathless
eagerness he would call out a list of things which he had forgotten, or
been unable to see to, and beg us to arrange for them. The standing wonder
was how he remembered so much! Yet no one at the Convention could sing
with more meaning or fuller realisation :-
"Like a river glorious Is God's perfect peace,
Over all victorious In its bright increase.
* * *
Not a surge of worry, Not a shade of care, Not a
blast of hurry Touch the spirit there.
"Stayed upon Jehovah, Hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, Perfect peace and rest."
In the spring of 1908 we accompanied him to the Irish
Convention, in the lovely lake-district of Killarney. There were many
earnest speakers, but our best memories of this Convention are—the
chairmanship of Mr. J. P. Crosbie, the Bible Readings of the Rev. J.
Stuart Holden, and an early morning address by Mr. Mackinnon on "The New
Song." We found our own notes of this latter only yesterday, and it seemed
like the reawakening of exquisite music (1) The Note of Redemption;" (2)
"The Note of Royally;" (3) "The Note of Consecration." The address itself
was like the morning song of birds, and was immediately followed by the
slow and impressive singing of—
"How I praise Thee, precious Saviour, That Thy love
laid hold of me! Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me, That I
might Thy channel be.
"Channels only, blessed Master, But with all Thy wondrous power,
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us Every day and every hour."
From Keswick Mr. Mackinnon always returned refreshed in spirit, and never
failed to "pass on" to those about him, and to his people on Sundays, the
helpful spiritual teaching he had himself received.
A very strong bond of unfeigned affection existed between him and the
Episcopal brethren with whom he was associated at Keswick. Mr. A. A. Head,
chairman of the Convention, says:-
"I had long cherished the deepest regard and personal affection for him;
and in his passing I am conscious that something has gone out of my life.
My prayer is that God - will raise up others to take his place, and that
out of death there may come life to his brethren in the ministry—to
workers in the field—and indeed to all to whom he was known, and who have
valued his ministry, his example, and his influence."
"He had greatly endeared himself to many of the Keswick brethren," writes
the Rev. Evan I-I. Hopkins, of Woburn Chase, Surrey, "and was much valued
as one of the faithful champions of the Cross. There are few men in
Scotland whose loss would be more deeply felt."
"One of the most lovable and unselfish men I have ever met," writes
another English Church clergyman, "his life and character were an
The two appreciations that follow appeared in The Life of Faith. of
February, 1913, and are given here as linking Mr. Mackinnon with Keswick.
THE SUDDEN HOME-CALL OF A BELOVED AND FAITHFUL SERVANT OF THE MASTER.
It is difficult to understand why some men are cut down in what seems the
prime of life and in the midst of all their activities, and when some man
whom we think cannot be spared is suddenly removed to higher service, we
can only bow the head and say in awed humility, "Thy will be done." These
are the feelings which possess our minds to-day, when
we think of the sudden home-call of the Rev. Hector Mackinnon, M.A.,
minister of Shettleston Parish Church, Glasgow. A fortnight ago he
appeared well and strong. Then he caught a chill, pneumonia supervened,
and on Tuesday of last week he passed from the service of earth into the
presence of the Master, whom he loved so well and served so faithfully. To
the widow and two young boys left alone in their terrible sorrow our
hearts go out in tenderest sympathy; may the Divine comfort be their
portion, and may it be abundantly realised in their experience that God is
indeed a Friend to the widow and the fatherless.
A splendid example of the Highlander, Mr. Mackinnon was
only forty-six years of age, and to look at his tall, manly figure and
robust, vigorous frame, one could not but think that there lay before him
many years of blessed service. For he was a happy worker in the vineyard
of his Master, and loved to preach the Gospel in all its rich and glorious
fullness. He had no sympathy whatever with the modern tendency to make the
pulpit the medium through which purely social doctrines are proclaimed; it
was ever his aim and ambition to make full proof of his ministry, and to
so present the message of salvation that sinners would turn to God for
pardon and acceptance. Burning with Celtic fire, Mr. Mackinnon preached
with such eloquent earnestness that in the early days of his ministry he
became known as the" Spurgeon of the North—a title which was not
misplaced, for the power of the young Highlander was felt over a wide
area, and attracted large congregations wherever lie preached. As an
illustration of the fruits of his faithful ministry, it is told of a
Highland girl that, when asked how she became a Christian, she answered,
"Since I was a child I have been taught the Scriptures, and longed to be
the Lord's, but when I came to Campbeltown, I went to Mr. Mackinnon's
church. He made the way of salvation so plain that I accepted Christ, and
every time I heard him speak after that he brought me near to God."
Mr. Mackinnon, in addition to the heavy duties of a
wide parish and a large congregation, took a leading part in every good
work. For the past twelve years he was a regular attender at the Keswick
Convention, and, on occasion, his voice was heard from its platforms. He
loved the truths for which the movement stands, and his last contribution
to the pages of The Life of Faith, a few months ago, was in the nature of
a testimony to the value of the " Keswick message." As secretary also of
the Bridge of Allan Convention, he exercised a useful and valued ministry,
and the fact that last year's gathering of the Scottish " Keswick " was
the largest and best since its institution in 1892, was due in no small
measure to his untiring energy and consecrated tact. Mr. Mackinnon, at our
request, wrote for us an account of these meetings, remarking in the
course of his article that it was a "wonderful Convention," and that it
had accomplished a 'deep and lasting work."
And "now the labourer's task is o'er," and he stands in
the presence of the King. But the memory of his beautiful life and his
whole-hearted service will linger as a sweet and gracious influence, and
the fragrance of the memory will be an inspiration to all who knew and
J. K. M.
Readers of The Life of Faith who were acquainted with
the Rev. Hector Mackinnon, of Glasgow, as a Convention speaker, and
through his occasional articles in our columns, will read with
astonishment and regret the announcement of his death which appears on
another page. Mr. Mackinnon was a brother greatly beloved, and in many
circles his presence will be sadly missed. Painstaking and conscientious
in all the work which he undertook, he spared no effort to give of his
best and to fulfil all his obligations. He was always ready and willing to
go the "extra mile." An experience of our own may be mentioned in this
connection. Mr. Mackinnon was a speaker at the Keswick Convention of 1911,
and going on holiday to the Western Highlands of his native land, the
proof of his address (to be revised for "Keswick Week") followed him to
his quiet retreat. Knowing the necessity of haste and the importance of
returning the proof without delay, Mr. Mackinnon at once corrected it, and
then found himself in a difficulty, for there was only one collection of
letters in the twenty-four hours, and that had already been taken. But he
was not so easily daunted. Engaging a rowing-boat, he set out for a
village five miles away, where the postal facilities were more up-to-date,
and that, too, in the teeth of a gale which eventually drove him back and
defeated his purpose. The writer will ever have happy memories of an
afternoon spent in the manse at Shettleston, and of the gracious courtesy
and love that pervaded the home-like incense from the altar of God.
A REFERENCE TO THE KESWICK CONVENTION, FROM MR.
MACKINN0N'S OWN CHURCH SUPPLEMENT.
A meeting which always affords me special pleasure is a
Christian Endeavour Rally held in the Keswick Methodist Church on the
occasion of every Convention. It was inspiring this year again to hear the
responses from district representatives according to the alphabetical
order of the names of the district from which the Endeavourers came.
Responses were given from cities and towns in England, Scotland, Ireland,
Canada, the United States, Australia, India, Germany, Norway, Sweden,
Spain. The Spanish Endeavourers gave their response in Spanish and
although few of those present fully understood what the Spaniards said,
the Holy Spirit used their response as a means of blessing to the whole
meeting. I tell you it filled one's heart to think that the Lord Jesus
Christ had disciples in so many countries, and of so many nations. He is
already seeing of the travail of His soul. I ought perhaps to mention that
the Lord's Supper was dispensed on Thursday morning of Convention week in
St. John's Parish Church, Keswick, according to the order of the Church of
England, among the officiating clergymen being Prebendary Webb-Peploe and
Rev. Evan Hopkins. I was one of some 400 ministers who partook of the
Communion, and I left that beautiful building saying within myself that
"this was none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven." If you
want your paltry denominationalism consumed, go to Keswick. You will see
there that in all the churches the Lord has His servants and followers. It
has to be confessed with regret that in some quarters there exists a
prejudice that cannot be fully accounted for, against what is called
Keswick teaching. For my part, I consider that the best way to deal with
such prejudice is to attend or persuade one to attend the Convention. I am
much mistaken if any person who ever went thither with a mind open to
conviction came away without having all prejudice removed and much
enthusiasm evoked. The fact is, Keswick teaching is scriptural to the
core, and according to the standards of all Reformed Churches, including
our own, the Scriptures are the supreme rule of faith and morals. Keswick
teaching is all in the Bible. "Holiness unto the Lord" is the keynote of
all the addresses delivered, and if this teaching be found unpalatable
and, therefore, unacceptable by many, it is, I fear, because they are
unwilling to meet God's demand upon their lives.
They simply do not want to consecrate their lives unto
the Lord. The call given at Keswick is to full personal self- surrender to
Christ Jesus and an acceptance by faith of the Holy Ghost—an experience as
possible to-day surely as it was in apostolic times. This is the message
which Christians of our age require. They have all been at Bethlehem, and
have recognised the helpless Babe as God Incarnate; they have been at
Calvary, and have seen there a Saviour dying to wash away sin's guilt. But
they have not all, I fear, visited the empty grave in Joseph's garden, and
seen the emblems of the Redeemer's victory and the proof that sin's power
has been destroyed. Oh the selfishness, the flippancy, the vanity that
mingle with modern so-called Christian service. Well did a distinguished
Highland minister of a past generation—the late Dr. Kennedy, of Dingwall---say
that an apparently active and successful church may sometimes be only the
embodiment of a great practical lie. We have scores of such churches n our
land. The true motive is not behind the service. It is performed in the
energy of the flesh, not in the power of the spirit—to gratify man, not to
glorify God. What a revolution it would cause in our church life and
activity if our members opened their hearts daily to the filling of the
Spirit ; if in all their undertakings they would wait upon the Lord, and
when He has given the lead and prescribed the method they would follow
these, come what may. We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that all
things are to be " put in subjection under His feet," and if we are to be
His servants in anything but the name, that must be our position. Then
will He–use us to fulfil His purpose, and make the'-place of His feet
glorious. It is when we fall in utter prostration before Him, as did John
when a prisoner in the island of the JEgean Sea, that we see His right
hand extended to befriend us, and hear His words inspiring and comforting
us—" Fear not, I am the First and the Last and the Living One, I became
dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and
death." Thus, emptied of self, freed from the bondage of self-trust, we
shall be filled with all the fullness of God. How many of those who read
these words will be led, even in the reading of them, to yield themselves
and theirs—persons, and purses, and purposes—to Him who is so worthy of
being their Lord?
In full and glad surrender I give myself to Thee,
Thine utterly and only And evermore to be."
"Sit down for a little," said the Minister to us one
day after his return from Keswick, "I want to tell you this story; it is a
true story I heard it from the lips of S. D. Gordon himself. A New England
clergyman had an only son named Phil, a lad of fourteen, who was attending
school. One day the minister was surprised to receive a visit from the
boy's teacher. In the course of conversation, the teacher said, ' Is your
son well enough?'
Yes,' said the minister. ' Why do you ask?'
"Because he has not been at school to-day"' "'We
thought he was,' said the minister. Nor yesterday,' continued the teacher.
Nor the day before that.'
When the visitor had gone, the minister sat down at his
desk as usual, but he could not work. By and by he heard the garden gate
open, just at the time his son should return from school. Going to the
door, he admitted the boy himself. 'You come with me, Phil; ' and the
father and son found themselves alone together in the study.
'Were you at school to-day, Phil?' asked the father.
"The boy hung his head.
Or the day before? ' as the boy's head dropped lower.
'My boy,' said the father, and his voice was husky and
broken, 'you let us think you were.' After a few minutes' silence the
father continued, 'Now, Phil, we'll get down and pray about this.' This
was worse and worse; Phil could have borne anything else better, but
father and son got down on their knees. Phil did not know what his father
said in that prayer, but he knew he was weeping, and his own eyes were not
dry. When they rose the father said, 'Now, Phil, my boy, there is a law
which cannot be broken; all wrongdoing must be followed by suffering. You
will go up to the attic for three days and nights, just the time you
allowed your mother and me to think you were at school when you were not.'
Then Phil took his punishment like a man, and made his way to the attic,
where a little bed was made up, and his meals brought to him. In the
evening the minister and his wife were strangely silent and sad at
tea-time they could not eat anything, and afterwards the minister could
not see to read, and his wife could not see to sew. And so they sat on
until the hour for retiring, but neither wished to go to bed. Ten o'clock
came, eleven, twelve, and at one they slowly rose and went upstairs. But
it was no good; after an hour's tossing the minister said, 'Why don't you
'Oh, I'm sleeping,' said his wife, 'why don't you
sleep? ' 'I'm just going to sleep now,' said he. After another hour's
tossing, the minister said, ' Mother, I can't stand this any longer, I'm
going up to Phil!'
And to the attic he went, where in the darkness, with wide-open eyes and
tear-stained cheeks, lay his boy Phil. Now father and son had always been
friendschums—so the father got down beside his
boy, and locked in each other's arms, they passed the night, and the next
night, and the night after that. And so the father shared his son's
Long before Mr. Mackinnon had finished this story, he had had to stop, for
both himself and his wife were crying like two children. You see, God's
love is like that. And if the Bible teaching of Keswick succeeds in
bringing men and women to a true understanding of the great Father-heart
of God, what we need is aKeswick "in every
parish. We have told Mr. S. D. Gordon's story from memory, and think that
it concludes by saying that "Phil" is now telling the story of the Cross,
with heart and tongue of fire, in the midst of heathenism.
There is included in this Memoir Mr. Mackinnon's last address at Keswick.
The Rev. F. B. Meyer spoke immediately after Mr. Mackinnon on this
occasion, and prefaced his address by saying: "I thank God for my
brother's address, and I thank God that men like him are being raised up,
that when the older of us are removed the Ark of God will still be borne
on living shoulders."
During the winter of 1909 Mr. Mackinnon was sent by the Keswick Council as
a speaker to the Convention at Clarens in Switzerland. It was an
experience which lie most thoroughly enjoyed, and we shall never cease to
be grateful that he had this welcome respite, at least, in the midst of
his strenuous work, for lie loved travel, and was keenly interested in
other countries and peoples.
Some time before this Mr. Mackinnon had been strongly
urged to become a member of the Shettleston School Board, he having served
the community in Campbeltown in the same way. We did all in our power to
prevent his undertaking more work, protesting that it was not fair to keep
piling the agony" on to one man; for he already served on innumerable
committees and societies, and was either president or secretary in a
goodly number of them. But the Minister felt he must do his duty, and all
his duty. Once in the olden days we had both been much amused by a sage
remark from the kitchen, to the effect that oalariy was a great snare! "
So it seemed indeed, for the results of the amazing popularity thrust upon
Mr. Mackinnon everywhere were more work, and still more work. He himself
was absolutely unaffected by this popularity; he never sought it, never
went out of his way to win it, and seemed indeed to think nothing of it
beyond endeavouring to justify any confidence which was placed in him.
Over and over again he showed plainly that he thought far more of the good
opinion of the little company at home than of the world outside.
No sooner had he been elected a member, and chosen
chairman of the School Board, than there seemed suddenly to come into
existence an incredible number of persons from various places, all
desirous of obtaining situations of one kind or another under the
Shettleston School Board! No one ever seemed to grudge the long tramp up
to the manse, unless indeed some one was disappointed in not finding the
Minister at home, which happened as often as not. The chairmanship of the
Board added tremendously to his already heavy correspondence, and at the
end of two years he was compelled to relinquish his duties as a member.
Immediately after his passing, a year ago, the members
of the Board met, and unanimously placed on record their " deep
appreciation of his high qualities as a chairman. Kind and courteous at
heart, he ever brought that influence to bear on the ordinary duties of
the chair; and yet, when occasion required, he proved that he could rule
with dignity and authority, if the true interests of the Board, or any of
its concerns, were at stake. He had the educational interests of the
district always before him, and was continually doing what he could to
help their prosperity. . . ."
It happened that just as the School Board Election was
proceeding, the manse was being converted into a sort of fancy fair! We
had begged the Minister to allow us to hold a Sale of Work in aid of the
Freed Slaves' Home of the Sudan United Mission, of which he was a
At first he would not hear of it, because we were not
strong, and he was afraid the people would not come such a distance for a
sale. So we told him that some times when he was pleading for Foreign
Missions we could scarcely sit still in the pew, and it was hard to listen
to such preaching and do nothing. Then after a while the Minister gave in,
on condition that there would be plenty of helpers, to get whom was the
easiest thing in the world. Those willing to help were asked to volunteer,
and the result was surprising! The next thing was to ask each one to make
the undertaking a subject of prayer. Do we Scotch people not carry our
reticence in these matters a little too far? Then there was the weather!
If it rained we could not possibly expect people to come such a long way.
So we petitioned about that too. The contributions, in quantity and
quality, far exceeded our expectations, so that extra tables had to be
arranged outside. The day came, one of beautiful, unbroken sunshine, and
the people gathered in groups until there was quite a small crowd. Every
one seemed so thoroughly happy, especially the ladies who had worked very
hard, and at the end of three hours the treasurer reported having received
a sum of £36. We had thought of £20, or £25. The result of this enterprise
has been that six of the orphan freed slave children handed over to the
missionaries by the British Government have been ever since, and still
are, supported by friends in Shettleston Parish Church. How dear to the
Minister's heart was the work of trying to spread "the glorious Gospel of
the blessed God " over the whole earth ! Let us not forget.
The following summer Mr. Mackinnon took holiday duty
during the month of August at the beautiful little St. Conan's Kirk,
Lochawe, which lingers still in our memory with its quaint benediction of
peace sung at the close of each service.
"Grant us Thy peace, O God of peace and love, Who
dwellest in the shining worlds above; Grant us with Thee for ever to
abide, Our shade at noon, our light at eventide, Till that day break
when all our wanderings cease, O God of peace and love, grant us
Thy peace, Thy peace, Thy peace."
There were frequent journeyings to and fro between
Lochawe and Shettleston, on account of School Board meetings, funerals and
marriages. We were very strongly opposed to preaching engagements during
the Minister's holiday; but it made no difference even when we went to
some little hired house of our own— he was sought for.
For a long time the Debt Extinction Scheme had been in
operation, and strenuous efforts were being made from week to week in
order to have the money paid off. The people worked hard, for they were
eager to relieve their minister of this burden, and impatient also to get
begun with a new manse. But £2,000 is a large sum of money, in addition to
the ordinary claims on a congregation, and all concerned are no doubt very
glad to forget what they passed through. The Minister did his share of the
"begging," and his friends were most kind, for in one week alone he had
subscriptions amounting to £150. At last, in 1910, with the aid of a most
welcome grant from the Baird Trust, the hail debt disappeared for ever,
and the most indifferent amongst us breathed a sigh of relief.
We now come to the story of a winter which was the
darkest but one for the manse and its occupants. One of the boys had again
been laid aside with diphtheria, and the Minister's sister had come for
medical advice about a knee which had long been the cause of grave
anxiety, while other members of the household were apparently far from
being in a state of good health. After some weeks the diphtheria patient
was set free ; but the knee remained obdurate, in spite of the very best
surgical treatment. By the end of January the pain had become so severe
that the surgeon counselled removal into town for an operation, which,
afterwards, was happily successful; and this had no sooner been
accomplished than the Minister himself was laid aside with fairly serious
illness. "You will be next," he said to us, as he lay down. He was so
patient, so anxious about his sick parishioners, and the other members of
his own household. We were just holding out, and no more, until he could
recover, after which the worst collapse of all came, and for many weeks
there was utter prostration with acute sickness, giddiness, and complete
loss of hearing. Again the Minister was the tenderest and best of all
nurses. What could be more touching than the sight of this popular
preacher struggling in a sick-room with the directions on a tin of
Benger's Food! Mastering them too, and abjectly apologising because he had
allowed the "Bishop's toe" to get in! And looking so glad and happy when
it was pronounced" just lovely!
Nothing seemed quite so bad when he was by. But we had
to submit to another removal into town. An operation, "just as serious as
any one could pass through," we were afterwards told, was performed, and
the doctors were quite hopeful that hearing would be restored. And
although they were wrong, it has yet been given to us to realise that "My
grace is sufficient for thee"; and we wait with patience in the silence,
knowing well that the next sound we hear will be the triumphant notes of
the "New Song."
It will thus be seen that this beloved minister, who
mingled daily with all classes of the community, "radiating happiness
"wherever he went; who toiled unceasingly in the dark places where "the
poor of the earth hide themselves together"; whose visits were like rays
of sunshine to the weary sufferers in city hospitals and elsewhere; who
was rejoicing and sorrowing with his people all day long; and whose pulpit
ministrations from week to week were an undiminished source of spiritual
inspiration, moral uplift and good cheer, was himself not infrequently
carrying a secret load of care. Yet we do not remember that lie ever once
used the expression "it is hard," although his deeply affectionate nature
was charged with that quick and ready sympathy for the sufferings of
others which must always mean pain to its possessor. The sight of any one
enduring physical or mental pain which he could not alleviate unmanned
him; but his habitual and unfailing eagerness to point to the bright side
of even the darkest experiences was in itself a true consolation. It was
as if he stood, a radiant figure, in the midst of us all, calling always,
"Be of good cheer, I see land!"
Having completed a course of lip-reading lessons, the
teacher in dismissing us had said very pointedly, "Now there is no excuse
for you-; I went to hear your husband preach last night, and you can
literally see the words falling from his lips! " And the first Sunday in
church afterwards we could make out very nearly the whole of the sermon;
but it is right to state that it had been read by us on the Saturday
night: throughout all the years we had enjoyed that privilege. The text on
this occasion was taken from Acts xvi. 9, And a vision appeared to Paul in
the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him saying, Come
over into Macedonia and help us." The whole sermon was, of course, a
powerful advocacy of foreign missionary enterprise, and before closing the
preacher reminded his hearers that this was—"No self-imposed task, but a
Divine command. The Apostolic and Sub-Apostolic Church had understood and
sought to obey it. Were we entitled to stand aside and ignore it? Were we
entitled to give unto our Lord in this matter anything less than the most
we can, whether in sympathy, prayer, work, or liberality?
"Is not the fulfilment of this command essential to the
best life of the Church? Why are we not prospering better at home? One
reason is because we do not obey this injunction: ease, selfishness,
luxury, materialism and low ideals are the peril of the Church. These are
impossible only where the duty of world-wide evangelisation is recognized,
and an attempt made to perform it."
Now, our duty with regard to Foreign Missions had been
kept before us unceasingly; but there was something so arresting, so
urgent on this particular occasion, that it would have been strange indeed
if no results had followed. Gradually thereafter the change came, and just
the year before their minister was taken from them, the women of the
congregation had doubled their contributions to the cause of Missions; and
a year thereafter there was no diminution. Could there be a more fitting
memorial of such a ministry?
In 1907 Mr. Mackinnon was appointed chaplain to the
Glasgow Regiment of the Highland Light Infantry, in succession to the late
Rev. Dr. Robert Blair, of Edinburgh. Preaching before the Regiment for the
first time, in the St. Andrew's Halls, Mr. Nackinnon's opening words were
I stand here as the successor of one whose memory I
fondly cherish, and by whose example I desire to walk. There was no public
duty to which the late Dr. Blair looked forward with greater interest and
eagerness than the conduct of this annual service. He had a warm
attachment for the Glasgow Highlanders, was proud of its traditions, and
rejoiced in its prosperity. I hope it is not out of place for me to say
that I highly value the honour of being appointed his successor as
chaplain of this noble Regiment, and that I shall endeavour to discharge
the duties of my office to the best of my ability, and in a manner that
will in some measure justify the confidence which through my appointment
has been reposed in me."
The Glasgow Highlanders will not soon forget his
burning words, preached from the text, " Quit you like men, be strong" (i
Cor. Xvi. 13).
Nor can we ever forget the honour the Regiment showed
him as he was borne over the "last long mile."
At a meeting of the Glasgow Highland Club, held on
February 11, 1913, the members unanimously placed on record their deep
sense of the loss which the Highland community had sustained through the
passing away of the chaplain of the regiment. In moving the resolution,
the president, Colonel W. G. Fleming, referred to " the distinction Mr.
Mackinnon gave to the proceedings on all occasions on which he was present
at the meetings as an honoured guest." Colonel Fleming also said that they
all knew what a "high type of true Highland gentleman Mr. Mackinnon
represented," and added that "when to that were united the best qualities
of a Highland minister, the result was a very perfect man indeed."
No account of Mr. Mackinnon's life-work would be
complete without mention of the deep interest he took in the children of
his flock, and in young people generally. Very soon after he came to
Shettleston he organised a "Children's Guild of Honour," which has proved
to be one of the most successful organisations in connection with the
church. "The rules of the Guild are :-
1. To speak the truth at all times. 2. To honour my
father and mother. 3. To be kind to everybody. 4. To abstain from
strong drink as a beverage. 5. To be good and do good always.
The attendance of children averaged 200 ; the meetings
are held once a week, in the evenings, when the superintendent, with his
band of bright young monitors, has always an instructive and edifying
programme in readiness for them. All these children attend church with
their parents, also the Sunday Schools, of which there are two in
connection with Shettleston Parish Church.' '—Church Supplement (1906).
Mr. Mackinnon had always "a word" for the children at the Sunday forenoon
service, with a children's hymn. At one time a series of short addresses,
prepared for the little ones, had as their subjects the animals of the
Bible, taken alphabetically—the ant, bee, coney, dove, eagle, fox,
grasshopper, horse, etc.; and at another time the precious stones of the
Bible. The older people looked forward to these sermonettes with as much
interest and pleasure as the children themselves.
We have just been reminded that the children of the
church are looking forward with great eagerness to reading the story of
their minister's life. In one way, at least, it is possible for even the
youngest to emulate his example—he was so kind. It does not appear that he
started out to do anything great, but all his life he was in earnest; he
worked hard, and kept scattering "seeds of kindness" all the time. A
picture which will be sure to interest the children is that of their
minister during the last months in the manse, sitting at his own fireside,
late at nights, busily writing, or reading, and, climbing up his arm, or
perched on his shoulder, a kitten would be frolicking. Now and again the
Minister would stop writing, look up, and smile with much amusement at the
antics of this happy little kitten, now rubbing herself against his cheek;
while Bruce lay on the rug, with averted head, and a look which plainly
meant, What right has that silly little creature to be on my master's
shoulder ! As a boy, and as a man, the Minister had always been kind to
dumb animals, and they were all devoted to him.
"He prayeth well who loveth well Both man and bird
He prayeth best who loveth best All things both
great and small.
For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth
In still another way all the boys and girls who knew
him may imitate their minister's example—he was always willing to help,
even with work which was entirely out of his sphere. If the maids were off
duty, or on holiday, or had gone away unexpectedly, as they will
occasionally do, the Minister always came and said, "Now, what can I do to
help?" And then, in the cheeriest manner possible, he would do what he
could. We have heard a story of him, how, when he was a boy, he used to
rise very early in the morning to his studies, and would first of all
light the fire and make his mother a cup of tea. Whatever he did, he tried
to do well. It was very touching to observe how all the boys and girls
recognised him on the street, whether they belonged to his church or not.
And we know of children and young people who have gone many, many times
and laid flowers on their minister's grave ; often we have seen them
there, pathetic little bunches, quite evidently tied up by a child's hand.
And the tributes of the little ones are precious indeed.
In a very remarkable degree Mr. Mackinnon possessed
what has been called "the evangelizing tower of the hand." Widespread
testimony has been borne to his influence over men and women in the manner
of his handshaking. "He helped me a lot," said one who had never heard him
preach at all. "I used to meet him often on my way to work," said another,
"and he always stopped, shook hands, and spoke so kindly and
encouragingly; my day's work in the city seemed easier if I met him on my
way to it." He had a beautiful hand, as may be seen from the photograph
taken while he was minister of Stornoway—a reliable hand—and when men and
women were in difficulties and fighting their unseen battles, his hearty
handshake and sunny smile made them feel that things were not quite so
black as they seemed. Here at least was a man who really cared about their
welfare. A touching instance of this came to us only yesterday in a letter
from Australia, which speaks for itself
"I am a Shettleston man, now under the scorching suns
of the East—nearly 100 deg. to-day.
"I have just been resting in my bungalow away up here
almost on the summit of the Beaconsfield Hills, nearly 2,500 ft. above
sea-level, from which we can view the sea, and the passing steamers from
Melbourne to Sydney, Tasmania, etc.
"Yet how one's thoughts can return over the vast
stretches of water, and you, as it were, feel the touch of the hand. Yes,
I feel the touch, and the power on me, which your beloved husband gave me,
when bidding me Godspeed some eighteen months ago. You may remember me
coming to the manse. Little did I think he would so soon be taken away; so
young, so useful; but it is only a removal for higher service, God has
"I have been reading the life of Henry Kirke White, and
the tribute paid to his memory comes to my mind at once, as I look at the
picture of your dear husband hanging on my wall here. When I received the
news, with his portrait in the paper, I cut it out, put it into a frame,
and wrote underneath, 'A man I knew, and loved much.'"
"Here is the tribute:-
"Such talents and such piety combined, With such
unfeigned humility of mind, Bespoke him fair to tread the way to fame,
And live an honour to the Christian name; But Heaven was pleased to
stop his fleeting hour, And blight the fragrance of the opening flower
We mourn, but not for him, removed from pain; Our loss we trust is
his eternal gain With him we'll strive to win the Saviour's love,
And hope to join him with the blest above."
"This is my tribute to your dear husband, and I felt, as it were, impelled
to write you.
"Yours sincerely, "W— R—."
And away, far away, in other distant places, where the home mails are so
eagerly looked for, the young men in their offices read to one another the
newspaper accounts of his life and work; and those of them who had never
known him, never heard his name till then, spoke softly of him for days
afterwards, and said wonderingly,"What a good
man he must have been!" Who shall say his work is done? Does it not rather
seem that his best work is but beginning? Is it not enough that men and
women everywhere in speaking of him, "mingle his name with naming of the
"Who was he, to begin with?" asked some in those far-off places. He was
only the son of a small farmer, in a lonely little wind-swept isle; but as
he stepped into his young manhood, he took Jesus Christ with him, and
never faltered or turned back from his allegiance.
"If Jesus Christ is a man— And only a man-I
say That of all mankind I cleave to Him, And to Him will cleave
alway. If Jesus Christ is a God— And the only God—I sweat
I will follow Him through heaven and hell, The earth, the sea, the
Disappointment will doubtless be felt because this narrative includes none
of the sermons which were helpful to so many people. But by Mr.
Mackinnon's will all his sermons were to be destroyed, as having done
their work. Even had it been possible to publish them, there would still
have been disappointment—readers would have missed the inspired preacher
behind them; the glow and the fire would have been
wanting, for so often the thoughts that breathe and the words that burn
"came to him just as he stood before the people. Many have recalled the
way in which he used to walk across the chancel to the pulpit—the head and
shoulders bent forward as if weighted with his message; the footsteps
eager, almost hurried, suggesting that "the King's business requireth
haste." But he was never anything less than absolutely natural in his
conduct of the services of the sanctuary, and was singularly free from
affectation and artificiality at all times. He never went to the pulpit
unready; sermons were always patiently thought out, written and re-written
(even if it meant sitting far into the night)—so that when he came to
deliver them, he was almost independent of his manuscript. But the secret
of his power as a preacher lay, not in any studied eloquence, but in his
earnestness—his intensity—"too sore on himself," the Campbeltown people
said. It was not possible for him to be otherwise ; in his preaching he
seemed to pour out his whole soul on the people, and the after- exhaustion
was sometimes very great. He was gifted with a strange power in the
pulpit; he could subdue, soften, shrivel, melt and move to tears those of
us who listened to him. May we not think that this intensity, this
soul-yearning over the people, was specially given him because in the
foreknowledge of God the time allotted to him for the doing of his work
was to be short? He read and studied incessantly, and dispensed to his
people a mental wealth fed with the Bible and the best literature of the
day. Many of his hearers have testified to the help they received even
from the quotations which he sometimes introduced into his sermons. It is
by request that a few of these are given here; "he had a way of saying
things which made them keep ringing in your ears all the week," said one,"
and it is hard when you can't remember it all."
An Easter sermon some time ago concluded with the
"I say to all men far and near That He is risen
again, That He is with us now and here, And ever shall remain.
"And what I say, let each this morn Go tell it to
his friend, That soon in every place shall dawn His Kingdom without
The fears of death and of the grave Are 'whelmed
beneath the sea, And every heart now light and brave May face the
things to be.
He lives, His presence bath not ceased, Though
foes and fears be rife And thus we hail in Easter's feast A world
renewed to life."
One of his brother-ministers says that "in the
inflections of his voice there was that touch of Celtic plaintiveness
which gives the Highlander such a command over his fellow-men." Who did
not feel this in his rendering of Whittier's beautiful lines?
I know not what the future hath Of marvel or
surprise, Assured alone that life and death His mercy underlies.
And if my heart and flesh are weak To bear an
untried pain, The bruised reed lie will not break, But strengthen
* * *
And so beside the Silent Sea I wait the muffled oar; No harm from
Him can come to me On ocean or on shore.
I know not where His islands lift Their fronded palms in air; I
only know I cannot drift Beyond His love and care."
"Our Friend, our Brother, and our Lord, What
may Thy service be?- Nor name, nor form, nor ritual word, But
simply following Thee.
"We bring no ghastly holocaust, We pile no graven stone; He serves
Thee best who loveth most His brothers and Thy own.
"In vain shall waves of incense drift The
vaulted nave around; In vain the minster turret lift Its brazen
weights of sound.
"The heart must ring Thy Christmas bells, Thy
inward altars raise; Its faith and hope Thy canticles, And its
In a sermon, the texts of which were—"The love of God, which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord" (Rom. viii. 39) and "We are more than conquerors through
Him that loved us" (v. 37), the love of God in Christ Jesus, and the sense
of victory which this brings, were set forth with great power and beauty
in the simplest possible language. "I like that word more than
conquerors," said the preacher, "it is oftener on my lips in preaching
than any other scripture expression. When shall we understand that the
conflicts of life evoke the latent faculties of the
soul, and bring out its strength and beauty, and fit it for flights and
felicities far beyond our most ardent dreams? O beloved, whose feet have
still to tread the fiery embers, be not discouraged, do not lose hope, let
the words of our text uplift you now."
This hath He done, and shall we not adore Him? This
shall He do, and can we still despair? Come, let us quickly fling
ourselves before Him, Cast at His feet the burthen of our care,
"Flash from our eyes the glow of our thanksgiving,
Glad and regretful, confident and calm, Then thro' all life and what is
after living Thrill to the tireless music of a psalm.
"Yea, thro' life, death, thro' sorrow and thro'
sinning, He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed; Christ is the
end, for Christ was the beginning; Christ the beginning, for the end is
Christ." F. W. H. Myers.
"Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy-
laden, and I will give you rest," closed with the words of a hymn, which,
however, requires the music to bring out its full power:-
"My Saviour, Thou hast promised rest, Oh give it
then to me, The rest of ceasing from myself To find my all in Thee.
"O Lord, I seek a holy rest, A victory over sin,
I seek that Thou alone should'st reign O'er all without, within.
"In Thy strong hand I lay me down, So shall the
work be done, For who can work so wondrously As the Almighty One?
"Work on then, Lord, till on my soul Eternal light shall break, And
in Thy likeness perfected I 'satisfied' shall wake."
"In all their affliction He was afflicted"-"Does
"Think not thou canst sigh a sigh, And thy Maker is not by; Think
not thou canst weep a tear, And thy Maker is not near. Oh, He gives
to us His joy, That our grief He may destroy; Till our grief is fled
and gone He do/h sit by its and moan." William Blake.
To some of us this last line has been rendered luminous.
"I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me" (Is. xlv. 5), was a
beseeching of young men and women especially not to leave God out of
account in their lives.
"Children of yesterday, Heirs of to-morrow, What are you weaving—
Labour or sorrow? Look to your looms again, Faster and faster
Fly the great shuttles Prepared by the Master; Life's in the loom,
Room for it—room."
"Children of yesterday, Heirs of to-morrow, Lighten the labour
And sweeten the sorrow. Now—while the shuttles fly Faster and
faster, Up and be at it— At work with the Master. He stands at
your loom, Room for Him—room.
Children of yesterday, Heirs of to-morrow, Look at your fabric
Of labour and sorrow, Seamy and dark With despair and disaster,
Turn it—and lo, The design of the Master The Lord's at the loom,
Room for Him—room."
How clear was his teaching as to Conversion—he had passed through it
himself, he told his people once. It was not new light—he had known the
Gospel from childhood; what happened was "the creation of a new personal
relation to God, a great reconciliation with God, a birth into sonship, a
permanent change at the centre of his spiritual being, which had been the
dominant element of his consciousness ever since.
"'I have no other argument, I want no other
plea; Jesus died for all mankind, And Jesus died for me.'"
It was to be expected that personal holiness
would be the one thing longed for in such a life.
"Search me, O God ! my
actions try, And let my life appear As seen by Thine
all-searching eye— To mine my ways make clear."
If we offer this prayer sincerely, we shall get answers that will startle
us," he told his hearers. But there would be "no victory without
"Then welcome each rebuff That turns earth's smoothness rough, Each
sting that bids nor sit, nor stand, but go Be our joys three parts
pain, Strive, and hold cheap the strain Learn, nor account the pang;
dare, never grudge the throe."
But the most insistent note in Mr. Mackinnon's preaching, and one which
seemed to ring out more and more clearly in all the Shettleston sermons,
was the sure hope of immortality through our risen, glorified Redeemer.
Only one who believed with his whole heart and soul, as he did, that Jesus
Christ rose from the dead, that He is alive for evermore, and that
therefore He has "abolished death, and brought life and immortality to
light through the Gospel," could have become the means of suffusing into
countless other lives the unspeakable joy of the same glad hope. "Because
Jesus Christ has revealed immortality and exemplified it," he cried, " I
am absolutely certain that I cannot die. We have an instinct of
immortality, and although it is not a mathematical certainty, like death,
yet instinct is reliable within certain limits. But we have more than an
instinct—we have Christ's empty grave! No fact of history is better
attested than this, which is 'the cardinal point of our Christianity,'
'I intend to get to God; It is to God I speed so fast; And on God's
breast, my own abode, Those shores of dazzling glory past, I'll
lay my spirit down at last.'
Often, too, he would speak to his people of the
revelations of Science and Philosophy, the mysteries of Astronomy and the
fancies of Astrology, but only to show further how all things are "working
together for good" to those who love God. But "read your Bible, read your
Bible," he would say—"a Bible laid open, millions of surprises " (George
The writer can never forget the light which shone in his face when, some
years ago, he quoted to her for the first time-
The face of Death is towards the Sun of Life, His shadow darkens
Earth; his truer name Is 'Onward'; no discordance in the roll And
march of that Eternal Harmony, Whereto the worlds beat time, tho'
faintly heard Until the great Hereafter." Tennyson.
Nor again, when both had been reading a book by
a friend on " Christian Theism," and we asked if he had seen the following
note which occurs in it :-
It is hoped that it is not out of place to state here that, shortly after
the MS. of this book 1 had been sent to the publishers, the writer had the
misfortune to lose a devoted wife. She was deeply interested in this
subject, and before she passed away the writer promised to cherish her
spiritual presence, and asked her (if it was right and not hurtful) to try
and manifest her presence to him. He feels bound to say he believes she
has done so."
"Yes," was all the Minister said, but his face was shining.
To the above testimony we can now, humbly and reverently, add our own,
expressed in the following lines :-
Oh, could I tell, ye surely would believe it Oh, could I only say what
I have seen! How should I tell, or how can ye receive it, How, till
He bringeth you where I have been?
Mr. Mackinnon was unconscious of the way in which his own faith and
example were making other men and women strong. "He helped me in my
spiritual life more than any other man I know," said one; "all I am I owe
to his preaching and example," wrote a bright, earnest young Christian.
And it was good to be told how much he had been to many of his brother
"I loved him, for he was one of the most lovable
of men," wrote an Edinburgh minister. "Just a few weeks ago I had a long
chat with him, and after we had parted, I said to another friend, 'There
is one man in the world whom I love and reverence—Mr. Mackinnon, of
Shettleston.' His faith quickened mine, and his beautiful character
inspired me. In my memory I hold him, and I thank God for what he was to
me. It will comfort you to know that he helped me in my Christian life. .
He was not "goody-goody." No one could have mourned over personal faults
more than he did; he could be made angry, very angry; some of us in
Shettleston Church can remember having seen him more than once as one of
"God's angry men ""from his right hand went a fiery law for them— yea, he
loved the people;" but he simply could not keep his anger for five
minutes. Never once in his own home was he known to speak a hasty word
with-c out immediately afterwards saying he was sorry and showing that he
was so. What attracted and won the admiration of all who knew him was a
moral robustness, a magnanimity of soul, a sort of sanctified naturalness
in all he said and did. He was what God wanted him to be, a true man. Like
every other faithful minister, he had his times of stress and strain, but
in that great, generous heart there were no unloving thoughts of any one.
The last two years-1911---1912—were those during which the strenuousness
of Mr. Mackinnon's life had begun to tell. In 1911 he suffered much from
nasal catarrh, which threatened to become, and ultimately did become,
chronic. Every known remedy was tried, and many doctors consulted. Much
was said and written after his passing which was calculated to have given
the impression that Mr. Mackinnon did not take care of
himself, that he deliberately overworked. It is enough to say here that
all such impressions are utterly and entirely wrong. Mr. Mackinnon took
every care to keep himself in good health recognizing that it was his duty
to do so. Very pathetic were the patience and perseverance with which for
two years he tried to rid himself of the malady which must have undermined
his constitution. That he was overworked, sadly so, is only too true. But
it was not of his own choosing; in a peculiar way he was "bound to the
wheel." He seemed to be the property of all the churches, and was so happy
in the midst of all his toil. Yet he refused an incredible number of
requests for speaking and preaching; almost every week he would bring us a
pile of letters, ready for posting, and say with a twinkle in his eye,
"Now these are refusals; that will please you". In June, 1911, we
suggested a two months' holiday; the Minister said he could not
conscientiously leave his parish for two months, but if we would take a
house he would go backwards and forwards, and take a clear month if
possible. So we quietly made up our mind to take a house sufficiently far
away to prevent him wearing himself out with going and coming. At Rhu,
five miles from Arisaig, we found the quietness and retirement which he so
much needed. He had five weeks' rest here, and although it was necessary
for him to go south four times, it was an almost perfect holiday, as was
also that of the following year spent at Eigg. It was here, at Rhu, that
Mr. Mackinnon wrote the "Voices from Patmos," now treasured by many of his
people, and which it is hoped may be included in this Memoir, by the
courtesy of the editor of The Life of Faith. On the hills at Rhu, and by
the sea-shore, the writing-pad was always at hand; and when we
remonstrated, the Minister said gaily, "Oh, but it is all in my head, it
is just coming out as fast as I write ! " There was a beautiful little
sandy bay, where he taught his boys to swim, and was as happy as a boy
himself in the wafer. If the weather was calm we went fishing, and
frequently also rowed to Arisaig. The dogs, Bruce and Major, were an
unending source of amusement, and enjoyed the holiday as much as the rest
of the party. It was here, one lovely evening, we witnessed such a sunset
as we had never seen before, nor have since. Away in the west there seemed
to open up a land of golden glory, which deepened and drew nearer until we
too were encircled in the glow. In a silence of wonder and awe came the
thought, " Surely it is the coming of His feet". Not yet it may be, but "I
will meet with thee there, and commune with thee above the mercy-seat."
One day the parish minister of Arisaig, for whom Mr.
Mackinnon had taken a service, very kindly drove us all to Borrodale, to
see the cave which had been poor Prince Charlie's hiding-place from his
enemies, and the little bay close by, from which he sailed away from
Scotland for the last time. Then we entered Borrodale House—beautiful with
a glory of summer flowers and climbing creepers covering its quaint-
looking walls;—where there were two dear little children, and a sweet
young mother—who laid her baby down and went to make tea for the whole
party, afterwards showing us the rooms which the Prince had occupied. It
was a day to be remembered, with the beauty of land and sea, and the
rugged grandeur of the surrounding hills, bathed in the warm August
sunshine. Returning to Arisaig, we were most hospitably entertained at the
manse before setting out on our homeward journey across the bay. Our small
boat had not gone very far, when the wind suddenly rose in a contrary
direction, so that, in spite of much energetic rowing, little headway was
being made, and Arisaig refused to recede into the distance. Dusk was
falling, and gradually the wind had increased so that our frail bark was
now tossing and tumbling in the midst of the angry waters. Not a word was
spoken, although to one at least the strain of the situation was becoming
almost unbearable, and was not in the least mitigated by seeing the look
of wicked exultation on the faces of the young would-be mariners. For this
was grand, of course, to be in a storm at sea ! Then to our intense relief
the Minister, who had been watching all the while with the quiet alertness
of the expert boatman, gave the order to turn back. The boat was then run
into a creek, and after some difficulty we got ashore, and walked home,
one of us with a deep sense of deliverance. "Ve could have done it, boys,"
said the Minister, "but mother was getting very white."
Next day a bare-footed Highland boy brought" a telegram
which summoned the Minister to go south for the third time. When he
returned two days later, the farmer in whose house we were, very kindly
said that we might remain a week longer after the end of the month, as the
Minister's time had been so broken. But telegrams continued to come, and
before even the month was finished we suddenly gathered everything
together one day, and were on our way home at 4.30 next morning. For the
Minister had lost another of his elders—making the seventh during the
Shettleston ministry. He felt these losses very keenly, both on his own
account and on behalf of the bereaved families. So Rhu with its beautiful
memories abruptly closed in shadow. For a time thereafter Mr. Mackinnon
was much better in health, although catarrh was still present more or
less. One remedy after another was patiently tried for its removal, but
even when relief was afforded it was only temporary. His work, both inside
and outside of the parish, seemed to grow heavier each year, but he
rejoiced in it all, like a strong man ready to run a race. In a brief
Foreword, written for the congregational report of 1911, we find him
expressing thankfulness that the membership of the church had grown so
much and still continued to increase. He goes on to say :-
"As regards our members, all I would like to say
specially is that the great majority of them are quite regular in their
attendance at public worship. There is no sight more inspiring to me from
week's end to week's end than that of our morning congregation. I have now
conducted divine service in a good many churches in Glasgow and elsewhere,
but in few have I seen a larger, and in none a more attentive assembly of
worshippers than I usually have the opportunity of looking in the face
from my own pulpit. . ."
Some time previously he had issued a pastoral letter to
all the non-church-goers in the parish urging upon them the duty and
privilege of church connection. "The finest sight in Shettleston," said a
local United Free Churchman, just shortly before Mr. Mackinnon's last
illness, "is the skailing of the Parish Church on a Sabbath day." In their
visitation, he and his brother ministers of the United Free and other
churches always informed one another when they came across new-corners to
the district who were in danger of lapsing. The Foreword concludes :-
"I take the liberty of adding that I am deeply sensible
of all the kindness and sympathy shown me and mine as we go in and out
amongst you. The ties that bind together congregation and minister become
more numerous and strong year by year, and, if God spares us, we shall yet
render useful service to our great Head, not only in this parish and
district, but wherever our grand old Church endeavours to fulfil her
As a congregation lie seemed to bind us all together
into one great family; and it means so much to a minister and his wife in
their often difficult and trying work, when they are able to read on the
faces of their people not only loyalty but love.
In May of 1911 Mr. Mackinnon had, at the request of his
native islanders, visited Tiree, for the purpose of dedicating, in the
church of his earliest ministry, a tablet in memory of the Lady Victoria
Campbell, whose life had been consecrated to the people of the islands,
and to whom Tirce was specially dear. On his return home, Mr. Mackinnon
crossed to Ireland, to conduct in Belfast the Annual Services of the
Central Presbyterian Association. The following account of the services is
taken from the C.P.A. Monthly Magazine.
ANNUAL SERVICES AT BELFAST OF THE CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN
ASSOCIATION VISIT OF REV. HECTOR MACKINNON, M.A.
When our annual sermons were being arranged for this
year the choice of a preacher fell upon the minister of Shettleston Parish
Church, near Glasgow, and a right good choice it has turned out to be. As
we have already given a brief description of the man and his work in a
previous issue, we shall not add anything more about him at this time,
except to say that his appearance amongst us has fully justified our
The morning service was held in Duncairn Church, which
was exceptionally well filled. The praise was led by the church choir,
under the leadership of Mr. W. J. Walker, B.A., and the assistant
minister, Rev. W. F. Shepherd, B.A., took part in the service.
Mr. Mackinnon, after reading portions of the 40th
chapter of Isaiah and 11th chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew,
chose as his text the two last verses of the chapter in Isaiah he had
read—" Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall
utterly fail; but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary;
and they shall walk and not faint." In the course of his remarks the
preacher pointed out that these words were addressed to a people in
captivity, for Israel was at that time in Babylon. Everything had gone
against them, a section of the community had given up God altogether, and
they had become affected by the worship of those around them. To that
section the prophet had addressed the centre portion of the chapter, and
asked for an answer, which they could not give. There was a section that
was not drawn towards idolatry, but they were beginning to doubt God's
love and care, and to these the prophet addressed the words of the text.
Applying the words to the present day, Mr. Mackinnon pointed out that
while Christians are not in captivity, yet they are very prone to be weary
in well-doing, and tempted to give up their religion and at times their
very belief in God. He then considered the text under three heads—namely,
this weariness was applicable to all, even the young; there was therefore
a renewal which all needed and which all might receive; and the outcome of
the renewal in life and action.
The evening service was held in Fisherwick Church (Rev.
Charles Davey's), when Mr. Mackinnon made a deep impression upon those who
heard him. Mr. T. H. Crowe, the popular organist, played the introductory
voluntaries, overture "Athaliah" (Handel) and" Pastorale" (Lemare), while
the members of the Fisherwick Young Men's Choir and the Church Choir used
their voices to good purpose.
We have pleasure in drawing attention to the special
report of the remaining service which follows :-
AFTERNOON SERVICE IMPRESSIONS AND NOTES
In the afternoon Mr. Mackinnon addressed an immense
gathering in the Assembly Hall. Area, first gallery, and second gallery
were crowded, some having to be content with standing room. Such a
gathering must have been an inspiration to the preacher; it certainly was
an opportunity and privilege which lie must have appreciated. Sir William
Crawford, J.P., presided, and the devotional exercises were conducted by
Rev. Dr. Megaw. The praise was led by the Assembly Hall Choir, under Mr.
F. J. Moffett's direction, and the chorus, "Steal away to Jesus," was
exquisitely rendered by them. The Misses M'Burney and Middlemore, with
Messrs. Scott and Hogg, gave a beautiful rendering of " God is a Spirit "
It would be a hard thing to define the features which
go to make Mr. Mackinnon an attractive preacher. It is not his manner: he
has none of the recognized tricks of the elocutionist. It is not his
voice: for, except when it -assumes the pleading note, it is inclined to
be somewhat hard. What is it, then? This, first of all: he is a man who
has a message, and knows it. You know it, also, when you listen to him. He
has something to say to you which you know you need to hear; and whenever
a man has a message for the people, the people will ultimately find it out
and be there to hear him.
This, also, marks him off: his intensity. He is in
earnest; he would have you in earnest, too. He is on fire; he would kindle
others. He has the "second sight" of the spirit ; he would tell you what
he sees—would have you see "the vision splendid" with him. So the people
crowd to hear him.
His subject at the afternoon meeting was "Christian
Service," and what was then given was more an address than a sermon. A
sermon in the stricter sense was given by him to the great congregation
that gathered in Fisher- wick in the evening, and few will soon forget the
impassioned appeal with which it closed, that the young men and the young
women present should realize the greatness of their manhood and womanhood,
and place it in the hands of Him who was able to transfigure it beyond
their highest dreams. But it is of the afternoon service we specially
The address was simple, easily remembered, very
practical. The preacher illustrated the subject of "Christian Service" by
drawing attention to the various shades of meaning attached to the Greek
terms used by New Testament writers when referring to the matter. We shall
omit the Greek words, but try to retain the ideas.
There was, first of all, that term by which St. Paul
loved to describe himself, the "slave" of Jesus Christ. The underlying
idea was that of a person bought in the open market, and unreservedly a
servant of the person who thus bought him. That marked the difference
between the man of the world and the servant of Jesus. The latter had been
redeemed, by the precious blood of Christ, from the slavery of sin. He was
now not his own; he had been bought with a price; and his life should be a
life definitely, decisively, unreservedly devoted to the Lord who had
"Then there was the idea lying beneath the word
"deacon." The term came from a verb which signified "to pursue," "to
pursue closely." It set up before them the ideal of diligence, of
concentration, of whole-heartedness in their Christian calling. Many
people seemed to be under the impression that their usefulness depended
upon the number of irons they had in the fire! The primary consideration,
so far as efficacy in connection with their service was concerned, should
not be related to the wideness of the ground they covered so much as to
the intensity with which they covered it; not how much the area over which
they moved in their service, but whether they gave to the work they
undertook their whole heart and soul and strength and mind. What a
revolution would be wrought in their churches if the grace of
concentration were general, if the various workers pursued their tasks
with diligence, with concentration, with whole-heartedness.
Next, there was that expression used by the writer of
the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he says, "Moses was faithful in all his
house." This idea was closely related to the foregoing one of
concentration: faithfulness to the trust reposed. What counts in Christian
service is not so much the level upon which our service is rendered not so
much whether the service is great or small: what does matter is that the
faculties and capacities with which we are endowed (and for which, in a
sense, we are not responsible) should be used to the utmost of their
powers. It is not greatness that is wanted; it is faithfulness.
Another term used by New Testament writers to describe
the servants of Jesus signified "home-slaves." The term, originally, may
have related to those slaves who were in personal attendance on their
master, as compared with those who were engaged in his fields, or working
in remote parts of his estate. The latter knew nothing of their master's
character, of his mind, of his personal life. So was it with "Cyrus, My
servant"; he accomplished God's purpose, but had no knowledge of God whose
will he worked. The people of Israel were the "home-slaves," those to whom
God was well-known, to whom He had revealed Himself, and by whom He was
consciously and willingly served. It was in this close relationship Christ
stood to His people. He had drawn them into communion with Himself; they
had sat with Him at His table; they were joint-heirs with Christ. What a
privilege was theirs access to the Master; communion with Him; liberty to
speak with Him—to tell Him about their work and their weakness, their
failures and their follies, their faults and their sins—and to know that
He was interested.
There was yet another term he would refer to, which
meant "assistant to the master." It was customary for the masters of earth
to leave the rough work, the "dirty jobs " (if he might use a vulgar
expression) to their apprentices. Not so with the Lord Jesus: He never
asked His servants to go where He had not been Himself. He Himself bore
the Cross, despising the shame; He sweated blood in Gethsemane; He endured
the baptism of Calvary; He was forsaken by Heaven and earth. Never did He
ask His servants to tread where His foot had not first been. In one very
real sense His people were not slaves, they were assistants. He shared
their work with them ; they were "labourers together."
The address concluded with a stirring appeal to the
young men and young women to present themselves— their whole manhood and
womanhood—living sacrifices to Jesus Christ. Christianity, declared the
speaker, was the only propaganda that bore relation to the whole nature of
man,—his body, his mind, his spirit—and it was Only by the consecration of
that complex nature to the Lord Jesus that its high possibilities could be
realized and its aspirations met. D. L.
Mr. Mackinnon had often preached in Belfast, and was
much struck by the earnestness of the people, and greatly touched by their
warm-heartedness. On this occasion he brought home a gold-mounted
umbrella, bearing his name and the inscription, "From the C.P.A., 1911."
How little did his Irish friends think that it was to be their last
parting gift to him.
"You will have the prayers of thousands whom you have
never known," wrote a doctor in Belfast, after Mr. Mackinnon had been
Mr. Mackinnon devoted himself with great earnestness
and untiring zeal to his duties as convener of the "Life and Work"
Committee of the Presbytery of Glasgow; he was also one of the directors
of the Glasgow United Evangelistic Association, and was looking forward
with much hopefulness to the work of the Chapman-Alexander Mission. How he
longed to see the strongholds of evil pulled down, so that the highways
and byways of life might be made cleaner and sweeter for the young to
tread in. Along with others, he took a prominent part in petitioning the
magistrates to have the Burgh Police Amendment Act applied to Glasgow, and
the following letter, which appeared in the Glasgow Herald at the time,
shows how fearless he was in the cause of righteousness and purity.
ICE-CREAM SHOPS THE MANSE, SHETTLESTON, May 22,
Sin,—Several of the correspondents who have
communicated with you regarding the application to Glasgow of the
provisions of the Burgh Police Amendment Act have attempted to fasten upon
ministers of religion all responsibility for the effort which is being put
forth to secure that ice-cream shops be henceforward closed on Sundays and
by io p.m. on weekdays. They make this attempt presumably under the
impression that if it can be shown that ministers alone are the troublers
the effort referred to would not carry so much weight as it would
otherwise do either with the Town Council or with the community.
This, however, is not good enough. It is quite true
that the clergy of the city are deeply interested in this question, and
even if the movement for Sunday closing had been organized and prosecuted
only by them, it would still be an important factor in relation to the
decision at which the Town Council may arrive. But while the parties that
have taken action include the Presbyteries of the various Churches and
representatives of non-Presbyterian religious bodies, the great majority
of the organizations that have appeared before the Magistrates are not
distinctively Church organizations at all. There is the Parish Council,
for instance, in the membership of which there are only one or two
ministers, but whose appeal for Sunday closing was as insistent as that of
any. And representing other organizations there have been present before
the Magistrates some of the most highly esteemed and most hard-headed
business men in Glasgow. It is to be hoped accordingly, that neither the
Town Council nor the public are to be hoodwinked by the insinuation that
the movement now in progress is clerically engineered, because this is
simply not the case.
My chief reason in seeking the hospitality of your
columns is to call attention to this feature of the controversy, but
perhaps you will allow me to add one or two considerations which are
central in relation to the administration of this Act.
First, what actuates the parties that ask for Sunday
closing is the deep conviction that whatever inconvenience (and I for one
do not believe that the inconvenience will be nearly as great as some of
your correspondents would have us think) may result to a section from the
Sunday closing of places of refreshment generally, it is trifling in
comparison with the injury which will be inflicted upon the community at
large by the continued opening of ice-cream shops on Sunday and after ro
o'clock on weeknights. Nobody but a fanatic would object, I fancy, to
opportunities of refreshment being afforded, within limits, at temperance
hotels and restaurants on Sunday. But if the choice is to lie between the
opening of all places and the closing of all places no one with any regard
for the highest wellbeing of our citizens would hesitate to choose the
latter alternative. Ice-cream shops have already done unspeakable harm to
our young men and young women. That has been proven to the hilt, the most
damaging demonstration having been provided not by ministers, mark you,
but by men prominent in municipal and parochial administration, and those
in our community who might be disposed to regard the testimony of
ministers as prejudiced will surely not dispute that of these others. If
only a fraction of that testimony is true the sooner the facilities for
demoralization which have hitherto been at the disposal of ice-cream shops
are curtailed the better.
Again, is the need to which some of your correspondents
have called attention a real need—I mean for the opening of places of
refreshment on Sundays? Certainly no appearance has been made before the
Magistrates on behalf of any persons who feel it. No one has tried to
prove within the Municipal Chambers that closing would impose hardship,
and anonymous correspondence in the press is of little or no value here.
The parties appearing in support of Sunday opening are those whose primary
interest in this question is avowedly their pockets. One petition
purporting to be from customers favouring Sunday opening was presented by
the agent of some restaurateurs, but the very fact that it was presented
by him warrants the inference that the initiative in connection with it
was taken not by those whose signatures were adhibited to it, but by those
whom said agent represented before the Bench, and this of itself robs it
of all value. The truth is that restaurateurs have no palpable grievance.
They have still six days of the week on which to follow their calling, and
those of them who have appeared before the Magistrates are simply claiming
that while those who follow other callings are to have only six days a
week on which to work and acquire means, they ought to have seven days, no
matter what the consequences through ice-cream shops may be to multitudes
of our population. My impression is that they will not find in Glasgow
many who are prepared to yield that claim. Without a seventh day for
work—work by the way which they would probably do not themselves directly
but through employees—they still have equal opportunities with the rest of
Further, if, as has been stated, and I feel with
perfect accuracy, by your correspondent "Giustizia," attendants in
ice-cream shops are in most cases hired servants, surely they are entitled
to immunity from work on Sundays in common with the great bulk of our
toilers. Why should any section of the citizens insist that the services
of these people should be at their disposal on the seventh day as well as
on other days? Have they any right to do this? Or, if they have, is it
fair, is it creditable on their part to exercise it? It is all very well
to reply that the municipal authorities have sanctioned Sunday cars in
connection with the running of which their servants have to work on
Sundays. The case of ice-cream shops is impossible of comparison with
tramway cars, but even supposing it were, two blacks or twenty blacks
cannot make one white, and the tu quoque argument is at best only a paltry
In closing, let me point out that the best opinion in
the city undoubtedly favours Sunday closing, and to yield to the
grumblings of a small section in a matter like this would be to ignore its
greater good in a very rash way.
I am, etc.,
Early in 1912, Mr. Mackinnon had promised to preach
under the auspices of the Greenock Total Abstinence Society. The service
was to be held in the Greenock Town Hall on Sunday evening, February4th,
and the journey thither was to be accomplished by motor. The Minister
seemed anxious that we should all accompany him on this occasion, which we
were only too pleased to do. On arrival at Greenock, the motor-man was
requested to be in readiness outside the hail punctually at 8 o'clock for
the return journey. There was a very good service ; one was glad to see
large numbers of working men and women, as well as many business men. At
the close, and after waiting patiently for more than half an hour, some of
the gentlemen went to inquire about the conveyance. At the garage he was
told that our driver had "gone for a walk," and would not return until
"about ten!" There was no help for it, of course, but it was bitterly
cold, and we remembered that the boys had to leave for school at 8.15 next
morning; but we were very glad we had gone; things are never so bad when
all we are together. Fortunately we had relatives, to whose house we
repaired, and spent the waiting time until shortly before eleven o'clock,
when the motor turned up. It was a night of keen frost, and when we
reached the manse, between two and three in the morning, we were glad to
see a good fire, and faithful Bruce watching. Each one was given a dose of
lemon, hot water and sugar, and off to bed. In the morning we laughed over
it all, for no one was any the worse. But we never recall the experience
now without reflecting on the all-pitying Providence of God, which
mercifully veils the future from us. For it was far, far beyond our
knowing that exactly a year hence that very night we would again be driven
through the silent city, three of us—alone.
Shortly afterwards the Minister had to go to London to
attend a meeting of the Sudan United Mission Executive. Quite suddenly one
day he said he would like to take us all with him. We had never been
there, nor had there been any previous talk of our going, so that it was a
pleasant surprise, and we spent our last Easter together in the great city
of London. How eager he was to show us everything, and how he hurried from
one place of interest to another, just as if he knew—so we think now—that
it would be the last time he would have the opportunity of showing his
boys the great sights. And although he had no such knowledge, yet many
things he did and said during this last year would lead one to believe in
the reality of what learned men call "subliminal consciousness."
In London we attended the morning service in the City
Temple on Good Friday. How simple it all was, and yet how grand; and with
what child-like earnestness the Minister listened to the
sermon—"Magnificent!" he wrote on the fly-leaf of his Bible before it was
finished. Then in the evening we were of the vast crowd who listened to
Dr. Campbell Morgan as he discoursed, with the aid of his blackboard, on
the "Great Hallel."
And less than a year afterwards, when the Minister had
left us, amongst other telegrams from London was one from the Ladies'
Guild of the Clan Mackinnon Society there . . . "The Ladies' Guild will
never forget his earnest and helpful words to them, and the hymn "Work for
the night. is coming."
In May Mr. Mackinnon preached in Belfast again, for his
friend the Rev. John Pollock, of St. Enoch',-, there, with whom he had had
an annual exchange for some years. Writing from Canada this week, Mr.
Pollock expresses the hope that he may yet be in time to "lay his humble
sprig" on the grave of his friend, and encloses the following tribute :-
While it is true that you can never add one to the
number of your old friends, there are cases in which a new friendship has
all the aroma of the old. I can at least speak for myself when I say that
the friendship of a very few years' standing which existed between Hector
Mackinnon and myself was of this type. I fell in love with him at first
sight, and my affection deepened every time we met.
"If you want to know a man, live with him. It is a severe test, and
comparatively few may abide it. What a delight it was to sojourn under
Shettleston Manse roof! What a glorious privilege—he and I being both
convalescent —to spend hour upon hour in the study with that prince of
talkers! I suppose he had the rare knack of making himself of kindred
spirit with every man ; certainly I never found myself in more congenial
company. He impressed me—despite all my old voluntary convictions and
prejudices—as an ideal parish minister. Had his spirit been dominant of
old, there would have been neither Secession nor Disruption. For he was a
large-souled man, accustomed to put himself in the other's place, and
having sympathy with the conscientious position of every fellow-disciple
of the one Lord, whom he loved supremely. He was a saintly man, albeitthere was little "sough" about him, and no vestigeof thatmost offensive of all cant, the
clerical. With him presbyter was not priest writ large. He met every man
upon level ground, and called him brother.
"It is a grief to me to know that I shall not again see his strong face
and sunny smile, or feel his big hand enveloping mine. But if earth is
poorer by his removal, heaven is richer, and the anticipation sweeter. He
was a good man. He is a better man to-day than ever he was, or ever could
be in this world of hindrance and handicap, a world in which no man ever
yet reached his best.
It was during the sittings of the General Assembly of
1912 that the students who had passed through the Divinity Hall together,
and who had finished their curriculum in 1891, met in a social capacity,
and celebrated a reunion. As Mr. Mackinnon was the senior ordained man
among them, he had been chosen chairman, an honour which greatly pleased
him. Looking back now, it seems as if many things from this time onward
were but leading up to that which was to happen in February, 1913. It was
scarcely possible for those who watched him not to be conscious
of a strange sense of ripening. He was very happy, but in a wistful sort
of way sometimes ; eagerly planning out his work, looking forward with
hopefulness, and apparently quite ready for any difficult task which might
lie before him. And indeed the future seemed bright with promise. Only a
year before this time a Glasgow doctor had pronounced his heart to be as
sound as any lie had ever tested. But lie was frequently very tired now,
yet could not see his way, when urged, to give up any of his duties.
After the Assembly, Mr. Mackinnon paid his annual visit
to Tiree; he seemed to have caught a chill going, but held out against it,
hurrying home the same week in time for his Sunday duties. In June he was
much better, except for the catarrh, which was now causing us great
anxiety. One evening he said he would like to take us all to Campeltown
next day. The boys had never revisited their birthplace, and we are glad
to think that they can look back upon having done so with their Father so
shortly before he was taken from them.
There had never been any abatement in the coming and
going of many people to the manse, numbers of them from outside of the
parish altogether, to see the minister about something or other. No matter
how busy he might be, he had always time to be courteous and kindly; very
often when he was just about to start for a meeting, or to catch a train,
he had no alternative but to invite his visitor to walk down the road
along with him. Sometimes there would be a marriage party in each of the
three public rooms downstairs, and others waiting outside the manse door.
Happy young people mostly, but now and again the conditions were sordid
enough. Once a very young man had come a considerable distance, on two
evenings successively, to ask the Minister to marry him, but each time had
failed to find him at home, even after long waiting. We suggested that he
should write instead of coming a third time. But he preferred to come in
person, and he "wisna working ony wye." Was it not a pity to get married
when he was out of work? "Oh no," he explained; "you see, it's cheaper
keeping two than one!"
In July we went to the little island of Eigg, and no
one enjoyed the stay there more than the Minister himself. "Feel the
freshness of that breeze now he cried delightedly the first day we went
out. Quiet and peaceful, set in the sea, and the beauty of the surrounding
hills—northwards rose the majestic Cuchullins of Skye; nearer, just across
the water, towered above us the sombre "domes" of Rum; and further out
westward, across the sea, lay the islands of Coll and Tiree; while from
the opposite side of Eigg stretched out the blue misty mountains of Mull—
it was just the very spot for a tired minister. There were long rambles
together; "Daddy" and his boys climbed the highest hills, and were twice
at the top of the Scuir; but wherever we went, the Minister always carried
a book, and did more reading in Eigg than ever he had done on any previous
holiday. On two occasions he returned to Shettleston for a day or two, and
each time was eager to get back—" longed to fly north." The church at Eigg
had been without a minister for four years, and the Sunday services in the
pretty little church were being conducted by a student-missionary. There
were only about 200 people on the island altogether, we were told, and of
these 100 were Roman Catholics. Just before Mr. Mackinnon left to attend
the Keswick Convention, a request vas made to him to preach in Eigg. He
said certainly he would do so on his return, and it was arranged
accordingly. On the way back from Keswick, he stopped at Morven to assist
with the Communion there, getting home on the Monday very tired. But he
was quite rested before the following Sunday, and looked and felt so well
when he preached in the Eigg church, which was quite full, there being a
number of visitors. On Thursday evening of the following week a telegram
was received asking him, as a great favour, to dispense the Communion in
Eigg. How eager he was to be of service anywhere.
The only possible Sunday for him was the one following,
so although it was nearly dark when the message came, we set out to see if
it could be arranged. Next day word was sent round from house to house,
and in the evening a preparatory service was held. Sunday was a day of
perfect beauty and calm as we took our way to church; but it is scarcely
possible to describe that service. The visitors had gone, but the church
was completely filled with the island people—"old men were there, and
youths and simple maidens." The service, as usual, was in English, and the
steady, tense way in which they listened, showed that the Highlander
himself, in intellect and spirituality, is greater than his language. In
front of us sat a handsome, patriarchal-looking old man, stone blind, but
indicating by the unconscious and continuous assent of the head how
eagerly he was taking it all in. The sermon, from the text, "Be of good
cheer!" was one which had helped far more people than the preacher knew
of; then as we gathered at the table, it seemed for a little as if there
really was "no more sea"; and there were tears on not a few faces as we
walked down the hill together from that solemn service. It is good to
think that the last Sunday he passed in his beloved Highlands was thus
fittingly and beautifully spent.
We had from the first seen a good deal of the caretaker
of the manse, an old Campbeltown friend, who, we were told, had cherished
all the years a letter the Minister had written her after the death of her
daughter. She and her husband had both been at the Communion table, and on
Monday evening the boys called to say good-bye to her—she had known them
when they were babies," she used to tell them. "Good-bye, boys," she said
kindly, following them outside, "and I hope I'll be spared to see you both
preaching in a pulpit." Three hours later, almost without warning, she had
passed "through the gates into the city," where there is no night. The
shock to us all was very great. We were just preparing to leave, and the
last thing the Minister did was to visit a sick man who was dying, and who
had greatly appreciated his former visits. So once again we turned our
faces to the city, with its toil and turmoil, feeling better and braver
for the lessons which can sometimes only be learned in the solitude of the
hills. Shettleston Church had meanwhile been under repairs of considerable
magnitude, and the congregation were worshipping in the hail. The Minister
was anxious lest the church might not be available for the Communion
services on the first Sunday of October, and it was probably due to
pressure that it was ultimately got ready in time. The winter's work was
just beginning when, with a shock of pained surprise, came the
announcement of the sudden death, from pneumonia, of the Rev. David Rollo,
of Springburn. Never had we seen the Minister so much affected by anything
outside of his own family circle. Returning from Springburn the same day,
he told us, with his eyes brimful of tears, how, just before the end, Mr.
Rollo had murmured, "Oh love that wilt not let me go."
For days afterwards a shadow seemed to brood over the
manse of Shettleston. From this, until the time of his last illness, the
Minister was in the hands of a specialist, who had told him that the
catarrh from which he suffered could- only be cured by removing, from time
to time, portions of bone and thickened membrane from the back of the
nose. This meant more pain than we like to think of, but it was quietly
and bravely borne. He had absolute faith in his doctor, and was
pathetically confident of cure. One day off duty, after each operation,
was the doctor's order, and the Minister obeyed it implicitly; only, as
the diary shows, he had to work far too hard between the times. Headaches
began to trouble him now, which we both took to be the result of the
anasthetic; and sometimes lie would place his fingers on his wrist in a
way we did not like. With haunting uneasiness we noticed too that he was
troubled because he had not been able to "save anything." It had been
easier once ; now and again when difficulties loomed ahead, the giving of
a tenth only would be suggested, but, said the Minister, that would mean
we would then be giving much less than we are now doing, and so the matter
ended. For here in the city many of the poor are too poor, not always
through their own fault ; and just so long as there continued to be poor,
so long as there was any one known to him struggling with adverse
circumstances, and in need of a helping hand, just so long would it have
been impossible for him to horde up anything. For him one of the supreme
uses of life was just gloriously to give it away.
Measure thy life by loss instead of gain, Not by the
wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth; For love's strength standeth
in love's sacrifice And whoso suffers most has most to give."
With all of his own he used an even larger generosity,
always gave more than was asked for, and went the second mile with
The Minister looked upon the increasing activity and
earnestness of the members of his various church organizations with a
deep, quiet gratitude. In November the Woman's Guild was making a special
effort on behalf of Missions, the initial arrangements for which were a
two days' Sale of Work in the manse, the results of which we have already
recorded. The manse had just been sold, and many have recalled with
peculiar pathos how, in announcing the Sale, he used a playful
persuasiveness in urging them all to come, as it would probably be their
last opportunity of visiting the old manse.
Twice during this time Mr. Mackinnon was pressed to
accept a call to Edinburgh, and surely it was by the good hand of our God
upon us that he was unable to see his way to do so. During the latter part
of December he contracted a dull, resulting in a "very bad rheumatic
throat," which confined him to bed for eight or nine days. When he was
able to be up, the doctor recommended a six weeks' rest, which the
Minister thought outrageous, as he felt "quite fit for work."
He agreed, however, to go to Crieff for a week, and we
all accompanied him, returning home on December 26th, as there were many
marriages and other engagements. After this he was undoubtedly much
better, and did a marvellous amount of work in January. With deep
thankfulness we noted that he was coming in earlier now, his work during
these eight years having necessitated habitually late hours; for in the
modern church there is noise of much machinery, and ministers may scarce
hope to see the completion of their day's toil even when, like Nehemiah of
old, they labour at it from "the rising of the morning until the stars
appear." Almost up till the last Mr. Mackinnon was engaged with the work
of the Committee on the Ice- cream Shops' By-laws, and also with that of
the Chapman-Alexander Mission Committee. On January 6th he had paid his
last visit to the specialist, and was, after this, so much better and
brighter, that we were just about to send the good news to his mother.
On Sunday, 19th, he preached a remarkable sermon from
the text "Be strong." Many of us afterwards, in looking back, felt as if
he had been preparing us for what was to come. Reading it on the Saturday
evening, we had been strangely moved, feeling somehow the presence of a
new note. Two passages have been specially recalled by many who heard
"When men and women cease to believe in God, they are
incapable of the highest strength; they are cowards in the face of what
they call necessity, fatality, doom. Having lost faith in a faithful
Creator and a loving Redeemer, they are weakness itself in their struggle
with the seventies of life and death. Faith in God as revealed in Christ,
and that alone, makes a strong nation, a strong church, and a strong soul.
. . "The tenderness of Christ ought not to obscure the majesty of His
strength ! Delicacy, softness and sweetness, a melting pity and grace are
often found in the most lionhearted men. There never was born into this
Scotland of ours a stouter heart than that of David Livingstone never—I
repeat that. Yet he was fond of children, and entered into their joys and
griefs. He wept like a child at sight of his father's empty chair, and was
crushed with unutterable sorrow on the death of his wife. He broke down
again and again at sight of the woes suffered by the inhabitants of the
Dark Continent. General Gordon was in many respects a replica of
Livingstone. 'Kiss me, Hardy,' said the dying Nelson. . ."
Just a few days before this Mr. Mackinnon had lectured to the Literary
Association on"David Livingstone,"
whose centenary was to be celebrated in March, so that he too paid his
tribute to that good and great man.
"Only on January 23," says the Minister of St. Silas Episcopal Church, "he
kindly came and spoke at my Communicants' Union, and left a blessing
behind him. I ever listened with delight to his spirituality, his fire,
and his clear exposition of the Word of God . . ."
One evening in these last weeks the Minister was sitting with us in the
dining-room, busily writing an article for the Church Union Journal. The
boys were at their lessons, and when they finished, began to whistle as
usual. Presently" Daddy "threw down his pen, saying, "Oh!
I can't write here; first one boy, then another boy,"—and here he imitated
the whistling in such a manner that we all laughed, himself in a way which
showed that he was very glad indeed to have whistling boys.
But during the ten days before his illness he was somewhat depressed, more
than we had ever seen him, with regard to the results of his work and
preaching. There was absolutely no ground for such a feelingbut he had done a great deal of hard depressing work, it had been a
strain on the heart, and now, after he had been the means of cheering so
many people, he was in need of encouragement and cheer himself.
On the last Saturday evening he brought down as usual his sermon prepared
for the following forenoon— Hebrews xi. 22, "By faith Joseph, when he
died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel, and gave
commandment concerning his bones," the last clause being underlined. A
little inward shiver passed through us, just narrowly enough escaping
notice, for we two had long since arrived at being able
to read each other "like a book." And as we read on, we were strangely
stirred; what was this nameless something between the lines? What were
these mysterious undercurrents of thought and feeling in the minds of both
which could not be spoken. When we finished we laid the manuscript down in
silence, so that the Minister said in the quick nervous way he sometimes
had— "Well?" Then we spoke, falteringly enough, words which we must always
be thankful we had yet another opportunity of speaking before it was too
late, "Well—I don't know at all why you should speak or feel as if you
were doing no good. You are preaching now, and have been for some time, as
you did not use to preach. There is something in those sermons of yours
which was not there before, and you don't know how you will help people."
Then the Minister rose from his chair, and sighed, but did not say a word.
Next day, from this text, he preached indeed as one who stood between the
living and the dead. He was yearning over his people for the last time,
although he was far from knowing it. His attitude then may very well be
imagined from Myers' lines :-
"Only like souls I see the folk thereunder, Bound
who should conquer, slaves who should be kings— Hearing their one hope
with an empty wonder, Sadly contented with a show of things
"Then with a rush the intolerable craving Shivers
throughout me like a trumpet-call,- Oh, to save these ! to perish for
their saving, Die for their life, be offered for them all.
* * * * *
"Quick in a moment, infinite for ever, Send
an arousal better than I pray, Give me a grace upon the faint
endeavour, Souls for my hire and Pentecost to-day!
The theme of the sermon was Faith; it was not that anything new was said,
it was more the way in which the old things were said. The preacher
pleaded for the old faith, which can believe, in spite of all that may
tempt to the contrary, that God is, and that He is working out His purpose
throughout the ages—the faith of "the fathers."
"Let us live so that our influence may be helpful to those who come after
us, . . . for in a little while we shall be 'the fathers,' . . . how
anxious and earnest we should be to leave behind us a legacy of truth and
purity, and nothing else. .
Then he closed his ministry in something like the following sentences :-
"Once again, beloved, whatever may be the surprises of the future,
whatever may become of us, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and
for ever; and God abideth faithful, His Word cannot fail. The old
landmarks may seem to disappear, Pharaohs may arise who know not Joseph,
but God remembers His people, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against
them. His Covenant standeth sure. The dying words of Joseph, 'He will
surely visit you,' may be translated thus: ' He that believeth in the Son
hath everlasting life.' This is the covenant of grace, and this is 'the
faith once for all delivered to the saints.' 'There is no "if" or
"perhaps" about it, and no modern guess or supposition is worthy to take
the place of a hope which is founded on God's Yea and Amen.'
"And now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you
faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only
wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now
and ever. Amen."
He then gave out Hymn 339—"For all the saints who from their labours
rest"—and many of us wondered why he read the first three verses instead
of only one as usual; and when the singing was over, he raised his hands
in blessing on his people for the last time.
In the evening he spoke in the city, returning home rather late and tired,
but very bright and happy. On Monday he had several meetings in town, and
had also arranged to see the architect about a new manse ; we were
supposed to be removing that week to Buchanan Gardens, and the men had
been packing all day. On Tuesday, as we were getting ready for a marriage
at twelve o'clock, he seemed so glad about something that we asked if he
had been hearing any good news. He was the brightest of all the wedding
party, and when it was over, some of the gentlemen asked him to come and
have a game at golf, which he could not do, as he had engagements in town.
It was very cold and damp as we were returning home between two and three
o'clock, and on the way the Minister suddenly stopped, and said in a quick
way, "I've caught a chill." We begged him to hurry and get in, which he
did; and after reaching the manse, he seemed to feel better, but could not
be persuaded to remain in and go to bed. "Oh no," he said, "I must do my
duty. I could not break engagements in that way; this is passing off."
Just before going out he waved a bright farewell, saying as he did so, "I
won't get back until twelve."
We would fain lay down the pen now; but many of his friends, in Scotland
and elsewhere, have begged to be told "how the end came."
The Minister returned home at nine o'clock, very, very ill. He was just
able to tell us that he had called on the doctor on his way home, and to
state the instructions given; then he cowered down and was overwhelmed
from the first moment of his illness. All the remedies were still at hand,
notwithstanding the preparations for removal, and there was endless hot
water. So we worked away for hours; but oh, he was so ill all night, and
towards morning seemed to grow worse. More remedies were sent for, and we
longed for the doctor to come ; the Minister did not want his letters that
morning, but about 10.30 he said in a wearied, anxious way, "I have a
funeral at 11.25, and it is not arranged for." The assistant had just come
in, and he took charge of this duty, after which the Minister lay very
still and quiet, making no complaint—we wished he would. The doctor then
arrived, and ordered a change of medicine, but nothing seemed to have any
effect, and with wild alarm we saw that he was drifting away into
unconsciousness. The boys came in from school, but he did not seem to know
them; and the grief of the young is a very pitiable thing to behold. We
had been ringing on the telephone for the doctor to come again; he had
gone out, but before long hurried up to the manse, and did not leave us
again. No nurse could be got, and the doctor advised instant removal to a
nursing home. This was hard, but it seemed as if there was no alternative,
and the doctor assured us it was the best thing; there would be no danger
in the removal, and he himself would accompany us in. The Minister
continued to lie quite still with closed eyes, and just as he was about to
be carried down to the ambulance, the doctor, at our request, told him
where he was being taken. He seemed to understand, and assented with a
motion of the head, as if he thought it was the best thing to do. Several
times on the way in, we spoke to him, and he always answered, yet, two
days later, he told us he did not remember at all being
removed. When we reached the nursing home everything was in readiness, and
the matron and night-nurse in charge at once. A restless night followed,
and next day there was no improvement, but the matron assured us that she
felt quite sure he would get better. Hugging this comfort to our hearts,
we turned home again, for one room at least in the new house, which had
just then been vacated would have to be got ready to bring the Minister
back to. Shivering with terror and cold, the three of us drove to Buchanan
Gardens to see what could be done, when the wife of one of the elders
intervened, and said, if we would only leave it to her she would see to
everything. From that moment she and others never flagged in their loving
care and attention for the manse household. How they worked, with high
hearts, to get that house ready for the home-coming of their minister!
Early the same evening we were all summoned back to the nursing home, as a
consultation was to be held. No words can describe the situation now, so
we merely outline the events which followed. Some one compassionately went
in with us, and afterwards took the boys away to her own home. The result
of the consultation was that the specialist took " a very serious view of
the condition. Nothing very definite can be made out. Probably there is an
acute irritation of the brain, following the influenza. Everything human
is being done, but we are all agreed as to the gravity of the illness, and
we think you ought to be prepared for the worst."
The nurses still were hopeful, and we clutched at that.
Then the boys were allowed to go up, but their father did not know them.
As the night wore on there seemed little change—although nurse thought he
was "very well"—until about two o'clock, when we were sure there was an
improvement. After that, every time nurse left the room he would waken up
and look at us with such a world of meaning in his eyes, for he was too
weak to speak. Towards morning, just as the light was coming in, he began
to take notice of things in the room, and seemed puzzled; then he raised
himself a little and looked round: that was not his furniture; where was
he ? So we explained, and asked him just to rest a little yet ; he then
seemed satisfied, and with a great gladness we watched him slowly getting
more and more like himself. When the doctor came in at nine o'clock, he
was greatly pleased with his patient, and said, "Much better this morning,
especially as compared with last night. Much clearer in mind. There is no
further development of symptoms—there is bronchitis, but no signs so far
of pneumonia." We asked if the danger was over, and the doctor replied,
"Not in so dangerous a state, but still very weak." When the doctor had
gone, Mr. Mackinnon began to talk a little, and was quite rational; he
even noticed that the strain was beginning to tell on us, and said
earnestly, "I think you should go home." Seeing that he was so well, we
returned to the manse at one o'clock, to find that one of the boys was now
ill, but was being cared for by relatives, who had always come to the
rescue when we were in trouble. Then we collapsed, and were not allowed to
go in to the nursing home next day; the others went, but as the Minister
was sleeping they were not permitted to see him, so that we had to be
content with the telephone messages—the nurses being very good in sending
On Sunday we went in; nurse met us downstairs first;
the Minister had just been asking for us, she said, and would we be
careful not to let him know that any of us were ill, as he had not been
told? He had been wandering a great deal, and much of what he said was
inaudible to the nurses,—broken sentences of prayer, murmured so low,
meant only for the ear of God.
What a change! The Minister was lying with a smile on
his face, but so weak and helpless that he was like a little child. He did
not even look either sick or ill, but—but other-worldly. At first he said
he could hardly remember us, but rallied instantly, and began in a hurried
sort of way to ask many questions—the boys? the services? the people? was
that house all right? and would we bring his watch and his diary, he must
have them? When we had soothed him, he was quiet, and seemed to rest
satisfied. The smile never left his face ; but we felt that only a miracle
could save him ; he seemed so like one going into the Kingdom like a
little child. So that he might not hear, we wrote on a piece of paper to
the nurse, "Oh, but he is dying." "Oh no, he is not, he is not," wrote
back nurse. Then the doctor came in, and told us that "the temperature was
much better, the mind clearer, but the breathing bad; there were no new
symptoms, and he was making such a good fight and holding his own, that on
the whole he was very much more hopeful than he had been on the Thursday
Presently the Minister asked again for his boys, and
was so pleased when the younger one was brought up. But "where is Donnie?"
he pathetically repeated. So we had to explain that he had a little cold.
He spoke too of his mother, and had even asked us on the Friday not to
tell her of his illness. Once we whispered to him that his people were
remembering him in prayer, and he seemed so gratified. The nurses had been
most assiduous in their care and attention, and on more than one occasion
he warmly expressed his appreciation of all they had done. He himself
never once hinted by word or look that he thought he was going to leave
us. Even as we sat quietly beside him now, he assured us of his own accord
that he expected to get better, and was very anxious about his work, his
people, the removal, and if there would be enough money until he came
home. By and by he appeared so tired that we thought if we left him he
would sleep and be better; and when we said we would come to-morrow, he
eagerly reminded us about "the watch" and "the diary," adding, "Now I'll
preach on Sunday fortnight." He had never been at any time, and was not
now, tired of living; life to him was worth while, well worth while; he
was eager to live and labour, eager to come back and take care of his own.
So we said good-bye "until to-morrow." "Good-bye, sonny," said the
Minister; "now I expect you two boys always to do what your mother tells
you "words he had been in the habit of using to his boys. At the bedroom
door we turned to wave, and before we could do so, his whole face lit up;
we think now that he was transfigured before us as, with uplifted hand,
and a look of intense love and tenderness, he smiled on us for the last
After this he drifted back into unconsciousness, and
was preaching in delirium throughout Monday. We were now very ill, but as
the telephone messages continued to report extreme weakness, we resolved
to get up and go in on Monday evening. The nurses, however, said they did
not think there was any need to do this, but suggested our asking the
doctor, who was just then expected at the nursing home. At eleven o'clock
the doctor said that there was "no more danger now than there had been all
along," and lie did not think there was any need for us to go in. In a
most kind letter the doctor afterwards explained "I think that if you
had been at the Home on Monday, your husband would not have known you, and
my feeling on the matter was, that as you were ill and the ordeal would
probably make you worse, and as Mr. Mackinnon would not know you, that
therefore I was bound not to send for you, especially in a disease like
pneumonia, where one is never justified in saying that all hope was lost."
So we waited and watched; very shortly after two
o'clock the summons came—"Much worse, could we all go in; they were
sending a cab." Just as the cab reached the manse door, where we were all
waiting, the telephone bell rang again. The Minister had just passed away.
Then we went out into the night.
Our readers will suffer us to draw the veil a little as
we kneel again in thought beside our Beloved Dead.
For the unresting brain, the loving heart and busy
hands were indeed still. The brow, which for years had been so deeply
furrowed by incessant thought and mental toil, was smooth and placid now.
And the feet which had been so beautiful upon the mountains would carry no
more the message of peace.
* * * * *
"My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and
the horsemen thereof."
* * * * *
Once more we stepped blindly into the night. And as the
dawn crept slowly in over our desolation, we knew that the Long Waiting
had begun, and that surely strength and courage would be given for the
patient performance of the duties which yet remained. "Just slept
peacefully away," nurse had said. We knew, that had choice been given him,
he would have chosen to meet the last enemy with open eyes, but we thank
God he was taken thus; for him there had been "no moaning of the bar," and
that deeply loving heart was spared the anguish and "sadness of farewell."
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