AS this chapter must
embrace the close of his ministry in Dalkeith, it affords a fitting
occasion for forming an estimate of the influences which then affected his
views and character. It was a time of mental growth more than of literary
or public work. He had more leisure for study than he ever afterwards
possessed. His travels in America and on the Continent, and his
intercourse with representatives of almost every variety of Church, had
enlarged his sympathies, and given him a living grasp of the questions at
that time affecting Christendom. His spiritual life also, chiefly from the
care with which he cultivated devout habits, became higher and more even
The two men who had most
influence on his opinions were Thomas Arnold, and his own relative, John
Macleod Campbell. Arnold's Life had just been published, and the
manliness, the healthy common sense, the unswerving truthfulness and
Christian faithfulness of the great Head Master of Rugby, touched him
profoundly; while the struggle which the book recounted against the
sacerdotal pretensions of the "Young Oxford" school, on the one hand, and
against the narrower section of the "Evangelicals," on the other, had more
than a historical interest for him; for these two extremes, under
different outward forms, were equally loud-voiced in Scotland, and in
Arnold's writings he found a copious armoury for the defence of his own
position at home.
John Macleod Campbell was
in many respects a contrast to Arnold. If the latter was clear and
trenchant, the former was meditative, abstract, profound, almost to
obscurity. Even when Norman was a student, Campbell used to have long and
earnest conversations with him in his lodgings. He was then minister of
Row, and involved in those controversies which issued in his lamented
deposition—an act almost barbarous in its intolerance, and by which the
Church deprived herself one of the greatest theological minds, as well as
one of the holiest characters she ever possessed. The intimacy between the
two cousins had of late years become closer, and it continued to deepen to
the last hour of their lives. Campbell had a greater influence on Norman's
views than any other theologian living or dead, and was reverenced by him
as being the most heavenly-minded man he ever knew. There was no one at
whose feet he was more willing to sit and learn. Campbell's influence was
not, however, so positive and direct then as it afterwards became. His
great work on the Atonement was not yet published. A little book, called "
Fragments of Exposition," written partly by him and partly by his friend,
the late thoughtful and accomplished Professor Scott of Manchester, was
the chief contribution Campbell had as yet made to the theology of the
day. But his conversation was rich in suggestive ideas, which had a great
effect in determining the tendency of Norman's theology.
There was one style of teaching which was
especially characteristic of his later ministry in Dalkeith, and of his
earlier time in the Barony. He felt that the metaphysical and doctrinal
preaching which was still prevalent in Scotland, had led men to deal with
abstractions, ideas, names, rather than with the living God; and so he
tried to produce a greater sense of the personal relationship of the
Father, Son, and Spirit. The dealings of an earthly father with his child
were continually used to illustrate what the Heavenly Father must, in a
far higher sense, feel and do; and he evermore pressed his hearers to
entertain the same trust and confidence towards Christ, as would have been
proper and natural had He been present in the flesh. Such tender thoughts
of the Father and the Son found fullest expression in his prayers, which,
while most reverent, were so real that they sounded as if spoken to One
visibly present. Their perfect simplicity never degenerated into
familiarity. Their dignity was as remarkable as their directness. These
views had also a marked influence on his character. What the Personal
Christ must love or hate became the one rule of life. This divine love
inspired a deep "enthusiasm of humanity." He seemed to yearn over men in
the very spirit of Christ—so patient, considerate, and earnest, was he, in
seeking their good.
His sermons at this time conveyed the impression of greater elaboration
than those of his later years. One remarkable characteristic was the
restraint he put on the descriptive faculty with which he was so richly
endowed. He could very easily have produced great popular effect by
indulging in pictorial illustration, but he held this in strict
subordination to the one purpose of impressing the conscience , and even
then, the touches of imagination or of pathos, which so often thrilled his
audience, were commonly limited to a sentence, or a phrase.
There were other men, besides Arnold and
Campbell, who more or less influenced his views at this time. There was
Struthers, the author of "The Sabbath"—a rare specimen of the old Scotch
Covenanter, stern but tender, of keen intellect and unbending principle,
and full of contempt for the nineteenth century. Norman took great delight
in exciting Struthers to talk on some congenial home, to describe, with
shrill voice and pithy Scotch, the good delt days, to denounce with
indignation the degeneracies and backslidings of modern times, to
anathematize Voluntaryism as practical Atheism, and declare Sabbath
schools " the greatest curse the Almighty ever pent to this covenanted
land—undermining family life and destroying the parental tie." If there
was exaggeration, there was also good sense in many of Struthers'
reflections, especially as to the past and present of the working classes.
He had been himself an operative for many years, and his remarks on
questions affecting the working classes were' not lost on his hearer. In
contrast to Struthers there was John Campbell Shairp, now the well-known
Principal of St. Andrew's, who, recently returned from Oxford, and full of
enthusiastic memories of the men and the opinions then influencing the
finer minds of the University, made Norman feel as if he had personally
known Newman, Stanley,. Jowett, and Clough. Shairp, with his keen
sympathetic temperament,. was, moreover, so saturated with many of the new
views, and so earnest in his search after truth, that he stimulated his
friend to study many subjects in which he would otherwise have taken
little interest. John Mackintosh, also, his deep-souled and dearest
friend, then preparing, after his Cambridge career, for the ministry of
the Free Church, was a frequent visitor at the Manse, and by his
conversation, as well as by his letters when travelling in Italy and
Germany, inspired the very atmosphere of poetry and literature which he
was himself breathing.
To this list the name of another must be
added, who touched more closely on his life as a minister of the Church of
Scotland. Ever since the Disruption Norman had mourned the deadness of the
Church, and deplored the lack of men fit to guide its councils or quicken
its life; but in Professor James Robertson he found one who had both head
and heart to be a Church leader. With a keen intellect, great power as a
debater, and a singular grasp of principles —an enthusiast in philosophy
as in theology—he was, withal, simple as a child towards God, true and
loving towards man, and heroic in self-sacrificing devotion with which he
laboured for the Christian welfare of his country. He was a patriot more
than a Churchman ; and, in supporting him, Norman felt he was following no
narrow ecclesiastic, but one who had regard to the good of the nation as
the grand aim of a National Church, and whose warm heart beat with a
courageous and generous faith. Robertson was just beginning his appeal to
the Church and country for the endowment of 150 parishes. His aim seemed
Utopian to the timid minds of many, who could not believe that the Church,
so recently shattered, could be roused to the accomplishment of such a
work; but to others, the boldness of the proposal was one of its chief
recommendations. Norman and he became attached friends. Long were the
hours of friendly discussion they enjoyed, lasting far into night, when
the conversation would range from criticism of Fichte, of whose philosophy
Robertson was an enthusiastic admirer, to questions of expediency touching
some "overture" to the Assembly. Robertson was the only man Norman ever
regarded as his ecclesiastical leader.
From his Journal:-
"What precise relation does revelation without
bear to revelation within— the book to the conscience?
"Is anything a revelation to me which is not
actually a revealing—a making known to me, or, in other words, which is
not recognized as true by me?
"Do I believe any spiritual truth in the Book,
except in so far as I see it to be true in conscience and reason? Is my
faith in the outward revelation not in exact proportion to my inward
perception of the truth uttered in the letter?
"Wherein lies the difference between assenting
to the Principia of Newton, because written by a great mathematician and
not because I see them to be true, and my assenting to the Bible, because
written by inspired men and not because I see how truly they spoke?
"Whether do I honour Newton more by examining,
sifting, and seeing for myself the truth of his propositions, or by merely
taking them on his word?
"Can any revelation coming from without, be so
strong as a revelation from spirit to spirit? Could any amount of outward
authority be morally sufficient to make me hate a friend, or do any action
I felt to be morally wrong while apprehending it to be wrong ? It might
correct me as to facts which depend entirely upon testimony and not upon
I have just received some merry thoughts from a blue-bell, which out of
gratitude I record.
"How long has that bell been ringing its fragrant music, and swinging
forth its unheard melodies among brackens and briars, and primroses and
woodroof, and that world of poetic wild scents and forms—so many—so
beautiful—which a tangled bank over a trotting burn among the leafy woods
discloses? Spirits more beautiful than fairies behold those scenes, or
they would be waste. That bell was ringing merrily in the breeze when Adam
and Eve were married. It chimed its dirge over Abel, and has died and
sprung up again while Nineveh and Babylon have come and gone, and empires
have lived and died forever ! Solomon, in all his glory, was not like
evidence have I in this blue drooping flower, of the regularity and
endurance of God's will since creation's dawn ! Amidst all revolutions •of
heaven and earth ; hurricanes and earthquakes; floods and fires; invasions
and dispersions; signs in the sun, moon, and stars; perplexity and
distress of nations; nothing has happened to injure this fragile
blue-bell. It has been preserved throughout all generations. The forces of
this stormy and troubled earth, which have rent rocks, have been so
beautifully adjusted from age to age, that this head, though drooping, has
not been broken, and this stalk, though frail, still stands erect. This is
' central peace subsisting at the heart of endless agitation.'
"The blue-bell swung in breezes tempered to
its strength centuries before the children of Japheth spied the chalky
cliffs of Dover. It has been called by many a name from the days of the
painted warrior to the days of Burns; but it has ever been the same. It
will sing on with its own woodland music to all who can hear its
spirit-song, until time shall be no more. The blue-bell may sing the
funeral knell of the human race.
"If there be no enduring spirit in man, no
flowers of immortality more lasting than the flowers of earth, verily all
flesh is more worthless than grass.
'April—It is curious to compare old and new
maps, and to mark the progress of discovery. The blank space of ocean is
followed by a faint outline of a few miles of coast, marking the
termination of an intrepid voyager. Then further portions of the same
coast are laid down at intervals as supposed islands. Then, by-and-by,
those portions are connected, and the outline of a great continent begins
to be developed. The 'undiscovered' passes to the region of the known and
familiar. Then follow the exploring of bays, the tracing of rivers, and
the inland discoveries of mountain, plain, wood, and pasturage, until at
last we have an Australia mapped into settlements, dotted with towns and
villages, divided into bishoprics and parishes, inhabited by old friends
as prosperous emigrants, issuing its newspapers, and becoming an important
member of the great family of man. Thus is it with the Bible. What
progress is being made in the discovery of its meaning! How much better
acquainted is the Church of Christ now with its spirit, its allusions, its
inner and outer history, than the same Church during any former period !
What far more true and just idea of the mind of Christ, as manifested in
and by the Apostolic Church, have we now than the Church of the fourth and
fifth centuries possessed? Distance has increased the magnitude, extent,
the totality and grandeur in the heaven-kissing mountain range.
Individually, I find in daily study of the Bible, a daily discovery. What
was formerly unknown becomes known, and what seemed a solitary coast
becomes part of a great whole, and what seemed wild, and strange, and
lonely, becomes to me green pasture and refreshing water—the abode of my
fireside affections. And surely I shall read the Bible as an alphabet in
Heaven. It was my first school-book here, and I hope it will be my first
there. What! shall I never know the Spirit which moves the wheels, whose
rims are so high that they are dreadful?
"The only true theory of development is the
development of the spiritual eye for the reception of that light which
"Craufurd Priory, May 11th.—I leant against a great tall pine to-day. The
trunk moved as the top waved in the wind. The many-branched top with its
leaves, useless, albeit, was dependent on the rooted stem; it 'moved all
together, if it moved at all.' But was not the stem dependent on the top
also? Had the top been cut off, how long would the stem have been of
becoming rotten? Let the people beware how they brag about the roots, and
the dependence of the uppermost branches upon them. All is a goodly tree.
May it only be the planting of the Lord! That so being it may bring forth
the fruits of righteousness.
"..... Christ's love is not His life, death,
resurrection, ascension, proses. It is that in which they all live, move,
and have their being; and my faith in His love is a higher thing than
faith in anything whereby He manifests it. It is faith in Himself—in what
He is, and not merely in what tie does."
The political disturbances
on the Continent during 1848 had, of course, great interest for him; but
he was struck still more by the outburst of discontent at home, as
revealing a condition of society for which the Church of Christ was in a
great measure responsible. His impressions on this subject were deepened
by what he saw when he was in Glasgow during a serious riot. Suddenly the
leading thoroughfares were swept by a torrent of men and women of a type
utterly different from the ordinary poor. Haggard, abandoned, ferocious,
they issued from the neglected' haunts of misery and crime, drove the
police into their headquarters, and, for a while took possession of the
streets. In this spectacle Norman recognized the sin of the Churches which
had permitted the growth of such an ignorant, wretched, and dangerous
population. There was no horror perpetrated during the first French
Revolution that be did not believe might have been repeated by the mob he
saw in Glasgow; and although the Chartist movement was connected with a
very different class of the community, it also suggested serious thoughts
as to the future of the country, and the duty incumbent on the Church.
"The Chartists are put down. Good! Good for
jewellers' shops and 'Special' heads; good, as giving peace and security.
Each one on Kennington Common might have spoken Bottom's intended prologue
for Snug in his character of Lion. 'Ladies, or fair ladies, I would wish
you, or entreat you, not to fear, not to tremble : my life for yours. If
you think I come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life. No, I am no
such thing. I am a man as other men are;—and there, indeed (quoth Bottom),
let him name his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug, the joiner.' But
this same Snug, the joiner, though no lion, is still a man as other men
are—and; so is each of the 10,000 or 20,000, or, according to common
computation, 200,000, Snugs on Kennington Common—each a man like other
men, each having a body finely fashioned and tempered, which in rags
shivers in the cold, while the ' Special' goes to his fireside, with
triumph draws in his chair, saying, 'the scoundrels are put down;'—a body
that can gnaw from hunger, and has not perhaps tasted food for twenty-four
hours, while my respected and rather corpulent friend, the good 'Special,'
growls that he will be kept from dinner, and can only take a hurried lunch
in the club, John taking charge of his baton. Nay, honest Snug has a
heart, his friend Nick Bottom, the weaver, has his This be at home, whom
he loves, and though he is an ass, his wife loves him as much as Titania
ever did his namesake. Does the 'Special' love Mrs. Smith, and the young
Smiths, more than those do Mrs. Snug and Mrs. Bottom, and the young Snugs
and the young; Bottoms? The Nell of the one and the Joan of the other
think more of these same scoundrel Chartists than of all the world beside.
Each dot in that huge mass on Kennington Common is the centre, the only
one, perhaps, of household admiration. Daddy Special, thou art a good,
kind soul of a father and a husband—thou wouldst not crush the cat's paw
with thy baton —didst thou know poor Snug and Bottom, thou wouldst not
show thy family the way to break their heads. These are men like thyself,
not lions. They are men, and so responsible and immortal beings. It is
this which makes the heart bleed, and which makes us hear with anxious
spirit the news of all that these men wish, say, try, and accomplish, and
all that is done to put them down.
"We demand from them patience while
starving—do we meet their demands for bread? We demand from them obedience
to law—do we teach them what they are to obey ? We demand from them love
of man— have we taught them the love of God? What is the nation to do for
these men who made the nation anxious, and the Exchange of the world
oscillate and the hero of a hundred fights put on his armour? Here in the
midst of us is a mighty power, felt, acknowledged—-what is doing to make
it a power for good? Put down ! It is the putting down of a maniac, not
his cure; and what if the maniacs increase and obtain a majority, and put
down the keepers! Special! what hast thou ever done for thy brother?
Ay—don't stare at me or at thy baton—thy brother, I say! Now don't get
sulky; I am not ungrateful to thee, nor am I disposed to fraternize with
Duffy and O'Connor, though I call Snug and Bottom brothers. But, I ask,
hast thou ever concerned thyself about thy poor brother—how he was to be
fed and clothed—or if neither, how he was to endure 1 How he was to be
taught his duties to God and man—and, if not, how he was to be a loyal
subject to Queen Victoria, and a supporter of the Bench of Bishops?
Honestly, friend—hast thou ever taken as much thought about him as thou
hast taken in thy kindness about thyself and myself, in defending us on
the 10th? Hast thou ever troubled thyself about healing his broken heart
as thou has about giving him a broken head ? And yet thou art not a bad
man, but a good, kind soul. But, friend, we are all forgetful, and all
This lies at the root of the whole evil, as it lies at the root, indeed,
of all evil. That a great evil exists in the present state of our country
is certain. Where shall we see such poverty and ignorance, with their
results of misery and discontent and readiness to attempt anything to get
quit of both, as in our free and Christian country? Everywhere the
same—every town, every village, has its ignorant and wretched men. The
bees who fly about the hive, and buzz and sting, and die in the snow in
winter, during some momentary sunshine, are few in comparison with those
who remain torpid and dying from cold and exhaustion in the unknown and
unseen cells. The ignorance of masses of our people is unknown to all but
those who, like myself, come into contact with them. I can, at this
moment, mention four parents who came to me for baptism, who were as
ignorant as heathen, never having heard of Jesus Christ, and knowing
nothing of God or immortality. Everywhere pest and canker—spreading,
deepening, increasing—and, unless cured in God's way, punishing—terribly
and righteously punishing—in God's way. Principle and self-interest prompt
the same question—what shall we do?—where is the cure?
"Is the cure less taxation? How this, when
thousands of your most dangerous men tax themselves 70 per cent. for
drink! Is the cure high Wages? Ask the manufacturer if his safe men and
true men are generally among those who have high wages. Is the cure school
instruction? But what security of any good have we in mere intellect
without God? More churches? Get your men first who will enter them. More
ministers? Neither can cure poverty, and ministers must be good and wise.
"Not one of these is itself sufficient, but all are good when taken
together. We must have schools, and any schools better than none, any
education better, infinitely better, than none. But not to dwell upon what
all admit and feel, yet I would ask, why is not each factory compelled to
have its large school and its large church? Both to be for the workmen.
Let the church be threefold—Popish, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian, and
let there be no fixed minister, but let the clergy in the town take time
about in the evenings, too, and none admitted but in working clothes.
"Yet there is to me a more excellent way, and
that is love ! The true and only cure seems to me to lie in the personal
and regular communion of the better with the worse—man with man—until each
Christian, like his Saviour, becomes one with those who are to be saved;
until he can be bone of their bone, sympathize, teach, weep, rejoice, eat
and drink with them as one with them in the flesh. The world will not
believe because it cannot see that Christianity is true, by seeing its
reality in the marvellous oneness of Christ and people.
"The world, if ever it is to be reformed by
men and through men, can only be so by the personal intercourse of living
men—living epistles, not dead ones. Love, meekness and kindness,
forbearance, unselfishness, manifested in human souls, uttering themselves
by word, look and deed, and not by mere descriptions of these sentiments
or essays upon them, can alone regenerate man. The living Church is more
than the dead Bible, for it is the Bible and something more. It is the
Bible alive. It is its effect, its evidence, its embodiment. God has
always dealt through living men with men, and He Himself deals with them
through a Personal Spirit. When Christ left the world He did so that He
might forever dwell in it in His people.
"Neither money nor schools nor tracts nor
churches can ever be substituted for living men. It is this we want. It is
this the lanes and closes want. Not ministers merely going their rounds
like policemen with black clothes and white neckcloths; nor elders taking
statistics, nor deacons giving alms, or ladies tracts—all good (what
should we have been without these, the only salt hitherto!); but we want
Christians, whether they be smiths or shoemakers, or tailors or grocers,
or coach-drivers or advocates, to remember their own responsibilities,
their immense influence for good, and to be personal ministers for good.
The separation outwardly of society is terrible. Only see the old and new
Town of Edinburgh! What a type of British society! It used not to be so.
In the old town and in olden times families of different grades used to
live in the same tenement, and poor and rich were thus mingled together in
their habitation and in their joys. So is it now in many villages, and in
many parts of the country. But generally there is a wide separation,
bridged over by tracts, or societies, or money (sparingly); but not by the
living Church of Christ. The full heart and the full mind do not meet to
empty themselves (thereby becoming fuller) into the void heart and the
void mind. We have words on the philosophy of life, instead of life
itself. We are selfish, I say, and willing to pay for it rather than to
part from it. We subscribe for volumes of music instead of breathing
forth, in the habitations of sad and bad men, 'the still music of
humanity.' When shall we learn to imitate, or rather to share, the love of
Him who was love itself, who, 'knowing that all things were given Him of
the Father, that He came from God and went to God,'—what then?—Oh
marvellous condescension, because marvellous love,—'girded Himself with a
towel and washed the disciples' feet!'
"The question in regard to elevating man is
not so much what is good for him, as how the good is to be given to him.
What he should have must correspond to what he needs. As an animal and in
the body he needs food and clothing, air and light, and water and exercise
; as a social being he needs society; as a sentient being he needs things
pleasing to the senses; as an active being he needs something to occupy
him; as a moral being ho needs God over all and in all, blissful and
blessing. Let all man's wants be met. But the link between the supply and
the demand (or the soul which should demand), is the man who has already
found the supply. If the question ever arises between the animal and the
immortal, the first must yield. I hate giving in to the principle that
hunger entitles a man, not to our sympathy and our charity, as men and
Christians; but entitles him to be anything or nothing, a thief or
seditious. ' A man's life is more than meat.'"
To J. C. Shairp, Esq., Rugby, who had sent a
Review of "Struthers' Autobiography":
"May 12th, 1848.
"As to Struthers, I fear you have missed the
man. He is so completely a formation in an old structure of society, or
rather an old organism in one, so thoroughly Scotch, so thoroughly
antique, that unless you had been familiar with the genus, you could not
classify him. I rejoice in his erudities about kirks. The very oddity of
the garments which encase his Old Mortality soul delights me. The feature
which I wished you to delineate was that manly independence, that godly
simplicity of the peasant saint, which is so beautiful. Just read again
his early days as a herd, his first day of married life, his first
entrance into Glasgow, and then remember how true the man is. He is a
genuine man, and as perfect a specimen of a class of Scotchmen passing
away (and soon to be driven off the road like the old coaches by steam) as
the pibroch is a specimen of old music, or the small bog myrtle of a
"Craufurd Priory, May 11th.
"I have not written to your friend, Mr.
Temple, because I found I could not receive him at my house with any
comfort or satisfaction. I came here for change of air, and propose
returning home the end of the week, in order to attempt a little Sabbath
duty before going off to 'summer high,' upon the Western Hills for a few
weeks. I have run away from the General Assembly to which I was elected a
member, preferring to drink in the spirit of solitude, and to feast my
inward ear upon ' unheard melodies,' rather than to sit, 'dusty and
deliquescent,' listening to the debates of my most worthy and orthodox,
but still prosy and cock-sure-of-everything, brethren. All this lengthy
explanation is to account for my apparent heathenish want of Temple
service and unkindness toward your friend.
I have found it very good to have been
withdrawn for some time from outward work. What I have lost in body doing,
I have gained in soul being. I have felt how considerate and loving it was
in Christ to have asked His disciples to go with Him and 'rest awhile,'
because so many were coming and going that they had not time even to eat.
In this struggle between the unseen and seen—God, and things apart from or
out of God—it is good to be outwardly separated from the seen and
temporal, as a means of being brought more into contact with the unseen
and eternal. I have not had such enjoyable Sabbaths for a long time. Such
peace and repose was unearthly. We ministers in Scotland cannot always
enjoy our Sabbaths. We have too much giving and too little receiving. The
only way to get good for ourselves is to preach peacefully, without
attempt at fine things, and in the sight of God and for His glory. Two
books I read during my sickness—your friend Stanley's ' Apostolic Age,'
and the last edition of Hare's 'Guesses at Truth.' This last rather
disappointed me. It did not, as a whole, send me far on, nor did it come
up to my idea of what the Hares could have done under the cover of a title
which left such a mighty field for vigorous speculation. I was delighted
with Stanley. The style perhaps is rather too intensely artistic. But it
is a well put together, manly, fresh, truthful book. I have no doubt of
his success in seizing the features of the old giants. I was charmed with
his idea of each apostle becoming a guiding star to different times, or
different ages finding their wants supplied by one more than the rest. I
am satisfied, and have been for some time, that this is the age of St.
John. Unless the Church gets wholesome spiritual food given to it, its
next development will be mysticism. Nothing outward in government, creed,
or mode of worship can satisfy the increasing hunger in the Church ; all
are seeking something which they find not, yet know not hardly what they
seek. I think that something is unity. But of what kind? Nothing can
satisfy but one;—unity of mind with Christ, and so with one another. I
hope the breakings up in Protestantism may lead to it. The breaking up of
fleshly unity (i.e. anything apart from God) often leads to spiritual
unity. Each part, being driven to God (in its conscious weakness) for that
strength, and good, and peace, and joy, earth has failed to give, becomes
thereby more united spiritually to every other part so doing.
"I dare say you do not understand me, for
really I have no brain, and no patience either to think or write. I ought
not to attempt it. I only wish you were beside me, that I might splutter
out my thoughts about the reaction which the outwardness of our orthodoxy
is producing, and which the worst kind of Germanism, and the pantheism of
Emerson, are meeting and dissecting, but which St. John's Gospels and
Epistles can alone so meet, as to sanctify and save. But my brain, John,
wearied, I can write no more. The day is lovely. John Mackintosh is here
enjoying himself much. We are with my brother John, in Crauford Priory.
The trees are scattering their blossoms in the breeze ; the leaves are
transparent; the bees and birds alone disturb the silence of the woods. I
have had a short enjoyable lounge on mossy sward. I seldom think when
walking. I am, as Emerson says, 'a transparent eyeball.'
"A great study of mine during my sickness has
been that mighty deep— Christ's temptation—taken in connection with the
history of the first temptation, the history of the Isrelites, Christ's
own history, and the history of the Church—and of each Christian."
An illness, brought on by overwork, compelled
him to give up preaching for a time. He went for change of air to his
father's house at Shandon, on the picturesque banks of the Gareloch, and
there, in his rambles by burn and brae, thought out those views of the
temptations of Christ which were afterwards published.
From his Journal:—
"Shandon, May.—How beautiful is everything
here! It is a very world of music and painting. In the melody of the
birds, in the forms and beauty of the landscape, in the colouring of the
flowers and dressing of the trees, there seems a vindication of the
pursuit of the fine arts. They are God-like; but how demon-like when the
artist recognises nature no longer as the 'Art of God,' but as the art of
Satan for satisfying the soul without God; then Eden is Eden no longer—we
are banished from its tree of life.
"How many things are in the world yet not of
it! The material world itself, with all its scenes of grandeur and beauty,
with all its gay adornments of tree and flower, and light and shade—with
all its accompanying glory of blue sky and fleecy cloud, or midnight
splendour of moon and stars—all are of the Father. And so, too, is all
that inner world, when, like the outer, it moves according to His will—of
loyal friendships, loving brotherhood— and the heavenly and blessed
charities of home, and all the real light and joy that dwell, as a very
symbol of His own presence, in the Holy of Holies of a renewed spirit. In
one word, all that is true and lovely and of good report—all that is one
with His will, is of the Father, and not of the world. Let the world,
then, pass away with the lust thereof! It is passing away of death and
darkness—of all that is at enmity to God and man. All that is of the
Father shall remain for ever."
To his Sister Jane:—
"Shandon, May, 1848.
' I have been yearning here for quiet and
retirement. I got it yesterday. I set off upon a steeple-chase, scenting
like a wild ass the water from afar. But heather, birch, and the like,
were my water in the desert. I found all. I passed through the upper park
and entered a birch wood. I traced an old path, half trodden—whether by
men or hares I could not tell. It lead me to a wee burn. In a moment I
found myself in the midst of a poem; one of those woodland lyrics which
have a melody heard and unheard, which enters by the eye and ear, goes
down to the heart, and steeps it in light, pours on it the oil of joy, and
gives it 'beauty for ashes.' This same mountain spirit of a burn comes
from the heather, from the lonely home of sheep, kites, and 'peasweeps.'
It enters a birch wood, and flows over cleanest slate. When I met it, it
was falling with a chuckling, gurgling laugh, into a small pool, clear as
liquid diamond. The rock shelved over it and sheltered it. In the crevices
of the rock were arranged, as tasteful nature alone can do, bunches of
primroses, sprouting green ferns, and innumerable rock plants, while the
sunlight gleaming from the water danced and played upon the shelving rock,
as if to the laughing tune of the brook, and overhead weeping birches and
hazels, and beside me green grass and wood hyacinths and primroses. All
around the birds were singing with 'full-throated ease,' and up above, a
deep blue sky with a few island clouds, and now and then, far up, a
solitary crow winging across the blue and silence. Now this I call rest
and peace. It is such an hour of rest amidst toil as does my soul good,
lasts and will come back with a soothing peacefulness amidst hard labour.
"I felt so thankful for my
creation, my profession, my country, my all, all, all I only desired
something better in the spirit.
"Pray don't smile at my burn; but when I feel
in love, I delight to expatiate upon my beloved; and I am mad about my
To the Same:—
"Shandon, May 23, 1848.
"To-day I set off on a cruise to discover a
glen about which there were vague traditions at Shandon. It was called
Glen Fruin, which, in ancient Celtic, I understand, was the Glen of
Weeping. Dr. Macleod, Gaelic authority who is with us (a great friend,
by-the-bye of my mother's), says that the bodies of the dead used to be
carried through the said glen, from some place to some other place—hence
weeping. Well, I set off. Behold me, stiff in the limbs, my feet as if
they were 'clay and iron'—hard, unbending, yet weak; but the head of gold,
pure, pure gold; though now, like Bardolph's, unfortunately uncoinable.
Behold me puffing, blowing, passing through the upper park. Bathed ere I
reached the birch wood, and soon reclined near my burn, with Shakespeare
as my only companion. But even he began to be too stiff and prosy. The
ferns, and water, and cuckoo beat him hollow; so I cast him aside, and
began creeping up the burn, seeking for deeper solitude, like a wild
beast. I was otter-like, indeed, in everything save my size, shape, and
clothes, and having Shakespeare in my pocket. Then I began to gather
ferns, and found beautiful specimens. Then I studied the beautiful little
scene around me, and was so glad that I dreamt, on and on, listening to
that sweet inland murmur.
"The power of the hills is over me! Away for
Glen Fruin, two miles uphill! Hard work! Alas, alas! that I should come to
this! Try it! Be off! So off I went—and on and on. Green braes—there march
dykes —there withered heather—there mossy. Very near the first ridge which
bounds the horizon. Puff, puff—on, on ! 'Am I a bullet?' On—at last —I
must lie down!
will never do! Go ahead, Norman! Get up—get on! I do think that, on
principle, I should stop! Go ahead. What's that? 'Cock, cock, cock,
whiz-z-z-z'—Grouse! That's cheering. What's that? 'Whead-leoo, wheadleoo'—a
curlew? Hurrah, we are going ahead! Another pull! The loch out of sight.
Something looming in the far distance. Arran Hills. So, ahead, my
boy—limbs better—steam up—the spirit of the hills getting strong—the
ghosts of my fathers and mothers beckoning me onwards. The moor getting
boggy—soft—more hags—first rate ! Ladies don't walk here. This is unknown
to dandies. Another hill. And then—up I am! Now, is not this glorious?
Before me, pure Loch Gare—and beyond the most sublime view I almost ever
saw. Terraces apparently of sea and land—the sea a mirror. Vessels
everywhere—the setting sun tinging the high peaks of Arran, kissing them
and the hills of Thibet with the same, glow, laying the one asleep with a
parting kiss, and with another waking up her eastern children. There's
poetry for you!
great hills of Arran, 'like great men,' as Jean Paul says, 'the first to
catch, the last to lose the light.' Was not all this glorious ? not to
speak of the sea, and ships, and solitude. Do you know I never think at
such times. I am in a state of unconscious reception, and of conscious
deep joy. No more.
"Glen Fruin lay at my feet, with sloping green hills like the Yarrow '
bare hills,' as Billy says; but like all such hills, most poetical and
full of ' pastoral melancholy.' Well, I shall only state that I came down,
in case you imagine that I am there still. And when I came down, what
then? Most amiably and most literary—crammed a listening audience with
Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Shakespeare.
"Now have I not much cause to thank God for
all His mercies? and, dear, I have done so. I have been truly happy. My
study has been the Temptation, still so full of wonders. I have not been
in the least troubled about the Assembly, except so far as to make me
remember it in my prayers —yes, both Assemblies, I am glad to say. These
glorious scenes are in harmony only with a spirit of love. God's reign
over all men, throughout all ages, and God's reign of love in our hearts,
when believed, gives peace.
"I wish to be back in time to prepare for the
Communion. The scenes of beauty and the time of retirement which I have
had are in perfect keeping with again hearing 'the still sad music of
humanity,' in oar miserable closes and vile abodes. The Lord left His
glory and rest to dwell with men; and by the cross He entered into more
glorious rest, were that possible."
To John C. SHAIRP, Esq., Rugby:—
"Shandon, May 25.
"In the midst of sovereign hills silence is
most becoming, and then I never can think at such times. I grow as
unconsciously as plants do beneath the sun and shower. But oh ! the life
and joy! The man who begins to doubt anything on a mountain top except his
own powers, who begins to question instead of contentedly receiving, who
speaks of the authority of books and professors, who, in short, does not
love and rejoice, should be pitched over the first rock, or have such a
hiding given him with weeping birch as will send him howling to Glen Fruin
('the Glen of Weeping')! I am every day getting better. I suffered from an
affection of the membrane which covers stomach, chest, and brain, and
practically all creation when it (the membrane) is out of order! I am
certain Hamlet's liver or membrane was affected!
From his Journal:—
"Shandon, June 3.
"Was there ever a period in which it was more
necessary for men who love the good of our National Zion to meet together
in prayer and sober, earnest thoughtfulness, to consider the state of our
country and the present state of the Church, our dangers, difficulties,
weaknesses, duties, comforts?
"Might not such questions be considered as
bearing upon that mighty one of education: the training up of an efficient
ministry; an efficient system of Sabbath schools; the infusing a healthier
life and love into our clergy; the development of Congregational,
Presbyterial, Synodical, and Assembly life; the bringing forward of the
intelligent laity; the best mode of dealing with the poor Highlands; with
the masses in towns; what is needed in our theology in our times with
reference to Germany and England; what are our duties to Dissenters, to
the Church of England, to the Continent. If we only could get men to
think, and think earnestly, in this terrible crisis, I should be at ease."
To his Sister Jane:—
"I feel terribly my loneliness, especially as
preventing me from enjoying literary society. I began pondering in my mind
whether there was any one in the town who could share my pleasure in
reading ' The Prelude,' and 'In Memoriam,' or have a talk with me about
the tendencies of the age. Of all my acquaintances, I thought Mrs. Huggins
probably the most spirituelle, and off I went with 'The Prelude.' I found
her in her usual seat by the fireside, her face calm and meditative, her
thumbs still pursuing their endless chase after each other, as if each had
vowed an eternal revenge of his brother. There was an air of placid repose
in her time-worn features, combined with an intellectual grandeur, caught
from her long residence with the late illustrious Mr. Huggins, and also a
nervous twitching of the features, with an occasional lightning flash
about the eye, which I have do doubt was occasioned by living near the
powder-mills for thirty years. I was disappointed with her views of
poetry. I read the Introduction, and the following conversation ensued:—
"'I.—We have here, I think, a fine combination
of the poet with the poetic artist.'
"'H.—I wadna doot. How's yer sister?'
"'I.—Well, I thank you. She has been a long
time cultivating the ideal under me; but her talent is small, her genius
coch (cough) better?
"'I.—Rather, Mrs. Huggins. But, pray, how do you like Wordsworth?'
"'II.—I dinna ken him. Whar does he leeve? In
Pettigrew's Close? Is he the sticket ministe?' "
To his Brother George (advising him on the
choice of a profession):—
"Dalkeith, November 6, 1848.
"We must assume then, that, whatever we eat or
drink, or whatever we do, it must be for God's glory; or, to make this
plainer, I' assume that Christ has for every man 'his work'—a something in
His kingdom to do which is better suited to him, and he to it, than any
other. Happy is the man who finds what his work is and does it! To find it
is to find our profession, and to do it is to find our highest good and
"My faith is,
that there is a far greater amount of revelation given to guide each man
by the principles laid down in the Bible, by conscience, and by
Providence, than most men are aware of. It is not the light which is
defective, it is an eye to see it.
"For instance: Christ calls us outwardly and
inwardly to our profession, and those two calls, when they coincide (when,
like two lions, they meet at one point), determine a profession to any man
who will be at all determined by the will of the Redeemer. The outward
call is made up of all those outward circumstances which render the
profession at all possible for us, and which render any one profession
more possible than another. With this principle you are at no difficulty,
of course, in determining a. thousand professions or positions in society
which are not possible for you, and to which, consequently, you are not
called. I need not illustrate this, it is self-evident. But as in your
case two or three professions may present themselves to you which appear
all possible—nay, at first sight, all equallv possible—in such a
predicament you would require carefully to apply the above rule, in order
calmly to consider which is most possible, on the whole, for you. Among
the outward circumstances which, as I have said, combine to make up this
outward call, may be mentioned bodily health, the likings of friends,
interest of the family, means of usefulness, &c.
"But there is also the inward call to be
considered. By this I mean a man's internal fitness for the profession;
and this of course makes the problem a little more complex, yet not
impossible of solution. A man might put such questions as those:—
"Which profession gives the greatest scope for
the development of my whole being, morally, intellectually, socially,
actively? Again; am I fitted for this as to talent, principle, education?
In which could I best and with the greatest advantage use all the talents
Christ has given me, and for which He will make me responsible, so that
not one talent shall be laid up in a napkin or buried, but that all may be
so employed that He can say to me, 'Well done, good and faithful servant?
This is the way of looking at the question; and I do not think it
difficult to apply it practically with the assistance of God's good
spirit. I tell you candidly, that, as far as I see, you have to decide
between the ministry and the medical profession.
"I need not tell you which I love most. I
would not exchange my profession for any on earth. All I have seen of the
world in courts and camps, at home and abroad, in Europe and America, all,
all makes me cling to it and love it the more. My love to it is daily
increasing. I bless and praise God that He has called me to it. Would only
I were worthier of the glory and dignity which belong to it! I find in it
work most congenial to my whole being. It at once nourishes and gives full
scope to my spirit. It affords hourly opportunities for the gratification
of my keenest sympathies and warmest affections. It engages my intellect
with the loftiest investigations which can demand its exercise. It
presents a field for constant activity in circumstances which are ever
varying, yet always interesting, and never too burdensome to be borne. It
enables me to bring to bear all I know, all I acquire, all I love, upon
the temporal and eternal well-being of my fellow-men, and to influence
their peace and good for ever. It brings me into contact with high and
low, rich and poor, in the most endearing and interesting relationships in
which man can stand to man: a sharer of their joys and sorrows, a teacher,
a comforter, a guide. Do you wonder that with all my care and anxiety
(which are burdens worthy of man) I should be happy all the day long? I
envy no man on earth, except a better Christian. A minister of the gospel!
Kings and princes may veil their faces before such a profession. It is to
have the profession of angels, and to be a fellow-worker with Christ.
Excuse me, if forgetting you for a moment, I have expressed the deep
convictions of my soul as to what I feel this profession to be. I do not
mean to say that I have no wish to influence you; I have. For I would
sooner see you an officer in Christ's army—a plain Scotch minister though
he be—than any other thing on earth which I can suppose it possible for
you to have.
all this, the loud call for such men as you to join the Church ! Oh,
George, if you knew how I have looked forward to your being with me! How I
have rejoiced in the prospect of seeing us three brothers carry the Banner
of the Cross together in our poor but beloved country! I somehow cannot
give up the hope yet. Better days are coming. They would come soon, had we
more such men as you.''
From his Journal:—
"November 6.—Twenty-six cases, and eighteen
deaths, (no recoveries) from cholera at Loanhead. The Cholera Hospital
"'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose soul is stayed on Thee,
because he trusteth in Thee.' Amen.
"December 21.—I hear two cases have occurred
here last night.
"Lord give me grace to do that which is right. My trust is in Thee. Thou
art my refuge, and my fortress, my God, and having Thee as my sure and
unchanging good, I am not afraid of the 'pestilence that walketh in
darkness, nor of the destruction which wasteth at noonday.' Lord, direct
my steps! Preserve me from the vanity and vainglory which might wickedly
lead me to expose myself to danger, and from the selfish fear which would
drive me from my duty. 'Lead me in truth, teach me,' and may I, at this
trying time, be and do that which is right as Thy son and ministering
servant, and whether by life or death may I glorify Thee—for living or
dying I am Thine, through Jesus Christ! Amen.
"December 31, Sabbath night.—I am here all alone upon the last Sabbath,
almost the last hour, of 1848.
" What a year of world-wonders this has been, with political revolutions
in every part of Europe ! In Britain, famine, pestilence, riots, and
rebellion. " It has been an all-important year to me ! During the year I
can say, that as far as I know, I have not for a day or at any time
consciously resisted what I knew to be right, setting my heart upon evil.
I do not say that I have done any one thing perfectly. Every day has
disclosed manifold imperfections,—sloth, pride, vanity, ambition,
shortcomings in all things—but I have been alive. To what is this owing? I
rejoice to write it —let it be seen by angels and devils—to the free and
boundless and omnipotent grace and infinite love of God.
"I have been reading those old diaries. May I
not try (in much ignorance) to sum up some practical lessons from
1. I had inadequate views of Christ's cross. I
saw a work done for me—a ground for pardon—an objective reality; but I did
not see so clearly the eternal necessity of the cross in me, of sharing
Christ's life as mine, of glorying in the cross as reflected in the inward
power it gives to ' be crucified to the world, and the world to me.'
2. I was dealing too little with a Personal
Saviour—had too little (or no) confidence in His love to me individually,
and in His will and power to free from sin by making me like Himself.
"Light dawns, life comes! I have faith in the
love of God to me, that I—even I, shall be 'perfect' as my Father in
Heaven is perfect.
"What have I lost by my wilful and rebellious sin ! I have during these
years come in contact with many thousand in different parts of the world,
in the most interesting circumstances, in domestic and in public life, in
sickness, family distress, and on death-beds. How much good has been lost
and evil done, by the absence of that real earnestness of word, look,
temper, teaching,—that all, which can only come from a soul in a right
state with God, and which never can be imitated, or would be so only by
hypocrisy. What good, and peace, and happiness have I lost to myself!
"There is another thing presses itself upon
me. I know as surely as I know anything, that all my sin has emanated from
myself, and yet I do believe God has brought more good to me in the latter
end by this very life than could perhaps have been brought in any other
way. I would shudder in writing this if it appeared to be the slightest
excuse for my iniquities. These, I repeat it, were mine. But I think I
have a glimpse of that marvel of Providence by which evil—while it is
nothing but evil—is yet by infinite wisdom and love made, like a wild
stream, an instrument of God.
"Let me not forget to mention three men from
whom I have received unspeakable good—Thomas Arnold, Alexander Scott, and
dear John Campbell.
"I go to Glasgow to-morrow. Cholera rages, but I join my family, casting
my care on God. Lord Jesus, my ever-present and ever-loving Saviour, I
desire to abide in Thee, to trust in Thy life, Thy grace, Thy character,'
"Lord I am
thine ! for time and eternity. Amen and Amen."
The condition of the Church still weighed
heavily on him. Church questions were in his eyes secondary to the grand
end for which all Churches exist, the raising up of living Christians; and
so day and night he pondered over the best methods for stimulating a
healthy zeal. There were many clergymen in his own neighbourhood and
elsewhere, who sympathized with him in his anxieties, and with whom he
frequently exchanged ideas on this subject. But as there was no organ
through which the Church might address her members on questions of
Christian life and work, it was resolved that a magazine should be
started, containing papers for Sabbath reading, and to be sold at the
lowest possible price. He thus became editor of the Edinburgh Christian
Magazine, a monthly periodical published by Messrs. Paton and Richie, in
Edinburgh. Short sermons, papers on social and scientific subjects,
biographies, missionary intelligence, articles upon parochial and church
organization, and notices of books, formed the contents.
The Christian Magazine never attained a very large circulation; but the
editor was well satisfied in having an audience of 5,000 families to which
he could address himself, and there can be no doubt that the appeals made
in its pages on behalf of missionary enterprise, and organized parochial
work, did much to quicken a religious life which was broad and tolerant as
well as earnest.
of the articles and stories which he afterwards wrote for Good Words,
appeared in an embryo form in the "Blue" Magazine, as I was popularly
called; but the greater portion of his contributions consisted of short,
practical papers intended for the firesides of Church-pen. During the
first year of the magazine (1849-50), he wrote more than twenty articles,
and among these a useful series on Family Education, which afterwards
expanded into a volume. ["The Home School."]
A series of papers on Drunkenness, which he
contributed during 1850-5 1, was reprinted under another title. ["A Pray
for Temprance."] He was a member of the General Assembly of 1849, and
spoke at considerable length on Education, the Continental Churches, India
Mission, and Endowment. In his speech on the last named subject he
expressed, with great energy, his favourite idea of the Christian
congregation being a society charged with the blessed mission of meeting
the manifold evils of society, physical and social as well as spiritual,
and urged the necessity of bringing living Christian men into personal
contact with the poor, the ignorant, and the ungodly. His reflections
during the disturbances of 1848, and the deep impression made on him by
the Glasgow mob, found a voice for themselves on this occasion.
"The question appeared to him to lie between
the needy masses upon the one hand, and those who were able to help them
upon the other—between those who were poor temporally and spiritually, and
those upon whom God had bestowed temporal and spiritual blessings. The
object of endowed territorial work was to bring them in contact upon the
fields of the Christian Church. They wished the poor to meet the rich
there, that the rich might assist them; they wished the ignorant to meet
the well informed there, that they might receive of their knowledge. They
wished the suffering, the destitute, and the afflicted, to meet the kind,
and sympathizing, and Christian-hearted there, and from the union of
fulness and emptiness, to enable those who have, to give to those who
stand in need. Every man in that vast mass of humanity had immense
influence, and if he could not be made great for good he might be made
great for evil. The hand that could use the hammer, could seize the
firebrand; the tongue that could sing praises to God, might become voluble
in blasphemy and sedition. The man with a strong head and heart, but
uninformed, might gather his fellow-workmen around him in hundreds and
thousands—he might speak to them of the separation between man and man,
with an eloquence that rung in every man's heart, because they felt it to
be true, he might speak of those who were in comfort, but who did not care
for those in misery, he might speak of those who were educated, but who
cared not for those in ignorance, and that mass might become like a mighty
avalanche set loose from its cold solitude, and descending into their
valleys, crush the commercial prosperity and institutions of the country;
and all the while they would feel it to be a righteous punishment, on the
part of a righteous God, for their selfishness and apathy."
From his Journal:—
"I call individualism the embodiment of all
those theories which would throw man back upon himself, make himself the
centre, and referring all things to that centre, measure all things from
it. It sees no law, no rule, no end, no will beyond self. The grand text
of Emerson, 'I am a man,' is (in his sense of the phrase) its expression.
What is society to me? What is Luther? What is the Church, or the Bible,
or Christ, or God? 'I am a man.' This is Selbststandigkeit with a
vengeance ! A man refuses to recognise or worship the personal God, and
ends by worshipping himself.
"Self-destruction is the opposite of this, and
expresses the essence of those systems by which the individual is
annihilated. Popery is its ecclesiastical ideal, and despotism its civil.
The Jesuit maxim, ' be in all things a dead man,' is the opposite pole
from Emerson. If the one system deifies man, the other annihilates him,
though it must in justice be added, as a professed means of ultimately
deifying him. Socialism seems to me to be the Devil's tertium quid. It
would seek to fill up the longings in man after union in something higher
or something beyond himself, and at the same time afford him the fullest
out-going for his individualism. It is society sacrificed to the
individual. Romanism would have the individual sacrificed to the society
called the Church. These two poles are always producing each other. It is
no wonder that the ecclesiastical and civil systems which would destroy
the individual should produce the re-action of pantheism and
republicanism, which would embody man's individualism religiously and
"What is the
Christian tertium quid?
"1. Unity with a personal God revealed in a
personal Saviour. This destroys individualism in so far as it establishes
personal responsibility, and places the man as a part of a system, in
which not he, but a personal God, is the centre, a God whom we ought to
love and serve. Individualism cannot co-exist with the ideas of ought to
love and serve. These destroy Selbststandigkeit. To recognize the
existence of light, is at once to give up the notion that the eye exists
for itself, and by itself, as a self-sustaining and self-satisfying organ.
"2, Union with man through God. I say through
God, because we can only find our true relationship to any point within
the circle by seeing our mutual relationship to the centre, God our
Creator, as the bond which unites us to man. God our Father is the bond
which unites us to all His true children. The family, the neighbourhood,
the citizenship, the state, are the outlets of our social tendencies to
men, in God our Creator.
"The Church is specially the outlet of our
social tendencies to God our Redeemer. There is here a healthy union of
our individualism with socialism. The individual is preserved. His
personality is not destroyed—it is developed. Free-will, responsibility,
the necessity of seeing and knowing for himself are recognized. In Heaven
he can say, 'I am a man.' His union with God is essential to the
development of his individuality, just as light is essential to the health
of the eye. The social life is also preserved. The attraction of God
renders the attraction of man necessary. The family relation appointed by
God, is the school in which men are trained for the family of man. The
child, in spite of himself, finds himself a brother, or son, and enters
life a part of a system, to whose well-being he must contribute his
portion by the sacrifice of self, and in this very sacrifice find himself
enriched. The necessity of labour is another bond, and so is the necessity
of living. The man must remain poor in head unless he receives knowledge,
and poor in pocket unless he receives work, and poor in heart unless he
receives love. And all this receiving implies giving, whether it faith, or
work, or love, in return: and thus bond alter bond draws man out of
himself to man.
"No wonder Pantheists and
Socialists hate the personal God, the family, the Word, the Church."
To Mr. JAMES M'Pherson (an Elder in Loudoun):—
"Dalkeith, February 17, 1849.
"I need hardly tell you that I very sincerely
sympathize with you, and with all my dear old friends who are now in the
midst of such sore and solemn trials. I fancy myself among you, going from
house to house. I see your faces, and know how you will all think and
feel. I wish you would let me know who have been carried off. From my
parish visitation book, I can recall the face and character of every one I
knew in the parish, as well as I could the day I left it, and I feel
anxious to know who have been removed.
"How soothing to feel that we are not lost in
the big crowd, that our case is not overlooked by Him who is guiding the
stars—but that His eye of love rests upon us, and that He is attending to
each of us as really and truly as He did to Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus,
whom He lovedI"
John Mackintosh (in Rome):—
"Dalkeith, December 25, 1849.
"Your letter inflamed my blood and fired my
brain, and unless I knew from experience that ' we may not hope from
outward forms to live the (what?) passion and the joy (life?) whose
fountains are within,' I should certainly have been unhappy. Dear John,
all our happiness flows from our blessed Redeemer. He divideth to each,
gifts, talents, place, work, circumstances, as seemeth good to himself.
Blessed is the man who can trust Him, and take what He gives, using it for
the end for which it is given. So, dear John, I will not envy thee ! Thine
is Rome, mine is home. Thine the glories of the past, mine labour for the
glories of the future without the past. Thine the eternal city with
all—all—art, music, ruins, visions, ideal day dreams, choking unutterable
reminiscences; a spiritual present, impalpable, fascinating;—all—all that
would make me laugh, weep, scream, sing—all, and more are thine. So be it.
Mine is a different lot, but both are given us by Him, to be used for His
kingdom and glory;—and darling, thou wilt so use them, I am sure! The
spirit of the greatest man Rome ever held within her walls, even that old
tent-maker, he who after his wintry cruise came weary and careworn up the
Appian way—his humble and heroic spirit will be thine! and His, too, by
whom he lived! For this day ('tis past 12 a.m.!) reminds me Christ is
born, and the world of Cicero and Cæsar is not ours, but a world unseen by
the eye, unheard by the ear; a world whose glories are in dim wynd and
dusky tenement as much as in Rome. So, dear John, I will do His will here,
and thou there, and if we be faithful, we shall have a glorious life of it
together somewhere else and for ever! Yet, would I were with thee! It is
my weakness; I can guide it only, change it I cannot.
"Everything in our land is flat, stale, and
unprofitable. Don't believe me. I presume it is the best land on earth;
but I have not moved for months from home.
"What of the Jews in Rome? Let us labour for
them, but confess that their day is not yet come, nor, I think, dawned.
This is my latest conclusion. Keep thy heart, dearest. Were I in your
place, I believe I should be ruined; thus I see Christ's love in keeping
me at home. Popery ! 'The Bible without the spirit is a sundial by
moonlight.' Well done, old Coleridge! I have long believed that Popery
will be the pantheistic re-action of the latter days. Presbyterianism in
our country is a poor affair. If there is to be a Church for man to
embrace taste, intellect, genius, and inspire love, veneration, awe, and
if that Church is to be a visible one, our Free and Bond won't be among
the number. We are sermonising snobs. But I rave and run on. Don't believe
me. Short of heaven there is no ideal Church. I am sure of this, that I am
right in loving Christ, and in loving Christians, and the souls of men for
His sake. Beyond this twilight, farther on darkness ! What are you doing
now 1 Gazing on the moon, feasting on Christmas rites, seeing, hearing.
"It would truly
give me real delight if you could go to London and act as my substitute,
and in such a good cause. The poor Highlands and Isles are as worthy of
your efforts as Germans or Jews or Indians, and they require it just as
much. The only legacy I can leave you is an interest, a heartfelt interest
in that poor people whose blood flows in your veins. Do, my dear fellow,
think of it."
Work for 1850.—January 18. It is now being impressed upon minds, slow to
learn from anything but facts, that the Church of Scotland is daily going
down hill. We are weak, weak politically, weak in the hearty attachment of
any class—upper, middle, or lower, learned, earnest, or pious—to us, as a
Church;—there is no State party who care one farthing for us on great,
national, and righteous principles. Yet all this would not necessarily be
evil if we were strong Godward. Nay, it might prove a blessing, the
blessing which often springs from a sore chastisement. But I cannot
conceal from myself that we have reached the depth immediately below which
is destruction, of being weak towards God in faith, love, hope,
devotedness, and in simple-mindedness for His glory. I cannot say what
amount of good may exist in the Church. God knoweth how many hidden ones
it may contain! and He may see many tears shed in secret, and may hear
many groans for the sins of Jerusalem, and many prayers may enter His ears
for her peace and prosperity. But sin can be seen. The evil is manifest,
and what is bad is visible. There is sloth and an easy indifference as to
the state of the Church. No searching, as far as man knows, to find out
our sins. No plans, no strivings to meet difficulties and evils, to do our
work as we should do. Everywhere disunion, separation, men flying from
social questions which affect the body, and even the good men seeking
relief in the spiritual selfishness of personal and parish work, as if
terrified to look at things within and around.
"In these circumstances the work I would
propose would be a convocation a number (however small) to inquire into
the state of Zion; to seek out and apply a remedy; above all, to do the
work of works, of lying prostrate before God, and asking in earnest
prayer, 'Lord, what wilt thou have us to do?'"
To Mrs. Dennistoun:—
"Dalkeith, Sept. 4th, 1850.
"I am here all alone—Skye [A favourite
terrier.] my only companion—if I except my constant friends on the
book-shelves, who chat with me day and night. I am very jolly, because
very busy; not that I by any means advocate this bachelor life, for unless
I looked forward to my sister's return, I would instantly advertise, my
parochial visitations preventing me for some time from personally
attending to this duty; I often think Falstaff's resolution was not a bad
one, 'I'll turn a weaver and sing psalms! Before I lead this life longer,
I'll sew nether socks, and foot them too!'
"The only defect in Skye is, that I never can
get him to laugh. He is painfully grave. He seems sometimes to make an
effort, but it passes off like electricity by his tail, which becomes
tremulous with emotion."
The following bit of nonsense was sent as a
quiz on some members of the home household, who were fascinated by the
description of primitive life and domestic happiness in the Landes of
France as communicated by a French friend.
"It requires no small effort in me to write to
you. It disturbs my deep repose; it ruffles my 'calm,' 'so very calm from
day to day.' It causes movement of my hand and thought in my brain which
are habitual to neither; but as you kindly wish me to write to you, and
flatter me with the assurance that my beloved parents will not consider an
epistle from me an irreverent intrusion upon their time, I shall forthwith
give you a simple account of my daily habits. I go to bed about ten or
half past; it depends on circumstances. I awake about eight, and lie
thinking till about nine or ten.' This morning I fancied that I became a
poor man, and sold my books and took a little cottage somewhere, with
small rooms and nice roses, and one cow and some hens; and then I just
thought how sweet it would be to have mamma and papa, and all my brothers
and sisters, and nephews and nieces, and uncles and aunts, all to live
together for a long, long time, and to lie on the grass and to feed the
pigs and the little hens, and dig the garden, and make our own clothes and
shoes. My uncle would make the shoes and the clothes, and all my sisters
and aunts would spin, and darling George and Donald would write poetry and
work in the garden and sing, and dear papa and mamma would sit in large
arm chairs and give us their blessing every morning and evening, and tell
us nice stories about the Highlands, and I would keep accounts and
everything in order! Everything would be within ourselves. And then we
should see all our friends and relations, quietly, comfortably, and there
would be no bustle, no dirty railroads or towns—all grass and vegetables
and plenty. My blessing upon such peaceful domestie happiness! I know my
venerated father will rejoice at my picture I never meddle with politics
or church affairs. It does no one good I think. 'Bless me,' says I to
Elizabeth Story, 'what is life worth if we cannot have peace? What is the
good of all this rant and bustle?' It rises my nerves,' says she. ' And
mine, too,' says I. 'It's no wonder,' says she. 'Deed it is not,' says I.
'It would be a wonder if it didn't,' says she. ' ouldn't it?' says I. 'In
course it would,' says she. 'I would think so,' gays I. 'And no one would
differ from you, sir,' says she. 'I believe not,' says I. 'I would at
least think so,' says she. 'I am certain of it,' says I. 'I make no doubt
myself at all of it,' says she. 'Nor anybody else,' says I, and thus we
spent a quiet, peaceful, calm half-hour."
The beginning of this year, 1851, was marked
by two events which had an important influence on his future life. On the
23rd of January he heard, with great pain, of the death of his valued
friend, Dr. Black, minister of the Barony, Glasgow, and in a few weeks
afterwards he learned that the congregation were anxious that he should be
presented to the vacant parish. Dr. Black had on his death-bed expressed
the desire that Norman Macleod should succeed him, and the people were now
unanimous in petitioning Government to that effect.
To his Father:—
"January 31st, 1851.
"I mean strictly to avoid all movement on my
own part in regard to the Barony; nor do I wish you to move in it. The
session and people know me. They are acquainted with my preaching and
public character. If the parish is offered to me in such an unanimous way
as will satisfy my mind that I am the choice of the parties most
interested in obtaining a minister, I shall feel it my duty to accept it.
If there is a canvass dividing the congregation, I shall forbid my name to
be mentioned. I am willing to go or stay, as God shall see it best for my
own good, and the good of souls."
To his Mother:—
'Believe me I am disciplined to be a far more
peaceful man than I was. My ambition has been sobered by experience. I
know what I am not and what I am. I am not a man of genius, or of power,
or of learning, and can do nothing great in the world's sense; but by the
grace of God I can be kind and good, and earnest and useful; and can bring
the souls of dying men to their Saviour for rest and peace. If God gives
me the ten talents of the Barony, I shall not receive them with fear as if
He were a hard master, but with solemn thankfulness and humble praise,
hoping by His grace to make them ten talents more. So, dear, your prayers
have been heard."
the following month, and while the question of the Barony was still in
suspense, the unexpected tidings reached him that John Mackintosh was
dying at Tubingen. There was no man on earth whom Norman loved more
tenderly, and the news overwhelmed him. All other engagements were at once
thrown aside, and on the 11th of February he started for the Continent. It
had been deemed advisable to remove Mackintosh from Tubingen to the
picturesque little town of Cairnstadt, in the neighbourhood of Stuttgart,
and Norman remained there until the 7th of March, when he went for a brief
visit to Dr. Earth, the famous missionary, at Calw. On the 10th he
returned to Cannstadt, and bade farewell to Mackintosh on the morning of
the 11th. That very evening, with a swiftness that was quite unexpected
the end came, and while Norman, in ignorance of the event, was prosecuting
his journey homewards, his dearest brother had entered into rest.
From his Journal:—
"February 7.—This has beer a day of heavy
affliction, for I heard of the death-sickness of my darling John
Mackintosh—my more than friend—a part of my own soul.
"This day also brought intelligence of what I
was led to expect; that there is such perfect unanimity among the Barony
people as will insure me the parish. But to enter it over the body of my
dear friend Dr. Black, and John dying! Oh, my Father ! teach me!
"My dear friend! Never, never have I known his
equal, never! So-pure, so true and genuine, so heavenly-minded and serene,
so young and joyous, yet so old and sober; so loving and utterly
unselfish, a beautiful, beautiful character; the modesty and tenderness of
a gentle girl, with the manly courage of a matured Christian; knowing the
world, yet not of it; mingling in it with a great broad-heartedness, yet
unstained by a single spot; warm and refreshing and life-giving as the
sun, yet uncontaminated by all it shone on. But I cannot utter my
reverential and loving feelings towards my dearest and best; and can it be
that he, he is dying ! I feel the whole earth slipping away from me and
only Jesus remaining.
"Tuesday, February 11.—This day I intend going
to Tubingen to see my dear John. I am not conscious of any selfish motive,
unless the craving desire to see, help, and comfort, and, it may be, bid
farewell to my dearest friend be selfishness.
"What shall be the end thereof?"
To John Mackintosh, at Cannstadt (written
after leaving him on the Friday, March 7th, to return on the Monday
morning to spend his last day with him):—
"Calw, half-past five p.m., Friday, March
darling John! More for my own comfort than yours, yet also to cheer you up
a bit, I embrace the first moment given me to tell you my news. Like the
woman who shows Roslin Chapel, I must begin at the beginning—i.e., from
myself at half-past nine in an Eilwagen with two horses, and no passenger
but myself. Opposite me was an old conductor who had grown grey in the
service of that mysterious Prince of Thurn und Taxis, whose dominions seem
to be Eilwageas and extra posts, and his subjects Schwagers and
conductors. My companion was most agreeable; blessed me when 1 sneezed,
offered me Schnapps from his flask, and gladly took the half of my dinner
from me, by way of showing his love to me. He was a thorough Swabian, and
therefore I did not always understand him, but I managed by a series of
nods, intimating, 'I wouldn't wonder,' 'I suppose so,' to impresa him
profoundly with my intelligence.
"The road was uphill, the day cold, and very
snowy. The scenery consisted of bare white fields, with cloaks and hats of
fir plantations, here and there a steeple. I passed through sundry
villages, but I hardly know yet where I am. Calw is in some valley beside
some river, having streets, (Jasthemser, and magistrates; and, it is said,
four thousand inhabitants. The whole city is for the present concentrated
in clear Dr. Barth. He received me with open arms, hugged me, kissed me,
and did my heart a power of good in five minutes. He had an excellent
dinner waiting and two friends to meet me.
"For the last hour I have been enjoying the
dear man's society and examining his house, and I assure you it is worth a
visit. He has a suite of five rooms, entering one into the other. The
first is a bedroom; the second a sitting-room; the third his study; the
fourth a nice bedroom; the fifth a missionary museum. A more jolly ideal
housey you never were in! Everything about it enlarges the mind, and
drives one's thoughts to every part of the globe. The pictures of
missionaries and mission scenes that cover the walls of the rooms, the
maps, plans, books, all are enlarging to the spirit. The very clock which
is now ticking beside me is itself a poem. It has in its dial one large
watch surrounded by four small ones. The middle one counts German time.
The others the time at Pekin, Otaheite, New York, and Jerusalem! At this
moment it is a quarter to six here; five minutes to one a.m. in Pekin (the
emperor snores!); half-past seven p.m. in Jerusalem (the sun is shining
softly on Olivet); a quarter-past six in Otaheite; ten minutes past
mid-day in money-making New York. (Wall Street is full of business!)
"The missionary museum is exceedingly
interesting. It would take days to examine it fully. The fruits, dresses,
minerals, idols, &c, are from mission stations. One little trifle struck
me. It was a bit of pure white marble from the basement stone of Solomon's
temple. It shows, I think, that the whole temple must have been of white
marble (which I never knew before); and if so, how pure, how glorious in
the sun's rays—what a beautiful type of Christ's Church!
"Dr. Barth received a letter at dinner-time
from the Bishop of Jerusalem. He keeps up a correspondence with
missionaries in all parts of the world, and knows more of the men and
their missions than any other man living.
"Nine p.m.—We have had much delightful
conversation regarding missions and missionaries. Our very supper tasted
of the work, for it consisted of reindeer tongue sent by the Labrador
now, darling, I must stop. You know how much my thoughts, my prayers, my
heart and spirit, all are with you. Every hour the parting becomes more
real, more solemn. Nothing keeps up my heart but that which keeps up your
own—'It is God's will—His sweet will!'
' How glorious, how intensely blessed, to feel
that we are in Christ, all of us! Oh, those blessed days I have passed
with you!—Heaven, in spite of all darkness. Is it memory already? It is
not. I am with you, beside you, among you all. Oh, my clearest of
brothers, may Jesus shine on you day and night, and may you shine through
His indwelling. God bless you, dearest. Farewell."
To the Same:—
"Caelsruhe, Saturday Evening, half-past six,
March 8th, 1851. "Dearest and best of earthly Brothers '
"I left dear old Barth this morning at ten. I
do think that he and his house are the most perfect ideals of what
missionary archbishops should be and should have. Only picture the old
fellow resting his feet on a stuffed tiger from Abyssinia, giving me at
breakfast honey from Jerusalem, and a parting glass of wine from Lebanon!
Is it not perfect] And then his apostolic look and conversation! What a
busy man he is! Besides superintending the books published by the Calmer
Verein (most of which he has written himself), he edits five journals
monthly—one for the young, of eighty pages; and four missionary journals
making fifty six pages, in all, one hundred and thirty-six pages every
month! His books have been translated into seventeen different languages.
It is really most ennobling and elevating to one's spirit to see that old
man, so plain and simple, yet, there in his humble house, corresponding
with every part of the globe, watching day by day the spread of Christ's
kingdom, visiting with his spirit and heart every scene of missionary
labour, and thoroughly acquainted with them all. This is being a king
indeed. Surely we can make our lives sublime' by doing the work Christ has
given us. I think Barth is more of a prince, a governor, a general, than
any of the reigning monarchs of Europe. He has made me feel more how grand
and glorious a position in the universe a true-hearted minister may
occupy. May God make me such, and 'I shall pity Cæsar.'
"Well, dear, after embracing and re-embracing,
I parted very thankful. He loves you very much, and it was such a comfort
to have one with me who did so, and who, with me, would thank our most
gracious Lord in your behalf.
"I got into a half-open cab at ten. It was
snowing and very cold, and we contemplated taking a sledge. But the
Schwager promised he would convey me safely. The road was execrable.
Nothing out of the backwoods worse. We took three and a half hours to
drive twelve miles. It lay at first along a valley which must be exquisite
in summer, and then passed up and over a high hill, thick with tress,
which showered the snow upon U3 as their branches swept over the cab. Once
or twice I made up my mind for a jolly good upset, but the Schwager, by
hanging on occasionally on the up-side, preserved the equilibrium."
"Off Maintz, ten o'clock, Wednesday, March
spirit lingers in that lonely room where I was last with him before five
yesterday morning? It was very solemn and very memorable. The candle was
in the other room, and I asked him in the dark how he was. He had passed
another night of weary tossings to and fro. Yet to hear him say in the
darkness, 'I wish I could sing ! I should give glory to Cod!' I feel that
we have taken in but very partially the heaven-sent lesson taught us in
that beautiful character. But such a lesson can only be truly learned by a
patient and cheerful following of Christ, seeing what He would have us
outwardly do and inwardly be. To see, to do, to be, requires that right
state of spirit which is maintained by a daily waiting on Christ and a
strengthening of our faith in Him, as our only sure and our best guide in
all things, as giving us in everything the best things for us, and in His
own way. It is not necessary for us to impose burdens on ourselves, to
whip ourselves with cords, or to cast ourselves on a funeral pile. God is
rich in mercy, and He may sanctify us by what He gives as well as by what
He takes away ; nor is it necessary for us to pain our hearts by
determining what we shall do in such and such circumstances. The Lord
shuts us up to one thing: 'Do what is right; if you wish it, I will teach
thee.' Each day has its own duties, and trials, and difficulties. God does
not tell us to take care of the week, month, or year, but of the day or
hour ; not of the next possible mile of the journey, but of the certain
step which must be taken for the present. We require grace to receive His
mercies as much as to receive His chastisements ; in neither case to doubt
His love, never to think He gives the former grudgingly, or the other
"I had a
superb sleep last night; but, what was very odd, I started up and lit my
candle the very minute (twenty minutes to five) at which John's bell had
rung on Tuesday morning."
To the Same:—
"Passing the Sicbcn-Gebirgc.
"I have really had a happy day toddling down
this glorious stream. The sun was bright, and things looked tolerable. I
cannot say that any poetic feeling was stirred up. The castles in spite of
me suggested vulgar impressions of immense barons, all boots and beards,
rioting and drinking, and thinking only how Baron A. could be swindled or
Baron D. murdered; what Tochter la Baronne E. had, and whether she could
be purchased for the hopeful, turnip-faced, blustering young Baron
Swillingbeer. Then those vineyards are indissolubly interwoven in the
fancy with tables-d'hote. The imagination pictures myriads of drinkers in
all hinds longing to suck their juices. The whole land seems to be robbed
from poetry and the Middle Ages, and consigned for ever to barrels and
wine-bibbers. There was not an Englishman on board, and that relieved the
prose a little.
met two girls who were emigrating to America. How happy they were, poor
things, when I told them that I had been in the town to which they were
going, and that it was so handsome, and that they would go across the
ocean as easy as to Stuttgart, for thence they came, and my heart was
stirred for them; and then (good creatures) they asked me if I had met
their Schwager. I told them, possibly. They at once treated me as a
brother, and showed me their letters. I really made them very happy by my
pictures of the calm ocean and glorious America.
"I had a long talk with an old sailor on
board, quite a character. I opened his heart with cigars, and he was very
communicative. He spoke in broken sentences, each delivered in an under
voice very confidentially to me, while he always turned up his eyes to
heaven, kept his elbows by his side, and wriggled his wrists as if a
thousand mysteries lay far beyond his brief communications. 'An old
cloister that—hate the priests—ceremonies (many wriggles)—the best
cloister is the heart (great confidence). Stop her! (to the engineer).
Democrats! (fearful wriggles)—the Jesuits did the whole. In old times they
forgave the sins of thieves and murderers,' and he ran off, looking over
his shoulders, winking hard, and his two hands in perpetual motion. Soon I
felt a tap on my back—' The Protestant ministers not much better—too
learned—don't care for the people—they give words —words—but what do they?
(wrists, eyes, all going, and immense confidence.') 'The people are best.
Ach, Herr, we must make the heart our church—minister—all—and love God and
man.' He darted off to take soundings. I left him, but we are yet to smoke
together. Oh, this great heart of humanity ! How grand it ever is when it
is real! What a magnificent study is man, and how elevating at all times
to realise one's brotherhood, to rise like a hill above the earth's
surface, and to converse with other hills, and to feel that both are
rooted in the common earth, and are beneath the same sun, and are
refreshed with the same dew!
"While I thus write, partly to relieve my own
heart and partly to take your thoughts for five minutes from your present
sorrows, I am dragged back to the clear group at Cannstadt.
"Perhaps this may find you in the midst of
more than ordinary sorrow, when amusing words will sicken you. But it may
be quite otherwise. Oh ! trust, trust. Dearer, infinitely dearer, is he to
his own Lord and brother than he can be to us."
"Surely 'tis all a dream! Is this the Rhine?
Is this majestic pile of ruin old St. Goar? That far-off rush of water
Lurlei's roar? Oh, what a joyous life of lives was mine, When those dear
castled hills of clustering vine First flashed upon me in the days of yore
! Such glorious visions I can see no more ! For though within a holier
light doth shine, Yet this deep sorrow veils it as a cloud, Casting from
shore to shore a sombre shroud, That scarce a trace of the old life is
found. Into one wish my thoughts and feelings blend, To be with those dear
mourners who surround The dying-bed of my best earthly friend."
From his Journal:—
"Dalkeith, April 11.
"My memory can never require to be refreshed
by a record of those memorable days of intense life, when days were years,
and hours months. For ever shall I vividly remember the rushing journey,
the burning fever of morbid anxiety as I hurried on and on from this to
the Rhine—along that river darkened by mist—from the Rhine to Stuttgart,
and then by moonlight, which seemed to light me to my grave, to Tubingen,
until after midnight I stood outside his door and had some rest, when I
felt he was there. Shall I ever forget the meeting 1 the horror of
darkness followed by prayer, by hopes, by heavenly gleams from unexpected
sources, by fears and sore stragglings. And then his room, and our daily
on-goings, the screen, the big chair, the table with its books, watch,
thermometer, the stove, himself seated on the bed, the brown plaid, the
shut eyes, the head inclined to one side, the peaceful smile, the resigned
and meek look, the 'dearie' kiss, the whispered holy things, the
drawing-room too, and the piano, the life in death, the sunshine 'that
never was on sea or land.' Then came Tuesday, the 11th, and at early dawn
the last farewell, while at evening thou wast with thy Father !"
"All hail! The Lord is risen. The world is
redeemed, and that coffin shall be broken, and that darling body be
glorified, and we shall be with him and all in Christ forever. And, oh,
the calm joy of assurance, deep as in the existence of God, that on this
lovely spring Sabbath, when flowers are bursting forth, and birds are
singing, and the sun is shining, in this world of sin and death, he, our
beloved darling, is really in life and strength and intelligence and
unutterable joy, remembering us all, and waiting for us! Will he not feel
so at home? Is he not breathing his own delicious air? I see him now with
a sunny look of joy, gazing on his Lord, praising Him, meeting every
moment some new acquaintance—new, yet old. Oh! this is not death; it is
life! 'life abundantly.' "
To the Same:—
"Tuesday, 17th March.—-What can man say or do?
Leaving Cann-stadt, leaving it in such silent company ' My spirit is with
you all day, often, often in the watches of the night. At four this
morning I was praying for you."
To the Same:—
"Wednesday Afternoon.—I have been thinking
much of that luggage and those things of his. It is strange, inexpressibly
strange to see dead things only, and not to see the living one. Yet was it
not so when Christ rose? The linen clothes and the napkin, left in order
behind, and He gone! But our dear one lives! and I can so well fancy him
smiling at those poor remembrances of sin and sorrow, which are
nevertheless to us signs of faith triumphant in death. I am sure when our
day of death comes, if we have time to think, the room at Cannstadt will
be strength to us."
From his Journal:—
"April 11th.—We buried him on Wednesday last, the 9th. The day was calm
and beautiful. The sky was blue, with a few fleecy clouds. The birds were
singing : everything seemed so holy and peaceful. His coffin was
accompanied by those who loved him. As I paced beside him to his last
resting place, I felt a holy joy as if marching beside a noble warrior
receiving his final honours. Oh, how harmonious seemed his life and
death!I felt as if he was still alive, as if he still whispered in my ear,
and all he said—for he seemed only to repeat his favourite sayings—was in
beautiful keeping with this last stage of his journey :—' It is His own
sweet will;' 'Dearie, we must be as little children;' 'We must follow
Christ,' and so he seemed to resign himself meekly to be borne to his
grave, to smile upon us all in love as he was lowered down, and as the
earth covered him from our sight, it was as if he said, 'Father! Thou hast
appointed all men once to die. Thy sweet will be done! I yield to Thine
appointment! My Saviour has gone before me ; as a little child I follow!'
And there wo laid him and rolled the sod over him. Yet the birds continued
to sing, and the sun to shine, and the hills to look down on us. But long
after earth's melodies have ceased, and the mountains departed, and the
sun vanished, that body shall live in glory, and that beautiful spirit be—
"'A Memnon singing in the great God light.'
"O, sir, the good die first; And those whose
hearts are dry as summer's dust Burn to the socket!'
"O God of infinite grace, help me—help us,
weak, trembling, infirm,, ignorant, to cleave fast to Thee in all Thy
ways—to be led by Thy Spirit in whatever way He teaches us; and to glorify
Thee in body and soul, by life or by death. Amen."
"July.—This is my last Sabbath in Dalkeith,
and this Sabbath ends another great era in my life.
"The last six months have been to me
concentrated life. I have lived intensely. I have lived ages—all ending
with my bidding farewell this day to a devoted and loving people ! When I
glance over the last twenty years I think I have some idea of life in its
most striking, wild, and out-of-the-Avay phases. I fancy I have seen it in
its strangest hues, and into its depths more than most people; often too
much so for my own happiness.''
"It is often as difficult for me to think of
making happiness without 'conditions' as it is for you, perhaps much more
so; but we know that if we really yield ourselves to God's teaching within
and without—in our hearts and in our circumstances—and know that it is His
will, and not ours merely, i.e., that it must be, or ought to be, (for
with Christians must and ought are one) then we shall have peace, for we
shall have fellowship with the will of God. You cannot feel yourself more
an infant than I do.
"... What is devotedness? It is not a giving up, but a full and complete
receiving in the best possible way (i.e., in God's way) of the riches of
His bounty. It is being first in sympathy with God, judging and choosing,,
rejoicing with Him; and then consequently resting satisfied with all He
wills us to be, to do, to receive, give up, suffer or enjoy "
To the Same:—
"Duties are the education for eternity, which
is endless duty.
pleasures are in exact proportion to our duties.
"All religion is summed up in one little word,
Love. God asks this, we cannot give more, He cannot take less.
"I have been reading Luther's 'Haus-Postille,'
and have been much amused by his hits against false monkish humility.
"It is not humility to ignore whatever good
God gives us or makes of us; but to receive all from Him, thank Him for
all, and use all according to His permission or command.
"So let that keep us up, and guide us."
To the Same:—
".... Oh for the clear eye to discern those
eras in life, those turning points, and to hear the voice of love and
wisdom and holiness, (by hints, unmistakable by the pure mind), saying, '
this is the way, walk in it!' Oh for the humble heart to fall into God's
plan, whatever it be, be it life or death!
"..... It will soon be all over with me—at
most twenty or thirty years. Let me bravely do my duty, and then, Hurrah!
"After leaving you I went to the Assembly, and
then went in search of my poor invalid. Got the house with some trouble ;
and then where next? To his grave. And there, with many tears and many
prayers, I did get much peace. The sunlight from that holy spot comes over
me. I heard him speak to me—' Be as a little child ! Follow—do not lead.
Live in the Spirit !' Yes,' I said, ' yes, darling, thou wouldst say the
same things now, and maybe thou art near me.' And I blessed God for his
words— earnestly prayed that they might be realized; and they shall be. We
shall follow his faith. If we liked to please him on earth—much more now.
But we have a better Brother—our own Lord—with us. To please Him in all
things is Heaven , to displease Him, Hell!"
To the Same, after preaching his "trial"
sermon in the Barony:—
"Glasgow, May 18, 1851. Sunday Evening.
"Another milestone in this awful journey is
over—another bend in the great stream has swept me nearer the unfathomable
"I had such a
crowd—passages, stairs, up to the roof ! That is but a means, not an end.
Yes! I had one of those high days which sometimes are granted to me; when
I feel the grandeur of my calling and forget man, except as an immortal
and accountable being; when the heart is subdued, awed, blessed! I believe
souls were stirred up to seek God. I was dreadfully wearied—done up—but I
cared not. I felt, 'the night cometh— work !' Is it not strange—and yet it
is not—that, as usual, the moment I entered the pulpit and saw that
breathless crowd, Cannstadt arose before me, and remained there all the
day ! He was a vision haunting me, yet sobering me, elevating me; pointing
always upward, so purifying, so solemnising and sanctifying; and I felt
dear friends with me, bidding me be good and holy; and when the great song
of praise arose, my heart rose with it, and I felt all that is good will
live, and shall have a great, an endless, and blessed day in Heaven. On
earth I know not what may be. God's will be done !
* * * * *
"As to distraction in prayer, how I know this,
and have to struggle against it! but it is not good, and dare not be
allowed, but must be conquered.
"To do this, (1) Have a fixed time for prayer;
(2) Pray earnestly at commencement against it, (3) Divide the prayer, so
as to have confession for a few minutes, then thanksgiving, &c. This gives
relief to the strain on the mind. I speak as a man who looks back with
horror at my carelessness in secret prayer. Backsliding begins in the
closet, and ends—where!"
To the Same:—
"Dalkeith, Saturday Morning.
"I think that Baxter's seventh chapter in the
'Saints' Rest' is something far, far beyond even himself. One should get
it by heart; it is such a chapter as that—so earnest, so searching, so
awfully solemn and true— which humbles, and stirs up, and makes one feel
intensely 'I have not yet attained,' and resolve more firmly to do this
'one thing,'—press on, and on! Why, what do we expect? To be glorified
with Christ! equal with St. John and St. Paul—this or devils! To press on
is to realise more blessedness and glory, more joy and perfect peace! Oh,
how weak I am—a very, very babe ! But it required Omnipotence to make me a
To the same:—
"Dalkeith, Sunday Evening.
"What a day of hail and snow! I was so struck
at one time to-day. The heavens were dark; the hail came booming down, and
rushed along the ground like foam snatched by the storm-blast from a
wintry ocean; but the moment it ceased, there was such a sweet blink of
sunshine, and instantly the woods were full of melody from a whole choir
of blackbirds! We, too, should sing when the storm is over!—but why do we
not beat the birds, and sing while it lasts? 'Are we not better than the
fowls?—yet God careth for them!'
"I have preached in England and Ireland,
America and the Continent, in all sorts of places on sea and land, in huts
and palaces, to paupers and to nobles—I sometimes feel a curiosity to know
the results! and I shall know them! It is a noble, a glorious work! I
praise God for giving me such a ' talent,' and only pray that while I
preach to others I may not be a castaway ! But, no! I know I shall
not—praise to his omnipotent Grace!
"I have for years been a very busy man, but I
never for an hour sought for work—it was always given to me. I know your
active spirit is one of the features of your character, but be patient,
and only by God's grace keep your mind in that most necessary state—which
will discern the Lord's voice when He calls. I have great faith in what I
call signs—indescribable hints, palpable hints, that ' this is the way,
walk ye in it.' One cannot, before they come, tell what they shall be ;
but when the ' fulness of the time' comes when the Lord has appointed us
to do anything, something or other occurs that comes home instantaneously
to us with the conviction, the Lord's time has come ! I have to do this !'
To the Same:—
10½ p.m. Sunday.
"Shall I tell you all I have been doing
"I went to
bed at one (a.m.), for my time had been broken up all day, and in the
evening I did the honours to------. By the way, in all our judgments and
criticisms of people,' we should ever see them in their true relationships
to us. The world has one set of rules, the Church another. Distinguish
between gifts and endowments, and the use which is made of them. See
things in their spiritual rather than their earthly relationships. I do
not say that one can entirely forget the latter, or that when combined
with the former (I moan the gift with the grace) they do not make God's
creature much more beautiful; but accustoming ourselves to these thoughts,
our judgments and mode of thinking and speaking about people will every
day be modified and brought by degrees into greater harmony with God's
judgments. I have had sore struggles with this; but intercourse with the
good, especially among the working classes, has gradually moulded my
feelings into a quieter state. And how has all this been so rapidly
help smiling, yea laughing, at poor------having been the cause!
But I often feel sore if I have seemed to
speak unfeelingly or unkindly, or in a worldly way of any one or for any
cause, who I feel is a believer.
"I am only at one in the morning yet! I rose
at half-past seven, read, &c., till half-past eight. Went to my Sabbath
school at nine. Preached twice. Went in the evening with Jane to read part
of my sermon to dear Elizabeth Patterson, and had worship there, after
paying a visit to an old woman, who I believe was really brought, as she
says herself, to the knowledge of Christ by me when she was sixty-three,
and whom I admitted for the first time as a communicant!"
To the Same:—
"Tuesday Evening, June 26.
"By fellowship is meant one-mindedness,
sympathy, agreement. It is not the submission of a servant to a command
because it is a command. It is more, much more than this. It is the
sympathy of the friend with the friend, seeing and appreciating his
character and plans, and entering into them with real heart satisfaction.
It is the 'amen,' the 'so let it be,' of the spirit. 'I have not called
you servants, but friends.' To have this fellowship two things are needed:
first, knowing our master's will, and secondly, having that mind and
spirit in us which necessarily sympathises with it.
"It is delightful to stand in spirit beside
Christ, and look outwards from that central point, and see things as He
sees them. This is having His 'light' and 'life,' and therefore so living
and seeing as He does; and while we do so, He has fellowship with us!
There is something very grand I think in this high calling, to be
partakers of Christ's mind and joy! It is such godlike treatment of
creatures ! It shows the immense benevolence of Christ, to create us so as
to lift us up to this sublime position, to make us joint heirs with
Himself in all this intellectual and moral greatness and blessedness."
To the Same:—
"Have just come in to breathe a little after
visiting sick. How beautifully Christ's example meets us and suits us in
everything. In visiting the sick poor one endures innumerable petty
sufferings from the close den, bad air, and fifty things which are
sometimes almost insufferable to our senses and tastes. But when one is
disposed to fly, or get disgusted, the thought comes of His washing His
disciples' feet, and living among wretched men. He who was rich'—from whom
all taste and the perception of the beautiful has come! He who was heir of
all things. Yet, with His human nature, what must He have 'put up with' in
difficult to separate the real from the accidental. But when I sea a poor,
ugly, unlearned Christian, I sometimes think that if the heart and spirit
remained as they were—yet if that face by some magic power was made
beautiful, that tongue made to speak nicely, that form made elegant, the
manners refined, the cottage changed to a palace, in short, if the real
person was put in a better case, how altered would all seem. So in the
reverse, if George IV. had a squint eye, hump back, ragged clothes, vulgar
pronunciation, manner, &c, what a revolution! Yet will there not be a
revolution in the good and the bad like this! Thus you see I try and
idealize poor Lizzie S., and some of my poor Christian bodies, and if
possible see kings and queens shining through their poor raiment.
"You never beheld a more peaceful, lovely
evening. Oh! it is heavenly. The large pear-tree is bursting into blossom,
the willows are rich yellow in the woods, and the birds are busy with
"'Singing of summer with full-throated ease.
Everything is so calm, so peaceful; why is not
man's throbbing heart equally calm? Why do we not always sing with the
birds, and shine with the sun, and laugh with the streams, and play with
the breeze! It is, I suppose, because much sorrow must belong to man ere
he can receive much joy. Yet when the true life is in us, there is always
a sweet undersong of joy in the heart; but it is sometimes unheard amidst
the strong hurricane.
"The calls I am from time to time receiving
from those to whom I have done good are most delightful. I begin to think
that the seed has taken better root than I had thought. Praise God for
To the Same:—
"Friday Night, 12½.
"Free salvation. Justification by faith alone.
John did not see this for a time. When he saw it the burthen was removed
for ever! Unbelief is dishonouring to God. You glorify Him by reposing on
Him, and heartily trusting Him: trusting His teaching in the Word,
conscience and providence. Remember you have a living Saviour, and a
loving one, always the same.
"Confess Christ, and commend the gospel by
calm peace as well as by words. Aim at passing Christian judgments upon
things, and beware of worldly judgments. Aim at seeing persons in their
relation to Christ, and to nothing lower.
"I have had two days' visitation since you
went away. You have no idea of the overwhelming interest of such clays
among our brothers and sisters. What a volume of intense romance each day
contains! How good, how contented it makes you; how it corrects
selfishness; how deeply it makes you feel your responsibility; what
treasure you lay up! Let me see ; can I convey to you, in a few lines,
specimens of my cases?
"1. A husband sick, has hardly spoken for
months to his wife and family... selfish, jealous; I got them reconciled;
promises to have family worship."
"2. A woman in low spirits, all alone, cried
bitterly; told me in agony she frequently planned suicide. Made her
promise to go through a course of medicine, and always to come to me when
"3. A bedridden
"4. An infidel tailor—very intelligent. Had read Alton, Locke, &c. An hour
with him. I shook him heartily by the hand—is to come to church.
"5. An idiot pauper—a half-idiot sister- a
daughter-in-law of latter who is very wicked, says 'she will take her
chance' for eternity, was impressed by all I said yesterday, but came here
to-day tipsy, but knowing, however, what she was saying.
"6. A mother very
anxious—had a long talk with her, she received good and comfort And so on,
and so on. Oh, for unselfish, Christian hearts to live and die for the
world! How far, far are we from Him who left the heavens and became poor
and lived among such—to lift us up! Alas! alas! how unlike the world is to
Him! It has no tears—no labours, no care for lost men. We are selfish and
shut-up. Christians hardly know their Master's work in the world!"