HE has given in "Eastward"
so full an account of his visit to Palestine that it would be superfluous
to quote at any length from the letters he sent to his family. He was
accompanied on this tour by Mr. Strahan, his publisher, and by his brother
Donald; and from first to last it afforded him unmingled enjoyment. Every
new event, whether it were a cyclone or a donkey-ride, gave him fresh
pleasure; every remarkable spot, from Malta to Constantinople, stirred his
Any one who has travelled
in Palestine can understand how fatiguing it must have been for a man of
his age and physique, to pass days in the saddle in such a climate. Yet
there were few evenings on which the encampment was not made a scene of
merriment by his good-natured fun with the Eellahin or Bedawin who crowded
round the tents. He had provided himself, before leaving London, "with
musical snuff-boxes and fire-works, and it was his delight to hear the "Mashallah!"
of the astonished natives when music burst out in some unexpected corner,
or when a rocket whizzed aloft and fell in a shower of fire. He claimed
this use of fireworks as an original invention for the protection of
travellers, and he was so confident of its merits that he would not have
been sorry had the Bedawin of the Jordan given him a fair opportunity of
showing the effect on their valour of a discharge of crackers or a bouquet
From his Journal :—
"February 14.—I start
to-morrow with Donald and Strahan for Palestine. To leave my wife and
children and parish for so long a time I feel to be very solemn. Why take
it J I have a free conscience towards God— He has cleared away every
difficulty, so that I hope, come what may, that it is His will that I
go—and that I am not deceiving myself in thinking so.
"May my darling mother be
preserved to me, and my dear brothers and sisters.
"Oh Thou who hast hitherto
led me, bring me back in safety, and bless this tour for health of body
To Mrs. Macleod :—
"... I cannot convey to you
the impression which that night's exploration of Malta made upon me. I
associate it with Venice and the Kremlin as the three sights which most
surpassed my expectation and delighted me, though in different ways. The
night was glorious; I read a note in the moonlight with the most perfect
ease, and there was shed over every object a subdued brightness, which,
with the perfect calm and silence everywhere, gave the whole scene a
marvellous beauty. We passed up steep narrow streets, the houses so
oriental-looking, with flat roofs and every variety of balcony — quite
Moorish. We stood before the palace and church of the old knights, and
could distinguish every tracery of the Saracenic architecture, which all
seemed as if erected yesterday. We reached at last the Barrocca, where
there is a famous view of the great harbour, and were admitted into the
battery through the favour of the gunner. We then gazed down on the dark
water, with dark ships of war asleep, and the diamond brilliant lights of
boats skimming along, from which a Maltese song was heard from the
boatmen, every note ringing through the elastic air. Batteries, batteries
everywhere; huge white walls of solid rock, precipices in lines and
angles, and rampart above rampart, lined with huge guns that looked down
into the harbour and were surrounded by piles of shot; endless—endless
walls and bastions, that made one giddy to look down, all gleaming in the
moonlight, with sentinels pacing in silence, their bayonets glancing, and
the English voice alone heard, 'Who goes there V You can have no idea what
a poem it was ! We came at last to the bastion on which Lord Hastings is
buried, and 1 cannot tell you what I felt as I stood beside his mausoleum,
with the white marble statue of a figure reclining upon a couch. I could
trace his features in the moonlight, so sweet and sad. How the whole scene
became mingled, you know how, with my past life as connected with his
widow and family! I felt so thankful to have seen it.
"I was immensely impressed also by such
buildings as the Library of the Knights and the Palace of the Grand
Master, now the Governor's residence. It does one's heart good to be made
to realize the existence of men of taste and power like these knights,
whom God raised up to judge Israel and to defend the Church from the
Philistine Turks. In Scotland we forget all that was here done by God, 'in
various times and divers manners, for the good of the Church and of the
world. We know more about the Burghers and Anti-Burghers than about these
grand knights who did their part so well, but who, when they had done
this, were removed for something better."
To his Children:—
Philip, the missionary, was waiting for us, and had horses, so we set off
to his farm. It was a lovely starry night, without a moon. We passed
through lanes of Cactus or prickly pear, in some places fifteen feet high,
on every side orange groves, and the whole air filled with the croaking of
"This has been
another delightful day, full of interest and enjoyment. This family is so
nice. There are four girls. They have just been sitting on my knee and
saying, ' Oh, do tell another story.' I have played ' London town' with
them, and given them such a tickling! I have also swallowed the tumbler,
and done all my tricks, and let oft' a Roman candle to amuse them.
"The roof of the house is flat, and I went up
on it. What a view! To the west the blue sea, to the east the hills of
Judea. The house itself is on the plain of Sharon. Within a mile is Jaffa,
where Peter lived with Simon the tanner, and had the vision, and where he
healed Dorcas. The road is close to the garden along which he must have
travelled to Cesarea to meet the Centurion; and to the south we could see
Lydda, where he healed Eneas who was sick of the palsy.
"Our first encampment was very picturesque. We
had a beautiful, immense tent with five nice iron beds, carpets, bath, wax
candles, and a superb dinner of several courses, with dessert, &c. But for
sleep! The donkeys braying, horses kicking, camels groaning, Arabs
chattering, and the fleas and musquitoes biting! Fatigue alone could make
us sleep. But since then we sleep famously. With our camels, asses, and
horses we make a good appearance. We have dragoman, cook, servant, and
horsekeeper, with camel drivers, who sleep on the ground beside their
noble animals. Meeki, the master of the horses and asses, rides in front,
and the Dragoman Hassan rides behind.
"But I must tell you of our first view of
about four when we reached the plain before Gibeon, and saw Neby Samuel,
or Mizpeh. It took about half an hour's riding to get up to the top of
Mizpeh. We ascended to the summit of the Mosque, once a church, and
there!—such a sight as remains for life on the memory. There was
Jerusalem! . . . .
"The nearness of these places struck me. But the grand feature, which took
me quite by surprise, was the huge wild wall of the Dead Sea mountains
glowing red in the setting sun—so wild, so majestic a setting. And then
all these towns in sight, with such memories! Below us was Gibeon with its
memory, and the plain at our feet where the battle took place, and the
steep descent down which Joshua drove the enemy, and then farther down the
plain of Philistia and the sea, Carmel in the distance. Was it not
marvellous? How many had seen Jerusalem from this point! Here Coeur De
Lion first saw it, and millions more.
"We rode into Jerusalem by St. Stephen's Gate,
with Olivet to the left, Gethsemane below. I took off my hat, and in my
heart blessed God, as my horse's hoofs clattered through the gate."
To Mrs. Macleod :—
"Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, 20th March.
"I went out this morning to the Mount of
Olives about ten o'clock. The morning was hot but not sultry. I walked
down the Via Dolorosa, as every street in Jerusalem may well be called, if
filth and rubbish may be called dolorous. I went out by St. Stephen's
Gate, crossed the Kedron, and ascended Olivet on the Bethany road until I
reached the top where Christ wept over Jerusalem. There I paused. The spot
is certain. I sat there and read Mark xiii. (see v. 3). You can tell
within a few yards where He stopped and gazed. All was perfect silence.
The birds were singing among the olives, and bee hummed from flower to
flower. Opposite was the city, from which no sound proceeded. Yet I could
have made my words heard by any one standing on the Temple area. There was
a holy stillness la the scene quite indescribable. I then walked slowly
over a part of Olivet until the road above Bethany appeared. It wound
below me. Along it that procession had come on Palm Sunday. Along it He
led his disciples on the day of the ascension, and from the point in sight
above the village He probably ascended. I knelt down and prayed among the
olives, and thanked God for all my marvellous mercies, and commended you
all to His care, and dedicated myself anew to His service. I retraced my
steps, and descended to the Kedron through the vast burial-place of the
Jews. It is an old tradition with them that here is to be the Day of
Judgment, and that to this spot all souls must pass through the earth. To
save trouble, they are here buried. The hill side is paved with
grave-stones all directed towards the Temple, and having Hebrew
inscriptions. Hundreds and thousands lie here. Jews from every quarter of
the globe, Rabbins and rascals, men of God and men of gold, have sought a
resting-place here ever since the destruction of the Temple. I never saw
such a valley of dry bones. It reaches up nearly to the spot where Christ
wept over Jerusalem, and is at once a sad comment on His tears, and yet
rebukes one when in despair it is said of the Jews, 'Can these dry bones
"I passed Gethsemane, but
did not enter. It is surrounded by a high wall, and is laid out like a
cafe restaurant. I don't believe in it, so I passed on farther up the
valley, until I reached a spot which was interesting to me as one which
would have answered all the requirements of Calvary more than any I have
really nothing interesting in Jerusalem itself. All the streets are narrow
lanes, like the closes in Edinburgh ; some of them covered over to keep
the heat out, some paved with slippery stones, some rough earth. At the
church of the Holy Sepulchre I was most profundly touched by watching the
pilgrims who crushed in and out. They were mostly Russians and Copts, with
Greeks from the Levant. Oh ! what faces, what marvellous faces, dresses
and expressions! One was carried centuries back. The intense and
affectionate devotion with which some kissed the sepulchre was to me very
touching. It was as a God to them. There are at present some English
devotees, male and female, here, half puppies, half superstitious. In this
hotel is a Mr.------, who signs himself 'Priest of the Church of England,'
who seems to be father confessor to an elderly rich lady. They walk with
candles in the processions, and attend all the services. But I have no
time to tell you of the odd half-cracked characters who come to this city.
'The Church,' 'The Jews,' 'The Millennium' are
the crotchets. The Jews and the Moslems have their crazes also."
To his Sister Jane ;—
"From Nazareth, March 24th, 1864.
"An hour ago I left my tent
and paced slowly along a path which led to a low ridge of hills, or 'a
brae face.' The moon was shining gloriously among the stars, our own
northern stars, in a cloudless sky. I sat down and gazed on a small town
which clasped the low hills on the opposite side of the narrow valley,
like a necklace of white coral. At one end, and down in the valley a few
hundred yards, were the lights from our tents, which, in the pure air,
scintillated like diamonds. Not a sound was heard but the barking of dogs,
and the croaking of frogs. You can understand my feelings better than I
can describe them when I tell you that the village was Nazareth ! And you
can sympathize with me when I say to you that, after gazing awhile in
almost breathless silence, and thinking of Him who had there lived and
laboured and preached; and seeing in the moonlight near me the well of the
city to which He and Mary had often come, and, farther off, the white
precipice over which they had threatened to cast Him; and then tracing in
my mind the histories connected with other marvellous scenes in His life,
until ' Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews ' died at Jerusalem, and all
the inexpressibly glorious results since that day which have made the name
of this place identical with the glory of the world ; and when I thought
of all that I and others dear to me had received from Him, and from all He
was and did, you will not wonder that I knelt down and poured out my soul
to God in praise and prayer. And in that prayer there mingled the events
of my past life, and all my friends whom I loved to mention by name, and
my dear father, and the old Highlands, the state of the Church and of the
world, until I felt Christ so real, that had He appeared and spoken, it
would not have seemed strange. I returned more solemnized than from the
Communion, and bless God for such an hour. Disappointed with Palestine ! I
cannot tell you what it has been to me, more, far, far more than I
anticipated. It has been a Holy Land, every step of it. I have drunk
instruction and enjoyment by every pore. I don't care for the towns, for
they are not the towns, but totally different— but the sites of them, the
views from them, the relationship of one to another ! Oh ! it is
inexpressibly delightful. Think only of this one day. From an old tower in
Jezreel I looked out at one window; there was Gilboa beside me, and below,
gleaming in the sunshine, the well of Gideon, and beyond Bethshan, where
the bodies of Saul and Jonathan were hung up, and the ridge of Little
Hermon, over which Saul went to Endor, and beyond the hills of Gilead, and
the plain up which Jehu drove, and the spot, or very near it, where
Naboth's vineyard must have been. From another window was Little Hermon,
and, in a green nook, Shunem. From another window Taanach, Megiddo and
Carmel; while the glorious plain of Esdraelon, dotted with Bedawin tents
and flocks, stretched around ! Then in an hour after we entered Nain, and
gazed on Tabor beside us; and after remaining at Nain, and reading the
story of the blessed miracle, we crossed the plain, and for an hour wound
our way through the little glens (so like the Highlands) of the mountains
of Galilee, until we came to this sweet retired nest among the lovely
knowes. What a day in a man's life ! and yet it is but one of many.
"Easter Sunday.—I have come down from the
ruins of the old Castle of Safed. The day is glorious, and more so from
there having been deluges of rain all night and this morning, and masses
of cumuli clouds break the blue space of the sky, and cast on the
landscape deep shadows that relieve the eye from the usual glare. I was
seated on the highest point of a hill which sweeps up from the Lake of
Tiberias nearly three thousand feet, and is encircled by the town of Safed,
and crowned with the grand ruins of the old Crusader castle. Below lay the
Lake of Tiberias, still and calm; the green plain of Genesareth, with the
ruins of Magdala, and probably Capernaum, below us round a bay. On the
opposite side was the valley where the miracle of the Gadarene demoniac
took place. The end of the lake where the Jordan enters the lake and where
Bethsaida was, was concealed by a hill; but there below lay the immortal
lake itself—the most famous lake in the world—about which I need not speak
to you—and when looking at it, could hardly speak to any one. Beyond the
lake stretched the table-land of the Hauran on to the horizon. The green
valley of the Jordan was seen at the south end. To the right was Tabor,
and the mountains of Galilee and Samaria farther away, with sunlight and
cloud and shadows over them.
"It was my last look of
Tiberias, and, with it, of the true Holy Land. I can trace Christ's steps
no more. I had sailed on Tiberias, Friday evening (Good Friday), and at
our request the fishermen let down their net for a draught and caught
nothing, though they often get great hauls. We rode along its shores past
Magdala, and now I have bidden it farwell for ever in this life. I felt
to-day as when taking my last look of Jerusalem, as if it were the last
look of some beloved friend, whom, however, I hope to see purified and
renewed in the new heavens and the new earth. My heart is full as I say
farewell. I shall see the Lebanon, Sidon, Damascus and other places, but
not such holy spots as I have been gazing on with prayer and praise; spots
in which heaven and earth, men and angels, have met, and in which things
have taken place and words have been uttered, which have moulded the
history of the world and will be more famous in eternity than in time, and
among saints in Heaven than among sinners on earth."
To Mrs. Macleod:—
so thankful to have seen this after Palestine. It does not lessen my first
love. It completes the circle of the past—Paul and the Areopagus unite the
two. There are many striking contrasts between them.
"When I look over the landscape from the
Acropolis, or journey over the country around, there is not a village
near, nor a ruin, nor spot, with the exception of Salamis and Marathon,
that is famous for any great fact which the world knows of or feels
interested in. In Palestine every hill and village is alive with history.
It is Athens alone—there it is, the whole country. Then again, while I
recognise all that Athens has given to the world, whether of art,
philosophy, history, poetry, or eloquence, as precious gifts from God, a
grand portion of the education of our race, which has told as no other has
done on the culture of mankind—yet how different in kind, in universality,
in intensity, has been the influence of Palestine! An old shepherd who
lived four thousand years ago, like Abraham, is almost worshipped by the
Mahommedans, Jews, and Christians, and is known as 'El Khulil,' the Friend
of God. What has he been—what have others in Palestine been—to the spirits
and hearts of the race ? While the kings and gods of Egypt have passed
away, the people who live beneath the Acropolis know him, and don't know
the names even of their mighty dead who have nevertheless immortalised
their city. There are thirty marble chairs in the Theatre of Dionysius,
which were the official seats of the priests of Bacchus, and of the
different village or parish temples. They have not a representative on
earth! Athens has given much to the world ! but in Palestine the Father
was revealed to it. That is the gift of gifts to the whole family of man."
from his Journal :-—
"May 1, Sunday Morning.—I returned Friday
night from my tour. I record the mercy of God to me and mine, but I have
no words to express what that has been. I have had one of the most
glorious tours which man can have in this world—Malta, Alexandria, Cairo,
Suez, Joppa, Jerusalem by Bethoron, Hebron, the Dead Sea, Marsaba, north
to Tiberias by Samaria, Nazareth, Safed, Sidon, Beyrout, Damascus, Cyprus,
Rhodes, Smyrna, Athens, Marathon, Constantinople, and home by the Danube,
and Vienna, Dresden, Hanover. I have not had an hour's ill health or
anxiety of mind. We have all been happy and enjoyed everything intensely.
I cannot count my gains. I feel as if I had searched for hid treasure,
expecting hundreds and found thousands. And then at home the mercy has
been so wonderful. Everything in my parish has gone on with perfect
the desire of my heart is, that the same God of mercy and grace may enable
me to turn this and all He has given me to the best possible account for
the good of my people and country. May I be able to gather up the
fragments of time that remain! May I be enabled to do good to my
fellow-men by word, by my pen, by my life and labour ; to live simply,
truly, and unselfishly; and so through faith in God to be carried through
the battle of life which rages loud and long around me, among the poor and
ignorant and among ecclesiastics ! God of truth, lead me into all truth !
God of power, strengthen me! God of wisdom, direct me! God of love, fill
my heart! And grant that when days of darkness fall—when affliction comes,
sickness, or weak old age, I may be strengthened in the faith of Thy
Fatherhood by recalling the marvellous mercies of these past months, added
to all those received from Thy hand, when verily I am unworthy of the
least! Amen and amen. So ends a memorable period of my life!
"June 3, One a.m.—I this day enter my
fifty-second year. I do so blessing and praising God."
The General Assembly of this year unanimously
appointed him to the Convenership of the India Mission; and with much
gratitude for the confidence thus reposed in him, he determined to devote
his energies to its advancement. To awaken a lively interest in Missionary
affairs, and to promote a more effective method of conducting them, was
henceforth to be one of the great works of his life. His journals show how
many places he visited, and indicate the variety of meetings he addressed
with this view, but they convey a very inadequate impression of the time
he had to spend in reading, in correspondence, and in anxious thought.
From his Journal:—
"June 12, 1864.—There are several events in my
life which I should like to record. The first of these is the unanimous
offer—unsought for and unexpected, God knoweth—by the General Assembly of
the Convenership of the India Mission. I have accepted of this without
doubt, though not without solemn and prayerful consideration—for I have
tried, at least for the last twenty-five years, to accept of whatever work
is offered to me in God's providence. I have, rightly or wrongly, always
believed that a man's work is given to him—that it need not so much be
sought as accepted—-that it is floated to one's feet like the infant Moses
to Pharaoh's daughter.
"Mission work has been a possession of my
spirit ever since I became a minister; I feel that God has long been
educating me for it. I go forth tolerably well informed as to facts, and
loving the work itself, with heart, soul, and strength. I accept it from
God, and have perfect confidence in the power and grace of God to give us
the men and the money. Thank God for calling me in my advanced years to so
glorious and blessed a work.
"We want men—God-loving men. These are to be
obtained chiefly through prayer. 'Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send
forth labourers.' We want money, but the silver and gold are the Lord's,
and He can open up every purse, and my hope is in Him.
"It is my intention to address Presbyteries,
and to hold public meetings everywhere for aiding the glorious work. The
Lord be with me to give me the Spirit of Christ and a sound mind to
consider my brethren, to support the weak, to be patient to all, to help
the weak to good, and to trust God for the increase, while we plant and
water according to their need.
"An immense deal has yet to be done. We have
to reconsider the whole idea of missions—the preaching mission, and how to
preach and what to preach, so as to get at the Hindoo and Mussulman mind;
the teaching mission, and how the child is to be treated in relation to
his heathen, parent; the tract mission, and what sort of tracts India
needs J the healing mission, and the place which hospital and alms-giving
should hold. We have to consider the organization and local government of
missions, and how to build up congregations so as to bring the moral
power, the character, and the Christian order of the family and the
congregation to bear on the work. We have to consider the retiring
allowances for missionaries and the sick, the relationship of the missions
of one Church to another, &c. The Lord be with us ! His Spirit can do it.
He loves it. It is His work. We are but fellow-workers.
"I have lost a clear friend in Principal
Leitch. Poor dear Boss ! I cannot think of the world as henceforth without
him—so simple and true, so loyal, so genuine ! I have, with very few
exceptions, no such friend on earth—none who knew my failings as he did,
none to cover them as he did, none to love me in spite of them as he did.
Well, he is another portion of my treasure in heaven! And so is Tom Baird,
the carter, the beadle of my working-man's church, as noble a fellow as
ever lived—God-fearing, true, unselfish. I shall never forget what he said
when I asked him to stand at the door of the working-man's congregation,
and when I thought he was unwilling to do so in his working clothes. 'If,'
said I, 'you don't like to do it, Tom, if you are ashamed------' 'Ashamed
!' he exclaimed as he turned round upon me. 'I'm mair ashamed o' yoursel',
sir. Div' ye think that I believe, as ye ken I do, that Jesus Christ, who
died for me, was stripped o' his raiment on the cross, and thatI------ Na,
na, I'm prood tae stan' at the door.' Dear good fellow! There he stood for
seven winters without a sixpence of pay; all from love, though at my
request the working congregation gave him a silver watch.
"When he was dying from small-pox, the same
unselfish nature appeared. When asked if they would let me know, he
replied, ' There's nae man livin' I like as I do him. I know he wad come.
But he shouldna come on account of his wife and bairns, and so ye maun na'
tell him!' I never saw him in his illness, never hearing of his danger
till it was too late.
"This India mission presses itself with
greater solemnity on me every day; I feel Jesus has given us to do the
noblest work which can occupy the energies of men here below- or of angels
above—not foreign missions only, but all missions, every effort, from that
in our own hearts, our own families, our congregations, to make men know
God, and thus to respond to His own love. All our difficulties are in
ourselves. We are so poor, so mean, so cowardly; there is such a want of
thorough consecration, which is just a loving spirit of true liberty and
perfect peace. It alarms me greatly, yet not enough.
"I will labour and pray for the establishment
of strong missions, and, above all,—above all for men who peril their
souls, their all in Christ! Oh, for godly men to be missionaries. A godly
man has God's spirit with him to guide him, direct him, bless him. This is
the all in all. Such a man must be a useful man. A man of love, real and
genuine, is the godly man. Jesus Christ, Lord of the Harvest, for this I
pray ! give us godly missionaries! Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. Oh,
my Saviour, bless this mission work ! My beloved Saviour, my hope is in
"I wish £10,000
a year at least, and ten men at least, to preach Christ to India. If I had
not faith in Christ I should despair."
To his Mother :—
"July 10th, 1864.
"This goes merely to certify to you, on the best authority, that (1) I
have addressed, since I saw you, both Presbyteries and public meetings at
Dunoon, Perth, Dunkeld, Cupar-Angus, Forfar, Cupar-Fife. (2) that this
week I have to do ditto at Dunse, Greenlaw, Chirnside, Linlithgow; (3) the
week after at Galashiels, Selkirk, Kelso, Hawick, Melrose; (4) that I am
not suffering from sore throat, sore back, head, heart, lungs, brain,
nerves, muscles, sinews, legs, arms, back, neck, heels, toes—but am from
tip to toe jolly.
work, bless God, goes on beautifully. All so kind and cordial. I feel more
thankful than I can tell, and I am in perfect peace and in great feather."
To Dr. Chaeteris :—
"8th August, 1864.
"The missionary who we hoped would have gone withdraws, as his parents say
'No.' Parental affirmatives are generally gladly given to good money
prospects in the East, or to prospects of promotion, with the chance of a
bullet through the brain of their beloved.
"Faith, if not dead, sleepeth. We cannot
create missionaries. We can pray and wait— ay, for a lifetime, if needs
"It would in the
end be a rich gain to the Church if deep silence for years was the only
response to her call for missionaries, and that this brought Divinity
professors and ministers to their knees before a throne of grace.
"How can Christ do many, or any, mighty works,
if there be no faith? How can He give, if we don't as a Church ask like
men in earnest?"
his Journal:— "Pitlochrie.
"Thursday, the anniversary of my marriage. We
went up Glen Tilt, and had a pic-nic with our children only; and, amidst
the glories of the earth, rejoiced that they were born into such a world,
with such a Father and Saviour. Oh yes, very, very thankful were we both.
Oh, my Father, the only thing I dread is sin in my darlings. Good Lord,
loving Father, deliver us from that hell!
"We had another fine day at the Loch, and all
ended by an evening in company with dear John Shairp, at the river side,
hearing John McPherson, the piper, play out his glorious pibrochs. What a
power they have over me ! I wept like a child hearing them. My father and
all the romantic past mingled with their every note.
"My children are a source of unspeakable
blessing, yet Christian anxiety. I feel more and more that there is a life
totally different in kind from the life in the natural man; a life in the
Spirit, which must be begun and developed into life everlasting by God's
Spirit, for which we must pray. How solemn is the fact of the I—the
personality—the out-of-us individualism of each child! How impossible to
renew the soul of one we would die for. Oh, my Father, it is Thy work! We
cling to Thee.
"September 6.—Left Saturday morning to visit the Prince of Wales at
"It is a
glorious Highland residence. The golden pillared pines, the royal heather,
the great sweep of the valley, the high ranges, the quiet!
"I had a sweet walk in the forest.
"Left on Monday at 11 for Inverness, and have
had meetings at Tain, 500 or 600 present, mostly of the Free Church.
"I have been amazed with Ross and Sutherland.
I never beheld such a combination of highly cultivated fields with good
wooding and picturesque scenery. It has the luxurious cultivation of Kelso
with the scenery of the Highlands. Yet this country which has but one form
of Church government, one confession of faith, one form of worship, is
more literally divided, more sectarian, than any country I have ever been
in. The feelings of the Free Church to the Establishment (for it is
chiefly on their part, beyond doubt) are hardly equalled by those of the
Roman Catholics in Galway to a Protestant missionary, or those of the
Mohammedan in Damascus to a Christian. So it has been hitherto, and that,
as usual, owing to the clergy, those sources of so much good and of so
much evil to the Church of God.
"But I was most thankful to see men that were
worthies of the Free Kirk come to my meetings. This eased my heart. I
prayed God to be able to speak truth, that would reach deeper down than
all their controversies, and such as would make for peace. Would that my
brethren would concentrate themselves in faith on doing good 'seeking
first the kingdom of God,' and leaving Christ to arrange and add all other
things unto them.
Sutherland missionary to India would be a blessing to all of them and to
"October 6.—Have had meetings at Inverary, Falkirk, and Hamilton
(Presbytery). I have been fagged, bothered, addled, dowie."
To Mrs. Macleod:—
"Aberdeen, October 10th.
"I have a short time before I address the
Synod at two, to write to you.
I don't know why I should feel so very much
to-day; but I have been for two hours preparing with head and heart to
speak worthily on this great subject. My heart trembles for the ark of
God. I do feel this to be a crisis in our mission history, and I am so
anxious. In proportion as I believe in the certainty of success if we seek
the Lord, and humbly endeavour to do His work, in that proportion I feel
the terrible sin and eternal loss if it is not done. I heard Doctor Duff
last night. I have not seen him since we met in Paris, long ago, at the
Alliance, nor have I heard him since he made his great speech in the
Assembly of '38. He is, of course, older, and visibly feebler; but that
very feebleness was to me so touchingly eloquent. How humbled I felt
before him, how inwardly I revered and blessed the old soldier of the
cross. I have desires and words, weak and feeble. But he is the living
embodiment of work done."
To a Relative who had announced his betrothal:
"Of course I know
all you feel and all you think. 'You feel that'—of course you do—'and that
if—of course—'and that no man'—of course— ' and that your own heart can
tell'—no doubt of it—' and that when you came home last night you'—who
denies it?—' and that the solemnity of— I agree with you.
"God bless you, my dear boy! No one more
deeply sympathizes with you."
The following letter was written after opening
a box of edible fungi which had lain in the house for some days, during
his absence from home, having been sent him by Dr. Esdaile, well known for
his advocacy of the use of horseflesh, and for his experiments in
pisciculture, and still better known for his heroic and successful efforts
to found a College for Ministers' Daughters:
To the Rev. Dr. Esdaile, Rescobie :—
"Oct. 25th, 1864.
dear Easdail—or Esdale—or Esdaile, for such a queer fellow cannot be
easily made out. I received your puddock stools after I returned home from
a mission tour. As holy things, or as noxious things, they were set aside
by the family, with mingled feelings of awe, mystery, and terror. That
death was in the box was obvious to the senses—but death of what 1 Was it
a new murder? A man's head, or a whole child, or a leg of some Briggs? I
myself opened the box with one careful hand while I held my nose with
another. It was an awful evidence of the doctrine of corruption! But not
of the will, and so I thank you heartily for your goodwill in sending me
the deadly poison, and congratulate myself on my escape. Why did you
expect the Barony? Your sermon was highly acceptable ; but why kill the
parson? Esdaile! you know what you are, and if you don't stop these savage
feastings on mare's flesh and mushrooms, I'll have you up as a witch or
say for your foul intentions, and for my lucky escape.
"Go along! You mushroom wasting, horseflesh
eating, oyster breeding, mussel growing, salmon fishing, Ministers'
daughters training, good for everything mortal."
To his Mother:—
"I have been every night, except Saturday,
away from my own family! It is very hard, but ' what can a fellow do?'
"Dr. Duff has written me a very kind letter to
meet him here next week.
"The Free Kirk have subscribed handsomely to
first man I called on gave me £250! and wrote such a nice note."
From his Journal:—
"Dec. 18.—I was invited by Prince Alfred to
spend the 14th Anniversary of his father's death with him at Darmstadt.
The Queen commanded me to see her before I went, so on Monday I went to
Windsor. I told her that the more I was confided in, the more I felt my
responsibility to speak the truth. That night I went, via Calais, to
Darmstadt. The Prince joined the train at Bonn.
"To-day (Sunday) I expounded in the forenoon,
and now express my grateful thanks to my Father, my guide, my help, my
all, for His mercy to me during this last heavy and important week.
"Oh, let me never lose my trust in Him, or be
afraid of accepting any duty imposed on me in His Providence, but step out
bravely and humbly at His bidding, sure of His blessing.
"I have during the past year been pretty
steadily in my own pulpit, but with the exception of visiting the sick, I
have been able to do little parish work, which deeply pains me. I have
written eleven Sermons for Good Words and two Articles; prepared some of
the memoir of my father, and first part of 'Home Preacher..'"
To A. Strahan, Esq.:—
"Midnight. (31st December, 1864, Midnight,
31st December, 1864 / 1st January, 1865
"God bless you, and may He enable you and me,
with honest, simple, believing, and true hearts, to do His will, and come
weal or woe, to make Good Words a means of doing real good to our
fellow-men, and so pleasing our Master that, when time shall be no more,
He will receive us as faithful servants. Amen."
From his Journal :—
"January 3rd.—Let me here record, as throwing
some light on the folly of presentiments and dreams, the following facts,
without the slightest shadow of exaggeration.
"One evening, when sitting alone, before
starting by a night train for London, I got into an unaccountably
depressed state of mind. The thought came that I, or my family, might be
entering some great trial. It might be a railway accident? Yes!—so said I
to myself,—I shall for the first time in my life take an insurance ticket
for £1,000. This resolution brought my day dream to a conclusion, and I
burst into a fit of laughing at my absurd foreboding, which I felt was
from over-work. Wishing to change a half-crown to pay the cab before
taking my ticket, I put one down at the ticket window, and without
speaking a word, received an insurance ticket for £ 1,000 and 3d, I think,
back. Having forgotten my dream, I was taken all aback, and started. 'I
never asked for a ticket,' I said, and was returning it, when some one
over my shoulder said, 'I'll take it, Doctor.' But so impressed was I by
the odd coincidence that I took it for the first (and last) time in my
life. I never slept more soundly, and never had a safer or pleasanter
(2.) As to
dreams. The night before last I awoke out of a horrible nightmare. I
thought the house was burning—Johnnie's room on fire, and in vain trying
to take the dear boy out of the flames. The fact of his being ill since
Sunday with scarlatina made the dream more painful. I told it in the
morning, and also what had occasioned it. The day before, when in the
Barony, I was thinking what I should do if the church was on fire, and the
idea for a few minutes quite possessed me, as any day it might have become
a most complicated problem.
"After telling this dream, the servant who
slept next room to my boy, both doors being open, told me he had sprung up
in the middle of the night, and cried out to her that his room was on
fire, which was all nonsense. Now, on examination, I found that my brother
had said that day, in his hearing, to my wife, that the only reason he
disliked rooms in the attics, like his, was in event of fire. This had
produced his dream."
To J. M. Ludlow, Esq. :—
"Jan., 1865. "Here am I with an Indian mission to conduct, addressing
congregations, Presbyteries and Synods, a committee to manage, papers to
write, correspondence to carry on, missionaries to send out and to buy
their outfit, to finger shirts and examine towellings, to visit my people
two days a week, preach thrice, teach a class every Sunday, collect money
to build schools and churches (at the rate of £1,000 a year for 14 years),
to hear every man and woman who call on me about everything down to a sore
finger, besides having to rear a family and keep my liver right. High
Lincoln's death. It will, under God, be a huge blessing to the North, and
be the ending of the accursed South.
"Had Lee or Jeff. Davies been assassinated,
what a howl! This is a mighty era in the world's history. I am ashamed of
my country. This sympathy with the South is an inscrutable mystery to me;
I cannot make it out. But I fear we shall have to suffer for our grievous
pride. I still hope that America will be our noblest and staunchest ally.
"Oh that the Churches would rise in their
strength above mere politics, and say before God, we shall be one in heart
for the good of the world!
"I have never swerved in my sympathy with the
North, and I believe the day is not far off when we shall hardly believe
that Britain's sympathy was with the South. Oh, my country ! Oh, Christian
Churches ! Repent in dust and ashes!
"I cannot comprehend man's blindness on this
question! I rejoice in the unity and prosperity of the grand Republic; its
strength is a blessed counterpoise to continental despotism and mere
king-craft. I have the brightest hopes of its future, but chiefly through
the influence of its Churches. It is to me a mystery that Britain does not
rejoice in America. I do."
The innovations in public worship introduced
by Dr. Robert Lee, Minister of Greyfriars, Edinburgh, most of which were
simply restorations of the earlier usage of the Church, were now agitating
the ecclesiastical mind of the country and formed the chief topic of
discussion at the Assembly of 1865. Public opinion since then has so much
changed in reference to such matters, that it is difficult to realise the
excitement which was produced by the use of read prayers and instrumental
music, or to believe that it was for a time doubtful whether the Church
would tolerate any changes in her service, such as the increasing culture
of the country every day demanded more loudly. Dr. Macleod was a member of
this Assembly, as might have been expected, warmly espoused the side of
like very much to know who 'our fathers' are to whom there have been so
many allusions during the discussion. If reference is made to those
respectable gentlemen in bob-wigs that used to sit here last century, and
if it is assumed that everything they did then is to regulate us now, let
that be plainly asserted. Some of these men, doubtless, did much good in
their day, and some of them did very little. But to say that we are to be
ruled by all that they did would be just as absurd as if in the year 2000
all progress was to be stopped by some earnest men quoting the opinions of
'the fathers' of this generation. I should tremble at myself standing up
to address this House, if there was a prospect of my acting as an
incubus—an actual ghost—for all generations, and to be called 'a father.'
I take no such responsibility on myself. All I wish is to help the present
as our fathers helped our past, and as I hope our grandchildren will help
our future. Let us have no more appeals to the fathers, but look at the
question in the light of common sense.
"You speak of the fathers of the Church, but I
go back to a true father of the Church—the Apostle Paul. I do not know
what he would think if he were nowadays to come amongst us. Would he not,
in all probability, be put down as a latitudinarian? I fear very much
whether some of us could really understand a man who became a Jew to the
Jews, and a Gentile to the Gentiles, not for the love of popularity, which
was what he most thoroughly despised, but ' that he might gain some.' I am
afraid there are some among us who would not comprehend him if he said, '
One man esteemeth one day above another, another man esteemeth every day
alike; let every man be persuaded in his own mind.' They would be unable
to comprehend a man who knew from God, as an absolute certainty, that
there was nothing unclean, but could yet have the grand and noble charity
to say, 'To him that thinketh it unclean to him it is unclean.' I question
if they could understand a man who could say, 'The kingdom of God is not
meat and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;
and 'he that serveth Christ in these things is acceptable to God and
approved of men.' I do not know whether Paul would have made all the
office-bearers sign the Confession of Faith—Phoebe, the deaconess for
example—but I am sure of this, that he of all the fathers of the Church
that ever lived, not only in his preaching but his life, carried out the
old adage, 'In things essential, unity; in things indifferent, liberty ;
in all things, charity.' Now it is this spirit which should guide the
Church of Scotland, and I think that much of our sectarianism might have
been prevented if we had had a little more consideration for the feelings
and opinions of others, and if, instead of digging a ditch round us, and
bragging how much we differed from every other Church on earth, we had
made a few more bridges, and had shown a little more catholic feeling
towards other Churches on earth ; if, instead of looking to our individual
selves, we had looked more to the feelings and opinions of the country.
For the very genius of our National Church ought, in my opinion, to be
inclusiveness, as far as possible, and not exclusiveness.
"......I think, as a Church, we ought, with
the other Presbyterian Churches in this country, to hold firm by our
historical past, for all that is great and good in a nation has its root
in the past. Let us hold fast by that which is good in the past; and as
our system of Presbytery is good, let us hold fast by its form of
government. And in reference to that I beg to say, in passing, that there
never was a greater delusion than to imagine that the wish to have an
organ, or a more cultivated form of worship, has anything to do with
Episcopacy. 'So far from this, I believe these improvements will serve to
keep back Episcopacy; and, under any circumstances, I make bold to say, as
a minister of the National Church of Scotland, that I think it is my duty,
as well as in accordance with my feelings, to stretch out a kind hand to
every Scotchman, and, if I could, a kind and protecting hand to every
Church in this kingdom.
"I say, further, led us hold fast and firm by
our Confession of Faith. But I really wish that gentlemen would feel the
delicacy of these questions of tests and signatures, and not be
perpetually dragging up this subject. I do not know at this moment any one
question that requires finer handling, so to speak.
"I desire to see retained our whole Confession
of Faith as the expression of the Church's faith in the past and in the
present. But do not let us be the Church of the past merely, let us also
be the Church of the present and the Church of the future; and this I will
boldly maintain, that we are the freest Church at this moment in Scotland.
I think honestly we are. I know our respected brethren who left us do not
repent doing so, and that there is not a step they have taken which they
would not honestly and calmly take again. But I say also, neither do I
repent for a moment the position I have occupied, but would calmly give
over again every vote I have given, and take again every step I have
taken. I believe that God is over-ruling all this for, perhaps, a higher
good than we are looking to. But, as an Established Church, we are limited
by a Constitution—a noble Constitution—which secures us freedom, because
giving us security at once against the tyranny of the State and the
tyranny of the clergy; and within the limits of the Constitution we have
freedom at this moment to examine all questions brought before us, and to
express our judgment upon them, moulding the Church to meet the wants of
the country as it now is. It is on the broad ground of our calling as a
National Church, and the liberty we have as a National Church, that I
would desire to entertain with kindness and thoughtfulness all these
questions when we are desired by any portion of the people to do so."
From his Journal :—
"The Assembly of '65 is over. One of the most
reactionary since '43.
"The one great evil I see
in both Assemblies, and more especially in that of the Free Church, is not
so much any decision they may have come to on such a question as organs,
which is an odd one in the nineteenth century, as the spirit of both.
"There is too little freedom to speak in sober
truth against anything which the majority approves of. There are
suspicious whisperings, up to the howls of an ' orthodox' (help the mark!)
brass band, against any man who presumes to question, doubt, or differ
regarding non-essentials. Young men are terrified lest they should be
considered 'dangerous,' 'doubtful,' 'broad,' 'latitudinarian,' 'liberal,'
'not safe.' And so men who think little on public questions, by simply
hissing and crying, ' Vote, vote,' easily and without sacrifice get a
reputation, where a true man with some fair and honest doubt on certain
matters is despised. The great snare to weak consciences in the present
day is not the world so much as the Church, so-called. A reformation of
any kind appears to me more and more supernatural.
"But Mrs. Partington cannot sweep the ocean
To J. A.
Campbell, Esq. :-
have been at Loudoun, my first parish. How I mourned the contrast between
my work as a parish minister now and then! God has given me other things
to do, and so I must accept of them. But any good results from wholesale
public work can only be anticipated by faith, while the personal work of
the minister, the house to house, face to face, heart to heart work, is a
present, immediate, and sure reward. Few things amaze me more than the
tolerance of my present flock. I comfort myself by believing that God, who
knows all the outs and ins between us, has in mercy spared me the pain of
seeing them distrusting me and leaving me. Had they done so, I would at
once have given up everything else, shut off all public work, and fallen
back on the pastoral. It needs all my faith not to become peevish and
miserable with myself.
"I had a long call from David Livingstone last
week. A Yankee parson was in the drawing-room, and hearing how I was
engaged, insisted on being introduced. He came down, shook hands with
Livingstone, saying, 'Sir—I have heard of you!' "
His Journal contains a deeply interesting
account of the interviews he had with Dr. Pritchard, while this notorious
criminal was lying under sentence of death for poisoning his wife and
mother-in-law ; but the same motives of regard for the feelings of
relatives which enjoined silence at the time, still exist to enforce
reserve on this painful subject.
To Mrs. Macleod :—
"Friday.—Please do not excite yourself when
you see by the papers that I have been with Pritchard to the last. I
thought it rather cowardly to let Oldham do this work alone when we had
shared the previous portion of it. So I offered to go, and I am glad I
did. I saw it all from first to last; was with him in his cell, and walked
at his back till he reached the scaffold. As to his Behaviour, strange to
say, no patriot dying for his country, no martyr dying for his faith,
could have behaved with greater calmness, dignity, and solemnity! He was
kind and courteous (as he always was) to all. Prayed with us with apparent
deep earnestness. Told Oldham to tell his sister that he repented of a
life of transgression, was glad the second confession was suppressed, &c.
He said before the magistrates, with a low bow and most solemn voice, 'I
acknowledge the justice of my sentence.' He had told those about him on
leaving his cell, 'I want no one to support me,' and so he marched to the
scaffold with a deadly pale face but erect head, as if he marched to the
sound of music. He stood upright and steady as a bronze statue, with the
cap over his face and the rope round his neck. When the drop fell, all was
and complex character!
''Think of a man so firm as to say, smiling,
to Oldham, 'I am glad you have come with your gown and bands!'
"I am for ever set against all public
executions. They brutalise the people, and have no more meaning to them
than bull-baiting or a gladiatorial combat.
"And then the fuss, the babble and foam of
gossip, the reporting for the press, &c, over that black sea of crime and
say, I felt no excitement whatever, but calm and solemn. I gazed at him
while praying for his poor soul till the last. But I won't indulge in
sensation sketches. May God forgive all my poor sinful services, and
accept of me and mine as lost sinners redeemed through Jesus Christ!"
From his Journal :—
"My church was shut for five weeks for repair,
and I went with my family to Norwood.
"I was myself depressed as the re-action from
previous work and horrors (attending Pritchard in his cell) ! I went for a
week to Holland with my friend Strahan, preached at Rotterdam, toured it
to the Hague, Scheveling, on to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, home via Calais.
"The worst 'fairs' I have seen are the Glasgow
Fair and the Kermiss at Rotterdam—as bad for vulgar rioting and
drunkenness as the Foresters' Fete at the Crystal Palace.
"I preached at —'s Baptist chapel. How
tremendously Maurice and his school have told on the Baptists ! The ice is
thawing, and the water is freezing. How truth tells at last! If it does
not revolutionize it modifies. It is wonderful to think how much
'Orthodoxy' owes to ' the world ' and to 'Heterodoxy.' What a practical
difference does it make having Christ, not any logical theological system,
as the object of our faith and love ! I remember Norwood with gratitude! "
To the Rev. W. F. Stevenson: —
"Fiunary, August 13th.
"I am alive—alive to the glory of the hills
and to the earth's gravitation as I try to ascend their summits—alive to
the critical state of the political and ecclesiastical world; to the
dangers and glories of the Irish revival; and to many other things I
should like to have a chat about.
"I rejoice to hear such glad tidings about
Ireland ! God grant wise men to guide events ! I don't go ' to see the
Revival.' I fear it is the making it a spectacle which will prove its
greatest danger. By-and-by I may run over and inquire about results. In
the meantime I am taking a run through dear old places, and among dear old
friends. What a language those hills and seas speak to me, who have been
coming to them every year almost since childhood ! Yet how many hands
there were that welcomed me which ' touch ' no more. How many voices which
were earth's music once, that sound no more ! Here life would be death to
me, unless I believed death was life.
"I preach to-morrow, having Jowett as one of