HIS unanimous election by
the General Assembly of 1869 to the dignity of Moderator gave him no
ordinary satisfaction. The event was gratifying in itself; but it was
specially valued as a token of the liberality of the Church, which could
bestow such an honour on one who had so recently fought for freedom at the
risk of losing his ministerial position, and was highly appreciated as a
mark of confidence in his personal loyalty and attachment to the Church.
From his Journal:—
"April 8th.—It is a deep working out of love
to say or do from true love that which may cause the object of love to
manifest hate to us and yet to love him in spite of his hate.
"How wonderful is the love which can discern
and accept of the love of God revealed in and by deepest suffering, and
which rejoices in the love in spite of the suffering! 'He took the cup'
and 'took the bread,' symbols of a broken body and shed blood, and 'gave
"Love is the
only way along which the whole world may reach greatness. The proud
despise it as too common and vulgar. They prefer to reach it by way of
genius or talent.
. . See clearly what you wish. Sincerely desire that others should see it
also and seek it. Help to bring them into this mind by perfect truth and
candour, patience, meekness, respect and tender consideration for their
feelings and their prejudices. Never despair, and believing in God and His
good-will to man, be sure that the right will come right.
''Deal with others as God deals with you, and
all will be done with truth and charity and patience. Want of candour and
want of confidence in our fellow-men hinder and weaken us.
"I believe we would always gain right ends
sooner, whether political or ecclesiastical, if we openly declared what we
wanted, and made no mystery of it. Wrong alone fears the light. 'Policy,'
in most cases, if not in all, belongs to the devil and darkness. It
creates the very suspicions which it endeavours to conquer."
To A. Strahan, Esq.:—
come here for a quiet day's work. I send you a morsel to keep your
printer's devils going. I shall send as much more to-morrow."
From his Journal:—
"May 18th, Tuesday.—I record my gratitude to
God for the quiet and comparatively unbroken fortnight I have had, and the
measure of good health also given me, and the peace of mind to prepare my
long address for the Assembly. I go to-morrow to reach the highest point
in my public life. My mother, dear one ! wife and nine children, aunts,
brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces, and troops of friends to be with
me. What a height of mercy ! Oh, may this be a talent used lovingly,
humbly, and unselfishly for His glory ! Such is my earnest desire.".
In giving the customary address at the close
of the Assembly, he took the opportunity of uttering his convictions on
several important matters of ecclesiastical policy. Among other points he
noticed certain characteristics of the age of which he thought account
should be taken by the Church.
"1.—The age in which we live is one of
searching inquiry in regard to truth. We do not complain of this; for
however perverted the spirit may sometimes become, and however much it may
manifest mere discontent with things as they are, yet the spirit itself in
its essence is good, and should be hailed by all who love the true and the
right for their own sakes, be the consequences to themselves what they
characteristic of our time may be described as a jealousy of all
monopolies, of all privileges which would secure good to the' few, at the
expense, directly or indirectly, of the many. And this is being applied to
existing Church Establishments. Treaties of union, Acts of Parliament, and
the like, however invaluable they may be, even as means of securing time
for discussion, or as affording the strongest possible grounds for a
patient and considerate policy, must ultimately yield to the prime
question of political justice as decided by a national jury. The country
will determine, wisely or unwisely, what it deems best, not for this or
that class, this or that denomination, but for the general good. And I
might add, that establishments of religion are henceforth likely to be
dealt with, not according to an imperial policy which recognizes the unity
of the State, but with reference to the wants and expressed wishes of each
separate nationality, so to speak, whether of Scotland, England, or
Ireland, in which they respectively exist. On this principle the Church of
Ireland has been dealt with, not as an Establishment connected with the
Church of England, far less as connected with the Establishment of
Scotland, but merely with reference to its suitableness for Ireland, as
determined by its past history, present position, and future prospects.
And thus, too, must the Churches of Scotland and England in the long-run
be tried, each on its own merits, each according to its adaptation to the
religious wants of the country in which it exists. Now this is a principle
of which national Churches should not complain, inasmuch as their power
and efficiency are inseparable from the fact of their being acceptable to
the nation as a whole. If by any fault of theirs they lose the confidence
of the nation, or fail to recover it after a fair trial, their continuance
is more than imperilled, seeing that they exist for the nation. and not
the nation for them.
"For myself," he said, in reference to the question of Subscription, "I
confess that I do not see how the Church of Christ, or any section of it,
as a society professedly founded on the teaching of Christ and His
apostles, and having a history since the day of Pentecost, can exist
without a creed expressed or administered in some form or other. As far as
I know, the Church has always had some test for the doctrinal beliefs of
its teachers and members, or for their beliefs of the historic facts of
the New Testament which constitute the basis of objective
Christianity.[John ii. 10, 11; 1 John iv. 1 ; 2 Peter ii. 1 ; 1 Cor. xv.
8. ] Moreover, the theory held by us, as an Established Church, implies
that the State ought to know what are the doctrines professed by the
Church which it proposes to establish. Hence those doctrines when mutually
agreed upon, become the law at once of the Church and of the State.
"What therefore in these circumstances can be
done by our National Church 1 Shall we, for example, compel every minister
under pain of dismissal, or of incurring charges of dishonesty, to accept
every statment, every alleged fact, every argument for doctrine, and
deduction from doctrine, and proof of doctrine to be found in the
Confession] Is this what the Church really means before Cod when it uses
the formula? And do we practically make no distinction between those
things on which Christians, the most learned and the most holy, may and do
differ in all Evangelical churches, and those doctrines on which, as a
whole, all are at one? Possibly we may obtain honest agreement in minute
details, but I fear it will only be on the part of the very few, of the
very ignorant, thus necessarily creating the dead unity of a churchyard,
rather than the living unity of a Church, and fostering a faith like that
of Romanists, which rests practically upon the mere Church authority. It
appears to me that the quantity or quality of any confession to those who
thus receive it, is of no more importance than the quantity or quality of
food is to a man who only carries it, but does not eat it. But on the
other hand is it possible without running still greater risks for a Church
to give official permission to any office-bearer to make this distinction
between Essentials and Non-Essentials? Then where is the line to be drawn?
And what value would there be in this case in any Confession at all? Might
not the most dangerous and Anti-Christian opinions be preached in our
pulpits, and the result be that to include sceptics we practically exclude
true believers? It is so much easier for some to sneer at creeds
altogether, and for others to raise a cry of horror as if God's Word was
attacked when a doubt regarding them is expressed, than for both parties
to carry the burthen of fair and candid men, seriously considering the
difficulty and suggesting such a solution of it as may satisfy our sense
of truth in regard to ourselves, and our sense of justice and charity
now let me ask with unfeigned humility and with a full sense of the
difficulties which I have indicated, whether a practical solution, if not
a logical one. may not, on the one hand, be found in common sense and
spiritual tact and Christian honour on the part of those who, with doubts
and difficulties, desire to enter or to remain in the Church, and that
from no selfish motive; and, on the other hand, by the exercise of those
same gifts and graces towards such individuals on the part of the Church?
The minister can thus easily determine for himself how far he honestly
agrees with the teaching and doctrine of the Church, or cordially accepts
it as that which has been recognised as constituting the essentials of
Christianity by the whole Catholic Church from the days of the Apostles;
while the Church, retaining her power to exercise discipline in every case
of departure from the Confession, may also exercise due caution, charity,
Dean of Westminster, who was present at several meetings of the General
Assembly, afterwards addressed the following letter to Dr. Macleod as
"My dear Moderator,
"I was obliged to leave in such haste on Friday, as to have had no time to
thank you for the great kindness of the past week.
"It was a sincere grief and disappointment to
me not to be able to be present today to hear your address, and to-morrow
to assist at your dinner. Nothing but the call of imperative engagements
here would have prevented it.
"Meanwhile I have had the very great pleasure
and profit of having become acquainted, by personal intercourse, with your
famous Assembly, and with the established organ of the Church of Scotland.
"I cannot bring myself to believe that an
institution so represented is doomed to fall, or that the Scottish people
will consent to the overthrow of a body which gives such pledges of
dignity and progress to the whole country.
"If at your dinner you should think it worth
while to refer to this humble expression of regard from a Presbyter of the
sister Church, pray consider yourself at liberty to do so.
"A. P. Stanley."
"Aird's Bay House, 2nd August, 1860.
"The Moderatorship was a time of great peace
of heart. There was no contretemps of any kind. The house was very full,
and every one was kind. Dean Stanley attended our Assembly, and visited
the Free Church one also. He lived in the same hotel as we did. My
address, which occupied two hours, was delivered to a crowded house, and
was kindly accepted. It has since been published.
"After the Assembly, on the following Sunday I
went to Balmoral; and at the end of June went with the Anti-Patronage
Committee to London. The Scotch Members gave us a dinner. Had an interview
with Gladstone, accompanied by twenty-seven M.P.'s. It was my own decided
opinion that we should go to Government to do away with Patronage. If they
refused to aid us, they could not accuse us of want of sympathy with the
country ; and if they aided us, they could not destroy us. They could not
well order new clothes for a man, and then kill him.
"Some think that Gladstone, in his interview
as reported, wished that in the memorial which he suggested, we should
discuss the question of sharing endowments with other Presbyterian
Churches. No one, at the time, as far as I know, believed this. Had I done
so, although warned by several influential Members of Parliament not to
discuss anything at that interview, and also feeling the extreme
difficulty of my position as representing the Church, accompanied by a
deputation with so many M.P.'s of different sentiments, yet I would have
refused, without consent of the Church, to entertain and discuss the
question of Disestablishment, when we were commissioned to consider
Patronage only. But a leader in the Daily Review made me think that this
meaning might be given to the words, and possibly truly, so I protested in
a speech given in Glasgow, at my brother's induction dinner to Park
Church, against what seemed to me the insulting idea of asking us to
entertain such a question, although the Church might do it. This called
forth an abusive article." [Considerable difference of opinion prevailed
as to the exact words used by Mr. Gladstone, but that Dr. Macleod had
quite apprehended their purport, may be gathered from the following
letter, written by Mr. Gladstone's Secretary to the Rev. Mr. Dykes, of Ayr
:—"Mr. Gladstone has no report by him of his conversation with the
deputation that waited on him in the summer, and is unable, without that
assistance to make any positive assertion on the subject ; but according
to his best recollection, he gave no opinion of his own on the proposal of
the deputation, but inquired if it had been considered what view was or
would be taken of the proposal by the other Presbyterian communions in
Scotland, and what effect its adoption would have on the relation between
those communions (regard being had to their origin) and the Established
Ecclesiastical policy was never congenial to him, and it is doubtful how
far he was fitted to be in this sphere the leader of a party. He had
strong convictions as to the principles by which a national Church should
be guided, and drew a line, clear enough to his own mind, between the
generous comprehension which he advocated, and the latitudinarianism which
would override the limits of catholic belief. But he had neither patience
nor taste for diplomacy, nor for the finesse required to "manage" a party.
His special calling, in the circumstances in which the Church had been
placed since 1843, had respect to her life and practical work; and he felt
that in proportion as he helped to make her better he would also make her
stronger. But, although he was not an ecclesiastical politician, he
acquired an influence in the councils of the Church, and, what was still
more important, an influence beyond her pale which was perhaps wider and
more vital than that of any or all the leaders or parties. [I am reminded,
that since the Disruption there have been no parties in the Church. This
may be true in a technical sense, but practically, each Assembly has been
divided on special questions : and these divisions have usually been
determined by a general policy.]
On this subject Dean Stanley wrote:—
"He was the chief ecclesiastic of the Scottish
Church. No other man during the last thirty years in all spiritual
ministrations so nearly filled the place of Chalmers; no other man has
occupied so high and important a position in guiding the ecclesiastical
movements of his country since the death of Robertson, we might almost
say, since the death of Carstares . . . Macleod represented Scottish
Protestantism more than any other single man. Under and around him men
would gather who would gather round no one else. When he spoke it was felt
to be the voice, the best voice of Scotland."
It was fortunate, therefore, for the movement
for the Abolition of Patronage, that when it first took definite shape,
the Church was represented by one whose antecedents gave him claims to
attention in professing to speak on grounds of public rather than
own views on the question of Patronage were sufficiently defined. He never
for a moment imagined that it was contrary to Scripture ; and, as actually
exercised in the Church, he deemed there might be many advantages as well
as disadvantages connected with its continuance. It was, however, on
grounds of Christian expediency, and in view of the relation of the Church
to the country, that he now supported its abolition. Even as early as 1843
he had foreseen the necessity of moving in this direction, and in his
closing address as Moderator of the General Assembly he strongly urged the
motives by which the national Church ought, in his opinion, to be
national Church, I mean one whose clergy are secured a decent support out
of certain funds set apart by the State for their use; a Church whose
doctrines have been accepted by the State, as those which are henceforth
to characterise the teaching of its ministers, and whose government and
discipline are in their several outlines defined, recognised, and
protected by law. Such an organization exists, not for the sake of the
clergy, but for the sake of the country. The people do not thus belong to
the Church, but the Church to the people. Our stipends are not given for
our own sake, but for theirs. The Church is their property, and all her
ministrations are established for their advantage. If this be so, then a
national Church can never, without forfeiting its true position, regard
what are called its own interests as being in any way independent of the
interests of the country, but rather as subordinate to them.
"A Christian body, self-supported, whose
members are united by a mere voluntary agreement, may exist for itself
only, and teach as it pleases, being answerable alone to conscience and to
God. Not so a Church which has had conferred upon it the privileges and
consequent responsibilities of an Establishment. Every question which
comes before such a Church for decision must be judged of with reference
to the general interests of the nation. According to this principle, the
views and wishes of Churches dissenting from our communion, on grounds
which it may be possible for us to remove, and the beliefs even of those
of our fellow countrymen who reject all Churches, demand from us earnest
and anxious consideration. The office-bearers of the national Church are
trustees of a property which is theirs only in so far as they regard it as
a common boon, which all citizens are entitled to share. How many of our
divisions might have been prevented, had all parties, acting on this
principle, carried in common the burden of the Church, and endeavoured to
make her claims harmonious at once with the righteous demands of the State
and of the country ! How much might yet be done if we would pass over all
the narrow space bounded by Church party into the wider space limited only
by Christian patriotism! We are thus bound, as far as is consistent with
our existence as a Christian Church, to include within it as many, and to
exclude from it as few as possible, of our countrymen. And in order, I
repeat, to do this, we should weigh their conscientious convictions
whether as to government, forms of worship, or doctrines of minor
importance, in the light of that true Christian charity, which is at once
the highest form of freedom and of restraint."
His anxiety was, if possible, to rebuild the
Church on a foundation sufficiently wide to include the Presbyterianism of
Scotland. He did not, however, delude himself with the hope of any
corporate union immediately taking place with the Free Church and United
Presbyterians, in consequence of the abolition of Patronage, He knew too
well their historical antecedents, understood too well the spirit which
years of antagonism had created, and had weighed too carefully other
practical difficulties to expect any such happy consummation. In reference
to this he used to quote from "Christabel" these lines—
"Alas! they had been friends in youth;
But whispering tongues can poison truth;
And constancy lives in realms above;
And life is thorny; and youth is vain;
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain.
* * * *
Each spake words of high disdain
And insult to his heart's best brother;
They parted—ne'er to meet again!
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart from paining—
They stood aloof, the scars rem tilling,
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between;
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween,
The marks of that which once hath been."
But he certainly dared to hope that, after
time had exercised its healing influence, these Churches would be thankful
for the preservation of the national endowments for religion, and
appreciate the attempt now made to open the doors of the Establishment as
wide as possible to all Presbyterian bodies. In these endowments he saw
the only sufficient security for the existence of a well paid and well
educated ministry for the nation. All he had seen and learned of
Voluntaryism in America, and all he had known of its working in this
country, had convinced him that, when existing alone, it was not only
insufficient for the proper support of the Church in poor districts, but
involved in its very nature elements of danger to the tone, independence,
and liberty of the clergy. [See his Speech on Patronage in the Assembly of
1870.] It seemed to him therefore a betrayal of the interests of
Christianity in Scotland, where the people were practically at one in
their beliefs, to throw away the patrimony of the Church for the sake of a
party triumph. He was therefore determined, as far as in him lay, to
conserve the Church for patriotic ends, and, with this view, was anxious
to bring her government as much as possible into harmony with the lawful
wishes, and even the prejudices of the people.
"We must endeavour to build up a Church,
national but not sectarian, most tolerant, but not indifferent—a Church
with liberty but not license, endowed but not covetous, and which, because
national, should extend her sympathy, her charity, if need be her
protection, to other Churches, and to every man who, by word or deed,
tries to advance the good of our beloved country." [Speech in Assembly,
after the deputation had waited on Mr. Gladstone, he wrote to the Duke of
Argyll in the following terms:—
"29th March, 1870.
"No man realises more fully or intensely than I do the difficulties which
surround us on every side in attempting to preserve the Church as an
Established Church, or even to secure for Presbyterianism the
ecclesiastical funds of the country. We cannot remain in our present
position and receive an attack, for our doing so would provoke an attack,
and justly too, as that would not be acting a worthy part. We cannot
retract after the vote for movement in regard to Patronage. We must
advance, stronger in numbers, in activity, in talent and influence, than
during any previous period subsequent to '43; and stronger still I humbly
hope in an unselfish desire, as becomes a national Church, to seek the
good of the country. And for this end we ought to be willing to share as
far as practicable the advantages or the prestige of the Establishment, or
at the worst, its endowments, with all who will receive them. I advance
therefore to make honourable terms, not with 'the enemy,' or mutineers,
but with those regiments who have left us, formed themselves into a Free
Corps, and have weakened in so many ways the army which should be united
against the common foe. Our attempt is not hopeless ! No attempt can be so
which, before God, seeks to do good. A higher blessing in some form must
come than if no such attempt is made. I have faith in God. All will depend
on the spirit which may actuate the Churches.
"The removal of Patronage, I am aware, is but
one step, and not the greatest. But I fancy that if it could be enacted
that induction should take place ' according to the laws of the Church,'
leaving liberty to regulate from time to time the laws regarding the
election, that the difficulty of ' spiritual independence' would be
"The Free Church could not, without denying her principles and history,
refuse at least to consider the question in the gravest manner, and the
responsibility of refusal would be laid on her. A considerable party in
that Church, and in the whole north of Scotland, which has declared
against union with the Voluntaries, and mourns over the 'sad defection' of
Candlish, Guthrie, and Buchanan, would gladly entertain the idea. The
United Presbyterians, who in their political eagerness to join the Free
Church, consented to let the principle of Establishment be ' an open
question' could hardly make its practice (a mere £ s. d. affair) be a
ground for rupture, and thus, if there was an Endowed Free Church in
friendly co-operation—in unity, if not union—with those tender consciences
which 'cannot touch the coined money,' we should have reform, in harmony
with our past history, and not Revolution.
"In spite of all that Voluntary Churches have
done, never were endowments, in addition to free gifts, more needed, if we
are to have, beyond the towns, clergy who can hold their own among a
cultivated and educated laity.
"There is a great fear on the part of some of
our Broad Churchmen, least an immigration of barbarian races into the
Establishment should extinguish all the freedom and break up the Church by
a series of massacres, or force other and counter migrations to
Independent or Episcopal Churches. They tell me I should be the first man
to be shot! But I do not fear this. Indeed, I begin to fear much more lest
liberty should degenerate into license : anyhow, I have confidence in
truth, time, and public opinion.
'I write to you without reserve. I believe in
your good-will to the Church, your love to your country. 'Who knoweth
whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?'"
To Dr. Charteris:—
"There would be, on the one hand, great danger
to fair and honest freedom by union at present with the Free Church. We
should be terribly tried by a demon of Dogma, wandering in dry places, and
no real man daring to pass that way. Even John Calvin would be strangled.
Hymns! Organs! Simpler Creed! Simpler formula! Pfui! All gone, and the
Church would soon follow.
"I see no chance of any legislation by which
their idea of spiritual independence can be made possible. Do you? And if
possible, desirable. Do you?
"But, on the other hand, I hold an endowed
Church, according to all experience, to be almost essential to our
possessing men of culture, and such are a great gift from God. We may do
without them, but we shall do immensely better with them, and this leads
to union, for the strengthening of the Church.
And again, bad as high and dry, tight-laced,
hard, straight-line, orthodoxy is, there is something inconceivably worse,
and that is cold, heartless, breathless, speculative unbelief. If I fear
the Presbyterian Church of Scotland being frozen by orthodoxy into fixed
and dead forms as respects thought, I fear a million times more her
ministers and people being frozen into eternal lumps of ice.
"Lastly, if our Church in Scotland is to do
the utmost possible work as a Church for Scotland, it must be by method,
by the saving of waste power, whether of men or money, and by gaining more
moral and spiritual power by means of fewer temptations to malice, envy,
pride, selfish ambition, &c., and by affording greater inducements and
opportunities to cultivate common sympathies and common affections in
praying, preaching, and working together in advancing our Lord's kingdom.
All this points to union."
From his Journal:—
"Auto's Bay, Loch Etive, 1869.
"At the end of June, I went with Watson and
Strahan to Berlin. I fixed the missionaries to the Aborigines of India. We
left Glasgow on Tuesday, and I was back on the next Friday week. I had a
most uncomfortable journey, and was very wearied. I returned by Hamburgh;
since that I have been here."
To Canon Kingsley:—
"Aird's Bay House, July 24, 1869.
"Your note about Captain A— came when I was
occupying the Chair of the General Assembly. After that I had to go to
Balmoral; then London; then Berlin ; all on public business. Now I am
trying to rest beneath the shadow of Cruachan, and to pump out the letters
which have nearly drowned me.
"What a glorious country this is! I think Loch
Etive the finest loch in the Highlands. It worms its way like Olaf
Tryggveson's snake boat for up among silent hills for thirty miles, with
branching glens going nowhere, here and there a hut like a boulder, ending
with the shepherd's of Etive Glen.
"It is worth coming all this way to row up the
Loch, for there is no road on either side, and its shores are unpolluted.
No Murray knoweth them. The trail of the old clans has not been
obliterated by foot of civilised man. An old seal raised his head and
wondered if I was going to join Prince Charlie. The sheep stare at me. The
hills seem to dress themselves in their best robes and colours to receive
Benares and Bunawe, Lucknow and Lome are queer contrasts!
"What a glory before me is that Cruachan! For
a week after arriving I was so fagged and out of sorts that Nature touched
me only on the outside. My soul seemed nature-proof. It begins now to
receive some of its beauty; and next to the Bible I find Nature the
is fortunate for me that you will be unable to read this."
From his Journal :—
"20th August, 1869.—
I leave in an hour for Inverie, Mr. Band's place in the north.
"I have had a wonderful time of happiness with
all my dear children, all so well and joyous; one of those many times of
heaven's sunshine on earth we have had together, but which cannot, in the
transition period of education by trial, be repeated often.
"I preached every Sunday, except the one I was
in Glasgow. I have written two 'Peeps'—Madras and Calcutta; also a long
article in Record on the Aborigines, and at least two hundred letters. We
have had little trips—on Loche Awe and Loch Etive—once with dear Shairp.
"I have been made Dean of the Thistle."
His former assistant and minister of his
Mission Church, the Rev. Mr. Young, of Ellon, gives the following
reminiscence of an evening spent at Aird's Bay:—
"The Doctor had retired early in the day into
a quiet room for work, but as the day wore on, and he heard us at croquet,
he left his letters and India Mission work and joined us for a while. He
likes this game, for it brings him into the open air and the society of
his children, and so enthusiastic does he get that he affects even to
loose his temper as the play goes against his side. It was, however, only
a brief interlude of relaxation, for he was soon at his writing again, and
scarcely emerged till late in the evening. We had gathered in the
drawing-room, and the music had just commenced, when a tap on the window
outside summoned me to join him. He is tired after his day's work, and
sits smoking under a tree. The solemn calm and beauty of the landscape,
seen in the fast-fading light, have suggested a multitude of profound
thoughts which he wishes to communicate. I sit almost speechless, for he
discourses most marvellously about God's mercies and their varied effects
on the grateful and ungrateful. There is a nervous eloquence in his words,
and although it is very dark, I know that his whole frame heaves with
emotion, as he pictures the hard struggle which the Christian has in
acquiescing in the divine will when that will requires the surrender of
some choice blessing. This leads to a touching autobiographical sketch, in
which he tells of the deep waters he had some years before passed through
during the time Mrs. Macleod was in fever. 1 never was so impressed as by
that conversation. The sacred quiet of the late evening, the earnest
pathos of the speaker, and the thrilling nature of the theme powerfully
affected me. When he ended, we wiped the tears from our eyes, and joined
the family in the drawing-room, and enjoyed music and singing the rest of
"December 31st, 1869.—
In a few hours the century will have lived its
threescore and ten years ! I question if since time began, with the
exception of three or four great eras, such as the calling of Abraham, the
Exodus, the birth of Christ, the Reformation, the invention of printing,
or it may be, the breaking up of the Roman Empire, the birth of Mahomet,
or of Buddah—such an influential period has existed. The invention of the
steam-engine, the discovery of gas, telegraph, chloroform; with the
freedom of slaves, the British acquisition of India, the opening up of the
world to the gospel, the translations of the Scriptures, will make it
"It has been a happy year to myself, and some events in it have been to me
''I have collected some thousands for Retiring
Allowance Fund: addressed very many meetings on Missions; founded and
collected for Aborigines Mission; got free site for new Mission Church at
Bluevale; aided in arranging plan for ten new churches. Written eleven
articles for Good Words.
"January, 1870.—We had our old gathering on
the first of the year at Shandon. My beloved mother, alive and hearty, at
the head of our table! Such mercies are awful! And very rare it is in a
man of fifty-eight to have such a mother—so grand and good, so full of
love and sympathy—almost painful from its intensity—to be one with him
from his infancy!
. . . God Almighty, imbue us all with Thy charity! The longer I live the
less do I desire to judge any man. There is no one but God can decide as
to any man's character. This is a product of so many causes— temperament,
the society into which he has been cast, intellectual capacity, the
teaching he has received, whether from the books he has read, the
clergy—perhaps bigots, ignorant men, superstitious dogmatists, mere
talkers—he has heard, and a thousand circumstances—that we dare not
condemn the man, though from the light God has given us we may say, 'to me
this is right or wrong.' Many a so-called 'infidel' is nearer the kingdom
of God than many an 'orthodox' minister. Many an unbeliever is a protest
against those who in honest ignorance have, in the name of God, spoken
what is untrue. What we all need is a child-like spirit to trust God, to
hear God, to believe that there is a God who loves us, who desires out
individual well-being, who can and will teach us, and lead us into all
essential truth, such truth as will make us His children in teachableness
clergy have often done great damage to the truth. They have sought more to
fit in what has been proposed as truth to them, to a system of theology
given them in the Divinity Hall, than to see it in the light of God
"It is an
awful thought that some men cannot bring God's own revealed truth into the
light of reason and conscience. I have such profound faith in revealed
truth to us as to rejoice that it shall be tried by what God has revealed
in us. I would tremble for any truth that could be maintained by nothing
more than by the authority of the letter, by an ' it is written.' Jesus
used this argument; but it was to the Devil, who had no spiritual eye to
see. So may we address his disciples, and leave them to think of it. Yes,
and it answers to what is written in the soul, conscience, hopes, sorrows,
joys, and expectations of humanity. I almost adore the Bible. The more I
read it, without almost any thought of questions of inspiration, but
simply as a record of fact, of precept and principle, of judgment and of
mercy, of God's acts and 'ways' (i.e., the principles of his acts), all
culminating in Christ, as a revelation of what God is to man, and what man
was created to be to God, the more my whole moral being responds to it, as
being a revelation of God. The authority of the Bible is to me supreme,
because it 'commands' my reason and conscience. I feel it is from God. It
was once otherwise with me. It is so no more; and the older I get the more
my spirit says amen to it.
"I feel a great difference from looking at
revealed truth, not as it dovetails into a system of theology, but as it
appears in the light of God, as revealed in Christ. A divine instinct
seems to assure me 'this is true,' 'it is like God,' 'it is in harmony
with all I know of Him.'
"I believe all our churches are breaking up.
We have almost settled the questions of mere dogmatics. Calvinism,
Arminianism, and all the isms connected with men have done their work in
educating the Church. Rome tries by the force of numbers centered in Papal
infallibility in regard to dogma, to hold the Church together.
Protestantism is, in another form, trying to create unity by restraints
that are also external. But what we crave for is the union of life,
'Christ in us,' which alone can convince the world that a new supernatural
power has really entered humanity, a power which alone can produce in us a
new character, and make us partakera of the divine nature. I think we
shall be all smashed as respects churches and systems, and this, as a
negative preparation for the second coming of Christ—not an objective
coming, but one through the Spirit, as Christ in us, the whole life of
Christ, uniting all who know Him, as the one hope of glory. May Thy
power of mere traditional views of so-called Christianity is to me utterly
astounding. I heard an excellent young man preach last night. He logically
carried out the assumption that our Lord endured the very punishment our
sins deserved. Hence, he said, the damned in hell alone could understand
His sufferings! Yet such monstrous—shall I call it blasphemy?— never
struck him. God forgive us clergy, who have made men infidels by all the
'hard speeches' we have in our ignorance uttered against Thee.
"The Lord reigns! Let the earth be glad! Our
hope is in Him who 'is able,'—who else can?—to give us light and life.
"My life is not what I would have chosen. I
often yearn and long for quiet, for reading, and for thought. It seems to
me to be a very paradise, to be able to read, think, pray, go deep into
things, gather the glorious riches of intellectual culture, rise into the
empyrean of abstract truth, write thoughtful and careful sermons, grasp at
the great principles of wise statesmanship, master all the historical
details necessary as data for future reference, &c, &c.
"God has forbidden it in His providence. I
must spend hours in receiving people (not of my congregation) who wish to
speak to me about all sorts of trifles; to reply to letters about nothing;
to engage on public work on everything; to waste my life on what seems
uncongenial, vanishing, temporary, waste. Yet God knows me better than I
do myself. He knows my gifts and powers, my failings, and my weaknesses,
what I can do and not do. So I desire to be led, and not to lead; to
follow Him; and I am quite sure that He has thus enabled me to do a great
deal more, in ways which seem to me almost a waste of life, in advancing
His kingdom than I could have done in any other way—I am sure of that.
Intellectually I am weak. In scholarship nothing. In a thousand things a
baby. He knows this, and so He has led me and greatly blessed me, who am
nobody, to be of some use to my Church and fellow men. How kind, how good,
how compassionate, art Thou, O God!
Oh, my Father! keep me humble. Help me to have
respect towards my fellow-men—to recognise their several gifts as from
Thee. Deliver me from the diabolical sins of malice, envy, or jealousy,
and give me hearty joy in my brother's good, in his work, in his gifts and
talents; and may I be truly glad in his superiority to myself, if Thou art
glorified ! Root out all weak vanity, all devilish pride, all that is
abhorrent to the mind of Christ. God, hear my prayer ! Grant me the
wondrous joy of humility, which is seeing Thee as All in All!
"January 17.—That which does not commend
itself to the consience of the Church, i.e., the true Church of men who
reverence God, who seek Him, desire to do His will, and peril all in
knowing Him, is not to be received. God himself challenges the response of
the enlightened conscience—'Judge between me and my vineyard.'
"I thank God that He, not man's absurd
arguments, can touch sinners and bring them to Himself.
"How often are men right in the thing, and
wrong in the argument. How often right in the argument, and wrong in the
thing! All-merciful, wise God, have mercy on us and teach us!"
To Rev. W. F. Stevenson:—
returned at the end of last week from England, where my wife and I spent
ten days very happily. We visited, with our friends the Lumsdens, Oxford,
Kenilworth, Stratford-on-Avon, and, aided by a carriage and two horses,
had a splendid day with the hounds, and followed them from the meet to the
death. The clergy are too much Jacob all over, and might be improved by a
little of Esau. What a fine man could be made out of them both—better than
"I have too
much on hand. I begin another new church for my poor people. But I am now
as firmly convinced as Muller or you are, that whatever work God gives us
to do will be done and finished, if done to Him and by Him? So I shall
build my church—get £10,000 for my Retiring Fund, establish my Aborigines
Mission, get fit men and money for home and abroad, and also become myself
a better man—though last not least!
"I wish I had a long talk with you on public
affairs. All is preparing, by bad as well as good, for the coming of
Christ in us—to reign on earth."
He resumed once more the fatiguing labour of
addressing Presbyteries and public meetings in different parts of the
country on behalf of the India Mission; and while he was grateful for the
personal kindness he always experienced and the expressions of increased
interest on the part of clergy and laity with which these meetings were
generally concluded, he had yet to deplore the absence of permanent
results. The movement which was inaugurated, the resolutions that were
heartily carried where he was present, were too frequently forgotten a few
weeks afterwards. He was also not a little annoyed by the readiness with
which many excellent ministers assumed an attitude of suspicion towards
the Mission, lest it should be conducted on too ' broad' principles.
"This India Mission," he writes, "our only
mission to the heathen, is on its trial. The deputation to India was but a
prelude to the more difficult work of seeking to give life to this great,
stolid, dull mass of clergy and people."
"I solemnly declare," he writes again to a
respected brother clergyman who was standing aloof, "that except I am
better supported by the clergy I will give it up. I have neither time nor
heart for it. Last night, lame with gout, I addressed two thousand five
hundred people in Perth. I have now been for four hours doing nothing but
writing letters connected with another meeting—and this is but a drop in
my bucket—and in the midst of this constant worry of mind to have cold
water or lukewarm water thrown over me ! The fire burns in my bones for a
mission and a Church at the point of perishing. In God's name I will fight
my gun till I die— bat you must come into the battery."
From his Journal:—
"Our India mission has never been so strong in
point of agency since '43. But will the Church respond? The Lord knows? My
terror is that she will not; and then God will in judgment take away that
which has been given! How fearful! God's ministers to be the obstructions
to missions! God's ministers to be the last! 'Then cometh the end!'
"May the Lord avert it! It is almost
inconceivable into what a hard, formal state, even ministers may come! A
sort of Protestant Pugi; ["Pugi" is the Indian name for ritual.] a
Romanism of mere 'sound words'—forms; no life, no longing or yearning to
win souls to Christ; no faith, but a conceited philosophism, a puppyism of
would-be philosophical or evangelical cant, or an unbelief whose one end
is cultivating popularity with farmers and parishioners.
"As to farmers, I was visiting to-day a
working man's family from the country. What an account they gave me of the
family life so often found in our Scotch farms! The indifference of the
masters, the consequent ignorance, brutality, and moral filth of the
servants—the atrocious selfishness of the whole thing! I have the poorest
possible opinion of the morality, the common decency that is too
frequently observed on the farms of Scotland. As Dr. Chalmers said
of------so I may say of a mass of our agriculturists—they are a set of
galvanised Divots.' ["Divot" is an expressive Scotch word for a turf—sod.]
"... There is a great talk about education.
Well, I would prefer what is foolishly called 'secular education' (as if
all truth was not from God, and therefore according to His will) to none.
Put why not religious instruction, if 'religious education' is too
glorious a thing to aspire after. Surely the facts of the Bible, what it
records and says (whatever value individuals may attach to them), should
be given to our children? I think that the facts of Mahommedanism and even
Brahminism, as well as those of Greek and Roman mythology, should be given
to the citizens of a great nation which rules millions believing in both.
How much more the facts of the Bible ! As for the Shorter Catechism, I
would not wish it taught in schools, or any catechism or abstract dogmatic
teaching. Give me the alleged facts! I shall then have the skeletons which
I can through the Spirit quicken into a great army!
"The ignorance of some critics on Scripture is
wonderful! There is just as much bigotry, narrowness, and fanaticism in
sceptics as in Christians. I have often marvelled at the ignorance of
writers against the Bible in regard to facts, or as to what enlightened
theologians have written.
"I don't believe one fact narrated in
Scripture will be found, in the end, adverse to, but in profound harmony
with science, reason, conscience, history, and common sense.
"Narrow-minded theologians have been the
greatest enemies to the gospel. They are sincere, pious, devoted, but
often conceited, self-willed, and ignorant, making their shibboleths
inspiration. Pious women, good souls, have also played into the hands of
infidels, and done them much service.
"Ignorant missionaries of the revival and
extreme Calvinistic school have been great barriers in the way of the
gospel in India.
is it that 'liberal' Churchmen don't work? Why don't they take up
missions, tract and other societies? They leave these to many old wives.
The good and wise men among the 'Evangelicals' would be thankful for their
have been astounded by a most influential member of the Church saying to
me, 'What is it to me whether Christ worked miracles or rose from the
dead! We have got the right idea of God through Him. It is enough, that
can never perish!' And this truth is like a flower which has grown from a
dunghill of lies and myths! Good Lord, deliver me from such conclusions!
If the battle has come, let it; but before God. I will fight it with those
only, be they few or many, who believe in a risen, living Saviour.
"This revelation of the influence of surface
criticism has thrown me back immensely upon all who hold fast by an
objective revelation. Nothing can possibly move me from Jesus Christ, the
living Saviour, the Divine Saviour, the Atoning Saviour, whatever be the
philosophy of that atonement. I fear, yet fear not, a great battle with
all forms of Antichrist."
"April 6.—If the Church of Scotland will relax
her formula, improve her worship, by using a liturgy as well as extempore
prayer, prescribe a regular course of Scripture lessons for reading in
Church, have good music and organs if need be, no patronage, a more
careful superintendence of men, as was done by the old superintendents,
establish a Central Sustentation Fund to support and stimulate Home
Mission work—then we may be stronger than ever. "We must be the Church of
evangelical freedom and progress.
" ... If the sorrows of Christ, were the
necessary results of His relationship to God and man, must they not
continue? Why not, but in a form consistent with and modified by His
present glorified and triumphant state?
"Our heaven is not a selfish one. It is
sympathy with Christ. A part of its glory may be noble suffering such as a
wise and a good man would prefer inconceivably to the spiritual
self-indulgence of golden harps and enjoyment.
"Then cometh the end! When? But until
then—what? What of the wicked? What of their education beyond the grave?
What of the mission of the Church to them? May not our Foreign Mission
last in the next world? What if tremendous self-sacrifice will be demanded
of the Church to save the wicked, in every case where that is morally
possible, and the death of Christ for sinners be repeated in principle?
"O blessed God! How beautiful is that blue sky
seen through my small study window! What glory in Thy clouds? What calm
and peace above this world of battle and of blood!
"We are made for society. God has implanted
the social instinct in us, but the only bond of society is unselfishness."
From Sir Arthur Helps:—
"Council Office, 1870.
"You are a very foolish man in one thing; and,
as a sincere friend it is my duty to tell you so. I have noticed this
error in you more than once. You are by nature, and you cannot help
yourself, however much you may try to fork Mrs. Nature out, an eloquent
man in talk as in speaking.
"The good talk of others excites you, and you
heartily respond to it.
"People never like you better than when you do
so respond. And then, afterwards, you have qualms of conscience and worry
yourself by saying", 'Was I not too tempestuous?'
"No, you were not; you were never more
agreeable. I must, as a true friend, drive this silly notion out of your
the other day that clever Saturday reviewer who sat next to me was your
most dire opponent. He fired arrows into you, sharp arrows. You went on,
never minding. With the arrows sticking in your breast, you went on
thundering at him, and being perfectly unconscious of the adherent shafts.
"Now that reviewer went away with me, and he
expressed the most affectionate admiration for you.
"I declare to you, that vehement as you are
(and I love your vehemence), I never heard you say a discourteous thing to
your opponent whether he were present or absent, and the latter is by far
the greater merit.
"Never again talk to me about repentance in this matter. Sometimes I think
you arc too merciful to your opponents."
To Principal Shairp :—
"April 23rd. 1870.
"Matthew Arnold is good,
but I do not think that the inspiration, in any honest sense, of the
Apostles is to be set aside and their testimony as to fact and dogma to be
criticised as one would a lecture of Jowett or a volume of Rénan. He jumps
also too rapidly from the position of not seeing a statement as true to
that of rejecting it as if untrue, rather than to wait for light. I see
also a tendency to deal with a spiritual machinery of motive, law,
conscience, will, to the exclusion of a living personal God, just as men
are doing with machinery of law in the natural world. But I did not mean
to write an article. I believe the Bible from Genesis to Revelation will
be recognized more and more as a revelation chosen and approved of by God,
as the best possible, just as true science increases in breadth, unity,
and depth. I despise and abhor that self-indulgence of whim, and measuring
everything by the agreeable. I'd rather sweep chimneys and bo a man, than
a king and be a spoon."
To Mrs. Macleod:—
"Balmoral, May, 1870.
"Yesterday was a day of battle and of triumph
and no mistake for my friends the evil 'speerits.' Through the ignorance
of that wretched ' Boots' I was kept hanging about the Perth platform from
12 noon-day, till 11.45 p.m. Think of it if you can, sleeping, walking,
yawning, smoking, groaning, smiling and abusing! A train leaves Aberdeen
at 3 a.m. while the Queen is here. I got it. Messenger's carriage full, of
course. Had to hire another. Arrived here at 6 a.m. Have slept since, and
breakfasted in my own room. Seen no one. Tired, but have been worse.
"On opening my bag found hair-brushes and comb
left behind! Of course. Oh these wee deevils!"
To Rev. A. Clerk, LL.D.:—
"That early school of Campbeltown—boys first
and lads afterwards—up to college days has had a deep effect on me. I am
amazed as I think of the reckless and affectionate abandon with which I
threw myself into it! My slap-dash manner and words are its result, and
will stick to me more or less all my life."
To the Same on the death of a very dear son:—
I trust you and Jessie realise the truth of Adie's life and love to you
all. He is not unless he remembers, and as he does he loves. I always
think of him as received by his numerous relations, grandfathers and
grandmothers, aunts and uncles, and his little brother grown up and
feeling so thoroughly at home, and rejoicing in life and in hope, and
sustained by a great faith in the hope of meeting you all, and in you all
pleasing God on earth as the highest of all. I preached lately on death in
the light of Christ coming for us and taking us to Himself, and on heaven
as a place prepared for us, i.e., adapted in every detail to the feelings,
associations, &c, of human beings, young and old, cultivated and ignorant.
All this is necessarily bound up with the fact that He who was a child, as
well as a man, who lived among and loved such persons as ourselves, must
build, furnish, and adorn the house in a way suitable to all the members
of His own family—the dear bairns most of all, for them He took to His own
quarters were fixed for this season at Java Lodge, in the Island of Mull,
not far from the celebrated ruins of Duart Castle. The view from the coast
was superb, including, what was to him of unfading interest—the hills of
Morven and distant Fiunary, the scene of his earliest and happiest
his Journal :.—
"Java Lodge, July 17, 1870.
"The Assembly—for I must go back in my brief
record of events— passed off well. Its characteristic was its treatment of
questions chiefly bearing on the practical life of the Church. The
Patronage question, though carried by a large majority, did not excite
much enthusiasm; first, because there was no great hope of Government
taking it up unless a strong political pressure was brought to bear upon
it—this was not likely from the influence of political Dissenters on the
elections in Scotland;—and, secondly, should it be carried, we felt no
great security for better ministers being appointed than now, when the
people have it practically all their own way, checked by Patronage. But
the resolution of the Assembly put us in a better position with the
country. Dr. Cook, almost the only statesman we have, acted a very
unselfish and patriotic part, seeking the good of the Church, and not a
spoke on Patronage, Christian Life, Home Missions, and India. I published
my sermon given at the opening of the Assembly. But how can I publish as I
"I have this
moment heard that France has declared war against Prussia. It is awful to
think of the thousands who are on this quiet Sunday, here all peace,
marching to wounds and death. The Lord Jesus is over all!' This is an end
of the Napoleon dynasty, and an end of Rome for the Pope! So much for the
dogma of the Infallibility.
"The Emperor is mad ! He must fail. I argue
that the French dare not cross the Rhine at Strasburg, as the Prussians
will advance from Coblentz and Maintz—these being magnificent bases of
operation—and they will thus outflank the French, and compel them to keep
to Metz as their centre. They are outnumbered, and must fail.
"August 10.—Victory, victory for Prussia! (
Woerth). We shall have the grand battle east of Metz. If the French gain,
by dividing the Prussians, what then? It would be but momentary. To cross
the Rhine is not impossible. But the French are outnumbered, and will
receive a terrible smash! They will fall back on Paris, Paris will revolt,
Napoleon will abdicate, and in three weeks be, with his family, in London.
There will be a Provisional Government. All will be confusion. The Lord
27th.—What a glorious day! I preached on Missions. These days of preaching
make the little Highland churches the monuments to me of the most happy
days of my sojourn. Never did the landscape appear more magnificent; the
shadows and lights upon the hills were unearthly sheen. In glory, a
rainbow rose—for there was no arch—up from the Buachaill Etive, and was
such as the Shekinah may have appeared to the tribes who from afar looked
on the encampment of Israel. The sea crisp with sparkling waves; the sky
intensely blue, in great spaces between huge masses of cumuli clouds, with
some more sombre; the distant hills were near and clear, as if seen
through crystalline air; and then, the lights upon them! bright rays
lighting up, below, yellow cornfields, and green pastures ten miles off,
and above, sometimes a bare scuir or deep corrie, or broad green
hill-back, with heavy dark shadows slowly pursuing the sunlight over hill
and dale. I beheld Morven along with Aunt Jane. We gazed together on the
distant church, beside which as holy a family lie interred as I have ever
known. I saw the trees which mark Samuel Cameron's house, where I spent
such happy years, and received an education, the education of my beloved
ones in Fiunary included, such as has moulded my whole life. I enjoyed one
of those seasons of intense and rare blessing when tears come we cannot
tell why, except from a joy that rises in silent prayer and praise to the
Creator and Redeemer.
"Dear Dr. Craik is dead, and his funeral
sermon has this day been preached. His illness and death—how real have
both been to me! He was a good man, a great strength to the Church, and a
most sincere friend, and I mourn his loss.
"Blessed be God for the gathering in and
eternal union of His people. Our friends in heaven remain the same
persons, with all their sinless peculiarities. They therefore remember us,
and love us more than ever. Are they interested in us ! perhaps concerned
about us? Why not! The joy of the redeemed is not a selfish joy. I would
despise the saint who enjoyed himself in a glorious mansion singing
psalms, and who did not wish his joy disturbed by sharing Christ's noble
and grand care about the world. So long as man, and my dear ones are in
'the current of the heady fight,' I don't wish to be ignorant of them on
the ground that it would give me pain and mar my joy! I prefer any pain to
such joy! I cannot think it possible that my heaven there shall be
different from my heaven here, which consists in sympathy with Christ. If
He has a noble anxiety, limited by perfect faith in what is going on upon
earth; if human sin is a reality to to Him, if His life there as well as
here is by faith in the Father; if He watches for the end, and feels human
sin and sorrow, and rejoices in the good, and feels the awfulness of the
wrong, yet ever has deep peace in God; why should not His people have the
joy of sharing this Godlike burthen of struggling humanity? 'Then cometh
the end.' But the end is not yet. The final day of judgment may be
millions of years hence. Until then the whole Church may have its
education of labour and teaching continued in mighty ventures of
self-sacrifice, and in ten thousand ways put to the proof, in order to
improve those talents of faith, self-denial, hope, acquired on earth. This
might imply suffering; why not? Many picture a heaven which is a
reflection of their own selfish nature. ' Don't trouble us;' 'Tell us no
bad news;' 'We are saved, let others drown;' 'What is the earth to us?'
'It is past; give us fine music, fine scenery, and let the earth— shall I
write it?—go to the devil!' That is not my heaven! I wish to know, 1 wish
to feel, I wish to share Christ's sympathies, until the end comes.
"The idea that Dr. Craik no longer cares about
Missions to India, would give me a poor idea of a heaven of sympathy with
Mrs. Drummond, Megginch Castle:—
"Isle of Mull, 27th August, 1870.
"I am in retreat, banished to a spot beyond
space, and where time merges into eternity. Posts are rare. Their news is
post mortem—dead—belonging to a past world history ! Your kind note
arrived here long after Dean Stanley had become Archbishop, and the
Established Church destroyed. To have met him in your house would have
been a true delight to me, but I was and am still in Mull, and where Mull
is, no one knows except Sir Roderick Murchison, who knows everything, and
he only guesses about it; so I can only express my great regret at having
been so far away, and thus deprived of such good company. There was a
foolish report spread here this morning about a chance whaler, that a war
had broken out in Europe, that the French had taken Berlin, and, after
landing at Aberdeen, were marching on Glasgow. If this is true, I won't
leave Mull until peace is proclaimed; but if the news proves a canard, as
I think quite possible, I shall return this week to Glasgow, which I hope
to reach six weeks after the world, according to John dimming, is
Rev. Thomas Young:—
sudden death I never could pray to be delivered from it, but only to be
ready for it. God alone who knows our frame and temperament, knows by what
death we can best glorify Him. Sudden death may to many be a great mercy."
To A. Strahan, Esq":—
"Java Lodge, August, 1870.
"What an evening of glory! The lights, the
hills, the castled promontory are as of old, and years too have fled, and
Ossian is old also.
"What a dinner awaited you! Flags flying, chickens delicate as sonnets of
Miss----------, vegetables as many as the articles on----------, and far
more digestible. Champagne with a brilliancy and bouquet that rivalled the
papers of the editor, rice pudding as pure and wholesome as------'s
hill looked down, and every coney opened its eyes, and the fish swam and
the ocean murmured, and the red deer got white, all with excitement to
see—what? Your arrival that arrived not, Oh, it was sad, sad!'
From his Journal:—
"War! How strange that war has formed the
subject of our oldest poems, paintings, and histories, that it is at this
moment as terrible as ever! What does it mean 1 How can we account for its
existence, its apparent necessity in the kingdom of God 1 It does not
imply any personal hate whatever, no more than the execution of a
malefactor does cruelty and love of blood. The bravest soldier is
associated with the gentleman, and highest chivalry. It seems to me that
lawful war, as distinct from war of passion, originates in what appears to
be a social Jaw. That as God wishes mankind to be divided into nations
smaller or greater, and as no nation ought to exist in which there is not
government, and as government implies power to protect life and property
and enforce its laws, so must the more powerful govern for the greatest
good of the greatest number. Who the most powerful are can be determined
only by war, unless the weak give in. It is by this law of the weak giving
way to the strong, by this sifting process of war, that our clans have
been absorbed into a small nation, and small nations into a great one,
strong enough to hold its own. Any race, or any people have, therefore, a
perfect abstract right to assert its superiority, or independence, if it
is superior; but war alone can determine that, if the fact is disputed. In
the long-run as a rule, each successive great advance in the world's
civilization and progress has been the result of war. Battles are great
sacrifices preceding resurrections. What man designs is one thing, and
what God brings to pass is another. This great war is really to determine
not whether Louis Napoleon is to be Emperor, but whether the Latin or
Teutonic race is to be strongest in Europe and the world!
"As to 'the inventions for murdering
people'—this is all nonsense. Every contribution made by science to
improve instruments of war makes war shorter, and in the end less terrible
to human life, and human progress. Never was the ameliorating influences
of education and Christian benevolence more visible than in this war. The
more that kingdoms are much about the same strength, the less likely is
war. And, by the way, it is an index of a time when one state will respect
its neighbour, that the tendency of all improvements in guns, &c, is to
make defence in an increasing ratio more powerful than attack. But the
ultimate defence must be in man, for nations are really strong not in
machinery but in man. Their manhood must alone or chiefly determine their
freedom and independence.
'"Peace at any price' is but selfish
indulgence at any price. Liberty and self-government at any-price! Life is
of no value without freedom."
To A. Strahan, Esq. :—
"I so hate those eternal love stories, this
everlasting craving after a sweetheart! I wish they would marry in the
first chapter, and be done with it. Is there nothing to interest human
beings but marriage? What a fuss to make about those two when in love!"
To A. Strahan, Esq :—
"Whatever may be my fault, it does not consist
in my chariot-wheels tarrying; as the following statement will prove:—
"Friday, 31st September.—Left Glasgow for
Aberdeen at nine, p.m., arrived at Aberdeen at three, a.m.
"Saturday, 1st October.—Left for Balmoral.
Dined with Her Majesty.
"October 2.—Preached a sermon on 'War and
God's Judgments,' which the Queen asks me to publish, and to dedicate to
herself, as soon as possible —not a line having been written.
"October 3.—Joined my wife in Perthshire, dead
4.—Rested my chariot-wheels and greased them.
"October 5.—Returned to Glasgow, and answered
twenty letters; wrote long Minutes for Sealkote and Calcutta; had
prayer-meeting in the evening.
"October 6.—Commanded by the Prince of Wales,
and left at seven, a.m., for Dunrobin, 220 miles off. Dined at half-past
nine, left the drawing-room at half-past one, a.m., and smoking-room at
half-past three. Left per train at six, a.m., and never halted five
minutes, being past time, until I reached Glasgow at half-past six, p.m.
"October 7.—A weary Saturday, to prepare two
new sermons for Sunday amidst manifold interruptions.
"October 8.—Preached twice.
"October 9.—Again dead beat, and went to see
my old mother the first time for six weeks.
"October 10.—Returned, and received a letter
from a patient friend, asking. 'Why tarry thy chariot-wheels?' !!!!
"Bother the chariot-wheels!
"I am as nervous as an old cat."
To A. Strahan, Esq :—
"I am more anxious about Good Words than
perhaps even you are. It is one of my heaviest hourly worries, how little
I have been able to do it. As a public man I am worked from 6 a.m. till 10
p.m., and if a man must be occupied twenty-four hours in killing rats or
planting carrots it is practically the same to him, as far as time is
concerned, as if he were attacking Paris."
To his Eldest Son :—
"1st December, 1870
"I was very glad, my boy, to hear from you, and that you have told me so
well and fully all you are about. I am quite satisfied with everything,
and pray God that you may be able to form those habits of study and of
mastering difficulties, and of persevering in what may be uncongenial but
necessary for you, all of which is of such importance. You are, in fact,
now moulding your whole future life. May it be worthy ! Never, never
forget your daily dependence on God and His interest in you. The Stockport
panic might have had a fearful ending, but it was stopped in time— 3,000,
three stories up, and but one stair of outlet, with the panic of fire! [He
refers to a panic which took place while he was preaching at Stockport on
behalf of his Sunday School Union, when his presence of mind and calmness
did much to preserve order.]
"I am giving the last corrections to the
sermon on war. When you read it, it will appear very simple to you, and
easily written. But it may encourage you to know that this is the seventh
time, at least, I have corrected it, and each time just as fully as the
previous one. So difficult do I find it to write with tolerable accuracy.
Begin soon! "
Warrick, New York
"Glasgow, December 15th, 1870
"I heard all about your great sorrow, all
those pleasing yet harrowing details which make one realise the whole
scene. Such an affliction is to us a profound mystery. This seems to me
the lesson taught by the Book of Job, for Job never found out in this
world why he had been afflicted, although he knew that it was not because
of his individual sins (and he was right), but in order to bring out the
reality of his life in God; yet he was left in darkness, and although sons
and daughters were given him, the old dear ones were seen no more. And
there are like times of darkness in which the servant of the Lord can see
no light, but must be cast on the bare arm of God for strength, and on the
heart of God for peace. Yet we can never be in such pitch darkness as Job
was, now that we see God's own beloved Son as the man of sorrows ; and in
Him have the assurance given us of a Father who will ever act as a Father
even in sending grief, who never acts arbitrarily, but who appeals to the
heart of the most tender and loving parent to judge from his own truest
affection towards his children, as to what He who is perfect love, feels
towards themselves. Faith in this God is our only refuge and strength in
times of dark and mysterious sorrow.
"I am utterly powerless to help------at
Chicago. I never directly or indirectly asked a favour small or great from
court or government, and never will. I am tongue-tied and hand-tied;
having so much intercourse with both, this seems strange, but it is a