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Memoirs of John Urquhart
Prefatory Notice and Recommendation


PREFATORY NOTICE AND RECOMMENDATION

By the Rev. Dr. Duff

Having been personally acquainted with the subject of the following memoir, I was requested, during my recent visit to the United States, by my revered friend James Lenox, Esq., of New York, to look over the last English edition, and mark what alterations might advantageously be made in a projected American edition of the work.

This revision, hitherto delayed from unavoidable causes which it is needless to recount, has now been accomplished. As the general result, it may be stated that several minor mistakes, into which the Biographer had inadvertently fallen, have been corrected; that various passages of inferior importance, or of merely local or ephemeral interest, have been omitted; that the essays of a purely literary or philosophical character have been extruded from the body of the work and thrown into an Appendix; and finally, that the whole has been broken up into the more convenient division of chapters.

With many it may be a matter of doubt, whether the essays ought not to be excluded altogether. But, on mature consideration, it has been thought that the same reasons which weighed with the Biographer in originally introducing them, may well be regarded as still sufficiently valid in warranting the continued retention of them. They are not numerous; they do not occupy any considerable or disporportionate space; and they may serve to show the students of mere secular philosophy, how, between true science and true religion, there is not only no real discrepancy, but a beauteous and mutually enhancing harmony; and how, with the utmost ease, precision, and intelligence, a Christian young man, whose whole soul was inflamed with the spirit of missions, could, in the ordinary course of his academic career, aud at the call of duty, turn aside and successfully grapple with some of the most abstruse and perplexing questions in ethics and political economy. Considered as the college exercises of a youth of little more than sixteen, they cannot but be pronounced as no ordinary productions. Their simplicity, as Mr. Orme has truly remarked, constitutes their charm; the lucidus ordo is most delightfully exemplified in every one of them; his thoughts constantly flow in a train peculiarly clear, always natural and unaffected; and the easy diction in which he expressed himself was the perfect picture of his mind.

The grand object, however, of the memoir is, to exhibit the rise, progress, and formation of the religious character of the individual whose short life is illustrated. Amid the many clustering excellencies that adorned that character, by far the most prominent and striking was the evangelistic spirit and self-devotion by which it was so peculiarly distinguished. It was this which chiefly conferred on it at once its lustre and its uniqueness. The Church of Christ in all lands can happily point to not a few young men of sincere and shining piety; but, unhappily, to very few, who, at the age of young Urquhart, have been privileged to obtain and cherish so marvellously clear and intelligent an apprehension of the duty of exemplifying that piety by a solemn act of personal dedication to the God-like enterprise of the world’s evangelization.

It is under this more distinctive aspect of it, that I would earnestly crave the special attention of Christian young men in general, and more particularly of Christian students and candidates for the ministry, to the life of John Urquhart.

In his case, we find the true rationale of personal dedication to the cause of missions, unfolded with singular point and clearness. In early youth it was his inestimable privilege to enjoy the benefit of religious training, under the instruction and example of pious parents. Being naturally of a mild, gentle, amiable, guileless, Nathanael-like disposition, such example and instruction could not fail to have their due effect, in not only restraining him from the commission of gross outward sin, and saving him from the contagious influences of evil companionship, but also in superinducing a habit of internal conformity to the practices of Christian devotion and worship. Still, until he had passed his fourteenth year, there is no evidence whatever of his having undergone the great change of the new birth in the soul. On this subject, his own statement to his pastor, Mr. Orme, is perfectly explicit. Writing, in April, 1824, he says, "My first impressions of danger, as a sinner, were caused by a sermon you preached, on a Lord’s day evening, about a year and a half ago. At the time, I was very much affected; it was then, I think, that I first really prayed. I retired to my apartment, and with many tears confessed my guilt before God."

This first partial awakening occurred towards the close of the autumn of 1822. Soon afterwards he went, for the first time, to the College of St. Andrew’s. There his first religious impressions became somewhat blunted, though not effaced. On his return home in the summer of 1823, he tells us that he began to feel less pleasure in the exercises of prayer, and praise, and reading of the Scriptures; yea, that these employments became a weariness to him, and were at last almost totally neglected. "My soul," he adds, "reverted to its original bent, and the follies of this world wholly engrossed my attention, and had I been left in that state, I must have inevitably perished."

But the Lord, who is rich in mercy, and who delighteth not in the death of the wicked, had better things in store for him. Through the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit, a process of illumination and conviction was commenced and carried on in his soul, until at last it issued in manifest conversion to God. Returning to St. Andrew’s, for the second time, towards the close of the autumn of 1823, he was enabled, before the end of that session, thus to write: "God, in his infinite mercy, has again been pleased to call my attention to the things of eternity. For some months back, I have been led to see the utter worthlessness of earthly things; to see that happiness is not to be found in any earthly object. And I think I have been led to seek it where alone it is to be found—in Jesus crucified for me. I have felt great pleasure in communion with God; and I have felt some love, though faint, to the Saviour and to his cause. I have had a long struggle with the world. I have counted the cost, and I have at last resolved that I will serve the Lord."

Under these re-awakened and more vital impressions, and as a scripturally ordained means of heightening and permanizing them, he at once resolved openly to profess his faith in Jesus, by formally entering the communion and fellowship of a Christian church. Relative to this decisive step, his biographer with equal truth and emphasis remarks, that his reasons for taking it, "were those by which he appeared to have been invariably influenced in his religious course. He first sought to ascertain what was the will of God; and on arriving at a satisfactory conclusion on this point, he was then prepared to encounter all difficulties which stand in the way of full compliance with it. He delayed not, but hastened to keep the commandment."

On being received as a member of the Church of Christ, he not only felt keenly alive to the seriousness and solemnity of the step he had taken, but entertained the most humbling sense of his own weakness and unworthiness, coupled, however, with a well-grounded reliance on the all-sufficiency of his covenant God: "I see," he remarks, "many temptations in my way, and I feel that I am not able in myself to withstand them. May God perfect his strength in my weakness, and may he enable me henceforth to live, not to myself. but to Him who died for me, and who rose again; to offer my body a living sacrifice, and to devote all the faculties of my mind to his service."

These were no mere words of course, expressive of aspirations that were to perish with the utterance. No; they were the spontaneous effusion of an intensely conscientious and ingenuous mind. From the day that he united himself, as a member, to the body or visible Church of Christ, by a deliberate act of public communion, it was clear to all around, that he regarded himself, in strictest literality, as "no longer his own," but as one "bought with a price;" and therefore bound to serve his divine Lord and Redeemer, with "soul, body, and, spirit, which were his." Suddenly startled out of the dreamy indifference and illusory visions of old nature—arrested in his downward career towards the fiery lake—snatched as a brand from the burning—and overwhelmed under a vividly realizing sense of so great a deliverance, he might well have given expression to the actual inner workings and new spiritual instincts of his soul in words like these: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? How can I most effectually testify my adoring gratitude and love? Here am I a sinful, guilty rebel, ransomed by thy blood from the power of sin, and death, and hell, and the grave; do with me what thou wilt, for I am thy servant, under obligation the most absolute to be and to do whatsoever thou wilt."

Assuredly, in his case, there was no first consulting with mere flesh and blood! No tacit reserve in favour of mere natural tastes or antecedent predilections! No partial or half deference to the whims or humours, the likings or prejudices of friends! No plausible transference, through a voluntary humility, of individual personal responsibility to the arbitrary decision of others! No secret clinging or cleaving to any favourite or previously cherished scheme or departinent of labour! No timorous respect to the ordinary routine or stereotyped conventionalities of ecclesiastical usage! No! "Here I am, Lord, whenever, wherever, in what way soever thou wilt have me to serve thee—only do thou show me, that I may promptly obey,"— seems but the faithful and compendious embodiment of the real feelings and convictions of his heart.

It was, then, when in this Isaiah-like, Paul-like mood and frame of mind, the true spring and source of noblest self-renunciation and most heroic self-sacrifice, that the Lord was pleased powerfully to impress his mind with a desire to devote himself to the Christian ministry, in direct connection with the real work of heathen evangelization, as the sphere in which, if rightly improved, most glory might accrue to God, and most good to the souls of men. Thus it was, that in his case, the evangelistic spirit, which ultimately led to so solemn an act of personal consecration, was coeval with the dawn and manifestation of the new birth in his soul. Planted there, as in a soil prepared by the Holy Spirit, and watered by the dews of the heavenly grace, the tender germ gradually sprung up into stature and strength, keeping pace with the growth of the new man, until, at last, it bore the ripened fruit of an unconquerable resolve.

It is true that with the subject of missions, in its general aspects, he had long been well acquainted. It was one in which his pious parents and pastor were deeply interested. It was, therefore, linked with many of his earliest and most familiar home associations. But it was not until he himself was sought out, effectually called, and quickened, as one of the lost, that he began to feel the influence of a Saviour’s example and command constraining him to consider, whether it might not be his own duty, in imitation of his divine Lord and Master, to go forth in person, into "the waste howling wilderness" of sin and death, to seek and to save the lost! The discovery of his own ruined condition by nature, opened up to his unsealed vision a new and appalling prospect of the whole world lying in wickedness, and exposed to endless miseries here and hereafter. The felt realization of the joy and blessedness of pardon and sanctifying grace to his own soul, from the Fount itself of redeeming love, inspired him with new and unwonted motions of sympathy and compassion towards the perishing, as well as new and unwonted desires to be honoured as the herald to them of the glad tidings of a great salvation. An overpowering sense of grateful loyalty to Him to whom he owed his own everlasting life, inspired him with an uncontrollable longing to do what in him lay, to advance that glorious cause of the world’s evangelization, in the consummation of which alone he shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. Thus it was that, in him, the first stirring of the missionary spirit was not the impulse of a mere ordinary philanthropy — not the fitful gleam of a doating imagination—not the fond vision of chivalrous romance — not the sudden movement of excited feeling—not the wild project of adventurous enterprise — not the momentary flash and sparkle of an ebullient enthusiasm. Oh, no! It was the welling forth of a divine sentiment of pity and compassion, gratitude and love, from the profoundest depths of a renovated spirit — it was the lighting up of a radiant and enduring principle of life and energy in a soul, now struggling in the new pathway of holy duty, to disengage itself wholly from the smoke and tarnish of a turbid earthly atmosphere.

Still, he was very young and inexperienced, not having yet completed his sixteenth year. On this account, with a judgment pre-eminently sound, he resolved, in the first instance, to keep his newly awakened thoughts and desires to himself, spreading them out before God only, and seeking for further light from the illumination of the Holy Spirit, in the reading of Scripture, meditation, and prayer. A better evidence of perfect calmness and sobriety, coupled with earnest determination, could scarcely be afforded, than was indicated by this course of action. "If," wrote he, even at a later period, "if my wish to preach the gospel of Christ among the heathen, have in it aught of the romance of a boyish imagination, a few years’ thought and experience will extinguish its ardour; but if the Lord has appointed me to declare his name among the Gentiles, and that wish has been implanted in my breast by the Spirit of God, delays and disappointments will but foster its growth, and make it yet more vigorous." How sagaciously he had thus judged, the result abundantly proved.

After the lapse of a considerable period, devoted to private readings, meditation, and prayer, he resolved in his intense anxiety to learn his Lord’s will in the matter, to seek for light from every available extraneous source, steadfastly watching the leadings of Providence with a filial eye. Conscious of his own liability to err, and with a diffidence and modesty peculiar to the sincere inquirer after truth and the path of duty, he was led, among other means of enlightenment, to ask counsel from friends to whose candour and practical wisdom he might look with some degree of confidence; not that such counsel might form a decisive or determining element in the case, but simply furnish materials for the confirmation or correction of his own immatured judgment. It was to his pastor, Mr. Orme, that in his letter of February 18th, 1825, he very naturally and properly first unbosomed his mind on the subject, stating that he had long considered the object of the missionary enterprise, as "one of the most important, perhaps, the most important, which can engage the mind of a Christian;" that, "for some time he had even seriously thought of devoting his own life to the cause of missions;" that he was "aware of the difficulties to be encountered, and of the danger of rashly forming a resolution of such importance;" that "even the desire he had thus expressed was the fruit of much meditation and prayer;" and that he had "communicated it to Mr. Orme in order to have the benefit of his advice."

But while he thus sought the counsel of experienced friends, it was from the Bible that he drew his chief inspiration and guidance; praying at the same time, for the illumining influences of the Holy Spirit. The substance of his cogitations and conclusions in this direction he himself supplies. In a letter to a friend, July 8th, 1825, he remarks as follows:--

"In connection with this matter, I have been led to consider more attentively those passages of Scripture which refer to missionary exertions, and the result has been a deeper impression than ever of the duty of engaging in this work. It is very true that much has to be done at home; that there are many here, as my friend Craik writes, who ‘can only be considered in the light of more criminal heathens.’ But this is a wilful ignorance; they are not ‘perishing from lack of knowledge.’ And this argument, if carried to its full extent, would stifle missionary exertions to the very end of the world. What would have been the consequence had the apostles resolved not to leave Jerusalem till every one of their brethren according to the flesh was truly converted? The Gentiles would not have received the glad tidings of salvation to the present hour. This was not the commandment the apostles received, however; and accordingly they acted in a very different manner. They were to preach the gospel to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. The nation of the Jews had a claim upon the first preachers of Christianity which our countrymen have not upon us. They were not only their ‘brethren according to the flesh,’ but they were also God’s chosen nation; and as such it was right that they should enjoy a pre-eminence over all others, in first receiving the proclamation of pardon. But how did their brethren, the apostles, act even to this favoured nation? They made a full declaration of salvation through Christ; they made a free tender of the mercy of Jehovah; but by almost all this mercy was slighted and rejected. By thus sinning against greater light, these individuals became more criminal even than the heathen. Did the apostles, therefore, think that they should not go forth to the heathen till all these rejecters of the truth were convinced of the error of their Ways? No; that very rejection of the gospel by their countrymen was a signal for their departure. ‘Seeing ye reject,’ &c., ‘behold, we turn to the Gentiles.’ Had the gospel been proclaimed in like manner to all other nations, the apostles would have felt it their duty to have laboured assiduously among their brethren at home. But, while there remained a single nation on the face of the earth that had not received the knowledge of salvation, they felt that the parting commandment of their Master was not yet fully obeyed; and while they lived, they made it their business more and more fully to execute that command. But their missionary spirit died with them; and at the present hour that commandment remains still unobeyed. Is it difficult, in this case, to see the path of duty? Besides, I cannot see that by preaching at home we hasten the coming glory of the Church. God has promised that all shall know him. He has not promised that all shall serve him. On the contrary, he has said that he will gather his people out of every nation, kindred, and tongue, and people; which evidently implies that all shall not be his people. Far be it from me to depreciate the work of the ministry at home. It is a most important work. But still, while there are any sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, it must yield in importance to the missionary field. Besides, who can tell what an effect our neglect of God’s commandment to preach to all nations may have in causing him to withhold his Spirit from the exertions of Christians at home?"

In a subsequent letter he supplements this clear, simple, resistless scriptural statement, by the following very impressive view:—

"I still am inclined to think that the publication of the gospel as a message of mercy to sinners is the grand object for which the Christian ministry was instituted; at least it is one of the greatest objects. I do think that even the edification of the body of Christ yields to it in point of importance. We believe that if a sinner once embraces the gospel he cannot finally fall away; and even if his progress in the divine life should be slow, we know that in a very few years at the farthest, a full display of the glories of the divine character must burst upon him. Now, whether is it a more important work to rescue a sinner from hell and place him in this condition of safety, or to antedate, in a very slight degree, the happiness of a future state in one who has believed? For, all our advances in the knowledge of divine truth here must be held insignificant, when compared with the immense addition to our knowledge and our happiness, which we shall receive at that time when the dim conceptions of faith shall be exchanged for the bright realities of actual vision, I beg that you would not understand me as estimating lightly the work of grace in the hearts of believers. It is only when contrasted with the work of regeneration that I would ever think of it as of secondary importance. But I am not sure that the work of grace would go on more slowly in the hearts of believers, from the attention of the pastors being more called to the work of evangelizing the heathen. I do think in the present day we are apt to trust too much to public ordinances, and I would almost like to see Christians more thrown upon the resources of private devotion, and more direct communion with God. Our knowledge of divine things, to be sure, is small; but, O that our piety were but equal to our knowledge!"

As a further means of furnishing himself with sufficient data to ensure an intelligent and solidly based resolution, he sought and obtained, in the autumn of 1825, a personal interview with Mr. Townley, formerly a missionary in Bengal, and Dr. Morrison, the celebrated Chinese missionary, then resident in London. To them he openly expressed the wish he had for some time fostered, to devote himself, if the Lord willed, to missionary labours. As China, on account of its magnitude and their comparative neglect by the Christian world, presented the strongest claims to his mind, he looked forward to it as his probable future mission-field. He, accordingly, attended Dr. Morrison’s instructions in Chinese, that he might gain as much insight into "the mode of studying the language as might enable him, should he wish to pursue it, to do so alone." And his biographer testifies that the papers he left behind sufficiently evinced how ardently and successfully he entered into the study of that difficult language.

Returning with his friend Mr. Adam, who had devoted himself to the missionary cause, about the end of October, to St. Andrew’s, they both resolved to apply themselves afresh to their general studies, and to a thorough examination of everything relating to missions. For this purpose, they searched the sacred Scriptures, and summed up their inquiries under the heads of precepts, prophecies, examples, and promises. In order to render the investigation the more complete, they also resolved,, at the same time, to collect from other sources, all the accessible information on the interesting subject. In this way they carefully perused Brown’s History of Missions, Home’s, Ward’s, Milne’s, and Judson’s Letters; the lives of Martyn, Brainard, and Chamberlain; Ward’s History of the Hindus, &c., praying more earnestly than ever for wisdom and direction from above.

It is surely not possible to imagine anything more enlightened or judicious than the preparatory course of inquiry thus systematically pursued. No rashness, flightiness, impulsiveness, flashy enthusiasm, or ephemeral excitement here! On the contrary, all is characterized by a singular calmness and sobriety of spirit, comprehensiveness of aim, and persevering steadfastness of purpose, the clear indications of a simple, earnest, honest, conscientious desire to ascertain the divinely prescribed path of duty.

And what was the result? A growing conviction of the paramount claims of the heathen field, and of the duty of personal engagement in the missionary cause. Accordingly, as he had been led to give the first intimation of his long cherished desire on the subject to his friend Mr. Orme, so, on the 10th of March, 1826, he deemed it proper to convey to him the first announcement of his final decision. In that admirable communication, he tells how Mr. Adam and himself had made the subject of missions a matter of daily consideration throughout the session, reading nearly all the principal works relating to it; how he had thus obtained much sounder views of the matter than before; how the brilliant colouring of romance, if it previously existed in any degree, had faded from the picture, only leaving its outlines more strongly and broadly marked than before; how he was distressed by the prospect of those temptations before which so many of the missionary agents had fallen, and yet, how he felt encouraged to trust in God who could enable him to stand in the midst of all temptations; how he saw more clearly than ever that unwavering faith in God’s promises and closeness of communion with him, were among the many requisites in the character of the missionary; how, the further he proceeded in his inquiries, he was impressed more deeply than ever with the duty of engaging in this department of the ministerial work; and how, as the result of the whole, "after deliberately viewing all sides of the question, and candidly comparing the claims of our home population and the heathen world, and earnestly seeking for direction from Him who has promised to be the guide of his people even unto death, he had come to the final resolution of devoting himself to the service of God among the heathen."

His first public announcement of this final resolution was made, about the same time, towards the close of his concluding address to the members of the St. Andrew’s University Missionary Society. It was in these terms: "The matter" (of personal engagement) "some time ago presented itself very forcibly to my own mind, and I felt that it at least demanded my serious consideration. As I have proceeded with my inquiries on the subject, the difficulties seemed to have gathered thicker on the prospect, but the convictions of duty have grown stronger too. The arguments for personal engagement seem to me to have acquired the strength of a demonstration. I have, therefore, resolved, with the help of God, to devote my life to the cause; and I have only solemnly to charge every one of you who are looking forward to the ministry of Christ, to take this matter into most serious consideration."

The writer of these remarks happened to be present when these sentences were uttered, and he can testify to the deep and solemn impression which they produced. It was not that they displayed aught of the artistic in style, the fascinating in rhetoric, or the brilliant in oratory. Ah, no. In themselves, the words were abundantly simple, artless, and unendowed. But there was, notwithstanding, a spell-like charm in them which at once reached the heart and caused it to vibrate to the innermost core. The address was on the subject of "personal engagement in the work of missions." The preacher commenced with a somewhat abrupt and hurried intimation which instantaneously aroused and arrested general attention. As he advanced, step by step, every statement seemed so clear and strong in common sense — every illustration, so apt and telling—every address to the head and heart, so backed and fenced round and round by scriptural authority — and all, so firmly clenched by that consummating announcement, which proved beyond the possibility of cavil or debate, that the earnest advocate was no mere special pleader who strove to influence others by appeals which had failed in practically convincing himself— that the cumulative argument seemed to bear down on the sincere and candid mind with a force all but resistless. And then, there was something so touching, so melting even, in that youthful expression of countenance, when lighted up with the kindliness of an unearthly sanctity — something so piercingly persuasive in those suffused eyes, when glowing with the fire of wistful longing and fervent entreaty — something so soul-thrilling in that naturally sweet, soft, mellow, silvery voice, when quivering with the pathos of out-gushing emotion from a surcharged heart, —that the combined effect of the whole might well be said to have been overwhelming. For a moment, it appeared as if all present were ready to rise up and march forth as a united phalanx into the battle-field; and few there were who did not then at least resolve to submit the subject to an examination with which it had never been honoured before; while of some, it can be added that they did not pause till they found themselves across oceans and continents, in front of the bristling hosts and frowning citadels of heathenism.

When his long and sore soul-travail had thus fairly brought his final resolution to the birth, one would have thought that it would have been joyously hailed, with general acclaim, by the friends of Jesus. But, no. Already, while merely prosecuting his earnest researches on the subject, he had met with not a little discouragement on the part of those from whom he had good reason to anticipate a different reception. And now, the formal announcement of his final decision seemed only to be the signal for an onset of more positive and determined opposition. But, it was not to be expected that a resolution which had been the deliberate result of so much patient, pains-taking conscientious inquiry — accompanied with so much fervent prayer and devout waiting upon God — could be easily shaken. It was not like Jonah’s gourd, the growth of a day, destined to wither, before the first attack of an insect foe, in the morning of a summer’s day. It rather resembled the monarch oak, which, slow in growth, gradually attains to a robustness of strength, that enables it not only to defy, but acquire increased tenacity of root and texture from every assailing tempest. The result abundantly proved that every antagonistic argument and appeal only recoiled on their authors, with a quicker and yet more vehement rebound, — thus furnishing fresh and incontestable evidence of the massive solidity —the adamantine firmness of the basis on which the resolution had been founded.

It is, therefore, with feelings of deepest pain, on account of his friendly but misjudging opponents, and intensest admiration of the heavenly-minded youth — in whom sage-like wisdom seemed so rarely blended with childlike simplicity, and the tenderest sensibilities intertwined with the stern, heroic, martyr-like spirit — that we find so many entries like the following, in his subsequent journals and letters: "He" (a venerated professor whom he greatly esteemed and loved) "tries to persuade me to stay in this country, but I do not think his arguments powerful." "I have been in Glasgow twice. I met Mr. Erskine there as well as Mr. Ewing," (colleague of Dr. Wardlaw in the Theological Seminary), &c. "All are against my being a missionary; but I have heard no arguments against it that seem to me at all conclusive." "Have you been thinking more of missions? I find every body dissuades and discourages me, urging the great wants of our own country. I think I feel the claims of our own land as strongly as some who urge them against my plans. But still this does not prevent me from feeling the immense argumentative force of the simple feet, that nothing has yet been done for heathen nations, proportioned to their vast extent; and nothing to fulfil the wide command of our Lord." "I have been partly terrified out of the idea of attempting publication, from the decided opposition our sentiments on this subject have met with, when I have laid them before those whom I have, from infancy, looked up to as men mighty in the Scriptures. Do not mistake me: my own convictions are by no means weakened. Every prayer deepens their impression. And at times of closer communion with God, a brighter light seems to be shed on the path before me. My own conscience must be my guide." "On the subject of missions every prayer strengthens my purpose. I am aware of the glare of romance, which fancy may throw round the idea of Christian expeditions to foreign lands; but I have tried to make due allowance for this; I have prayed that a youthful imagination might not lead me astray. The result is, I am every day more and more convinced that my convictions on this matter are founded in Scripture." "On consulting my friends" (parents and others, when on a visit to Perth) "I was astonished to find them even more opposed than before. There seemed to be even some disappointment that I had not by this time, abandoned the idea of being a missionary altogether. Had the impulse on my mind been a mere boyish fancy, in all probability this would have been the case, exposed as I have been to influences altogether unfavourable. But I trust there is no enthusiasm in supposing that the impression has been made by the Spirit of God, when time, and meditation, and prayer make it deeper and deeper. Still, my relations are quite against my views."

In connection with this determined and continued opposition which he had to encounter, to the very last, from Professors, ministers, relatives and acquaintances, Mr. Orme endeavours to present a plea, partly apologetic, and partly explanatory.

One of the dissuasive arguments frequently adduced — rather a favourite one with fond parents and doating friends — was, the alleged weakness and delicacy of his constitution. But apart from the grand fact, that all are in the hands of a gracious and sovereign God, who can preserve the weak, though exposed to the greatest peril, and strike down the strong, though placed in circumstances the most advantageous, Urquhart was persuaded of the soundness of the opinion of the physician whom he had consulted, coinciding as it did with that of the most experienced on the subject: "That no physician could predict how any particular constitution would suit a hot climate; and that, in general, persons of a thin, spare habit," (like his own), "were more likely to stand than those who were stouter."

Another of the redoubtable and stereotyped arguments with which he was constantly plied — the favourite one with Theological Professors and home pastors, who yet, at times, can eloquently declaim on the awful spiritual necessities of the heathen, and the glory and grandeur of the missionary enterprise — was, the urgent claims of home; implying, that he possessed some special fitness, from the peculiarity of his tastes and talents, for home work. Now, the real fact was, as stated repeatedly by himself, that he was led, in the very consideration of the missionary question, to regard more attentively the state of his own country as to religious knowledge. And no one can carefully and candidly read the many communications in which the subject is discussed by him, without perceiving how thoroughly he had examined, and how intelligently he had appreciated the claims of home; yea, how diligently he had laboured, as time and opportunity were afforded, in supplying the wants of home, by teaching Sabbath-schools, collecting young men around him, holding prayer meetings with the poor, visiting from house to house, distributing tracts; and yet, how vastly, in the case of one like himself, who simply strove to learn where the Lord’s cause had most need of his personal services, the claims of the heathen were felt to preponderate.

But a truce to all such objections! From whatever quarter they proceed, they are of "the earth, earthy." Professors of religion, indolently and sinfully suffer themselves, for the most part, to be so entrenched in antecedent prejudices, preferences, and predilections, that their minds can very seldom indeed fairly look the subject in the face. Nay, more! The real truth is, that the teeming brood of ordinary objections will be found to spring from a deeper source than any that appears on the surface, or any that is usually avowed. The saddening and discreditable fact ought not to be glozed over or disguised, from the cowardly fear of offending man — however lofty in talent, station, or influence; or however endeared by ties of earthly relationship — that there is, in the minds even of most of the friends and supporters of missions, a thoroughly inadequate apprehension of two most vital gospel requirements: — First, a thoroughly inadequate apprehension of the real nature and extent of the self-sacrifice, which the gospel demands of all true believers; though such self-sacrifice be not a super-eminent grace, expected to belong only to a chosen few of transcendent piety, but one of the primary constituent elements of the Christian character — the destitution of which would argue not so much weakness of faith, as the non-existence of genuine faith altogether: — and secondly, as thoroughly inadequate an apprehension of the real nature and magnitude of the missionary enterprise, and of the peculiar claims of heathen nations, viewed in the light of Scripture prophecy and divine commands, as compared with those which, for ages, have enjoyed the blessed dispensation of the gospel. Hence it is, that, too often, even pious professors and ministers would begrudge young men, that are rarely gifted by nature and grace, to the heathen world; as if the conduct of a great war in the territory of a powerful foe demanded less talent, genius, or energy, than the commandership of a peaceful garrison in one’s native land; or, as if the procedure which God himself exemplified in separating Paul and Barnabas, the mightiest of apostles and apostolic men, from the great and flourishing Church of Antioch, to become his ambassadors to the realms of heathenism, constituted no precedent, and challenged no imitation! And hence, also, it is, that, too often, even godly parents would begrudge a beloved son to the glorious work of proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles; as if he were their own, and not His, whose claims, as Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, are altogether paramount; or, as if the divine declaration, "that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life," constituted no example, and imposed no practical obligation!

How far the painful and harassing course of dissuasion and resistance, so obstinately and unyieldingly persisted in by parerts, acquaintances, and friends, may have acted on Urquhart’s keenly sensitive nature, so as injuriously to affect his bodily health and help to precipitate a fatal issue, it were vain for us now to surmise. On this extremely delicate point, every reader of the narrative must be left to judge for himself. One thing is certain, that, up to the very last, his own mind remained firm and unshaken as the iron rocks amid the ceaseless buffetings of old ocean. The last entry in his journal, referring to the commencement of the attack which soon terminated his earthly career, very touchingly shows, as his biographer has well remarked, how the ruling passion — his devoted attachment to personal service in the missionary cause — appeared strong in death. After recording the doctor’s professional verdict, he remarks: "This has distressed me a good deal, as it may unfit me for the East; which I have long contemplated as the scene of my labours. But the Lord knows what is best."

Verily, the good and the gracious Lord did know what was best; and He now began visibly to take the whole matter into his own hands. He who knows the heart, well knew how sincerely and devoutly it was in the heart of the youthful Urquhart personally to labour in the distant fields of heathen evangelism. And, doubtless, the approving sentence, that it was good to have cherished such a purpose in his heart, has been duly registered in the book of the Divine remembrance. But, as endless obstacles were interposed in his way, by parents and friends on earth, the Lord was pleased, in his sovereignty, to decide the question, by taking him to himself! They would not consent to his serving his divine Master in foreign climes below; and so, He transferred him to a nobler service in the climes above! They would not consent to his leaving home and fatherland, on an embassy of mercy to perishing millions; and so, in loving-kindness to him and in rebuke to them, the Lord ordained that what they would not willingly suffer him to attempt by his life, he would honour and enable him to accomplish more effectually by his early death! It is known that, already, the perusal of this memoir has been sanctified as the means of quickening the desire of some, and confirming the timid resolve of others, to go forth as the heralds of salvation to the unevangelized tribes of earth. These, then, may truly be regarded as his substitutes and representatives in the heathen world, which he had so longed to visit and help to save. And souls rescued by their instrumentality from the bondage of sin and Satan, may yet hail him in the realms of everlasting day, as, in an important sense, their honoured spiritual progenitor.

Recommending, therefore, this volume, with all earnestness, to the members, and especially the juvenile members, of the evangelic churches of America, my fervent prayer is, that the lessons which it is so well fitted to teach, may not be lost on old or young, — that the perusal of it may, under God, be blessed to the stimulating of their souls to holier and more self-denying endeavours for the advancement of Christ’s cause and kingdom in the world — that the mantle of the saintly, devoted, and now glorified Urquhart may fall on not a few youthful, ardent disciples, who, imbued with a double portion of his spirit, may be privileged to rear the standard of the cross over many a hitherto unconquered province of Satan’s empire.

ALEXANDER DUFF.

MARCH, 1855.


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