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Dr Alexander Cameron
Chapter IV. Ministry in Renton


It may prove instructive to get a glimpse of the surroundings and ascertain some of the historical incidents and recent reminiscences of this “local habitation.” And for such a sketch I am indebted to an able and learned lecture delivered by Mr John Macleod Dalquhurn, to the Renton Literary Association. He says:—

“Those who have spent their early years in a small country village, amidst the works of nature and beautiful scenery, and have had the advantage of seeing nature under its various aspects, and have seen the old, low-roofed, thatched houses, the small dingy shops, with their half-doors, and the stone seats in the streets disappearing, along with many old customs and Avays of living, cannot but view the place of those early associations with feelings of peculiar interest and affection. Besides, it is both acceptable and profitable to us to possess a knowledge of the events and circumstances which have produced the social system and institutions under which our happiness has been produced and protected. Cicero, the Roman philosopher, has truly said, ‘For a man to be ignorant of what happened before him is to be always a child.’ . . . . In early times the people of all ranks lived so friendly together that the Villagers were, in a manner, all next-door neighbours. This village, like many other villages, had names given to certain of its inhabitants, founded on some peculiarity of their character, and married women were addressed by their maiden name. The village had its ‘King Hale,’ its ‘Duke,’ and its ‘Bishop,’ all as familiarly known to the old natives as the cross on the Main Street. During last century and well into the present, spinning and weaving as opposed to the present factory system were carried on by farmers and cottars. The spindles and spinning wheel occupied a prominent place in domestic life, and the two last handlooms in use—Duncan M‘Laren’s in the Back Street, and James Paul’s in the Main Street, are still remembered. Joseph Irving gives some account of the early dwellers in the district. Early charters tell of grants of free forestry and fishing in the Leven as gifts to religious houses. The district was generally kuown as the ‘Lennox ’ or ‘ Levenach,’ and the once powerful house of Lennox dates as far back as 1072. This tract of country was given by Malcolm III. to Arkil, the son of Egfrith, in consideration of the noble stand he had made against the Conqueror, and as some recompense for the loss of his possessions. In 1587 James IV. visited Matthew, the Earl of Lennox, at his castle at Balloch. After the Restoration, the lands of Bonhill passed to the Smolletts of Dumbartonshire. The founder of this house was Sir James Smollett, the novelist’s grandfather, who is said to have been a skilful lawyer and a sagacious politician. Archibald, the fourth son of Sir James, married Barbara Cunningham, and occupied Dalquhurn House on the family estate. Tobias, the novelist, was the youngest son of this union. It is somewhat pathetic to be told that the author of £ Regicide,’ 'Roderick Random,’ and 'Humphrey Clinker,’ should have passed his life in a continual struggle for existence. At Cardross, in the vicinity of Renton, from 1790 to 1801, Rev. Mr Macaulay, the grandfather of Lord Macaulay, the celebrated historian, was minister. Commercial prosperity and intellectual power are often found associated, and it is interesting to find that the firm of Walter Stirling & Sons, begun as a bleachwork, and become a lucrative business as a print-work, should be closely connected with Scottish scholarship. William Stirling died in 1777 at the age of 60, seven years after he had settled in the Valley of the Leven. His daughter Elizabeth was the mother of Sir William Hamilton, the distinguished philosopher, and of Thomas Hamilton, the author of £ Cyril Thornton.’ Rev. James Oliphant, rendered historic by Robert Burns, was appointed to the parish of Dumbarton in 1773, and belonged to the Evangelical party. To check religious heresy at its fountain head, he prepared a Catechism, doctrinal and historical, of divine truth for the use of schools and families. It attained much popularity, and reached an issue of 20,000. "With the view of giving him annoyance, a man was employed to go through Dumbarton with copies of the 'Young Communicants’ Catechism,’ crying as he went along, 'The whole works of the Rev. James Oliphant, presentee to this parish, for the small charge of twopence.’

"Previous to 1793, there is no record of any public school being in the place, the children being taught either by private teachers or their parents. In those days the school books were not heavy to carry. For the most part they were the Bible, the Shorter Catechism, a slate and a copy book. The usual school curriculum was the A B C on the first page of the Catechism, then the abs, ibs, and so forth; then came 'The Chief End of Man' next the New Testament and the Bible, and this ended the education of a large number of scholars. For a number of years old John Maclaren, called by the natives 'John Highlandman,’ carried on a school in Back Street most successfully. He was well known to all the villagers, and when the children were dismissed from the school he walked behind them with a small cane in his hand like a herd on their way home; no general at the head of his army felt prouder of his soldiers than this old teacher did walking along with his drove of scholars. He taught his children with great kindness, and was much loved by them and their parents. At that time the severity of discipline in use in our schools was far too general, and often thoughtlessly applied. Flogging and Buffeting were unmercifully employed. This reacted again on the nature of the boys, who in turn domineered over each other.

“Old customs and superstitious beliefs, similar to those of other countries, prevailed here, such as reading cups, forecasts from dreams, and spaeing fortunes. The three most important events in life were attended with many curious customs. At birth there was the danger of being carried away by the fairies or being injured by the influence of an evil eye ; and many charms were used as a protection and preventive, particularly before baptism. The woman who carried the child to church to be baptised must be a lucky person. She carried with her a parcel of bread and cheese to be given to the first person she met, as a gift from the baby. Forecasts were made of the future of the child from the character of the person who received the gift. As to marriage, it was regarded as unlucky to enter wedlock in May—marry in May and rue for aye. If the day proved bright and cheerful it betokened a happy life, if dull and rainy the contrary result. The solemn event of death had also its quota of superstitions, omens, and warnings. The ticking of a watch or any noise about a sick person’s bed, or the howling of a dog in the direction of a sick person’s house, were considered sure signs of approaching death. There was a prevalent belief in the district that the rowan tree or mountain ash possessed a wonderful influence against all evil machinations We find these trees still growing near houses, particularly farmhouses, as they were considered a protection both to the cattle and to the process of churning. Deaf and dumb persons were considered able to foretell future events.”

Into the life of this important, if limited, sphere of labour Mr Cameron entered heartily and hopefully. He became well known and appreciated in the whole neighbourhood. His sermons were carefully prepared and fully written out, but not read. It may, doubtless, be a special gift to be able to address audiences extempore, but one can hardly fail to realise that the spoken word seems to tell most effectively, as being an utterance direct from heart to heart, and as deriving part of its power from the presence and position of the people influenced. His congregational work was in no way arrested but rather helped and brightened by occasional visits to other and remoter districts at Communion seasons. We shall best realise this by reference to his diary of date Saturday 14th July, 1860

“This is my birthday. How little I have done for the glory of God and for the good of souls during the thirty-three years of my life now past ! May the Lord enable me to improve whatever portion of time He may be pleased yet to allot to me. Returned home after an absence of ten days in Kintyre where I was assisting Mr Macpherson, of Killean, at his' communion. Left home for Killean the previous week; and here I may give a brief account of my visit. On Tuesday, 3rd inst., went to Rothesay by the ‘Iona’ with I. and A. A. was on way to visit his aunt in Glenquoich. Having spent a happy day returned with I. to Glasgow in the afternoon by the same steamer. After arriving in Glasgow got Mr D. Gray to supply my place in Renton on Sabbath. Staid on Tuesday evening in Mrs Diamond’s, to be near the steamer in the morning..

“On Wednesday, the 4th, left for Killean by the ‘Iona,’ which brought me to Tarbert. Was suffering from severe headache when I landed at Tarbert. Rested for two or three hours at Mr Campbell’s, from whom, as well as from Mrs C., I met with much kindness. Left in the afternoon for Killean. Was met by Mr Macpherson with his gig about three miles beyond Tarbert. When we came to Clachan we rested for some time, were hospitably entertained by the gardener and his wife, and were constrained to address a few people who came to the house for that purpose. The duty devolved upon me. Spoke for some time from Ezek. xxxiii.

"Much worse in consequence of travelling in an open conveyance after being somewhat heated by speaking at the meeting at Clachan. Arrived at Killean after eleven o’clock at night! Felt very unwell. My throat much affected.

“Thursday 5th.—Very unwell. So hoarse as to be able to speak with great difficulty. Officiated, nevertheless, three times —in the forenoon, in Gaelic, from Isa. i. 18; in the afternoon, in English, from Jer. 1. 5 ; in the evening, in Gaelic, from at the parable of the ten virgins. A good congregation in the forenoon. A considerable number left at the close of the Gaelic service, so that there were many fewer during the English service. That the result of habit more than of not being able to understand the English language. Most of the young people can understand and speak English quite well. There was a good attendance in the evening, although it was much inferior to the forenoon attendance. Those who came from a distance to the forenoon service had returned home; hut some attended in the evening who did not attend, owing to want of dress or other causes, during the day. In the evening nearly all present were in their working dress. The service was called a meeting, although the exercise was much the same as an ordinary lecture. James Currie, a fine young man belonging to Killean, engaged in prayer before we dismissed. His prayer was simple, solemn, and very appropriate. From all that I have seen of him during my recent visit, I am inclined to regard him as the most extraordinary young man 1 have ever met with. With very much common sense he seems to possess clear viewrs of Gospel truth and deep religious feeling. His mind is much exercised and is in consequence kept low, of which he is much the better. He possesses fine natural talents, but is withal very modest and diffident. If the Lord will spare him I trust he will be the means of doing good. It looks as if he had been raised up for that end, for he is far before every other one of whatever age that I have met with in that district.

“During all the Thursday services a deep solemnity pervaded the people. I believe that the Spirit of the Lord has been working in that district, and that whatever may be the ultimate result in regard to some, others will derive from the recent awakening lasting benefit. Many things to blame there may have been as there have always been in connection with similar movements; but good has been done in spite of all these things.

“On Friday very unwell with the cold. No service this day in the south and west at communion seasons. The Friday meeting much missed by those accustomed to it. Some conversation with Elizabeth, Mr Macpherson’s sister, who has gone to reside with him, and who has been unwell ever since she went there.

“Mr Campbell, Tarbert, arrived in the afternoon. On Saturday still unwell but able to preach the English service in the schoolhouse. Very few present. Subject, Ezek. xxxvi. 26.

“Sabbath.—Still unwell. A very deep cough. Found necessary to apply a mustard poultice to my chest a little before twelve o’clock, so that I was prevented from going to church until near two o’clock. Preached after the Tables from Zech. xiii. 8, 9. Considerable liberty in declaring the truth. 0 to feel humbly thankful for every measure of liberty which we may enjoy in speaking of divine things!

“Some conversation in the evening about the awakening. Mr Macpherson knew that I did not approve out and out of the movement. I suppose he must have heard in Lochgilphead Availed myself of the opportunity which our conversation on the Sabbath evening afforded me to state my own views as prudently as I could. Endeavoured to show that mine differed, not so widely as might be supposed, from his own. Stated what I approved of and what I disapproved of. Disapproved much of endeavouring to produce excitement and causing people to cry out; and stated that it would be much better if the people could keep altogether from crying out ; although I did not wonder at all at many when they came to believe their lost state crying nut. My main object in making these and other statements to the same effect, was to convince him, if possible, of the danger resulting from creating excitement among the people by working upon their feelings. All that I said, however, produced no effect; for he was very firm in his own view, which I greatly regret.

“On Monday unwell, but better—the cough still continuing. Preached the English service in the church. More present. Subject, Song of Solomon vii. 10 In the evening crossed from Killean to Gigha in an open boat. Distance seven miles from the point which we left to the point at which we landed. James Currie and Mrs Mackay accompanied me in the same boat, and some others in another boat. The sea was smooth as glass. The meeting was held at the house of a farmer on the other side of the island from that on which we landed. Some forty or fifty persons present. Found that no proper intimation had been given, and that the place of meeting was not convenient. Chose Matth. xvi. 26 as my subject—the preciousness of the soul, and the awfulness of its loss. The people listened most attentively. One girl much impressed. J. Currie and myself remained all night at the farmer’s house, where we were very kindly entertained. Mrs Mackay and the rest from Killean returned home.

“Tuesday, 10th.—Very unwell last night and this morning, but better by 10 o’clock. Left Gigha for Kilberry about that time in the same boat that brought me to Gigha. It belonged to a young man from Kilberry who was at Killean at the Communion, and who, along with two Killean men, who were going to Kilberry to work, accompanied us to Gigha, that they might take James and myself to Kilberry. The day very fine, and the sea very smooth. Arrived at Kilberry about 2 o’clock—distance from the point from which we set out to that at which we landed about 11 miles. A good meeting in the evening in the School-house, which serves for both church and schoolhouse. English service first—subject, Lamentations iii. 24. Experienced much comfort in speaking. The people much impressed. Continued this service too long, quite unconsciously — about two hours. Gaelic service immediately afterwards—short, only about one hour. Very happy during both services. Believed that the Lord was present. No excitement, but deep solemnity. Gaelic subject,

1 Tim. i. 15. Mr John Clark is labouring here as a catechist. Met here the Misses M'Kinlev from Rothesay. Mr Macarthur’s friends stayed all night with Mr Barnhill, whom, with Mrs Barnhill, I met at Killean at the Communion, and from whom we now met with much kindness at their own house.

“On Wednesday morning we breakfasted with Mrs Shaw, a young lady married to a farmer there. Mr Shaw was not at breakfast, having left earlier for his fank, where they were busy sheep shearing. Mrs Shaw a most interesting and gentle creature. Miss Maclean, daughter of Mr Maclean, Glenorchy, was staying there. Mrs Shaw, Miss Maclean, and another lady—an aunt of Mrs Shaw—had walked to the sermon the previous evening, a distance of four or live miles, or more. Mr Barnhill sent James and myself this forenoon across to Clachan, where it was arranged there should be a service about 1 o’clock. Mrs Shaw and Miss Maclean accompanied us, but returned immediately with Mr Barnhill, as the day began to threaten rain. Found the people waiting for us at Clachan, having been a little behind our time in getting forward. Addressed them from Hosea ii. 19. Much comfort in speaking to them, but was very exhausted before I got there. The people exceedingly attentive. Most of those present were grown-up men, and the tears were falling down the cheeks of some of them. Tea was prepared for us in the house of the gardener, where Mr Macpherson and myself stayed for some time that day week. Met with much kindness.

“Left Clachan about five o’clock p.m. to cross the hill to Skipness, a distance of - miles over a very bad road. One man, a tailor, accompanied us, while another sent a horse with us a considerable part of the way. Arrived at the house of a Mr Stewart, a farmer, exactly at eight. Was very much worn out, having walked the whole way, that poor James, who is not strong, might have the benefit of the horse. Much discouraged by finding only one other family, Stewart’s father-in-law’s family, present, besides the family of the house in which the meeting was held. All were Established Church people. Were told that the meeting was not properly intimated. One thing, however, was very-apparent—the anxiety to hear the Word does not exist on this side as it exists on the other side. Addressed the few assembled from the Parable of the Supper, Luke xiv. Those present very attentive. Who can tell but that the Lord may bless the truth to some one present 1 Great, unspeakably great, is the value of one soul; and if one soul were won, that evening’s labour would certainly not be in vain. Left after the meeting with Mr M‘Q. in his dog-cart. Mr M‘Q. is Mr S.’s father-in-law. Mr M‘Q. and some of his family belong to the Established Church, to which the whole family at one time adhered, but some of them having come under concern, joined the Free Church—to which I believe the whole family would now adhere had they a Free Church to go to. This family an instance of the influence for good which children often exert upon parents.

“Thursday, 12th.—Never met with more kindness than in that house. The family wished us to hold a meeting there before leaving for Carradale, where it was arranged we should have a meeting in the evening. Consented, and the family and a few others met at 12 o’clock. Addressed them from the parable of the Sower. Dwelt much upon false appearances, and how they gradually die away. Ascertained afterwards, through James, that one of the girls in the house has been much exercised for some time back. Considered the state of her mind hopeful. Was led through the influence of some companions who were anxious at the time of the awakening in Greenock, and who seemed to have got peace, to belieAre that she herself also had found peace, but that peace she had subsequently lost—which was well for her. May the Lord lead her to find peace in Christ! Thought that I felt a little of the presence of the Lord at one time during the meeting. Mr M‘Q. sent his dog-cart with us to a place within two miles or so of Carradale, or rather of the place where we were to meet there.

“James was expecting a good meeting at Carradale, but in this he was disappointed and much dejected. There are a few Free Church families there, but with the exception of Mr M‘Q.’s son, who goes every Sabbath across the hill to Mr Macpherson’s Church, they do not seem very zealous. There ai'e also some Independents who would join the Free Church if there were an acceptable preacher there. The Free Church ought not to lose sight of the place or of her own adherents there, and a faithful and judicious preacher might be the means of doing good. Addressed the few people who had assembled from the parable of the Prodigal Son. After the meeting parted with James Currie, who went to Mr M‘Q.’s son’s house. Felt regret in parting with him ; he is very promising. After this I went to the Inn, an Independent who was at Die meeting kindly carrying my bag and refusing to take anything for doing it. The people at the Inn had gone to bed, and the house was quite full, so that I had some difficulty in finding accommodation. A bed was, however, prepared for me, in which I slept soundly, and the charge for bed and breakfast was exceedingly moderate—only 2s 3d.

“When I found so much difficulty in getting accommodation at the Inn, I regretted much that I had non gone along with James to Mr J.’s, although it would be far out of the way of the steamer in the morning. Was pressed to go, and was promised to be sent to the steamer in time in the morning. All things considered, however, what I did was better; and thus ended my visit to Kintyre—a visit which, upon the whole, was very pleasant, and to myself, I trust, not without profit. Seldom experienced so much pleasure in preaching as during that visit. May it be for the Lord’s glory and for good to souls. Amen.”

At home, amid the manifold labours of consolidating and extending a newly-formed charge, Mr Cameron was surrounded by not a few young men and women whose interests and prospects he had deeply at heart. He frequently delivered addresses to their associations, and indicated to them main lines of improvement, as the following sentences show:—

“Now, to reading you must add reflection upon what you read. Reflection is to intellectual food what digestion is to natural food. What you eat will do you no good unless you digest it, and what you read will not improve your mind unless you reflect upon it. You should write as much and as often as possible. To write enables you to take stock of your mental furniture. Many people fancy they know a great deal who really know very little. Now, writing your ideas is like counting down your money. It enables you to know what you really have. I am afraid that writing would reduce many whose credit is very good, and who figure well before the public, to a state of intellectual bankruptcy. Writing your ideas will likewise enable you to mark the progress of your minds by comparing your present thinking with your thinking at former periods of your life. Writing also teaches you accuracy. Some of you will remember Bacon’s aphorism : Reading maketh a full man, speaking or conference a ready man, and writing an exact or accurate man. . . .

“Having said so much about the cultivation of the intellect or understanding, I must say a few things about the improvement of the heart. The instrument in improving the heart is moral truth, but moral truth alone, and without the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit, will avail but little. Precepts and example, by fortifying the conscience, often preserve the young pure from many temptations, but a character built on mere morality is like a beautiful waxen image. Its form is perfect, but it has no life. Grace is the life which quickens the heart, and thus lays a true and solid foundation for moral improvement. Men, to do good, you must first be good, for a heart purified by faith, and animated by love to God, is the only source of true obedience.”

He was himself accustomed to carry these wise precepts into practice by committing to writing a series of meditations and reflections on subjects that fascinated or fixed his thought. Here is one:—

“Godly fear very different from slavish fear. The child fears the parent’s frown, because he loves that parent. The slave fears the master’s rod because he recognises the master’s authority and power, and has no sense of his love. The child of God is often troubled with slavish fear, when he has a more vivid sense of God’s authority, power, and justice, than of His saving love. We ought to seek to have a proper apprehension of the divine character as it is revealed as a whole—not of this attribute to the neglect of that other attribute, but of all the attributes.

“Does the opinion of our fellow men weigh with us more than what God says, in the regulation of our conduct! Are we more afraid of offending some friend whom we highly regard, than of offending a righteous, holy, and merciful God? What Joseph feared was to sin against God. A sanctified conscience has regard to the word and authority of God. It gives law—even the divine law, written in the Word and impressed on the new heart—to the soul, and it commands obedience to that law ; but the spring of obedience is love—not blind passion, not ecstatic emotion—but a living principle, or rather the exercise of the living principle, implanted in the soul in regeneration, and which is stirred into activity by the revelation of the glory of Christ in the Word. Love to God is the outgoing towards God on the perception of His excellence and of His mercy to me, of that native affection of a renewed soul. Love, or the capacity of love, is a native affection of the soul ; but this affection is impure, and is set upon earthly objects and turned against God, its legitimate object, until the soul is regenerated, after which a new bias is given to all the faculties and capacities of the soul. Love, therefore, is not a new capacity or affection, properly speaking, but the native capacity or affection renewed. What is the proper seat of love and of godly fear in the soul? It is the heart. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.’ ‘I will put my fear in their heart that they shall not depart from me.’ But is not loving an exercise of the will? Love, properly speaking, is an affection, but an affection deeply seated in the heart. And still it may be called an exercise of the will, for the will is the great motive power. This would lead us to the intricate cpiestion of the Identity of our desires and volitions.”

Here is an analysis of a hypocrite:—

“The hypocrite uses truth as a means for elevating himself. He says something smart —perhaps something good. He lays great stress upon it to attract your attention to it. But do not suppose that he wishes your attention to terminate upon the thing or the truth. He only wants you to attend to it that you may be induced to admire him for saying it. To the truth in itself he has no liking, except so far as it may be instrumental in gaining influence for him. If he admires it, depend upon it, it is not because of any intrinsic beauty he sees in it, but because he sees himself in it or associates himself with it or its author. The hypocrite sobs and sighs, and looks on either side of him to see if he be admired for his brokenness of heart. This is conceit in the borrowed garb of Christian meekness, and, depend upon it, the trick will be discovered.”

Further, we find a somewhat sharp criticism of the tendency in some old men to disparage youth:—

“From experience, especially experience in blundering, one may have learned to know what a blunder is, but the same experience should have taught him to be charitable while faith fully correcting faults. I know some who in the season of their youthful zeal and indiscretion ever running their heads continually against posts, who are the loudest in blaming youth for blundering, and, in their zeal, do not often stay to enquire whether the blundering which stirs their bile, may not be more apparent than real. Again, there are some who regard every young person imprudent who ventures to differ from their views and actings. In fact, when you are anxious to find fault with any young person, but cannot find proper grounds, the safest way is to say that he is imprudent, for then you have a good chance of being believed, since it is not at all improbable that a young man may be imprudent. This charge is not only the most credible, it is also the most injurious to him. And this heavy penalty one may pay for possessing the manliness necessary to express dissent from some party whom accident perhaps rather than worth may have elevated to a position which gives to his sayings and doings a temporary importance which their intrinsic character could have never obtained for them. Others, again, esteem that to be caution which preserves its possessor from offending everybody. It is proper, of course, to avoid offending, so far as that can be done in consistence with higher duties. Let our caution be that of him who, weighing well both motives and consequences, is eager to grasp the first reasonable opportunity for action. The wise man is neither he who continually meditates in close retirement, nor he who is so much engaged in action that he has little time and less relish for reflection, but he who walks abroad into the world with his eyes and ears open for observation, and who then retires to his chamber to arrange and classify the results. These remarks will enable us to appreciate Dr Johnson’s observation who, when some one had asked him to take a walk into the fields, declined, but added:—'Let us walk down Oheapside, where we can see men.’ ”

There is this remark about punctuality

“Another subject which I must study practically as well as theoretically. Two divisions—1st, its advantages, and 2nd, how to form the habit—the baneful fruits of procrastination!”

Appreciation of the wise is put thus:—

“In the company of superiors in wisdom and attainment one should study to reflect their light by appreciating their good sayings rather than to shine ourselves. The way in which Wordsworth’s sister shone was by her true appreciation of his compositions. She drank in his music, and that encouraged him to sing.”

We find finally this touching and true reflection under date February 16th, 1661:—

“Whoever succeeds in extracting the gall and bitterness which sorrows and disappointments have mingled with our feelings, will be sure to become an object of our affection.”

The following account and estimate of Mr Cameron’s work at Renton was kindly sent by one of his old parishioners, Mr John Maccallum, now of Uxbridge :—

“He was a very zealous worker in the interests of his own congregation at Renton, which was his first charge. The efforts made and the means used by him to cause Highlanders to attend church on the Sabbath day were sometimes very original. In the Vale of Leven there were a large number of Highlanders who were not exactly model church-goers, and Mr Cameron seemed to think that the injunction ‘compel them to come in’ had special reference to these northerners. A fair proportion of these were natives of the Isle of Skye, one of whose besetting sins on the Sabbath was Caileiny or visiting in each others’ houses and lodgings and relating stories of adventures which never happened in Skye. Mr Cameron seemed to be well aware of their failing, and the success with which he dealt with them was marvellous; he made it a very regular practice to call on them during the week, and exact promises of attendance at church on the Sabbath. These Highlanders, believing generally in the Scriptures, and particularly in that part which says ‘The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,’ made very fair promises of attendance, which they very frequently failed to fulfil. Though sometimes baffled in this method, Mr Cameron was not easily turned aside from his purpose, and he used to leave the manse sometime before the hour for worship and shame the young Highlanders out of their houses into the church, many amusing incidents resulting from these visitations.

“The young Highlanders soon learned that being in bed was no defence, so they often contrived to be out of their lodgings and on a visit to their cronies before eleven o’clock. This plan, while it enabled them to evade Mr Cameron In some cases, at other times landed them in the lion's den, as he sometimes caught them in groups. On one particular occasion a number of the Murachadlis and Toramailds were assembled in one house, from which they could see Mr Cameron on his way to church, and were startled when they discovered that he was making tracks for their rendezvous. There were so many of them, that to have remained where they were might have tempted him to hold the service there ; to escape into the road was impossible, as they would have met him, so they made their escape into a small building in the garden, where they thought they were safe, but were doomed to disappointment, as Mr Cameron, perceiving the flank movement, walked quietly in and bearded them in their supposed safe retreat. In dealing with those who were irregular in their attendance, Mr Cameron was very faithful, and he would have been a crafty Highlander or Lowlander who could have formed an excuse for non-attendance for which Mr Cameron had not an immediate answer. A Highlander having made the commonplace excuse that last Sunday was a very showery day, was asked, ‘ What is a shower of rain in comparison with a shower of fire and brimstone*?’ Mr Cameron’s congregation was scattered over a large radius, but even those who lived furthest away need never make the excuse of distance. One householder who lived about two miles from the church was visited in his own house by Mr Cameron, and after being driven from one excuse to another for prolonged nonattendance, he said at last that he had not a good pair of boots ; whereupon Mr Cameron bent forward, caught him by the leg, straightened it out, and exclaimed, ‘Peter, I myself have been going to church all winter with a far worse pair than you have on at this moment.’ During a part of the year the English service followed the Gaelic without any interval except a break of about a minute or so. This break was to allow that part of the congregation who only understood English to come in, but Mr Cameron would not admit that the Highlanders present in the forenoon had any excuse for going out. A number of them often marched out when the Gaelic service was over, and Mr Cameron frequently stood up and expostulated with them. I do not remember him naming any one, but it was almost like saying ‘That red-haired man in the third seat from the front.’

“The amount of work and the number of agencies in connection with the church, to which Mr Cameron gave personal attention for a number of years, was very great; he preached forenoon and afternoon, superintended the Sabbath School, and preached again in the evening. His duties as superintendent of the Sabbath School were, I am convinced, rather onerous. He did not seem cut out for that office, but he bestowed much labour on it, and had a most flourishing Sabbath School, which was attended by a large number of children from other congregations. Many a time I have seen his patience sorely tried, and I believe his temper was oftener fretful there than anywhere else. Successful, however, he undoubtedly was. Once a week he held a teachers’ meeting, at which he expounded the lesson for the Sabbath, and this, no doubt, was a factor in the success of the school. At one period of his ministry in Renton he got dragged into a controversy with a section of the Baptists, who, by means of sensational meetings, were leading away some of his young people. Mr Cameron was not a man who did things by halves, so he prepared two discourses, which he delivered in his own church on two consecutive Sabbaths. Each of these services lasted two hours and three-quarters, and so fascinating were they that all who heard them declared they felt them the shortest sermons he had ever preached. Many of the foundation texts of the Baptists were stated in such new, clear, startling, and thoroughly logical aspects, that the positions laid down by him were quite unanswerable. They were not answered then, and I have never heard them answered since. He took the bull by the horns, stopped his career, and was not much troubled by the Baptists after that.

“Mr Cameron could not be exactly called popular, and many who did not know him held the opinion that he was narrow and too reserved. It is true he did not often take part in the more popular religious movements ; but he afforded his congregation many opportunities of hearing able preachers both inside and outside of the Free Church. At Assembly times he was constantly bringing strange ministers, not always Highlanders, to preach to his congregation. In his own locality the ministers of the United Presbyterian Church often occupied his pulpit, and Professor Bruce, who was then minister at Cardross, was a not infrequent preacher in Renton Free Gaelic Church. The diversity of ministers which he annually brought to the congregational and Sabbath School Soiree was seldom to be seen elsewhere. Among them may be mentioned MacNab of Glasgow, with his humorous —though almost apochrvphal—stories of the Highlands; Sprott, of Queen’s Park U.P. Church, with his breadth of thought and inspiring style ; Hamilton, the reformed Presbyterian whose excellent discourses were always well sprinkled with Latin quotations ; Professor Bruce, with his banterings of the U.P.’s, which were certainly not dry as dust; Alexander of Duntocher with his inimitable comic story telling, and Macaulay of Old Kilpatrick with his thunderings against organs and monkeys; and Dr Hailey of Dumbarton with his stories of burghers and anti-burghers—all made up a treat the equal of which was seldom to be found elsewhere. A feature of Mr Cameron’s management of the Renton congregation was the manner in which he worked the Sustentation Fund. This he always maintained at a high figure considering the standing of the congregation.

“In some things Mr Cameron brought an immense amount of method to bear, while in others he was somewhat irregular. He would give the precentor a list of the Psalms to be sung during the Gaelic and English services, and while there was every probability that the most of these Psalms would be sung, there was no guarantee as to the order in which they would come. Absent-mindedness, or absorption in one particular thing, sometimes made him miss an appointment, and one slip of this kind was sometimes related at his cost. He was advertised to preach on the evening of a Fast-Day in the Free Gaelic Church, Greenock, to which he proceeded by rail to Helensburgh, intending to cross the Clyde by steamer to Greenock. Having some time to spare at Helensburgh, he called on a lady friend, who invited him to look at her garden. Either Mr Cameron’s watch stopped or his interest in horticulture deepened, with the result that when he prepared to depart he found that the last steamer for the day had left. There was still some time on hand before he was due to preach, so he took train at once for Dumbarton, a distance of eight miles, and crossed the Clyde at the Langbank Ferry; but the tide being low, the boat could not get within a hundred yards of the landing stage. Over this hundred yards of salt water and mud Mr Cameron soon skipped, took train for Greenock, and reached the Free Gaelic Church when a substitute was about halfway through with his discourse. Mr Cameron’s personal appearance on that occasion was somewhat akin to Pliable’s w hen he got out of the Slough on the wrong side.

“There were some matters against which Mr Cameron was prejudiced, and he knew this himself. When he was satisfied that his opposition was due to prejudice, he would withdraw it. One case of this kind occurred in connection with the psalmody of his congregation. His precentor had taken considerable pains in training a choir, and it was resolved to ask Mr Cameron’s permission for this choir to lead the singing in the church. Contrary to the precentor’s expectation Mr Cameron gave permission, stating, however, that he had a very strong prejudice against choirs, but no objection on principle. The career of the choir, however, was short and sweet, as, after officiating two Sabbaths, one of the elders objected—on principle, and Mr Cameron requested the disciples o St Asaph to disband.

“A visitor to Mr Cameron’s manse could not fail to be struck with his splendid library, but a considerable portion of it was not very orderly, in fact, it reminded one of a remark made about Carlyle’s library, that an earthquake might turn it upside down, but it could not add to its confusion. At the first election of a School Board for his parish he was returned at the head of the poll, I believe. It would hardly be fair to say that this was due to the Highlanders plumping for him. His powerful grasp of business affairs inspired the general public with confidence, and he always stood high in School Board suffrages, both in Renton and Arran. His excellence as a teacher of Gaelic and his high position as a philologist brought him into contact with many people emiueut in literature; but it is questionable whether it tended greatly to his general practical usefulness. A man cannot be victorious all along the line, and I believe his success in philology was attained partly at the expense of his success as a preacher and pastor. The first dozen years of his ministry were marked by much ardour and zeal in congregational work, undistracted by abstruse studies. Had he continued in this channel the gain would have been to the common Highlander; it may, however, be that his success 011 more learned ground may bear a more lasting fruit.”

Mr Cameron’s correspondence during the first ten years of his ordained ministry amply shows how highly appreciated and how constantly in demand his preaching powers were. He was frequently called upon to officiate in Lowland or English charges, and the expressions of thanks and gratitude clearly convey the impression that his labours were not in vain. It was at this time -that he found some leisure to acquire books and lay the foundations of the future solid structure of Celtic learning and lore which he patiently and painstakingly reared.

The years 1869-70 were largely occupied by a tedious and somewhat serious controversy in the Church Courts, which originated in the refusal of the Renton Gaelic Kirk-Session to give a certificate of membership to one who was alleged to have preferred an unproved charge against certain parties in the congregation. The actual merits of the case appear never to have been arrived at. Questions of procedure were endlessly under discussion, and as a study in ecclesiastical law the case is very intricate and interesting. The position taken up by Mr Cameron may be gathered from the following statements prepared by him during the progress of the conflict :—

“The Kirk-Session have agreed to obey the Presbytery’s citation, certainly not because we think the Presbytery did right in citing us, but because we did not wish to show, even in appearance, any disrespect to the Presbytery, even when we are convinced that the Presbytery have acted irregularly and unconstitutionally. But although ill appearing, as we now do, at your bar we have obeyed your citation, we cannot at present enter upon the merits of this ease. This we regret, but I hope I shall succeed in showing the Presbytery that the blame is not ours. We have no misgiving in regard to the merits, and, therefore, we are not afraid to enter upon them at the proper time. So certain do we regard our ground, so far as the merits are concerned, that we are prepared to take the case, if necessary, to the General Assembly.

“It is with the utmost reluctance that I have brought this case to the Synod. The Presbytery, however, have shut me up to this course. Had the Presbytery decided in Nov. as they did in March to send this matter to ‘ the Kirk Session to be dealt with according to the laws of the Church,’ I would have acquiesced,, although, as I stated at the time, 1 might have objected on the ground of informality. I suggested at the last meeting a course, of which some of my brethren approved, and which would have saved the Synod from the necessity of entering into the case. The course suggested, however, was not adopted, and therefore I have been obliged to come here. And now I must throw myself on the indulgence of the Synod. I have the whole Presbytery opposed to me, although some of the members, from the views held by them in regard to the points raised by my complaints, ought to be along with me. And further, the Presbytery, or those members of it who have taken the lead in this case, have had, I have reason to believe, the benefit of advice, of the practical value of which I have had myself at one time experience ; while at every turn in the case I have had to rely upon my own slender resources. I have had, I am happy to say, the unanimous support of my Kirk-Session and the entire sympathy of my congregation, but my office-bearers have had no more experience than myself of cases of this kind. It was brought up on a reference from the Presbytery of Dumbarton to the Assembly of 1870, but was dismissed because ‘the only ground on which the Presbytery in the circumstances could have referred this ease would be that they had found inextricable difficulties in obtempering the Synod’s judgment,’ which was ‘to remit to the Presbytery of Dumbarton to instruct the petitioner to make application to the Session for her certificate, and instruct the Kirk-Session to deal with the application according to the laws of the Church.”

On account of complications arising from Presbyterial posses-on and retention of Renton Gaelic Kirk-Session records, and from divergence of opinion as to the duty and interests of said session, this complicated case dragged its weary length along before Presbytery and Synod for more than two years after the above date ; when it seems to have taken end by a certificate having been granted to the petitioner by one of the Superior Courts of the Church. At all events, at Renton, 26th August, 1872 :—

“The Kirk-Session, anxious that the matter in dispute between them and the Presbytery should be settled in the spirit of the decision of the Synod, agree to furnish the Presbytery, ex gratia, with extract minutes to show that the documents referred to in the petition of the Kirk-Session had been inserted in their minutes at the proper time and in the proper place.”

A much more important controversy, known as the Union negotiations, and affecting the respective interests and relative existence and constitution of two Churches—the Free and the United Presbyterian—was at its height about this period. It has been remarked that the discussions thus carried on with great ability and energy, from 1863 to 1873, might well be called a second Ten Years’ Conflict. The questions of the Headship of Christ over the nations represented practically in the principle and fact of a national recognition and support of religion ; and of Voluntaryism or the sole dependence of the Church for support on freewill offerings, and the disavowal of the duty of the State to establish or endow any Church, were prominent in all the debates. Mr Cameron took a deep interest and played an important part in this crisis. He ranked very high in the counsels of the party opposed to an incorporating union of Churches constitutionally divergent. His intimate acquaintance with Church law, and his accurate knowledge of the old Acts that declare the constitution and secure the liberties of the Presbyterian Churches, stood him in good stead. His logical and acute mind often detected flaws and faults in arguments and propositions that seemed at first glance fair and sound. Some of the leaders with whom he was associated frequently consulted him, and submitted proposals of moment to his judgment and criticism. In an able speech before his Presbytery, in 1869, he indicates and reviews the history of the question of Establishment and the principle involved. Ihe following quotations will sufficiently show his standpoint:—

“I agree with Dr Cunningham that the Confession teaches that it is the duty of the Magistrate in certain circumstances, that is when necessary and expedient, not only to establish, but also to endow the Church of Christ—in other words, that endowment is one of the ways in which the Magistrate is bound, when occasion requires it, to do homage to the truth and to advance the interests of the Kingdom of Christ. No ingenuity will ever succeed in distorting the plain meaning of the words of the Confession so as to make it appear that the doctrine of Church establishments is not there. The doctrine is there as clearly as the sun is in the heavens ; but the Confession does not say what particular Church, or Churches, ought to be established. That belongs to the practical application of the doctrine, and must be decided inferentiallv, after you have examined not only the constitution and character of particular Churches, but also all the circumstances that must be taken into account in deciding the question of present duty.”

“The statements of the Confession must be interpreted in the sense in which they have all along been understood by the Church —that is in the historical sense, or in the sense in which the framers understood them, until the Church herself authoritatively puts another interpretation upon them.”

The doctrine of a Scriptural alliance between the Church and the State, he shows to be embedded in the statements of the Confession, as where the Magistrate is to take order that all the ordinances of God are to be duly settled, administered, and observed among the people; to be proved from the Scripture proofs attached to these statements; to be held by the best exponents of the Church’s constitution; and to be undoubtedly found in the meaning and use of the word “settled,” as given in Act of Assembly, 1647, and in Act of Parliament, 1690, by which the Confession was ratified and the Presbyterian Church Government “settled,” that is, established in Scotland.

Regarding the doctrine of spiritual independence laid down in the Claim of Right of 1842, he says:—

“That independence, which Christ has conferred upon His Church, States ban neither give nor take away. It is a right which she derives immediately from her living Head, and of which she cannot be deprived. The independence which the Church then claimed, and for which during the Ten Years’ Conflict she contended, was not the rigid of self-government but liberty, as an Established Church, to exercise the right of self-government. . .

This Claim of Right is the noblest testimony in existence to the doctrine of Church Establishments, while at the same time it is a standing monument of the Church’s faithfulness to Christ, her King and Head, whose Crown-rights she refused to sacrifice even for the advantages of State alliance and support.”

The doctrine of National Establishments is thus defined:—

“I observe that there is no security either for the independence of the Church, on the one hand, or for the independence of the State, on the other, except by their respective spheres being such defined, and by each keeping rigidly within its own sphere. But how is this to be secured? There is no third power to which the aggrieved ean appeal, and which can control the aggressor. There is a rule—the Word of God—which defines their respective spheres and their relation to each other. But who is to enforce it? It is evident, therefore, that the boundary line between their respective spheres and their relation to each other must be agreed upon by those powers themselves acting together in friendly alliance, and agreeing to take the Scriptures as the rule which determines their mutual relation, and to which the last appeal is to be made, when eases of collision arise.” Hence the necessity of a mutual contract. “Spiritual Independence includes a right of jurisdiction as Avell as of administration in spiritual things—a right authoritatively and finally to decide, without any appeal but to Christ and His Word, all purely ecclesiastical questions.” “But the Church can have no security for the enjoyment and free exercise of her spiritual independence, in its primary sense, except on the condition of her right to it as Christ’s kingdom being recognised by the State. The truth is that Voluntaryism and Erastianism are not really two opposite errors, bat two opposite phases of one and the same error.” “The State’s only defence against domination lies in the recognition of this doctrine, and the State can best fulfil the ends of its existence by actually carrying out this doctrine, at least so far as to recognise and co-operate with the Church of Christ in the furtherance of the cause of truth and righteousness.”

During the same controversy, and probably about the same period, Mr Cameron delivered a very able address on the vital doctrine of Atonement before his Synod. He copiously illustrated his theme by abundant quotations both from the men whose views he criticised, and from the men whose views he supported. Only a very brief and general outline of his position can be given here —

“I shall endeavour, first, to state the theory of the Atonement which goes under the name of the General Reference Theory. This theory, which seeks to hold a middle position between Calvinism and Arminianism, appears to have been originated by John Cameron, Professor of Divinity at Saumer, who held that ‘while the elect are, by an effectual and irrevocable calling, saved through the death of Christ, Christ died for all men, with the intention that they might be invited and called to repentance; and that when so invited and called, it arises from themselves alone and the hardness of their heart repelling the means of salvation, that they are not saved.’ This theory is, in a softer and less offensive form, that which, in our own day, teaches that Christ’s death has given such satisfaction to divine justice for all men indiscriminately as has removed the legal barriers that stood in the way of the salvation of all men, and has, therefore, brought all men into what is called a salvable state. It will be seen that so far as satisfaction to divine justice strictly considered is concerned, this theory does not materially differ from that of Universal Atonement. It was supported by Cameron’s disciples, Amyraut, Testard, Daille, and others ; and it was opposed by such theologians as Rivet, Spanheim, and Des Marets, and in our own country by Dr Owen. There were early indications of a tendency towards this doctrine in the Secession Church in this country; but those tendencies were resisted, and the doctrine obtained no footing until it was espoused by the two Professors of the United Associate Synod — Drs Balmer and Brown.” “According to this theory the order of the divine decrees was, first, a decree providing that that remedy should be applied to some—the elect.”

“Second. But is this view of the atonement erroneous! I trust there are not two opinions in this Court upon that subject. Professor Macgregor, in a very able paper which he read before the Paisley Presbytery some two or three years ago, characterised it as Uncalvinistic, but not as anti-Calvinistic. I think a mind even less logical than his would Lave little difficulty in proving that it i» essentially anti-Callinistic; for there is really no halfway house, so far as the doctrine of the Atonement is concerned, between the Calvinistic view of a Definite Atonement and the Arminian view of a Universal Atonement.” “It is unnecessary to state that this viow was condemned by Dr Cunningham and Dr James Buchanan. In former times it was supported by Baxter, but it was opposed by the greatest of British theologians, Dr Owen.”

“Let me now briefly state what appears to me to be the necessary consequences of this theory:—

“1. It appears to me to destroy the proper substitutionary character of the death of Christ, for that death secures salvation for the elect, not because He was their proper substitute In His sufferings, but because in virtue of the decree of election a provision which does not immediately result from the Atonement has been made for bringing them to avail themselves by faith of the common satisfaction. The Atonement is not thus a proper vicarious sacrifice, but a means which enables God so to manifest His displeasure against sin as to render it ‘ consistent with the perfections of the divine nature and the principles of the divine government ’ to pardon sin. It thus affects the very nature of divine justice.

“2. The work of the Spirit in the application of salvation is not, according to this theory, the immediate fruit of the atonement.

“3. It affects the efficacy of the atonement itself. It is not a perfect but an incomplete salvation which the death of Christ, on this theory, secures. In point of fact, the efficacy of the atonement determines its extent (sec Candlish p. 228 and p. 214).

“4. It really affects the character of the gospel offer. It is as a foundation for the universality of the gospel offer that this theory is adopted ; but it has in reality the very opposite effect (see Candlish p. 221).

“5. It affects the principle on which faith is held to justify and save the sinner (Candlish p. 214).

“6. It does not meet the felt want of the awakened sinner (Candlish p. 215).

“7. The theory is essentially Arminian. It is a contrivance for relieving the conscience before the sinner has been led to despair of his own resources. The salvation which it provides is essentially salvation by works — salvation by the covenant of works. It is a salvation conditioned and contingent on something on the part of the sinner, call it faith, Ac. (Candlish p. 226).

“8. It is based on an erroneous view of God’s justice.

“Third. But I come now to ask is the theory which I have stated the doctrine of the United Presbyterian Church? It is not only tolerated in that Church, but is also held by some of the most distinguished ministers in her communion, who openly avow it, glory in it, and tell you that on any other theory of the atonement they could not give a free offer of salvation to sinners. Again and again this doctrine was indicated by the United Associated Synod, not only when Dr Brown was acquitted of the charges of unsound doctrine brought against him by Dr Marshall, but also on other occasions, as when that Synod, in 1843, after hearing the statements of the professors already alluded to, homologated their doctrine (Life of Brown p. 237). It is true that the U.A. Synod no longer exists as a separate denomination, for it now forms part of tlie U.P. Church; but many of the men who formed that Synod and who took an active part in defending Dr Brown and his views are still living, and are at this moment leading ministers in the U.P. Chureh. And they have the candour to tell you that they have not changed their views, which they held and taught in the U.A. Synod. Yea, more, the United Chureh has formally sanctioned the same views.”

He then adduces the statement of Dr Wood, of Dumfries, in the General Assembly, that several distinguished ministers of the U.P. Church stated in the Union Committee that Christ satisfied divine justice for all men without exception. He next appeals to a reply by Dr Robson to a member of Presbytery who said he regarded Dr Balmer’s views as heretical. ‘In saying so you arraign the whole Synod.' Then follow the views to much the same effect of Drs Brown, Eadie, and Cairns. Replying to Dr Buchanan’s eloquent reference to the services rendered by the Secession to the cause of true religion when much spiritual darkness prevailed in the Church of Scotland, Mr Cameron remarks :—

“That is all quite true, but it has no bearing whatever 011 the doctrinal difficulty in the way of union with the descendants of those men who had done so much in their day in holding forth the light of divine truth in this land. It is not because the ministers of the U.P. Church are the descendants of the Erskines that I object to unite with them, but because they have departed from the principles and doctrinal views of the Erskines."

Through the whole period of his ministry at Renton, Mr Cameron5s hands were full of work. Having built a church, he had next to build a manse. A lovely spot on the hillside above the village, and overlooking the Yale of Leven, was chosen for a site. From any knoll near, on a clear day, the classic Loch Lomond, with its famous islets, can be seen. A very comfortable, though not a very large house, was here erected. It often occurs ill the experience of some men that they expend much time and toil on what their successors are destined to enjoy. It was so in this instance. After the manse had been cleared of debt, and vdien new book-cases were being fitted up to contain the tons of books that had to be housed somehow, a call came from the Isle of Arran, where further work in this and other directions awaited the willing toiler.

As has been incidentally noticed, after the passing of the Education Act of 1872, at the first election of School Board members, Mr Cameron was returned at the top of the poll. He devoted a great deal of his time and energy to the furtherance of education, and was specially anxious, as we shall see later on, to help in even' possible way the youth and students from the Highlands.

The best summary of this part of his life is found in the parting address given to his much loved and sorrowing flocii before he left them for Arran in 1871:—

“The position in which we now stand is a very solemn one. This is the last occasion on which from this place I shall address you, and on which you shall hear my voice as your minister. Other opportunities, I trust, I shall have of addressing to you the message of salvation, but it shall not be in the capacity of the watchman solemnly commissioned to watch over your souls. This naturally leads our thoughts backwards into the past, as well as forward into the future. Let us glance at the past. It is now twenty years, all except a few months, since I came to labour among you in this locality. I have, therefore, spent among yon what may be regarded as the best years of my life. The world has undergone many changes since—more, perhaps, than during any previous twenty years of its history, but to these I shall not make even a passing allusion. In the Church also changes have occurred. And in that branch of it in connection with which we are worshipping, changes have occurred which, in the opinion of many, affect not only its hereditary position and testimony, but also its very constitution. On these matters, however, I shall not at present dwell. Among ourselves many changes have occurred during that period. We then met for worship in the lower schoolroom. The two regular services were in Gaelic, for it was between two and three years thereafter before we succeeded, after a long and keen contest with the Presbytery of the bounds, in getting permission to have an English service during the ordinary hours of public worship. Then this church was built in 1858, and in 1859 the General Assembly sanctioned the forming of the station into a ministerial charge, and in November of the same year I was ordained as your minister. The relation, therefore, of pastor and flock has subsisted between us now nearly fifteen years. Of those who worshipped in the schoolhouse twenty years ago, not man}' are now among us. Several of them are dead, and several have left the district and gone to other places. Of the office-bearers appointed in 1859 only one is now alive, and the changes which our small communion roll lias undergone strikingly illustrates the truth that here we have no continuing city.

“When I look back across the years that I have been in connection with this congregation, I find much that is fitted to awaken feelings of thankfulness to God as well as much that is fitted to fill me with shame and humility in His holy presence. In regard to causes of thankfulness, I may mention the following:—

“1. My bodily health, although I have frequently had severe colds and bronchial attacks which unfitted me partially for my work, has always been such that I have never been even for a single Sabbath necessarily laid aside from duty. For one Sabbath —and, so far as I can remember, for only one—have I kept the house since I began to preach, and on that one occasion I would have been here, had not the friend who took my place insisted— knowing that I was unwell—on my staying at home. I have been often here when I could have wished, so far as my feelings of fitness were concerned, that I had been very far away; but I do not remember that I ever felt so wretched here as I felt on that Sabbath away from the sanctuary.

“2. In respect of worldly support, I do not think I ever complained that my income was too small, and I do not now complain. Your own poverty prevented you from supplementing the amount which I annually received from the Church funds; but I know that my office-bearers were more anxious about my comfort than I was myself. So far as this matter is concerned I can honestly say with the Apostle that I sought not yours, but you.

“3. The peace and harmony which have ever prevailed in the congregation since the first day I came among you is to me a source of heartfelt thankfulness. We have had to contend with many difficulties, and we have had to arrange and settle many matters during the last twenty years, which might have led to serious difference of opinion and even strife and division aiming us, but with the good hand of the Lord upon us the utmost harmony and cordiality have hitherto prevailed at all our meetings, whether in the Kirk-Session or in the Managing Committee of the congregation. My earnest desire and prayer to God is that this unity of mind and feeling ma}' prevail among you after I am separated from you. It is easy to generate bad feelings, and bad feelings generally lead to strife and division, which are always disastrous to congregations.

“4. The measure of outward prosperity which the congregation enjoys is another cause of satisfaction and thankfulness. When we were applying for sanction many felt a difficulty in regard to granting it, because of the fluctuating character of the Gaelic population of the district, and some even predicted that if such a thing as a change in the management in one of the neighbouring Public Works were to occur, the congregation would be sure to disappear. It is cause of thankfulness that, although we have lost many of our adherents and most earnest supporters, by death and other causes, the condition of the congregation is better at the present moment than it had been at any previous time since it was formed. The large and increasing number of young people connected with it show that it is striking its roots into the native soil, and is becoming every day less dependent upon the more fluctuating than upon the general population of the district. The present arrangement in regard to the English services provides for the younger portion of the congregation who do not understand Gaelic, and for such of the natives of the district as are connected with it, the same opportunities of hearing the Word of God on the Sabbath day which are provided in the other congregations in the neighbourhood : while the convenience of the Gaelic people is studied more Ilian when there was only oiip English service, and a long and wearisome interval. I do trust, therefore, that the present arrangement will be continued in future during the summer months, for I am convinced that it is the most suitable that can be devised with such resources as you lave at present, and I would earnestly and affectionately urge the young people to avail themselves of it, and to be regular in their attendance on the forenoon English service. In connection with the outward prosperity of the congregation, and as a cause of thankfulness, I should mention also that the church and manse, which from first to last cost upwards of £2000, are entirely free of debt.

“But it is not with unmingled satisfaction that I look back upon the past, for I can discover much that is fitted to fill me with shame and humility in the sight of God. I have often the feeling—suinetimes I might say the painful and crushing conviction—that my ministry, my dear friends, among you has been, considered as to its spiritual and moral effects, a comparitively barren and fruitless ministry. It is well that we are not ourselves the best judges of our success or want of success in the service of Christ. In this lespect as well as in other respects, it is true that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts. The Saviour Himself had to say that He had laboured in vain, and that He had spent His strength for nought and in vain, but at the same time He could confidently say—‘Yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.’ I may have been to some extent of use in the way of instructing and helping those among you who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, and who required instruction and edification ; but as to the great end of the Christian ministry—the conversion of sinners unto God—I cannot speak of great results. On the contrary, I know that many among you who have heard the word from my lips are still unsaved. I know that some of you, notwithstanding public warnings and private admonitions, still continue in the practice of sins, which, you know full well, will ruin your souls unless you return and repent. I now solemnly beseech you, on the last occasion on which as your minister I shall ever address you from this pulpit, to seek the Lord while He is to be found, to call upon Him while He is near.”


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