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Parish Life in the North of Scotland
Chapter XXI - Parochial Duties and Experiences


1822-24.

WHEN admitted by the Presbytery minister of Resolis in 1822, I found the ecclesiastical state of that parish in utter confusion. There was no kirk-session, no ordained elder, and scarcely even an assessor, no roll of communicants, no list of poor. So many ordained eiders therefore were required as would constitute a session. Those selected to be ordained by the Presbytery to this office were James Thomson, miller at Kinbaikie, and Robert Murray, tenant at Cullicudden. At a meeting of presbytery held at the manse in July, 1822, these were examined as to their religious knowledge, prudence, piety, and Christian conduct, a committee being appointed to publicly ordain them to the sacred office. Tuesday of the ensuing week was the day appointed for the ordination. Mr. John Kennedy of Killearnan, accompanied by Messrs Smith of Cromarty, and Wood of Rosemarkie, preached in Gaelic and performed the duty most appropriately.

The session thus constituted added five to their number, namely, Donald Maclean, tenant of Kirktown; David Murray, tenant at Cullicudden; James Forbes, tenant at Tobarchourn, catechist of the parish ; Thomas 'Munro, tenant, St. Martins; and Barrington Ferguson, tenant at Brae. The character and standing of all the elders were according to godliness, each and all being men possessed of weight, and to whose judgment the people readily submitted. Robert Murray, though not a little opiniative, was notwithstanding a man of unfeigned piety, and possessed a sound and solid judgment, and was, without exception, the most judicious member of the session. his influence among the people was great, not only as an elder, but from his skill in certain bodily ailments, many of which he treated very successfully. Robert Murray is dead some years ago, and his death was the first breach in our session. I recall him to remembrance with feelings of affection.

James Thomson was not only an intelligent and deeply-exercised Christian, but a man of considerable native talent, and the ablest speaker at our fellowship meetings. He was touch looked up to by his fellow-Christians not only in the parish, but also in the Black Isle and over Ross-shire. Previous to his conversion by grace, which did not take place until he was considerably advanced in years, he manifested his corrupt nature in bold and overt acts of sin. He bad been possessed of more than ordinary bodily strength. It was in the act of uttering a tremendous oath to one of his horses that the "arrows of the Almighty" pierced his conscience, and, after a fiery struggle between hope and despair, he became another and a "new man." His after life exhibited the most decided evidences of a saving change. But being naturally a man of keen passions and of a proud and fiery spirit, these offshoots of his nature but too often broke loose to dim the lustre of his graces.

David Murray, the elder brother of Robert, was remarkable for the simplicity of his faith. In early life his conscience was awakened by the hearing of the Word, so much so as to prostrate him entirely in soul-despair. He then cast himself on the mercy of God in Christ, and appealed from the tribunal of a "just God" to that of the same God as "a Saviour." In answer to prayer, he received the assurance that his appeal was affirmed, and that "the handwriting of ordinances which but an hour ago was against him" had, through the atoning blood of the Redeemer, been " blotted out" for ever. To this assurance his faith so closely clung, that, during the whole course of a long life, he never, for a single hour, allowed himself to call it in question. He was, uniformly and habitually, a trustful and Christ-loving Christian. At our fellowship meetings he heard, patiently and devoutly what others might say, and, when he rose to speak, he quoted, without note or comment, a number of Scripture passages exquisitely appropriate to the point in discussion. He could associate with the most thoughtless, and enter into conversation with them on those subjects which they could understand. But they were very soon made to feel that, even in worldly affairs, he acted as in the sight of an ever-present God,-and in view of eternity. He entered his rest many years ago.

James Forbes, previous to his ordination to the eldership, had been appointed catechist. He was a man of deep and fervent piety, somewhat fretful in his natural disposition, but of great Christian meekness, and of unwearied watchfulness. It is not indeed too much to say that, though many of his contemporaries were his superiors in gifts, few, if any of them, equalled him in the spotless purity of his life. As a catechist he was conscientious and laborious, but his method was not happy. Like many catechists of his own time, instead of instructing the people in the questions of "the Shorter Catechism," his way was to lecture on these questions and answers at the particular meeting, or "diet of catechising," which he held. His expositions were obscure, and the obscurity was increased by the rapidity of his utterance, and the low nasal tones of his voice. He died after a short illness, and was, in his office, succeeded by James Thomson.

Donald MacLean had made money in London as a slater, and took a farm, first, in the parish of Roskeen, and afterwards in the parish of Resolis. His habits were penurious, and, while his piety was a reality, yet it was not a little derived from his close intimacy with many of the most eminent of the Ross-shire Christians who lived in his immediate vicinity. After his lease of Kirktown had expired, he took the farm of Alkaig in Ferintosh. He died of dropsy at Alkaigin 1846.

Barrington Ferguson was his superior in spirituality. But his understanding was very clouded, and in prayer or in speaking to the question lie was long and tedious. lie had been, at one time, a substantial farmer at Brae, but afterwards became reduced in his circumstances. His death took place in 1850. Thomas Munro, St. Martins, was a man of very venerable aspect, and highly consistent in his conduct.
Such were the members of the first duly constituted session ever existing, perhaps, since the times of the venerable Hector MacPhail, in the united parishes of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden. The first case which came before us was the state of the Cullicudden churchyard. As the old ash trees, with which it was surrounded, were, by the directions of the late incumbent, Mr Robert Arthur, cut down and sold for behoof of the poor, I, with the concurrence of the session, employed James Elphiston, gardener, Braelangwell, to re-plant it with young trees, consisting of ash and elm, the expenses of which, amounting to £2, were defrayed by the session.

Previous to the administration of the sacrament in 1823, for the first time since my settlement in May of the preceding year, the session took steps to make up the communicants' roll. This was a matter which I had been enabled, in some measure, to ascertain for myself, as one result, among others, of my course of visitation. But other measures became necessary. I had marked in my visitation list all who affirmed they were communicants. But I had no conversation with themselves on the subject. It was further required therefore that these individuals should be examined, not only on their knowledge of the gospel, but on their experience of divine truth in their hearts, and with reference also to the regularity of their admission to the Lord's table. The state of the parish previous to my admission rendered such preparatory steps necessary. My predecessor, indeed, annually administered the sacrament, but very few of the parishioners attended; and as Mr. Arthur had no session or communicants' roll, it was not known who did, or who did not, communicate. I was informed by the late catechist that, during a sacramental occasion at Resolis, towards the close of :4fr. Arthur's life, the Gaelic service on each day was in the church, and the English in his barn, a ricketty old fabric thatched with straw. We accordingly gave public intimation to the communicants to attend on certain days to be privately examined. Some of them were found to be grossly ignorant, not only of the nature and design of the sacred ordinance, but of the whole system of gospel truth; others were less so, but knew nothing of the nature and necessity of divine teaching. The majority, however, seemed to me satisfactory as regards knowledge and attainments. I laid the result before the session, and it was resolved that all be faithfully warned of their danger in unworthily communicating; but as nothing tangible could be laid to the charge of the greater number of them, the session left the matter between God and their own consciences, and therefore when they did apply at the ensuing solemnity, tokens of admission were simply placed before them. The roll of communicants for 1823 amounted to only 47; it received no further additions until the year 1826, when eight more were associated.

On looking over a scroll of our session minutes, extending from 4th August, 1822, to 6th December, 1824, the annual, and also the half. yearly, business which came before us was the distribution of the poor's money. At that period, assessments for the poor were entirely unknown in the rural districts of Scotland, particularly in the northern part of the kingdom. The funds divided among the more necessitous consisted—first, of collections raised every Sabbath at the church doors, or, according to a practice in the Highlands, by wooden "ladles" handed over the church by the elders; next, of suns obtained during the year for the use of the mort-cloth, or pall, at funerals; then of small donations given by soma of the resident heritors, and donations handed to every kirk-session in the county by the successful candidate at a Parliamentary election; and, lastly, by fines imposed upon special delinquents on account of immorality. All these sums put together did not in any year exceed W. After deducting from this several disbursements for certain necessary articles, such as coffins for the poor, communion tables for the out-door congregation, etc., the balance to be divided on every poor person on the roll, which amounted to 56, never exceeded or even amounted to ED. These were divided into four classes according to their circumstances, and the money was divided accordingly.

The cases of church discipline which came before the session were the usual social offences. Other cases, however, were taken up, such as "defamation of character," which, by the old laws of Scotland, were to be judged by the Commissary Court of the county. The session at first took cognizance of these cases with the view of preventing litigation, and in the hope that parties applying to them for decision would more readily acquiesce than in a legal court. I cannot help thinking, however, that the session, in taking up such cases indiscriminately, exceeded their powers; and that, with the best intentions, they did not sufficiently consider whether their decisions might not be productive of much greater strife than if malignant talk were allowed to die out without notice. But the case of communicants, whose characters were defamed, was another thing; because, if the charges brought up against them were true, they ought to be deprived of their privileges; but if false, their character should be publicly vindicated. In course of time therefore the session came to the resolution to take up, as in duty bound, the case of communicants whose characters were defamed, but to refuse the applications of those not in full communion.

But there was another case, or rather class of cases, submitted to our decision as a church judicatory, which was really not of our own choosing, nor besides a strictly ecclesiastical one. It was simply this: two or more individuals disputed about some civil matter, and carried their dispute before the subordinate law courts. If the matter did not end there, or if the losing party considered himself aggrieved and found himself constrained to appeal to the Court of Session, but was unable notwithstanding to defray the expenses on account of his poverty, he was authorised by an Act of Sederunt to get himself put upon the roll of pauper litigants. But one thing necessary for this purpose was, that he should get a certificate from the kirk-session of the parish in which he resided, distinctly testifying three things—first, that he was poor and unable to defray law expenses; next, that his moral character was irreproachable; and, lastly, that he was not known to be a litigious person. Two cases of this kind came before us, the one in the case of two private individuals, the other a dispute between landlord and tenant. Our decisions were unfavourable to the applicants.

The session felt it to be their duty to furnish the people with the means of education, both secular and religious. At the place of Drumcudden, in the west-end of the parish of Resolis, a school had existed many years previous to my settlement. The teacher was Donald Murray, an old man, and the school, like himself, was for years verging into decrepitude. The people, dissatisfied with his mode of teaching, withdrew their children one after another from his school, until the attendance was at last a nullity. The people of the district asked .Murray to resign. This he refused to do without some show of reason; for, whilst the people insisted that he should give up the school-buildings, they made no proposals as to where the poor man should go to shelter himself. After discussion, it was ultimately resolved that the school-buildings should be left in Murray's possession, and that new buildings should be erected for the accommodation of a new teacher and the scholars. This arrangement was unanimously agreed to at a meeting held for the purpose; a new site was given and measured out, 200 feet in length and 70 in breadth, sufficient in point of extent, not only for the site of the buildings, but also for a small garden for the schoolmaster. The session undertook to forward the buildings without delay, as well as to collect funds to defray the expenses, all of which was done in the course of three years afterwards. The expenses amounted in all to £48 13s. 1½d., wholly cleared off.

The next and more important part of the undertaking was to get a teacher. The Inverness Education Society, in the year 1826, was just at its first outset. Application had been made to the Directors of that Society in favour of a young man named Andrew Mackenzie, residing at Evantown. He afterwards became an eminent Christian, and one of our elders, but he was neither a scholar nor a qualified teacher. Having examined him, the Directors were under the necessity of rejecting him, but his friends made strong and earnest intercession in his behalf on the score of his character, and so effectually that, recalling their former decision, they appointed him teacher of the school. His piety and his diligence increased at once the respect of the people and the number of his pupils.

During part of autumn and the whole of the winter of 1825, Miss Robertson resided with me at Resolis. Her mother spent that time at the manse of Latheron with her other daughter, Maria Serena, who, in February, 1823, had been married to Mr. Davidson, minister of Latheron. Mr. Davidson, who is still living, is a man of strict principle and consistency of character as a minister, but one of the most unpopular perhaps in the Church. This may have arisen from a want of originality of mind, and a certain amount of secularity of spirit, but chiefly from his ignorance of the Gaelic language, which most of his parishioners only understood. [Mr. George Davidson, A.M., was ordained to the mission at Herriedale in 1819, and inducted to the parish of Latheron 15th June, 1820. He was twice married, his second wife having been bliss Angelica C. Murray, of Pitculzean, near Tain. He became Free Church minister of Latheron in 1843 and died in 1873.—Ed.] On returning from the Assembly on one occasion, he came by Ferintosh to pay a visit to Mr. MacDonald who, by his first marriage, was the husband of Mr. Dvidson's maternal aunt. He had not been long at the manse of Feriutosh when Mr. MacDonald rode down with him to Resolis to renew old acquaintanceship with me, and to introduce him to my family circle. Maria and he had no sooner met than a mutual attachment was formed, and their marriage day was appointed, Mr. MacDonald of Ferintosh to perform the ceremony. Frances, even before we left Aberdeen, had come under a matrimonial engagement with Mr. Alexander MacDonald, a native of the parish of 11alkirk, in Caithness. He was then a student of divinity in Aberdeen, and for some years before, tutor in the family of Mr. MacDonald of Ferintosh. He had under his charge Mr. MacDonald's two sons, John and Simon. During his attendance at the Hall he became acquainted with Mrs. Robertson, who then resided at Tanfield. When we removed from Aberdeen to Resolis, Mr. A. MacDonald was a frequent visitor to the manse, and the private engagement between him and Miss Robertson was understood by us all. Mrs. Robertson came afterwards to stay with us, having made a long visit to her daughter at Latheron, and they both continued to reside with me until shortly before my second marriage in 18d. In the meantime, Mr. A. MacDonald, after being licensed by the Presbytery of Dingwall, was appointed, in 1824, missionary at Strathconon, but his marriage was delayed. [Mr. Alex. MacDonald was translated from Strathconon to Plockton 28th Sept., 1827. His marriage with Frances Juliana Robertson occurred shortly thereafter. She died 17th May, 1831, aged 33 years. In 1344 Mr. MacDonald was translated to the Free Church at Glen Urquhart. He married a second time; died 15th August, 1801, in the 72nd year of his age and 40th of his ministry. He was a powerful, faithful preacher, equally at home in Gaelic and English. It was his custom, immediately after divine service, to greet many of his people with cordial hand-shakings as they retired from Church.-Ed).]

During the sittings in May, 1824, I was a member of Assembly for the first time. The Assembly hall at the time, and perhaps for nearly two centuries before then, was an ill-lighted, irregular, and awkward-looking apartment under the roof of St. Giles' Cathedral. The throne was placed at the east side of it, consisting of a carved, oaken, old-fashioned chair of state, surmounted with a canopy on which sat the Lord High Commissioner in his robes. On each side of him were also seated persons of distinction, such as the Scottish State officials. Behind him stood his pages in rich liveries, one or two of them the youngest sons of some of the oldest families in Scotland. Right below the throne was the moderator's chair, and before it a table, railed in and seated all around, at which sat the two CIerks of Assembly, the Procurator, and all the notables and leading men of the Church, both lay and clerical, each of whom had a liferent, from the respective Presbyteries or burghs by which they were chosen, of their annual membership. The seats of the members were placed lower down, occupying the floor of the hall on every side. The bar stood at its western extremity, right opposite to the throne and to the moderator's chair. Galleries for the spectators and the public were placed close to the walls of the apartment, more or less elevated to suit their convenience. The whole taken together, however, was not only unsuitable for the purpose for which it was intended, but became utterly useless in course of time. The Assembly, therefore, came to hold its meetings in some one or other of the city churches, the better to accommodate its members, until the Cathedral of St. Giles should undergo a thorough repair. But after that had been done, the new hall was found, from its great height, to be more unfit for the purpose than ever, and the Assembly was again compelled to hold its meetings in one of the city churches as formerly. The opening of the high ecclesiastical judicatory, too, was very imposing. The Lord High Commissioner, as the representative of Royalty, held his court at Holyrood Palace. On the first day of the Assembly, a sermon was preached by the retiring moderator, and the Commissioner, in a close carriage, escorted by a troop of horse and a train of high civil dignitaries, proceeded in state from the palace, along the Canongate and High Street, to the High Church, and then to the hall where, after the Assembly had been by the moderator constituted by prayer, lie addressed its members under the designation of "Right Reverend and Right Honourable." The moderator replied in suitable terms to the Commissioner, and then addressed the Assembly, after which the business of "the House," as it was usually called, proceeded according to its customary forms. I mention these things, not for the purpose of giving any information about them, for they are familiar to every Scotchman who, even by mere accident, has happened to be in the Scottish metropolis on these occasions. But I notice them as proceedings of which, for the first time in my life, I was myself an eye-witness, and which, consequently, left vivid impressions on my mind.

The proceedings of the Assembly of 1824 are distinctly present to my recollection. There stood before me Dr. Inglis, a tall, hard-featured personage, considerably in the decline of life, with a voice in every respect the reverse of melodious. It not a little resembled in its tones the harsh and creaking sounds of a huge prison door when turning on its rusty, oilless hinges. With this harsh voice Dr. Inglis, notwithstanding, never failed to give expression to the conceptions of a vigorous mind. He was not eloquent, and his speeches, therefore, were devoid of elegance, but they were closely and shrewdly argumentative. On the side of his party, and indeed in support of any line of argument which he thought fit to adopt, lie took up his position doggedly, and so confronted his opponents.

Dr. Cook of Laurencekirk almost equalled Dr. Inglis in ability, and greatly exceeded him in the powers of eloquence. But his eloquence was sadly marred by his delivery and the tone of his voice. He usually spoke with a sardonic sneer on his countenance, and with a sort of whine or howl peculiar to the natives of the south of Scotland.

Dr. Nicol was Principal of the United Colleges of St. Salvator and St. Leonard's, in the city of St. Andrews. His mental powers were most ordinary. A plodding, well-fed, active farmer, whose intellect could never reach a hair's-breadth beyond the management of the farm, could at any time stand a, comparison with Dr. Francis Nicol. He was at the head of a literary institution, it is true, but, for his elevation to the Principalship, as well as to the high place of a leader in the Church, his wealth, political influence, and landed property had everything to say. He was not, however, without qualifications. He had a readiness and fluency of speech, but he would not venture to say half a word more than he conceived was in accordance with the views of his party, or if, by accident, he said anything contrary to them, no sooner did he discover his blunder than lie hastened to back out of it as best he could.

Principal George Husband Baird, in managing the Assembly's Education Scheme, was distinguished for his activity, prudence, and attention. He was the fittest man in Scotland for conducting this work with efficiency and success. Whilst the Principal of St. Andrews, therefore, spent his summers at county meetings and farming Associations, his brother dignitary of Edinburgh travelled the whole of the north of Scotland and the Orkneys in the cause of education daring that season of the year. In the Church courts, Dr. Baird was more of the willing follower than of the ambitious leader.

Dr. Andrew Thomson, the famous champion of the Church's liberties and constitution—in himself a host—was in the House, but, not being a member, took no part in the discussion. He sat in one of the side galleries, taking notes of their proceedings, which, together with his own comments on such of them as were most notorious, he duly gave to the public in a monthly periodical, called the "Christian Instructor," of which he was the editor. He was the instinctive dread of the whole Moderate party. Even when the boldest of them put forth their creedless and Erastian dogmas, the corners of their eyes might be seen gliding unconsciously to the seat which he occupied, as if to read in his countenance their future castigation, their courage all the while quailing before the keenness of his hawk's eye.

While this Assembly was sitting, a printed document was handed to me privately, entitled a "Conference of Ministers, Elders, and other .Members of the Church of Scotland," the subject matter of which was summed up in the words of Malachi iii., 16, "They that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened." It was issued by the Evangelical section of the Church, with whom I then and ever afterwards acted; and I trust 1 ever will act with them in so far as they shall he guided by Divine truth. Its object was to promote the interests of Christ's kingdom by prayer and mutual counsel, with a view to co-operation in the General Assembly. How far this proposal was approved of, and acted upon, I am not able to say. Some of the means to be employed, and the end to be kept in view, were good, but others of those means savoured more of men than of God, while perhaps through the whole of the document there was manifested too much of the spirit of party in things so holy, and too little of the expansive spirit of the gospel. This, indeed, was the fundamental error of the Evangelical party in the Church, in all their contendings against the aggressive power of Moderatism, from the days of Dr. Robertson, its first founder, down to the Disruption in 1843. Had the professed ministers of Christ turned their attention more than they did to the essentials and responsibilities of their high and holy office individually, and not spent so much of their precious time and strength in General Assembly debates and wranglings with the opposite party, matters might have been ordered otherwise, and the Evangelical party could have been placed on a different footing altogether from what it is at present. Moderatism, in all its generations and under all its phases, was evidently on the side of the " Prince of this world " and " the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." None ever doubted this who knew its adherents; they themselves virtually admitted it. But on the other hand, the weapons which the Evangelical ministers wielded against them, instead of being " spiritual and not carnal," were, it is to be feared, more carnal than spiritual; and no battle, we believe, was ever yet won against Satan by "fighting him with his own weapons."

Among those with whom I became personally acquainted in Edinburgh was my future, though now, alas! my late, co-presbyter, Mr. Alexander Stewart. lie was the eldest, and, by his first marriage, the only son of the late Dr. Stewart, minister of Moulin, in Perthshire, translated from thence to Dingwall, and, shortly before his death, to the Canongate Church in Edinburgh. His son Alexander, after passing a few years of his life in a counting-house in London, turned his views to the Christian ministry, and, soon after being licensed, was elected by the congregation of Rothesay Chapel as their pastor. The parish of Cromarty becoming vacant by the death of Mr. Smith, the great body of the parishioners set their affections on Mr. Stewart, whom they had never seen, for the sake of the father, "whose praise was in all the churches." The people then petitioned the Government in favour of Air. Stewart. Sir Robert Peel attended to the request by presenting Mr. Stewart to the parish. The intelligence reached this county before I left for Edinburgh. It was when matters were in this state that I met with him, for the first time, in the Assembly, and congratulated both him and myself on the prospect of his becoming a member of our Presbytery. Soon after my return home, I received a letter from him, dated at Rothesay, 30th of June, which I transcribe:

"MY DEAR SIR,—Although our personal acquaintance be but slight as yet, I am happy to think it may soon be much increased by our being near neighbours, co-presbyters, and, I trust, fellow-labourers in the service of the same Divine Master. The event to which this is owing has been ordered, I do hope, by Him who does all things well, and whose prerogative it is to appoint for us the bounds of our habitation, and choose for us the lot of our inheritance. Very limited as nay experience no doubt is, I am by no means so sanguine as to imagine that trials and difficulties are now over. That they are but beginning is far more probable. But whether the way be rough, or thorny, or `about,' if it be the way which God approves of, it is the right way, and the only sure one.

"Col. Ross has written to me saying that he expected to have the presentation to Cromarty in Cromarty last week, and asking me to forward to him a letter of acceptance, and a certificate of having qualified to Government. I have done so accordingly, so that it is probable the whole documents may be laid upon the Presbytery table next meeting. I understand from the Colonel likewise that it will be expected that I preach in Cromarty previous to the moderation of the call. Is this the custom ? I rather think that it is not required by law of ordained men ; and, as it was on various accounts inconvenient, 1 once thought of asking the Presbytery not to require it of me. I am quite aware, however, that there may be an impropriety in throwing any obstacle in the way of the settlement that can possibly be avoided. It may be as well then to comply at once if they ask me. Our sacrament here is to be on Au"ust 1st. Until that is over I cannot go, but after that day I hope I may be able to go at any time. Do you not think this the best way of arranging the business; maybe, that the Tresbytery let me know through yourself, say, what their motions are, and then leave me,. as I am at such a distance, to take any Jay on which I may be able to go? I wished to let you know the circumstances in which I stand, so as to prevent any awkward arrangement being made. I shall take it kind that you write inc at your convenience, and any information respecting the Presbytery or the parish which you may think may be of use to me I shall be happy to receive. We shall also be glad to know of any person whom you would recommend for Hothesay Chapel. I feel interested in this also, and it would be a matter of great satisfaction to one to see them in the way of being well provided. I can scarcely expect to hear from you until after the meeting of your Presbytery.

"I remain, with esteem, yours sincerely,

"ALEX. STEWART."

At our meeting the presentation and other documents were laid upon the table, and sustained. Having communicated Mr. Stewart's proposal, the Presbytery appointed him to preach at Cromarty on any day that best suited his convenience. Mr. Wood and I were appointed a committee of Presbytery to moderate in a call. A few weeks later we met in the church of Cromarty, and the call being read, a considerable number of the parishioners signed, while those who did not were either such as were away at the time, or, if at home, considered it unnecessary, having already given their cordial consent to the measure, all the more so after they had heard him preach. His settlement took place a few months afterwards. I presided on the occasion, and, associated with the Presbytery, were many of the leading members of the Synod, such as the late Dr. Angus Mackintosh of Pain, Mr. Forbes of Tarbat, Mr. MacDonald of Urquhart, and others.

Although the people of Cromarty, in the selection of a minister, did certainly at the outset, make it in the dark, yet their choice after all was a truly noble one. As a preacher, it is not too much to say, that Mr. Stewart rivalled at least, if he did not excel, the most eminently gifted ministers either in or out of the Establishment. His sermons were truly expressions of the character of his mind, and were powerfully intellectual. His comprehension of a subject never stopt halfway, but reached over the whole of it; and any subject which he, at the outset, felt difficult fully and clearly to understand he declined to enter upon. The language therefore which he employed was strictly appropriate. From the beginning to the close of his public addresses it single superfluous word could not be detected. His views of divine truth in general, but more especially of the deeper mysteries of redemption, were not only sound and scriptural, but vivid, striking, and impressive. He had also, in common with all great orators in argument, the happy but rare art of concentrating the whole force of his previous illustration of the subject into one short, comprehensive sentence at the close. In the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, or on any of its practical precepts, I never heard a preacher so exquisitely simple and impressive. His temper was hard and rugged, and his bearing supercilious and haughty. In personal appearance he was short, his legs almost unnaturally long, so that, when he stood upright, he appeared a tall, stately looking man, considerably above the ordinary size; but no sooner did he sit down than the sudden diminution of his stature was most striking. The most marked, no less than the most inexplicable, feature in Mr. Stewart's personal appearance was his countenance. It has often been affirmed that the countenance is the index of the mind. With Mr. Stewart [Mr. Alex. Stewart of Cromarty died 5th Nov., 1347. in the 54th year of his age and 24th of his ministry. (See Memoir, by Dr. Beith of Stirling, in "Tree of Promise.") His father, Dr. Stewart, had only been a year in Edinburgh when he died 17th May, 1421, aged 58 years. He is the accomplished author of a Gaelic Grammar —a work of great merit and original research. He also revised the Gaelic translation of the Bible published by the S.P.C.K.—Ed.] the case was exactly the reverse. While his mind was vigorous, active, and penetrating, his eyes were small and lustreless, and his whole countenance betokened obtuseness and lack of power.

When at the Assembly I had a note from Mr. William Macao, a native of China, asking me concerning Miss Urquhart who resided at Resolis. Mr. Macao left his native country as the body servant of the family of Braelangwell in the parish of Resolis, and had, under Christian training, been reclaimed from heathenism to a saving knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. He held a situation in the Excise Office in Edinburgh, and in his note he expressed his desire to see me either at my lodgings or at No. 1 Dundas Street. I called, and had a short but very interesting conversation with him. In his becoming acquainted with divine truth, he had been indebted to Miss Betty Urquhart, as to one among others who had been instrumental in leading his mind to right views on that all-important subject. He was married and had a grown up son.

Miss Betty Urquhart was the daughter of Mr. Urquhart of Braelangwell, and the sister of the late Dr. Urquhart, his son and successor. Dr. Urquhart studied for the medical profession, and went abroad, whether to China or India I cannot say. On his return to his native country lie resided on his paternal estate, and soon afterwards, on the decease of Mr Lockhart who was married to the heiress of Newhall, by whom he had a family of sons and daughters, Dr. Urquhart became the second husband of Mrs. Lockhart, and had also a family by her. In the meantime, Miss Betty, as she was called, lived at Inverness. But long after her brother's death, and after the estates of Newhall and Braelangwell had both been sold, she had an evident wish to end her days in tier native parish. Her cottage was situated in a beautifully romantic spot on the banks of the burn of Resolis, and there she spent, in piety and peace, the few remaining years of her earthly pilgrimage. She had, however, some time before my settlement in 1822, been entirely confined to bed by age and infirmity. I frequently visited her, as (lid also both my sisters-in-law, and we certainly enjoyed the simplicity, humility, and heavenly-mindedness with which she recounted, in a retrospect of the past, "all that the Lord had done for her soul." It would also be about this time that her niece, Miss Harriet Urquhart, paid her a visit. She lived usually with her relative, Mrs. (Col.) Lewis Mackenzie of Scatwell, in England, or at Rouen in France. When Miss Urquhart visited her aunt at Burnside we had the pleasure of seeing her at the manse. She was an amiable young woman, and seriously disposed. To Miss Betty's comforts her niece was uniformly attentive. I have had several communications from her, containing remittances of money to be given to her aunt according as she stood in need.

Let me here record my reminiscences of Mr. David Carment, minister of Rosskeen. Previous to his settlement at Rosskeen he had been for many years minister of the Gaelic chapel, Duke Street, Glasgow. To that charge he was appointed at an early period of life, and he continued there till he was settled in Rosskeen, 14th March, 1822. He was a sound, scriptural preacher and a ready speaker. But he unhappily disturbed the gravity of his hearers by indulging no ordinary powers of humour and drollery in his public orations. His sermons and speeches teemed with anecdotes and quaint and ludicrous expressions, and whether he mounted the pulpit or stood on the platform, this was exactly what his audience expected. A broad grin settled down on the face of every one of them, plainly intimating that they had made up their minds, so long as Garment was speaking, to have some fun. The first outbreak between him and the more serious part of his congregation was about a chapel at Invergordon. During the lifetime of Mr. Ross, to whom he was assistant and successor, Mr. Carment agreed to take his turn with other ministers, preaching there on week evenings. Mr. MacDonald of F'erintosh was then at the very zenith of his usefulness, and he was chiefly employed to preach there by the unanimous desire of the people. On the death of Mr. John Ross, matters assumed a new aspect. Mr. Carment, as minister of Rosskeen, took the reigns into his own hands. Respecting the Invergordon chapel arose the tug of war, Mr. Carment insisting that this place of worship should be placed entirely at his disposal, and that no member either of the Presbytery or Synod should preach there, but such as he should invite. From that time, Mr. MacDonald, the favourite preacher of the day, notwithstanding many and repeated invitations from Mr. Carment, ceased to preach either at the chapel or on communion occasions at the parish church. To make up for the loss of Mr. MacDonald's monthly ministrations there, I asked him, and he agreed, to preach once a month at Resolis, an agreement to which be faithfully adhered until the Disruption, and from that period to within a few years of his death. [Mr. David Carmeut was born at Keiss, Caithness, where his parents resided; they originally came from the south of Scotland. "He was the grandson of John Garment, born in 1G'2, and baptised under cloud of night, in covenanting times, among the hills of Irongray in Kirkcudbright, by the well-known John Welsh." He died 26th May, 18:36, in his 84th year and 47th of his ministry.—ED.]


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