Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Memoir of Norman MacLeod, D.D
His Death

"I FEEL as if the winding-up were coming soon," he wrote to Principal Shairp, with little anticipation of how soon his words were to be realised.

As the spring wore on, the sense of feebleness and discomfort continued to increase; but his family physician, Professor Andrew Buchanan, after careful examination, discovered, at that time, nothing organically wrong with his heart; and believing that complete rest and freedom from anxiety would suffice to remove his ailments, he ordered him to give up the India Mission, leave his town-house and reside in the country, and, in short, confine his duties within the narrowest possible circle. Dr. Macleod at once acquiesced in these arrangements, and for a time found some enjoyment in planning a cottage which he thought of building on the slope of Campsie Fell, in a situation he had long admired, and he seemed almost happy at the prospect of renewing his early love of country life. The other direction of his physician made a greater demand on his feelings. He did not hesitate as to relinquishing the India Mission, but he determined that in doing so he would express, once for all, the conclusions he had reached regarding the manner in which Christian work in India ought to be conducted. For weeks he revolved the subject in his mind; for weeks it possessed his thoughts night and day; and, whether from the nature of the views he felt it his duty to propound, or more probably, from the exaggerated colouring which weak health imparts to coming difficulties, he somehow expected that his speech was to provoke a violent and painful discussion. These anticipations, natural to an invalid, although utterly groundless, had the effect of exciting his shattered nervous system, and of producing an anxiety and agitation which told with fatal effect upon him.

When he rose in the Assembly to address a house crowded to suffocation, his rapid breathing revealed the strain he was labouring under. He had written nothing beforehand except a few jottings on the flyleaf of the Mission Report; and such was the impassioned and rapid manner in which, under the pressure of his convictions, he grappled with the points he wished most to impress, that the reporters were unable to take down even the meaning of a great part of the address—the most powerful and stirring he ever delivered. The speech is practically lost. Passages can be recalled; the general scope can be sketched; but there is no adequate record of the masterly handling of principles, the touches of kindly humour, the skill with which he conciliated his audience while urging views calculated to offend the prejudices of many, the overpowering earnestness with which he defended his own position and appealed to the Church for a generous and self-forgetful policy towards India. Those who were present may retain an impression of its power, but the speech itself has perished.

He had been labouring for years, with little effect, to induce the clergy to adopt efficient methods of raising funds, and had discovered how difficult it is in such matters to combat sloth, prejudice, power of custom. He had tried also to make the Church realise the nature and difficulty of the problems with which her Mission had to deal, only to find, however, that many good people withheld their sympathy, eyed with suspicion the education policy which formed an essential part of the Mission system, and cared little for any results except such as took the form of individual conversion. He deeply felt that—

"There was a sort of feeling of uneasiness and discontent throughout the Church in reference to his conduct of the Mission, as if they said, 'The Mission is excellent; God bless the Mission; let us support it; but—'and there was a groan or a sigh, a something he could not get at. It needed no power but that of thoughtlessness to destroy, but they must remember how difficult it is to restore. Any man could set a great building on fire; and a single word, or the shake of the head of a man in authority, might be very destructive to the work of the Committee..... Did they realise," he asked, "what they expected the Hindoos to do, what they blamed them for not doing, or compared these expectations with what they were doing themselves at home 1 They were asking Hindoos, men of flesh and blood like themselves, and far more sensitive than Scotchmen, of great intelligence and culture, to give up hoary traditions, to cut down the tree of that religion under which they and their fathers had sat for teeming centuries, and to accept the religion of a people whose very touch was pollution ! They were asking these men in many cases to give up father and mother, and brother and sister, and were much astonished they did not make the sacrifice! But suppose the Hindoos, who were observing and intelligent, were to turn on themselves and say, 'You are sending us Christianity, to believe which implies enormous sacrifices on our part, but what are your own clergy doing? You are asking us to sacrifice all our traditions, but you won't sacrifice the custom in your parishes that has been brought in by your venerable predecessors ! What do you give for the salvation of souls? A pound or a penny, or, as is the case in one hundred and seventy of your churches, nothing at all? You call us deceivers; but we take you by appearances, and ask you to let us see what Christianity is in yourselves before you come to us.' ... . He had yet to learn that it was the work of the Foreign Mission to make converts. He had always understood that the conversion of souls was in the hand of God. He was not speaking lightly of conversion—far from it; but their responsibility as a Church was to use the best means of converting, and to implore God's grace on the means. But he would ask those who judge the Mission by the number of converts, to find out how many conversions had taken place in their own parishes during the same time. Let them go down to the village, and entering a house, say they will not leave it till they bring the men and women to Christ. Let them go to the man of science, who had mastered many of the questions of the day; let them not call him proud, or sneer at him as a 'natural man,' for he may be most earnest, and may be sweating a more bloody sweat in seeking to come to the truth than they had done ; let them go to that man and satisfy his doubts, meet him fairly before God, and when they returned from such a visitation as that, they would have more sympathy with missionaries dealing with educated heathens."

The chief purpose of his speech, however, took wider ground. He desired all Churches to consider whether the forms in which they were presenting truth, and the ecclesiastical differences they were exporting to India, were the best means for Christianizing that country. Was it right that the divisions which separated Churches in this country, and which were the growth of their special histories, should not only he continued, hut he made as great matters of principle in India as in England or Scotland?

"When these Hindoos heard an Anglican bishop declare that he did not recognise as belonging to Christ's Church congregations of faithful men holding a pure gospel and observing the sacraments of the Lord; when they met others who said, 'You must accept all these Calvinistic doctrines;' and when the Wesleyans came next and said, 'God forbid! don't bring these things in;' and the Baptist came with his idolatry of sacrament, saying, 'You must be a Baptist, you must be dipped again;' and when the Roman Catholic came and said, ' You are all wrong together;' is it any wonder that the Hindoo, pressed on every side by different forms of Western Christianity, should say, 'Gentlemen, I thank you for the good you have done me, but as I am sore perplexed by you all, take yourselves off, leave me alone with God, then I will be fairly dealt with.' It was a positive shame—it was a disgrace—that they should take with them to India the differences that separated them a few yards from their brethren in this country. Is it not monstrous to make the man they ordained on the banks of the Ganges sign the Westminster Confession of the Church of Scotland or the Deed of Demission and Protest of the Free Church? Was that the wisest, was it the Christian way of dealing with Hindoos? .... And were they presenting the truth to the native mind in the form best fitted for his requirements? The doctrines of their Confessions might be true in themselves, but the Confession was a document closely connected with the historical development and with the metaphysical temperament of the people who had accepted it, and might not be equally suitable for those who had not the same traditions and tendencies. Was it necessary to give these minute and abstract statements to Orientals whose habits of mind and spiritual affinities might lay better hold on other aspects of divine truth, and who might mould a theology for themselves, not less Christian, but which would be Indian, and not English or Scotch? The block of ice, clear and cold, the beautiful product of our northern climes will at the slightest touch freeze the warm lips of the Hindoo. Why insist that he must take that or nothing? Would it not be better to let the stream flow freely that the Eastern may quench his thirst at will from God's own water of life? Would it not be possible for the Evangelical Churches to drop their peculiarities, and in the unselfishness of the common faith construct a Primer, or make the Apostles' Creed their symbol, and say, 'This is not all you are going to learn, but if you receive this truth and be strong in the faith, we will ' receive you so walking, but not to doubtful disputations; and, if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God will reveal even this unto you?' And they should make known the truth not only by books but by living men. Send them the missionary. Let him be a man who embodies Christianity; and if he was asked, ' What is a Christian!' he could answer, 'I am; I know and love Christ, and wish you to know Him and love Him too.' That man in his justice, generosity, love, self-sacrifice, would make the Hindoo feel that he had a brother given him by a common Father. Let them prepare the Hindoos to form a Church for themselves. Give them the gunpowder, and they will make their own cannon."

While advocating these catholic aims, he did not forget that spirit of ecclesiasticism, and those prejudices and bigotries he was offending." He rose into indignant remonstrance as he thought of how India might possibly he sacrificed to the timidity of some of the clergy afraid to speak out their thoughts, or, still worse, to the policy of others who, in the critical position of the Church at home, were cautious not to verify the accusations of latitudinarianism made against her by interested opponents.

"You must take care lest by insisting on the minutiae of doctrine or government, you are not raising a barrier to the advances of Christianity. You must take heed lest things infinitesimally small as compared with the great world, may not be kept so near the eye as to conceal the whole world from you. A man may so wrap a miserable partisan newspaper round his head as to shut out the sun, moon, and stars. You must take care that your Cairns do not stand so near as to shut out Calcutta, and the Watch-'word make you so tremble for petty consequences at home that all India is forgotten by you. I am not speaking for myself alone," he added, "for I know how these difficulties press upon many a missionary—and remember how more than one has taken my hand, and said we dare not speak out on these things, lest our own names be blasted, ourselves represented as unsafe, and all home-confidence be removed from us. But why should they be afraid of such reproach? Why should I be afraid of it? Am I to be silent lest I should be whispered about, or suspected, or called 'dangerous,' 'broad' 'latitudinarian,' 'atheistic?' So long as I have a good conscience towards God, and have His sun to shine on me, and can hear the birds singing, I can walk across the earth with a joyful and free heart. Let them call me 'broad.' I desire to be broad as the charity of Almighty God, who maketh His sun to shine on the evil and the good; who hateth no man, and who loveth the poorest Hindoo more than all their committees or all their Churches. But while I long for that breadth of charity, I desire to be narrow—narrow as God's righteousness, which as a sharp sword can separate between eternal right and eternal wrong."

No one then present can forget the thrilling power, the manly bearing, the intensity of suppressed feeling, with which these words were uttered.

In a few following sentences he explained how he was compelled to relinquish all public work for the future, thanked his brethren for the kindness he had received from them, and bidding farewell to the Church he had served with life-long affection, he ended in accents broken with emotion, "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning—if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."

It was a last and fatal effort. The hearts of many present trembled for him as they watched the unnatural flush upon his cheeks, and marked the expenditure of energy the exertion cost him. To more than one of those whose eye wistfully followed him, as he left the house, the sad foreboding came that it was their last look of him.

"I was so glad," one writes, "I heard that magnificent oration. When it was over, I bowed my head in my hands, wishing to shut out everything but the solemn thoughts such words had conjured up. I felt how much too great the exertion had been for him. I took a long last look at him before I left—the conviction being somehow strong upon me that with my mortal eyes I should never see him again."

For the next few days he complained of uneasiness and unaccountable depression of spirits, but was able to preach in his own church on the afternoon of the following Lord's-day. It was his last sermon, and on the strikingly appropriate subject, "We have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have, therefore?" A sheet of note-paper contains all he had written beforehand, but it is enough to show that his last counsels to his people were strangely in harmony with the situation. His theme was the way in which Christ educated His disciples, and he urged upon his hearers the truth that if they were willing to accept His guidance every day, they would at last be prepared cheerfully to surrender life and all into His hands.

Next day, the 3rd of June, he was to enter his sixty-first year, and he had such a strong desire to have all his family with him on this birthday, that he brought his aged mother from the country and asked leave for his son to come from Liverpool. There was no foreboding in all this of immediate danger. He said and did some things which afterwards seemed to indicate a feeling of approaching death. When at Balmoral the previous week he spoke to more than one of its being his last visit, and in some of his letters there were expressions so solemn as to have startled the friends who received them. But he did not really think that his end was so near. A great sadness weighed on him, a weariness of the noise and disputings of men, of "the burden and the mystery" of life; and out of this arose a more childlike clinging to Christ and to the love and goodness of God. Deeply affected by the disturbed condition of opinion in the world and the Church he cherished only a fuller confidence in order finally coming out of disorder; and feeling his own life-work was over, he entered the more keenly into speculations as to the character of the life beyond the grave. The future state, the society, occupations and joy of the blessed dead, had been a favourite theme with him for many years, but during the last few days of his life, it seemed to engross his thoughts. No friend could be with him for many minutes without his reverting* to it. Under the influence of the same feelings he spoke of his death. "My father often took me at that time to drive with him," writes one of his daughters. "He talked, or rather thought aloud, almost always about death and dying—the dread every one has of the act of dying; and how merciful it was, that though a man in health fears death, yet when he is weakened by disease, he is indifferent to its terror; " above all, what a comfort it is to know that the Man Christ Jesus died!" On Friday after he was taken ill, I was sitting on his bed hearing how he was, and he said, " How dreadful it would be if a God of hate ruled the world ; how he could torture us! For instance, he could make us die more than once, and each death become a dreadful experience. Let us thank God for His love. After all," he added after a pause, "death is a wrong name for it—it is birth into the true life."

The greater part of Monday, 3rd June, was spent by him alone in the outside study. He passed the day chiefly in writing letters to valued friends and in quiet meditation. One of his aunts found him reading the seventy-first psalm, and he at once made it the groundwork of one of those out-pourings of his deepest, most inward experiences which none who ever heard them can forget. In the evening all his family were gathered round his table.

From his Journal:—
"June 2.—To-morrow, if I live, I am sixty. I enter on the last decade allotted to man. I cannot take it in. In one sense I am young in heart. I dream, as I have, alas! done for many a year, of what I may, or might do— in literature, in practical work, in many a thing. While I dream life passes, powers fail, and I feel as one who had done nothing, and know that I have done little in comparison with what I could have done, had I only been self-denying and diligent in college and in riper years. I confess with shame my off-putting, my want of painstaking and earnestness in mastering difficulties and details, my indolence, and selfishness, and want of principle, in not attending each day, from youth upwards, in doing, to the best of my ability, that one work, whether of mastering a lesson or anything else, given me to do. It is no comfort to tell me what I have done, for it is false comfort. I feel it truer to confess what I have not done, what I ought to have done, what I could have done, and which being left undone has been a felt, real, and shameful loss to me all my life. Whatever a man's natural talent may be, whatever success he has had in the world, whatever good he has accomplished, it yet remains true that he would have been better, wiser, more influential, and glorified God far more if he had been a careful, accurate, diligent scholar at school and college, and acquired those habits of study, that foundation of knowledge, without which talent is stunted, and genius itself is very far from accomplishing that which it otherwise could do. God blesses the self-sacrifice of study, and that I never had in my youth, and for that I have suffered, and more especially as I have in later years become fully alive to its importance. Morally and intellectually I am a dismasted wreck, praising and blessing God if I get into the harbour, and reverencing those who are good men, because they have been all their lives dutiful.

"My life has been to me a mystery of love. I know that God's education of each man is in perfect righteousness. I know that the best on earth have been the greatest sufferers, because they were the best, and, like gold, could stand the fire and be purified by it. I know this, and a great deal more, and yet the mercy of God to me is such a mystery, that I have been tempted to think that I was utterly unworthy of suffering.

"God have mercy on my thoughts! I may be unable to stand suffering. I do not know. But I lay myself at Thy feet and say—not that I am prepared—but that Thou art good, and wise, and wilt prepare me. I am a poor, selfish creature.

"God is all in all.

"God is love. Amen.

"The doctors tell me I am in danger, and that unless I give up work I may not live. I have been ill for the last sixteen years. The doctors tell me that I must get quit of worry. I have, by their command, given up on Thursday last the Convenership of the India Mission. I feel this. I spoke an hour and a half on the subject, but the reports of my speech are fearful; empty of all I said that is worth anything, full of horrors and absurdities I never said."

To Principal Shairp:—
"3rd June, 1872.

"I am three-score years to-day!

"John, dear, I cannot speak about myself. I am dumb with thoughts that cannot be uttered.

"The doctors tell me that unless by rest of body and mind I can conquer incipient disease, it will kill me.

"So I am obeying to the best of my ability.

"As I feel time so rapidly passing, I take your hand, dear old friend, with a firmer grip!

"I have many friends; few old ones!

"Oh that I loved my oldest and truest, my Father and Saviour, better! But should I enter heaven as a forlorn ship, dismasted, and a mere log—it is enough—for I will be repaired.

"But I have been a poor concern, and have no peace but in God's mercy to a miserable sinner.

"I spoke in the Assembly on India Missions for an hour and a half. I will probably print it. It is my programme for India. It knocked me up."

To Mrs. Macnab (Sister of Dr. Macleod Campbell):—
"3rd June, 1872.

"You did not intend it to be a birthday gift to the child you had in your arms sixty years ago! But so it is, and it is doubly precious as a pledge of a love that has remained ever bright for three-score years, and will be brighter still when time shall be no more. God bless you and preserve you to us on earth! I am dumb with a sense of awe, and full of thoughts that cannot be uttered. My only rest in thinking of the past and anticipating the future is in the one thought of 'God my Father.'

"I am so glad you would like me to re-publish my sketch of dear John Campbell. What would you say to putting in an appendix some extracts from his books, expressive of his leading ' views?' This might help some souls in perplexity, and induce them to read his books, They would be of use in India.

"As to his letters, &c, no one felt more strongly than John Mackintosh regarding biographies. The only thing which induced us to go against his expressed wishes was the conviction, that now he would wish to do whatever seemed best to others, whom he loved and trusted, for the glory of God. And surely the result justified us. It seems to me that the responsibility of not permitting men to speak when dead is as great as in enabling them to do so. How is it likely they would judge now? is a question I cannot help putting."

To Rev. A. Clerk, whose son, Duncan Clerk, was then dying:—
"June 3, 1872.

"It is very solemn and very affecting, and I need not say how deeply we sympathize with you. Yet there is but One who can do so perfectly, and give you and dear Jessie faith and strength at this terrible crisis. I feel how impossible it is to convey in words what one would like to say at such a time, if indeed silence does not best express the sense of darkness and oppression. I enter to-day my sixty-first year, and have my mother and all my family around me, and the contrast presented between my house and yours makes your affliction only more dark and solemn. We can only fall back on God to deliver me from a slavish fear of coming sorrows, and you, my dear Archy, from a want of faith in His constant and deep love to you and yours. What God may be giving you in this form, I don't know. But I am sure He is giving. Those He has taken, and seems to be taking, have been among His elect ones if any such there be on earth. A finer boy than Duncan could not be. Every one loved and respected him. He was a girl in purity, a child in humility, modesty, and obedience! Fit for Heaven ! fit to join his sainted sister and brothers. You have both sent precious treasures there to be your own riches for ever, and I doubt not every soul in your house will get a blessing. A holy family ! what an awful gift from God! I don't wish to speak about myself, but I am not well. The doctors have discovered symptoms so serious in me as to necessitate my getting rest for mind and body, and so ward off what would very soon kill me. So I gave up the India Mission, and am trying to sell my house in town, and get one in the country. All my lameness, weariness, all are from the same cause. I am utterly unable to stand fatigue, and I am still suffering from my long (one hour and a half) speech and probably my last in the Assembly. I fear to attempt to go to you, as I believe I would add to your trouble, I get so prostrate. I am seriously alarmed for myself and see no escape at present."

To the Marchioness of Ely (then Lady in Waiting at Balmoral):—
"3rd June, 1872. " My Dear Lady Ely,

"Whether it is that my head is empty or my heart full, or that both conditions are realised in my experience, the fact, however, is that I cannot express myself as I feel, in replying to your ladyship's kind—far too kind—note, which I received when in the whirlwind, or miasma of Assembly business. Thanks deep and true to you and to my Sovereign Lady for thinking of me. I spoke for nearly two hours in the Assembly, which did no good to me, nor I fear to any other ! I was able to preach yesterday. As I have got nice summer quarters, I hope to recruit, so as to cast off this dull, hopeless sort of feeling. I ought to be a happy, thankful man to-day. I am to-day sixty, and round my table will meet my mother, my wife, and all my nine children, six brothers and sisters, and two aunts—one eighty-nine, the other seventy-six, and all these are a source of joy and thanksgiving. Why such mercies to me, and such suffering as I often see sent to the best on earth? God alone knows. I don't. But I am sure he always acts as a wise, loving, and impartial Father to all His children. What we know-not now, we shall know hereafter. God bless the Queen for all her unwearied goodness! I admire her as a woman, love her as a friend, and reverence her as a Queen; and you know that what I say, I feel. Her courage, patience, and endurance are marvellous to me."

From his Journal:—
"June 3.—I am this day three-score years.

"The Lord is mysterious in His ways! I bless and praise Him.

"I commit myself and my all into His loving hands, feeling the high improbability of such a birthday as this ever being repeated.

"But we shall be united after the last birthday into heaven.

"Glory to God, for His mercy towards us guilty sinners, through Jesus Christ, His Son, my Lord.

"I preached at Balmoral ('Thy Kingdom come'), on the 27th May. The Queen, as usual, very kind. As she noticed my feebleness, she asked me to be seated during the private interview. When last at Balmoral, I met Forster (the Cabinet Minister) there. He and Helps and I had great arguments on all important theological questions till very late. I never was more impressed by any man, as deep, independent, thoroughly honest and sincere. I conceived a great love for him. I never met a statesman whom, for high-minded honesty and justice, I would sooner follow. He will be Premier some day.

"Dear Helps! man of men, or rather brother of brothers.

"The last Assemby has been the most reactionary I have ever seen ; all because Dr. Cairns and others have attacked the Church for her latitudinarian-ism! The lectures of Stanley have aroused the wrath of the Pharisees, and every trembler wishes to prove that we are not latitudinarian, forsooth! If by this term is meant any want of faith in the teaching of Christ and His apostles, any want of faith in the Bible, or in the supernatural, or in Christ's person or atonement (though not the Church theory), or in all the essentials of the faith common to the Church catholic; then I am no latitudinarian. But if by this is meant that man's conscience or reason (in Coleridge's sense) is not the ultimate judge of a divine revelation, that I am bound to stick to the letter of the Confession, and to believe, for example, that all mankind are damned to 'excruciating torments in soul and body for all eternity,' because of Adam's sin, and the original corruption springing therefrom, and that God has sent a Saviour for a select few only, and that death determines the eternal condition of all men ; then, thank God, I am a latitudinarian, have preached it, confessed it, and can die for it! Nothing-amazes or pains me more than the total absence of all pain, all anxiety, all sense of burden or of difficulty among nine-tenths of the clergy I meet, as to questions which keep other men sleepless. Give me only a man who knows, who feels, who takes in, however feebly (like myself), the life and death problems which agitate the best (yes, the best) and most thoughtful among clergy and laity, who thinks and prays about them, who feels the difficulties which exist, who has faith in God that the right will come right, in God's way, if not in his, I am strengthened, comforted, and feel deeply thankful to be taught. But what good can self-satisfied, infallible Ultra-montanes do for a poor, weak, perplexed soul? Nay, what good can puppies do who may accept congenial conclusions without feeling the difficulties by which they are surrounded? What have I suffered and endured in this my little back study, which I must soon leave ! How often from my books have I gazed out of this window before me, and found strength and peace in the little bit of the sky revealed, with its big cumuli clouds, its far away cirri streaks, and, farther still, its deep, unfathomable blue—its infinite depths I could not pierce! yet seeing—in the great sunlight, in the glory of cloud-land, in the peace of the sky—such a revelation of God as made me say, 'The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice!'

"The older I get I find more and more teaching from God's revelation in nature.

"The confusion that exists at this moment, and which began soon after the war of '15, and is as eventful as the Reformation, is most oppressive.

"'Everything is sundering,
And everyone is wondering,
As this huge globe goes thundering
On, for ever on.'"

"On the one hand, there is a breaking up of the old forms of thought about everything, social, political, scientific, philosophic, and theological. In spite of much foolish conceit and sense of power on the part of those who guide the battering-rams against the old walls, there is on the part of many more, a great sense of the paramount importance of truth and duty which, if piously considered, would but express faith in God, who is ever on the side of truth, whether Huxley, Darwin, or any other express it, albeit without sympathy for the speakers unless they be truthful. On the part of the defenders there are all shades of feeling. Not a few from faith in God and Christ, and in the verities of that moral and spiritual kingdom which, having in themselves, they know cannot be moved, accept of these attacks, not as from real enemies, but friends, because believing that Christianity will ever be found far ahead of men, will soon 'prepare a place' for all real truth, so that wherever Christ is, there it may be also. But others are in terror, and either refuse to look at what professes to be truth in the face, and only call its professors nick-names, or try the Romish Syllabus dodge, and gather into clubs, like Jesuits, and in vain, by assertion, try to stop the movement.

"So we are split up into fragments, and while Rome remains whole,—-in its blindness swearing there is no light because it does not see it, and cursing all eye-doctors and spectacles.

"As for Scotland! The Church of the future is not here! We ignore great world-questions. We squabble like fishwomen over skate and turbot.

"Where is the germ of the Church of the future? In what Church? In what creed? In what forms of Government? It may come from India, as the first came from the East. But all our old forms are effete, as old oaks, although young ones may grow out of them. Neither Calvinism, nor Presbyterianism, nor Thirty-nine Articles, nor High Churchism, nor Low Churchism, nor any existing organization can be the Church of the future! May God give us patience to wait! It may be a thousand, or three thousand years yet, ere it comes, but come it will! I do not think any Broad Church can be the Church yet; it wants definiteness to meet the common mind of rough humanity. But in a Church it can modify and liberalise extremes, witness for individuality against any extreme views of the body, and so help to an ultimate solution of the problem between the individual and the Church. I shall see it from the other side; but not from this.

"I resigned the Convenership of the India Mission as I have said. I made a long speech not reported. Dear Watson has been rejected as Convener. Herdman appointed. This is of interest merely as showing the contest between the parties in the Church. These are the Ultra-Evangelical and the Liberal."

Thus ends the journal he kept so faithfully through his busy life.

On the same day his birthday festival was held with a joy that was shadowed by haunting fears of coming change. His worn and shattered aspect, and his sad, tender bearing, suggested painful forebodings to those who loved him, and who could scarcely refrain from showing their anxiety.

On the following Thursday he took his mother and aunt for a drive in an open carriage. The day was treacherous, and, before they returned, the bright sunshine, which had tempted them to go out, departed, and a piercing east wind came on. In his anxiety for his delicate aunt he wrapped his own plaid round her, and exposed himself to a chill, which, in his broken condition of health, proved fatal. When he came home he was seized with a shiver, followed by an intense pain in the chest, and for the next few days experienced extreme suffering, combined with overpowering attacks of sickness. He spent some hours that evening with his mother, and aunts, and sister, who resided a few doors from his own house. It was the day of a funeral of a favourite nephew, Duncan Clerk, and partly to comfort his sorrowing niece, who was present, as well as to give expression to thoughts of which his mind was full, he talked with more than usual power—-almost with excitement—regarding the glorified life of those who had departed in the Lord. He recalled the names and characters of deceased relatives, and described the joy of meeting and recognising them. He spoke of his father, of James, of sisters and uncles who were dead, and of John Mackintosh; and when one of the party chanced to allude to their departure as a loss, he vehemently remonstrated against such a view. "Love is possession, love is possession," he repeated with an emphasis, which those who listened to him have since learned to apply to the separation they feared, but the imminence of which they did not then anticipate. Before parting from his mother that evening—the last they were to spend together on earth—he poured out his soul in a prayer which melted every heart. It was a triumphant thanksgiving to God, which recalled his own past history, and the history of the family, revived the names of many dear ones who had entered into rest, and concluded with a glorious profession of gratitude, confidence, and joy.

His restlessness night and day became dreadful, but as the symptoms seemed to arise from indigestion, for a time no strong measures were taken. In order to alleviate this, and to give him greater freedom, Mrs. Macleod removed his bed to the drawing-room. The pain gradually lessened, but his strength went visibly down, and his brother, Professor Macleod, who had been out of town, was, on his return, so much struck by the change in his appearance, that, though not anticipating any immediately fatal result, he suspected the imminence of graver complications. In order to secure complete rest for him, arrangements were made for his giving up every kind of work for six months. This fact was communicated to him on Tuesday the 11th, and was received with perfect composure; but when his brother left, Mrs. Macleod found him in the drawing-room deadly pale and nearly fainting. The proposal had shocked him more than he knew, as indicating the cessation of his active life; but he revived after a little, and spoke of how delightful it would be to take all his children to Cann-stadt, and how he would enjoy six months' rest with his family and his books.

The rapid sinking of his strength, the increasing tendency to faintness, the casual rambling of his thoughts, showed, however, too plainly the severity of the attack, and his medical attendants held a consultation on Thursday, in which Professor Gairdner joined. Their examination showed that rapid effusion had taken place into the pericardium.

That morning, when one of his brothers saw him, he described a dream which seemed for the time to fill him with happiness:—"I have had such a glorious dream! I thought the whole Punjaub was suddenly Christianised, and such noble fellows, with their native churches and clergy."

The next day he was very weak, but on Saturday the doctors found him considerably better. The birth of his brother Donald's eldest son, which occurred that morning, took a strange hold of his mind, and when the father called for him he found him filled with solemn thoughts suggested by the gift of this new life. He was seated in a stooping position, his elbows resting on his knees, to relieve the pain in his chest, and while he spoke his eyes overflowed with tears, as with broken utterance he touched on what had always been a congenial theme:—"Christ spoke of the joy of a man-child being born into the world. He alone could measure all that is implied in the beginning of such an existence. A man born ! One that may know God and be with Him forever. A son of God like Jesus Christ—how grand—how awfully grand!" [The same newspaper which announced the birth of this boy, Norman, contained the news of his uncle's death.]

That evening he was so much better as to enjoy music, and his daughters played and sang some of his favourite pieces,—the "Marche Funèbre" of Beethoven, with a part of the Sonata; Mozart's "Kyrie Eleison;" "Ach wie ist es moglich!" "Nearer, my God, to Thee." He was greatly moved by Newman's well-known hymn, " Lead, kindly light," which, strange to say, he had never heard sung before. Every word seemed so appropriate that he made his daughter sit beside him that he might hear her more distinctly, and he shook his head and bowed it with emphatic acquiescence at different passages, especially at the lines,—

"Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see
The distant scene: one step enough for me."

On that night, as well as on the previous one, his brother George sat up with him. On the Friday night he had suffered extremely, but he was now slightly better. He had snatches of sleep, often rose and walked through the room, sometimes indulging in bits of fun, and shaking with laughter at sallies of wit which were evidently intended to relieve his brother's anxiety. Sometimes his mind slightly wandered. More than once he engaged in silent prayer, and after one of these still moments he said, "I have been praying for this little boy of Donald's —that he may live to be a good man, and by God's grace be a minister in the Church of Christ—the grandest of all callings!"

He described with great delight the dreams he had been enjoying, or rather the visions which seemed to be passing vividly before his eyes even while he was speaking. "You cannot imagine what exquisite pictures I see. I never beheld more glorious Highlands, majestic mountains and glens, brown heather tinted with purple, and burns— clear, clear burns—and above, a sky of intense blue—so blue, without a cloud!"

He spoke of an unusual number of friends, and remembering that the Queen was then leaving Balmoral for Windsor, he prayed aloud for her and her children.

Seeing that his brother was anxious that he should sleep, he said, "Tell me about the Crimea, and what you saw there. There is nothing I like so much as stories of battles. If you tell me what you saw you will soothe me to sleep like a child. I never could well make out the position of the Flagstaff battery. Now, just go on !" Once, during the night, he asked his brother, with great tenderness, to kiss him; and at another time, when awaking from sleep, he held up his hands, as if pronouncing the benediction in church, and said with much solemnity, "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen." So passed his last night on earth, troubled, yet peaceful, and full of the unselfishness and simplicity of his life.

On the morning of Sunday, the sixteenth of June, he was so much better that his brother left him in comparative comfort, and when Professor Andrew Buchanan saw him some hours afterwards, he was surprised at the great improvement which had taken place. He felt so refreshed after taking some food, about seven in the morning, that he asked his wife to sit beside him while he told her the deeper thoughts that were possessing his soul. "I believe I will get better," he said, "but I wish you to record for my good and for our good afterwards, that in this hurricane I have had deep thoughts of God. I feel as if He said, 'We know one another, I love you, I forgive you; I put my hands round you,' just as I would with my son Norman," and here he laid his own hand tenderly on his wife's head. "I have had few religious exercises for the last ten days. If my son were ill I would not be angry with him for not sending me a letter. But I have had constant joy, and the happy thought continually whispered, 'Thou art with me!' Not many would understand me. They would put down much that I have felt to the delirium of weakness, but I have had deep spiritual insight." When he was speaking of God's dealings, the expression of his face and his accents were as if he was addressing one actually present. Still more intimately, it seemed, than ever, his fellowship was with the Father and the Son. He again repeated that he believed he would get better, and that his latter days would be more useful than any former ones. "I have neglected many things. I have not felt as I ought how awfully good God is; how generous and long-suffering; how He has 'put up' with all my rubbish. It is enough to crush me when I think of all His mercies" (as he said this he was melted in tears), "mercy, mercy, from beginning to end. You and I have passed through many life-storms, but we can say with peace, it has been all right." He added something she could not follow as to what he would wish to do in his latter days, and as to how he "would teach his darling children to know and realise God's presence." He told her once more to write down all he had said, that it might do her good when her own day of sorrow came. He frequently said that this visitation was quite unexpected.

Some hours afterwards two of his daughters came to kiss him before going to church. "He took my hands in both of his," one of them writes, "and told me I must come to see him oftener. 'If I had strength,' he said, 'I could tell you things that would do you good through all your life. I am an old man, and have passed through many experiences, but now all is perfect peace and perfect calm. I have glimpses of Heaven that no tongue, or pen, or words can describe.' I kissed him on his dear forehead and went away, crying only because he was so ill. When I next saw him he was indeed 'in perfect peace and perfect calm.'"

The church bells had for some time ceased to ring, and the quiet of the Lord's-day rested on the city. His wife and one of his sons were with him in the drawing-room, where he remained chiefly sitting on the sofa. About twelve o'clock Mrs. Macleod went to the door to give some directions about food. The sudden cry, "Mother, mother!" startled her, and when she hurried in she saw his head had fallen back. There was a soft sigh, and, gently as one sinking into sleep, his spirit entered the eternal rest.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus