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Memoirs of John Urquhart
Chapter 4 Part B

Among his papers I find the notes of a speech which he delivered at a missionary meeting at Cupar of Fife, on a Monday evening, in the month of February. It was written late on the Sabbath night preceding, and early on the Monday morning. He walked to Cupar, delievered his address, and returned early the next morning to St. Andrew’s. It is full of ardour, and replete with Christian feeling, though perhaps he carries some of his views a little too far. I should have given it in this place, as well deserving of insertion; but being somewhat similar to an address afterwards delivered at St. Andrew’s, on the same subject, I omit it to make room for other matter. Such an address by one so young, could not fail to produce a very powerful effect. I pray that those who read it, may feel it equally with those who heard it.

Much as John’s mind was engaged with foreign objects, he did not forget those who had a claim upon him at home. His own family, and a few particular friends were the objects of his warmest attachment; and for the salvation of some of them he laboured faithfully with themselves, and wrestled mightily with God. I venture to give the following to his brother, as a specimen of combined fidelity and tenderness of rare occurrence. There is also in that letter, and in the one which follows, to his mother, a manifestation of that exquisite sensibility, which characterized him, and which made his devotion to the work of a missionary no ordinary sacrifice. The prospect of leaving his country and his father’s house, was to him one of inexpressible anguish; but the consideration of what was due to the authority and glory of Christ, impelled him forward. With talents not inferior to those of Martyn, he had feelings no less powerful than those of that devoted missionary; and though he was not honoured to follow him in his glorious career, yet as having it in his heart, I doubt not he now inherits with him a portion of his reward.

"ST. ANDREW’S, February 10, 1825.

"MY VERY DEAR BROTHER — I have long thought of writing to you; and, indeed, had a letter half finished a week or two ago. I have at last been able to get a day nearly clear of engagements, and I am glad to spend it in making up a packet of letters for my friends in Perth. I begin with you; and, as I wish, if possible, to get five or six letters written, you will excuse me, if I am more brief than I otherwise should be in writing to an only brother. I have often wished, my dear David, to have some closer intercourse with you than I have yet had, on religious subjects, either by conversation or by letter. The latter method is the only one in my power, at present; and, in some respects I think it the most advantageous, as we can express our sentiments both more deliberately, and more freely than we perhaps could in personal intercourse. I hope you will not think me obtrusive in bringing this subject before you. Believing, as I do, that not only a right understanding of the gospel, but also, a real belief of its truths, is necessary to our happiness, either here, or in that mysterious state which is after death, you cannot surely wonder that I should be anxious to know the feelings of my dearest friends, in regard to this important subject. We, my dear brother, have enjoyed very distinguished privileges, in having a knowledge of the gospel from our infancy. But although early religious instruction is a most inestimable blessing, it has also its disadvantages. We, who know the gospel, and whose early prejudices, (the strongest of all prejudices,) are in favour of the gospel, are very apt to rest in our knowledge, or in our attachment to certain religious opinions, as a proof of our faith, and consequently of a state of safety in regard to another world. Now, I think, it is of the very greatest importance, to remember that there can be no belief where there is no feeling. In the ordinary affairs of life, we are disposed at once to admit, that a man cannot believe anything, without being suitably impressed by it. And how then should we be for a moment deluded into the opinion, that in this one instance, where the truths are calculated to make the very deepest impressions —in this, and in this alone, these truths can be believed without being felt? Would you think me censorious, if I would say, I feared you were not a Christian? Would you not be quite startled, if I said I suspected you to be an infidel? I do not mean, my dear David, to make either of these assertions, far less to do so in a spirit of censoriousness. But I will confess to you, that I have an uncertainty of the matter, which fills me with the greatest concern on your account. We start at the name of infidel. And we are very apt to think, that a man may be unregenerate, and yet very far removed from anything like infidelity. We are very apt to think that there may be such a thing as a half Christian, one who is almost a Christian.. But it is silly to be deluded by mere names. The Bible tells us, that ‘he who believeth shall be saved, and he who believeth not, shall be condemned.’ We are told of no transition state in another world, half-way between heaven and hell, or nearer the one than the other. No; we must either rise to inconceivable glory, or sink into unutterable woe. The grand question is, Do we believe the gospel, or do we not? This, and this alone, fixes our after state If we believe, we shall reign with saints and angels, if we do not believe, if we have hesitated whether we should receive the gospel or not, if we have been even almost persuaded to believe; and if moreover, we have been possessed of all the knowledge and even all the graces that can adorn an unregenerate character; still, notwithstanding all, if matters stop here, we must be condemned throughout eternity, to herd with the very outcasts of society, with blasphemers and atheists, with liars and murderers. This is a very fearful view of the matter, but is it not the view which the Scriptures present? And it is this view of the matter that leads me to fear, and even (I acknowledge) to suspect, that my own brother may be among the number of those who are securely, and even cheerfully, walking on to the pit of endless perdition. This is an awful thought, and I have felt its awfulness. Often have I wept from the bitterness of the thought, that we may soon part never to meet again; and, excepting the prayers I have offered for my own forgiveness, the most earnest petitions I have ever presented at the throne of mercy, have been those I have put up for a brother’s salvation. I believe there is an efficacy in prayer, and I am not without the hope that these prayers will be answered. I have sometimes thought, that I could see that you had a conviction that all was not right with you; that, after all, there was a something in Christianity which you had not experienced. I could remember, that such was the state of my own mind, when the Spirit of God first strove with my rebellious heart, and the hope dawned upon me, that this might be the beginning of his working on your mind. That hope has often been blasted by your indifference, or your open rebellion against God; but, though often blasted, I will still continue to cherish it. The Lord grant that it may be realized. I have written these lines for your own private perusal; and, therefore, I laid aside that veil of propriety, by which, in ordinary life, we are accustomed to conceal our feelings, and I have laid open my heart before you. I do not think you have the hardness to laugh at my concern on your account; but, if even this should be the effect of this letter, still I shall not regret that I have told you all I feel. This letter has been preceded and accompanied with prayer, and part of it has been written in tears. God is sometimes pleased to work by the most insignificant agents; and I am not without the hope, that by the blessing of his Spirit, these confused expressions of a brother’s heart-felt desire for your salvation, may be made the means of softening your heart, and leading you to receive the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with humility and with joy.

"There is one circumstance, my dear brother, that has especially led me to open my heart before you at present, and to urge thus solemnly and earnestly upon you, the acceptance of the gospel. You have heard, probably, that I have determined to spend my life in preaching to the heathen. I feel that even the innocent pleasures of this life are all of them unsatisfactory; and, in many instances, tend to draw the mind from heavenly objects. And, from all the information I can collect, I am convinced that I can serve my God more effectually, by declaring his name where it never has been declared before, than by repeating the gospel to those who have often heard, and as often refused it. But the thought that I am soon to leave this land, never to return, makes me feel it a more urgent duty while I remain, to press the truths of the gospel on the attention of those who are my countrymen; and especially to warn most solemnly, and most earnestly to persuade those who are dearest to me by the ties of nature. A few months, my brother, and our earthly intercourse must be for ever at an end. Shall I hope to meet you in heaven? O give me an answer to this question, for on yourself its answer depends. I confess that, in the prospect of leaving my parents, one-half of the great burden that lies upon my mind, would be removed, could I confidently rely on the religious principles of my sister, and especially of yourself, who, in a short time, will be their only son, and almost their only earthly protector. There are occurrences that must here present themselves to your mind, which you must know, wound my feelings most deeply in the prospect of separation; but these I will not call to mind. O that the God of the families of Israel may cause his peace to abide upon my father’s house!

"You know that my parents feel deeply at the thought of my departure. I am sure, that if they could feel a thorough confidence in you, my brother, it would go far to reconcile them to what I believe to be the will of God concerning me. I know, my dear David, that you are often placed in difficult circumstances; but a belief of the gospel, and a spirit of prayer, will go far to enable you to act calmly and meekly under the most trying circumstances. Believe in Jesus Christ, and look to him, and in looking to him, you will reflect his image; you will become like him. Thus, and thus alone, will you learn like him, when you are reviled, not to revile again; and even when you suffer, not to threaten.

"You see, my brother, I have many reasons for urging upon you these solemn warnings and earnest entreaties. I beseech you to believe in Christ. I beseech you to take his yoke upon you, and learn of him, for ‘his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.’ I beseech you to learn of him to be meek and lowly. I entreat you to do these things, if you would save your own soul: if you would fulfil the best and most earnest wishes of an affectionate and only brother; if you would, in some degree, alleviate the sorrow of one who is soon to part with all he holds dear on earth; and finally, if you would comfort our bereaved parents, if you would make up the breach which the resistless hand of death has so lately made, and which the imperious calls of duty soon must make again, in that little family which I must try to think no longer my home."

"ST. ANDREW’S, February 14, 1826.

"MY DEAR MOTHER — My work of letter writing has taken up nearly all my private time, for two days; and I still feel that there are some who may be expecting to hear from me, to whom it will be quite impossible for me to write. Although I have written to my father, (which I always think the same as writing to you,) yet I cannot think of letting my parcel go, without sending a few lines expressly to yourself. All my friends seem doubly dear to me, since I have thought of parting with them. There was nothing in the prospect of a separation, my dear mother, that gave me greater pain, than the thought of wounding your feelings; and, accordingly, in my late visit, I was very much rejoiced to hear you speak so calmly and resignedly on the subject. Even in this life, God has promised to restore a hundred fold anything we give up for his sake. And I do think, that even these trials in themselves carry a blessing along with them. The prospect of an early separation from all I hold dear on earth, bitter as the thought is, has, notwithstanding, proved to me a real blessing. I have felt an inexpressible dreariness in looking forward, while I think only of the things that are seen and temporal. But then, the very dreariness which seems to hang over my earthly prospects, has led me to look more earnestly to heaven, as my home, and the place of my rest. And, if we can but steadily fix the eye of faith on the heavenly inheritance, the glory of the promised land will shed a brightness even over the gloomiest part of this valley of tears. I know, my dear mother, that you have many trials; and I could wish much to soothe the declining years of that dear friend, who watched over my helpless infancy. I would like to be able to make some return for the anxious hours, and the sleepless nights, I have cost you. This I may never have in my power; but wherever my lot may be cast, I shall never forget the tenderness of a mother’s love; never shall I forget the affectionate solicitude which brought you to our bed-side every evening, to see that all was safe with us, ere your own eye could close in sleep; never shall I forget —. But it is wrong to indulge in this. Let us forget the things that are behind, and rather delight to dwell on the glory and the happiness that are before us. Oh, how highly favoured are we, my mother, with the blessed hope of a glorious immortality! God, it is true, has removed one of your children; and, for His sake, you are called to give up another; but still, though the cup may be bitter, it is a Father’s hand that has mingled it. ‘Trials make. the promise sweet.’ You will be able now, more than ever, to enjoy the delightful assurance, that the Lord will be to his people a portion, better than of sons and daughters.

"And again, if we but think of what Christ has done for us, we shall not think any sacrifice too great that we can make for him. He left the bosom of the Father, and emptied himself of his glory, and suffered more than ever man suffered, and died for us. Should we not then feel all the force of the argument, which tells us we are not our own, having been bought by Christ, when he gave his blood as our ransom price? Is it not then a reasonable service, to offer our bodies a living sacrifice to him? And then, there is the blest assurance, that if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him."

The following is to the afflicted friend, to whom some of his former letters were addressed: —

"ST. ANDREW’S, March 5, 1826.

"MY VERY DEAR FRIEND — You can easily conceive how difficult it is for a young person, enjoying in all its fulness, the inestimable blessing of health, and whose mind is ever actively engaged with one subject or another, all at once to place himself in the circumstances of an aged and long afflicted Christian. Yet this I must try to do, ere I can write in a strain of sympathy with your feelings; But though I cannot enter as I could wish, into your peculiar circumstances, or write with all that closeness of sympathy, or administer that experimental consolation, which the person could, who had seen as much of life’s chequered scene, and passed through like trials with yourself; yet there are always some subjects on which Christians feel a common interest, however different their circumstances, and however varied their experience. The great objects of our salvation are alike interesting in youth and in age; in joy and in sorrow; in health and in sickness; in seasons of prosperity, and in the day of trial. What was said by a learned heathen of his favourite studies, (most beautifully, but most extravagantly in his application of it,) might with great propriety be used by the Christian in speaking of the truths of the Bible: "These studies cherish youth, soothe old age, adorn prosperity, and form in adversity a refuge and consolation; at home they are our delight, abroad they are no incumbrance; they are with us by night, they journey with us, and in our country retreat they are with us still." What a pity that worldly men should be so enthusiastic in the praise of their favourite pursuits, while Christians are so dull and careless about objects so much more highly deserving of their love. How few Christians are there who could heartily, and from their own experience, apply to the joys and the consolations of the gospel, those ardent expressions of delight which a heathen philosopher employs in regard to merely human learning. So true is it, that the children of this world are wiser in their generation, than the children of light.

"I should suppose, that to an aged Christian who cannot look for much longer continuance in the church below, the state and employment of the church above must be peculiarly interesting. To all Christians it must be a subject of the most delightful contemplation; but more especially to those who hope to be very soon released from the prison-house of the body. It was the joy set before him, which bore our Lord through the ignominy, and the torture of his sufferings. And surely the prospect of such a glory as is set before his disciples, may well encourage and support them through every difficulty and every trial. It may well reconcile us to suffer with Christ, when we know that this is the sure pledge of our reigning with him. They who have been deepest in suffering for Christ’s sake, shall be highest in glory. ‘They who would sit on his right hand, when he is seated on his throne, must drink of the bitter cup which he drank of, and must be baptized with the bloody baptism with which he was baptized. The first disciples knew this, and therefore they were not only patient, but joyful in suffering, and were even apt to run into the extreme of courting danger. They did not count the tribulations of the gospel as trials, to which it was a painful duty to submit; but they regarded them as honours, which it was no ordinary favour to win. ‘For unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, (says the apostle Paul,) not only to believe on him, but also (higher privilege still!) to suffer for his sake.’ It is labour and fatigue which give to rest and repose their great value. Indeed we have no idea of rest where there has been no previous weakness or fatigue, and the harder the toil, or the more distressing the uneasiness, the sweeter is the rest which succeeds it. I have had little or no experience of bodily suffering, but I find it is these views of the glory that shall follow, which bear me up under the prospect of trials which sometimes burden me with not a little mental distress; and I trust that these hurried remarks may not be altogether useless, in administering some little consolation to you under your lengthened afflictions. May the Lord the Shepherd of Israel guide you; and may his rod and his staff be your comfort, when you tread the dark valley! Do not forget sometimes to pray for

"Your very affectionate brother in the Lord Jesus."

As the end of his last session at college drew nigh, he became increasingly anxious about his future sphere of labour. He addressed two letters to Dr. Morrison, with which the Doctor was much pleased, as appears from his answers; and in the following letter to myself, he discloses all his mind, and intimates his final decision.

"ST. ANDREW’S, March 10, 1826.

"MY VERY DEAR SIR -- The end of our session is now at hand, and I begin to feel it necessary to determine on some settled plan to proceed upon afterwards. Mr. Adam and myself have made the subject of missions a matter of daily consideration this session; and after deliberately viewing all sides of the question, and candidly comparing the claims of our home population and the heathen world, and earnestly seeking for direction from Him who has promised to be the guide of his people, even unto death, I have come to the final resolution of devoting myself to the service of God among the heathen. I have made the history of missions, and the biography of missionaries, a part of my daily study, for some time, and have perused, I think, nearly all the principal works on the subject. And I am glad I have done so; for it has given me much sounder views of the matter than I had before. There is much in the distance of a foreign land, and the mystery that hangs over the operations that are carried on there; and, above all, in the high and often extravagant eulogiums which the eloquent advocates of missions have caused us to associate with the very name of Missionary; there is much, I say, in all this, to produce a false impression on the mind of a young disciple. I remember, when I first united myself to a Christian society, of being much disappointed to find, that Christians, though vastly different from the world, were still weak and imperfect creatures. And so, I had been accustomed to form such a lofty conception of the character of a missionary, that I have been almost disappointed to find, from their history, that they are men of like infirmities with other Christians; and certainly, I have been a good deal depressed to find that many of them were far from possessing that saintly devotedness, and apostolic zeal, which my boyish imagination had attributed to them. Indeed, I have to fear, that there was much of romance in my first thoughts of becoming a missionary; a good deal of what Mr. Malan, in writing to my friend Mr. Adam on the subject, calls ‘un trait de l’imagination.’ But I trust the detail of facts, which have come under my review, has done much to dissipate this; and has at the same time, impressed me more deeply than ever with the duty of engaging in this department of the ministerial work. The brilliant colouring of romance has faded from the picture; but its outlines seem even more strongly and broadly marked than before. I have not been discouraged by the sufferings of the missionary life; they are borne for Christ’s sake. And happy, indeed, are they, to whom it has been given on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. Neither do I feel discouraged by the want of success; the expectations of Christians on this subject appear to me very unreasonable. They put forth their little finger to remove a mountain, and are astonished that God does not work a miracle to reward their great exertions. But the promise of God stands sure; and though it tarry, we will wait for it. One thing, I confess, has distressed me not a little; it is the prospect of those temptations, before which so many have fallen; but I know it is wrong to fear. The God that enables us to stand in the midst of smaller temptations is able, and has promised to be with us at all times. I see that unwavering faith in God’s promises, and closeness of communion with him, are among the main requisites in the character of a missionary. And in these I feel that I am very deficient. O, pray for me, my dear friend, that he who has wrought in me to will, may also fit me to perform it.

"I have had a letter from Dr. Morrison. He recommends an early application to the Society, and even talks of a very early entrance on the work itself. I trust I am ready to engage whenever the Lord will, but I think it is not a recoil from trial, which makes me suppose that prudence might demand my still remaining a considerable time in this country. I am not yet eighteen. After this session I shall have nothing to prevent my engagement in direct preparation for missionary work. I should like to know the state of the Society’s arrangements. I was offered a very good situation some time ago, but was afraid it might, in some degree, interfere with my preparations for the work to which I am devoted. I have taught Dr. Chalmers’s Sabbath-school for him this winter, as he is engaged otherwise. This has given me the opportunity of very familiar intercourse with the Doctor. I sup with him on Sunday evenings, and have a good deal of conversation with him on the subject of missions, &c. He tries to persuade me to stay in this country, but I do not think his arguments powerful. I have refused to accept of any situation that may occur to him at present, in the prospect of soon offering myself to the Society. On this account I should like you to write soon, if possible, whether the Society can receive applications this summer."

As this letter contains his decision respecting the important work which had so long occupied his attention, perhaps this is the proper place to introduce his concluding address to the St. Andrew’s Missionary Society, which was in a great measure the fruit of his own exertions, and which he had cherished with the fondest affection. That address, also, containing his matured views, will afford me the opportunity of making a few remarks on the subject, and on the opposition of his friends to his personal engagement in the work. [See Appendix K.]

Very far be it from me to write a single sentence that might diminish the force, or detract from the earnestness of this energetic and eloquent appeal.

On the Society to which it was read, it produced a most powerful effect; and, on their minutes, they have made the following entry of that impression: "Never probably, in any association, had such an address, on such a subject, been before delivered. To say that it was most eloquent, most solemn, most affecting, the production of a mind of mighty grasp; sedulously and continuously directed to one single object of mightiest import, may convey to those who heard it not, some idea of the impression produced by it."

I trust it is destined to touch the hearts of many, whom the living voice of the author never could have reached. I envy not the understanding, or the feelings of that individual, who can read the address, without experiencing a higher emotion than that of admiration. It is impossible not to be struck with the deep earnestness of the advocate, the cogency of his reasoning, and the affection and simplicity of his manner. Here are "thoughts that breathe, and words that burn," on a subject the most momentous which can engage the mind of man.

Were there any danger of this address producing a general rush into the missionary service, and a desertion of the service at home, it might be necessary to enter some exceptions to certain parts of it. But as long as the love of home and of ease, and various other considerations operate, there is little probability that we shall have to check the fervour of missionary zeal. Perhaps my young friend, however, a little exaggerates the low state of this principle, and represents the deficiency of missionary candidates as greater than it really is. What is chiefly to be regretted, is, the paucity of well educated and gifted men for this work. By far the greater number of persons who volunteer their services, are young men of Christian principle, but whose early advantages have been comparatively few. In this respect, there has, indeed, been some progress of late, but still there is much room for improvement.

Without throwing any reflection on persons of humble life, and limited education, who wish to devote themselves to this work, I do conceive, that in many instances, the failure which has taken place in our foreign operations, may partly, at least, be traced to this source. When a young person, under examination, tells us, that the extent of his reading has been the Bible, Boston’s Fourfold State, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and the Evangelical Magazine; and that, from these and similar sources, with attending missionary services, he has derived all his knowledge of the work in which he proposes to engage, it is obviously impossible, whatever dependence may be placed on his sincerity, to attach any confidence to his knowledge of the nature of the work.

Such a person is perhaps accepted; and, after passing through a hurried and imperfect education, is sent forth to some important and difficult situation abroad. There difficulties and trials assail him, for which he is altogether unprepared, and, after floundering and blundering a few years, becomes either dispirited or ensnared, and effects nothing. Perhaps he has been suddenly elevated to a class of society, in which he had not been accustomed to mingle, and from that circumstance, is exposed to danger, which would scarcely affect persons of another description. It ought not to be concealed, that missionaries labouring in certain situations among the heathen, enjoy advantages which are not possessed by their brethren in the ministry at home; and this circumstance, if caution is not exercised, is in danger of producing great injury to our cause.

As so much reference is made by John in his letters, to the opposition of his friends and others, to his desire to devote himself to the work of Christ among the heathen, I feel called upon to explain the nature and reasons of this opposition, which, I apprehend, he never properly understood. Not having opposed him myself, after I saw his mind was fully made up, my explanation may be received with the greater confidence. As the opposition was not from worldly people, or from religious persons under the influence of worldly motives, the explanation is the more necessary.

I believe then, that opposition arose entirely from two causes, the state of his constitution, and the character of his mind. All who knew him, feared that his bodily constitution would never bear the effects of a warm climate. Though liable to no particular complaint, he was delicate from a child, and incapable of enduring much fatigue or exposure. Of this his parents were most sensible, and hence their decided reluctance to allow him to go abroad. The event proved that their fears were too well grounded.

Other friends connected his mental with his bodily constitution, and feared the labours of a missionary life would soon prove fatal. He possessed a highly morbid sensibility, which rendered him liable to exquisite sufferings, from circumstances that would not have greatly affected more robust and hardy individuals. He was formed for society, and was dependent upon it in a great degree, for his support and capability of acting. This is most strongly marked in many of his letters. In connection with this, the kind of talent which he possessed would have fitted him for eminent usefulness in this country; while his exquisite taste, and various other qualifications, would have been to a considerable extent, lost in a foreign country. I am not disposed to underrate the talents necessary for foreign missionary labour, or to exaggerate the importance of our own, yet I freely acknowledge that I am one of the number, who would have rejoiced that John Urquhart had laboured at home, rather than have gone abroad.

It was too delicate a matter to press these reasons upon him; but I am sure they are the only reasons which weighed with Dr. Chalmers, Mr. Ewing, and various other individuals, from whom he considered himself as experiencing more opposition than he had been prepared to expect. It is every day becoming more evident that men of a high order of talent in the Christian ministry, are required in this country. The successful prosecution of the work abroad, renders this no less necessary, than the nature of the work at home; and it would augur ill for the cause of Christ generally, were such gifted individuals all disposed to forsake our own shores. Of this, however, there is no great reason to entertain much fear.

I cannot, perhaps, better conclude the account of his progress during this last session at St. Andrew’s, than by giving at length several documents with which I have been furnished. It is always more satisfactory to report the evidence of eye and intimate witnesses, than to indulge in general and hypothetical reasonings; and I have found it a very peculiar advantage in conducting this narrative, that in almost every step of the religious life of this interesting youth, I can adduce the evidence of those who were so closely connected with him, that they had the best opportunities of judging; and who were, at the same time, well qualified to form a judgment of him. His friend, Mr. Duff writes as follows: —

"In the session of 1825-6 his growth in spirituality was quite extraordinary. Literature and science now dwindled, in his view, into comparative insignificancy; they no longer occupied the greatest portion of his time; they no longer possessed exclusive charms; it was sufficient for casting them into the shade, that of them it might be asserted, as of the earthquake and the fire of Elijah, ‘that the Lord was not there.’ He, no doubt, this session, gained the third prize in the Natural Philosophy class, which from the highly scientific nature of the course, is generally reckoned no ordinary attainment; but this he owed entirely to his real superiority of intellect, as it was gained without labour, without effort, without much preparation. Indeed he could not bear the thought of spending much time on what appeared to him to be but of secondary importance. Christianity now became the constant subject of his meditation, the cause of Christ the constant theme of his discourse. How to be useful to the souls of men, how to promote the glory and honour of his Redeemer, attracted all his thoughts, and formed the object of his fondest desires. He seemed full of the spirit of the reformer, proclaiming, in all his words and actions, ‘None but Christ; none but Christ.’"

Besides the prize in the Natural Philosophy class, referred to by Mr. Duff, he gained a prize in the Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Syriac class, "as a testimony," says Professor Baird, "of my high approbation of his correct and exemplary conduct, and of the many proofs of excellent talents and distinguished proficiency which he exhibited while attending that class."

I should also mention that he attended the Natural History class during the session; and, from some drawings and papers which remain, it is evident that he had made considerable progress in botany. With mineralogy and chemistry he was also well acquainted. The testimony he received from the Lecturer on Natural History is entitled to a place:--

"ST. ANDREW’S, April 29, 1826.

"Mr. John Urquhart was enrolled a student of Natural History in the United Colleges of St. Salv. and St. Leon, at the commencement of the session now closed; and, from the unremitted regularity of his attendance, the interest he took in the course, and the intelligence of his conversations on the subject, I have every reason to believe, that, had there been public examinations, he would have been as eminent in the Natural History as he has been in every class of the United College.


"Col. Lect. Nat. His."

From another of his fellow-students, and indeed his fellow-lodger, Mr. Alexander, I received the following very ample view of his character and talents. The writer, I have reason to know, is well entitled to pronounce his judgment; and all that he says, is at once most correct, as well as judicious:—

"My acquaintance with John Urquhart commenced in the year 1823; but it was not till the summer of 1825 that we became very intimate. When I knew him first he appeared to possess a great flow of spirits, which showed itself more in a perpetual cheerfulness and hilarity, than in any fondness for boisterous mirth. This he seemed still to retain, as far as I could judge, as long as I had an opportunity of conversing with him. Occasionally, however, this gave way to excessive depression, with which sometimes he was dreadfully distressed. During these seasons he was often visited with thoughts, which to his mind, were peculiarly discouraging and terrific; such as doubts of his being a child of God, a fear of losing his senses; and many other equally unpleasant ideas. I have not the least doubt, however, that all these arose from physical causes, and were prognostications of that disease by which his years on earth were brought to a close.

"In November, 1825, it was my lot to come to St. Andrew’s to study; and I had the happiness to find myself lodged under the same roof with John Urquhart. Many a happy and delightful hour have we spent together in this room wherein I now sit, — the memory of which is still upon my mind, and it is sweet. Never has it been my lot to meet with one of so sweet and amiable a disposition. Contented with whatever he received, I never heard him utter an angry word, or saw him wear a menace on his placid countenance. He was regular in all his habits, kind and affectionate in all his conversation with those around him; and the estimation in which he was held by those with whom he lodged, was best testified by the heartfelt grief and honest tears with which they received the intelligence of his death. His landlady, for some weeks after, wore mourning, in token of respect for his character and memory.

"His piety was simple and unaffected; and, at the same time, truly evangelical. Deeply sensible of his own unworthiness and guilt, he was humbled before God, and was enabled to lay hold upon him who is the Saviour from all sin. Convinced by his numerous short-comings that he had not yet arrived at perfection, he was taught to cling closer to his Redeemer, and trust in him alone. He was distinguished by a godly, jealous care over his own heart; and was watchful against temptation. Many a time did he deny himself the indulgence of pleasures of which he was naturally fond, just because they might stand in the way of his soul’s good. In prayer, he peculiarly excelled. How earnest were his supplications, and how experimental his confessions, every one who has ever heard him can testify. His whole soul seemed to be engaged; and the energy of his expression sufficiently testified, that what he asked, was what he indeed knew and felt himself to want.

"His zeal for doing good was very great. You, sir, already know with what eagerness he sacrificed every prospect of worldly advantage for the arduous and laborious office of a foreign missionary. This was the darling desire of his heart; and, for the attainment of this object, he earnest1y and unceasingly prayed. Every work upon Christian missions, every article of missionary intelligence, he anxiously and eagerly perused. He had pondered well all that he might expect to endure; he had looked upon all the dangers and difficulties which lay before him; but his desire was not weakened, and his confidence in the promises of Jehovah was unshaken.. So firm was his determination, that he actually commenced the study of Chinese, and spent many an hour of hard study on its recondite symbols. I do not know whether he continued to prosecute his study: I rather think not; as he seemed latterly to have directed his attention more to India than to China.

"But he did not content himself with a mere desire to do good, and with forming plans for future usefulness; he was also busy in doing what he could for those around him. He was much occupied with Sabbath-schoo1s, and took great delight in communicating instruction to the children by whom they were attended. It was his practice to make them read a chapter, which he explained to them, and questioned them from it. All these questions he previously wrote down and studied, in order that they might be as simple and easy as possible. Indeed, he possessed a peculiar talent for speaking to children, and never failed to secure their attention. The simplicity of his addresses to them may be evinced by the surprise which some of his youthful hearers once expressed, that they should have been able to recollect all that he had said. Nor was he contented with merely speaking to the children on the Sabbath; he made it a point to visit them regularly in their own houses, and to converse with them and their relations there. By these means he secured the confidence of the parents as well as the affection of the children, and was often enabled to speak a word in season to those with whom he met.

"To visit the sick and the infirm was another favourite occupation of my dear brother; to every call of this kind he was ready; and many a time have I known him leave his studies to visit the bed-side of some humble sufferer. On these occasions his conversation was always of a spiritual nature, and it was always his anxious endeavour to direct the mind of the sufferer away from every earthly confidence, unto the ‘Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.’ Sometimes in these visits of love, he was kindly received, sometimes he had to endure the suspicion of having some sinister motive by which he was actuated; sometimes he met with intelligence and attention, and sometimes with ignorance and carelessness; but whatever reception he met with, he never failed to repeat his visits: so strong was his desire for the welfare and salvation of his fellow men.

"But, while he was thus attentive to the duties of religion, he was not negligent of those studies for which he had come to this place. On the contrary, I believe there were few of his cotemporaries who studied more closely, than he did: certainly, none more successfully. In only one class did he fail to distinguish himself; viz, the Logic Class; but this I am inclined to impute, not so much to any want of ability, as to a distaste for the dull and barren speculations with which the Professor of Logic treats his students. His splendid appearance in the Ethical Class, the year following, proved what he could do; and it was certainly no small achievement to stand first in two separate competitions in a class, perhaps the most numerous and able that ever attended the prelections of a St. Andrew’s Ethical Professor. As far as I could judge, his talent lay chiefly in a facility of acquiring languages; and in the elegance, both of thought and expression, by which his compositions were distinguished. There were several of his cotemporaries who took a much firmer and profounder grasp of a subject; but there were few, if any, who could think so clearly, and express themselves with such perspicuity and elegance, as he was able to do. Contrary to what may be inferred from the ease and beauty of his style, his habits of composition were very laborious. Beginning from a rude and imperfect sketch, he, by degrees, filled up the parts and extended the outline. He scarcely wrote a sentence which did not cost him some labour; and, consequently, composition was to him a most fatiguing, and, I may say, irksome exercise. He always set himself to it with reluctance; and, indeed, it was only by the calls of duty that he could be prevailed upon to take up his pen on any subject. I have not seen all his compositions; but the best that I have seen are a series of papers on the St. Andrew’s Missionary Society, printed in the ‘St. Andrew’s University Magazine,’ a little work conducted by some of his friends during last session; and an essay on the duty of personally engaging in the work of missions, read before the St. Andrew’s Students’ Missionary Society; of which he was always a distinguished friend and supporter."

These testimonies are peculiarly pleasant and satisfactory, not only as the expressions of Christian and personal friendship, but as bearing evidence to his holy and exemplary conduct. In him, religion did not appear as a profession, — it dwelt in him, as life, — it attached itself to him as clothing. It was not a holiday, but an every day garb, and was worn with the ease of a natural habit, not the stiffness of an assumed or foreign dress. There is one testimony more which I cannot withhold, though the name of the respected individual who bears it, has been already repeatedly introduced. No one could know him better than Dr. Chalmers; and no man was more capable of estimating his intellectual and spiritual attainments. The following document presented to John, on leaving the University, does great honour to the heart of the Professor, as well as to the talents of the student.

"ST. ANDREW’S, April 28, 1826.

"These are to certify, that Mr. John Urquhart was enrolled a regular student of Moral Philosophy in the United College of St. Andrew’s, for the session of 1825-6; that he distinguished himself highly by his appearances while under examination, and was far the most eminent of his class, for the beauty and eloquence of his written compositions; that he possesses a very uncommon degree of taste and talent for the disquisitions of ethical science; and that altogether, he, as the fruit of great diligence, united with great powers, achieved the credit of being a first rate proficient in the lessons and doctrines of the course.


"Mr. Urquhart gained two prizes in this class; one, the first prize, for an essay on ‘The Mutual Influences and Affinities, which obtain between the Moral and Economic Condition of Society.’ Another, the first prize for essays read in the class during the session."

Perhaps, to some readers, it may occur to ask, did the individual who was so successful in all his academical pursuits, take a degree at St. Andrew’s? It appears he did not. If this should excite surprise, I can say in explanation, that multitudes of the best scholars at the Scottish Universities never trouble themselves about the matter; and many of those who take the degree of A. M., never use it. But as I know John was recommended to take a degree, I can account for his neglecting to follow the advice, only by referring his conduct to that instinctive and powerful aversion to human praise, by which he was remarkably distinguished. One of his fellow students, who knew him well, and whose testimony I have not yet quoted, calls my attention to the feature of his character; what he calls, "his total indifference to human approbation. The loudest applause of his instructors and fellow students did not seem to tell on his feelings at all. Had he been susceptible of pleasure from any distinction conferred, it must have shown, when he was singled out, and eminently honoured, by such a man as Dr. Chalmers. Yet, even in this case, he was unmoved. His mind hardly appeared to have a thought for anything, save the good opinion of Him who trieth the reins and hearts of the children of men. He arrived at this heavenly-mindedness, not, I am sure, by any process of acute investigation into the philosophy of our feelings, but simply by ever exercising his affections on those things which are unseen and eternal. His indifference was not the misanthropic stoicism of the philosopher, but the perfect liberty of the Christian."

Whether I am correct, or not, in assigning this reason for his declining to take his degree at the University, the reader, I am sure, will rejoice with me in the evidence of the existence of such a state of mind as that which this extract describes. It is in full accordance with other testimonies, and with all my own convictions. Genuine Christianity does not teach us to despise the approbation of others, or undervalue any useful attainment which may be the object of that approbation. But when it obtains full possession of the mind, it, in a great degree, dislodges those secondary motives and considerations, which constitute the great principles of action in the men of the world. It does not produce meanness or servility; but it produces lowliness of mind. It not only inculcates a spirit of self-distrust and diffidence, and indifference to human glory; but in its very nature induces these dispositions. The individual who feels the charm and the power of a Saviour’s love, and who attaches to his approbation all that constitutes the glory of future hope, will not be much concerned for the honours or the applause of this world. Into these views and feelings few have entered more fully and even enthusiastically than the subject of these memoirs. All his letters are illustrative of this state of mind; and his whole conduct was a living commentary on his letters.

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