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Parish Life in the North of Scotland
Editor's Preface

This volume is issued in response to numerous enquiries regarding manuscripts of reminiscences which it was known the late Mr. Sage, minister of Resolis in Ross-shire, had left, complete but unpublished. The author's modest and retiring character had made him shrink, as is seen in his own preface, from bringing his "Memorabilia" before the public eye. Repeated requests for its perusal, and the knowledge that the information here recorded was derived from original and authentic sources, are the editor's apology for its present appearance in print. What has weighed with him also is, that these pages delineate Christian life and social manners, as they existed in northern Scotland, during a period of which hitherto little has been known except by tradition.

The graphic sketches of prominent people, and of manners and customs prevailing in various localities, are drawn from personal observation which the author had the best opportunities of exercising. The many-sided characters of persons of all ranks and professions are here vividly portrayed; picturesque districts of country, hitherto comparatively unvisited and unknown, are minutely described; changes, which have altered the face of the Highlands, are pointed out and traced to their original causes; the state of religion and morals, as connected with the persons who mainly influenced the people for good or evil, is brought under review; and all these are woven into a connected narrative, held together by the continuous thread of the author's autobiography.

While thus portraying what passed around him, the author at the same time supplies sufficient material to enable thoughtful readers to form a correct estimate of his personal character and ministerial qualifications. Warm-hearted and lovable; endowed with a well-furnished and cultivated mind; keenly interested in the public events of his time; and having great conversational powers, he was regarded by his friends as a most fascinating and instructive companion. His theological attainments were extensive, accurate, and profound. As a preacher he displayed a personality peculiarly his own ; all classes of hearers felt and acknowledged his originality in exposition and illustration ; while the more distinguished and discerning Christians agreed that he was worthy of a place in their regard alongside of his many eminent contemporaries in the north. His taste for literature continued with him through life, and many of his leisure hours were devoted to study and research. During the sittings of the first Disruption Assembly he passed much of the time at home alone in prayer. Followed by his large and attached congregation, he joined the Free Church of Scotland, in connection with which he continued to labour with the same zeal, ability, and success for which he had been always distinguished. For a few years, however, before his death, owing to bodily infirmity, he was unable to preach. On the 31st of March, 1869, in the 80th year of his age and 53rd of his ministry, he "fell asleep," longing to be with Christ, that lie might "see his face." He left a widow, who has since passed away, and a large family of sons and daughters, to mourn his loss.

The MSS., in their original proportions, were too voluminous to be printed in full. The work of the editor has been to eliminate repetitions and irrelevant matter, and here and there to condense the narrative. He hopes that, by the division into chapters, and the addition of notes derived from various authorities, most of them acknowledged, and by a table of contents, he has contributed what will facilitate the use of the book for reference, and make it more interesting for general reading.


July 1889.

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