REV. ANDREW INGLIS, DUNDEE
(Died October 27, 1892)
Author: Rev. Andrew A. Bonar, D.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1893, Obituary, p.18
By the death of Mr. Inglis, Dudhope, Dundee, our Church suffered a bereavement that will be felt far beyond his own congregation. He was a most devoted, prayerful minister of the Word, zealous for the truth above many, unwearied in seeking to win souls to the Saviour. He exemplified in a notable manner the spirit of the verse Luke 22:26: “He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve;” never, for example, grudging to spend time in securing a full attendance at a Christian conference or evangelistic meeting, by efforts which most of his friends would have reckoned drudgery. And no less was he known among his brethren as one who, from the single-minded desire to relieve and gladden the afflicted, would undertake to find help for them from quarters which others would not approach.
He was born at Kirkcaldy in 1824, and enjoyed under his father’s roof the advantage of godly training and example, and also acquired a knowledge of business which he turned to good account in after days. He entered the University of Edinburgh in 1843, resolving to forsake commercial pursuits and devote himself to the ministry of the Free Church. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh in 1851. For two years, one before and one after his being licensed, he acted as missionary of Free St. George’s Church at Fountain-bridge, where his enthusiasm and deep interest in the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people soon attracted attention. It was at his suggestion that Dr. J. H. Wilson was led to the work at Fountainbridge. In 1852 he was ordained minister of the Chalmers’ Presbyterian Church, Ancoats, Manchester. In 1860 he accepted a call to Warrington, and there saw much fruit of his labour. But his stay there was short, for in 1861 the congregation of the Free Church, Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, persuaded him to become their pastor, and there he laboured till 1867. In that year he was called to Dudhope Free Church, Dundee, where he continued to the close of his ministry.
Kindly, brotherly, earnest, and ever on the watch for souls, he delighted in the preaching of the gospel, and took part in all work that bore upon the spread of the truth among young and old. He was very decided in maintaining gospel total abstinence, and willingly co-operated with brethren of other denominations in whatever was evangelistic. In 1892 Mrs. Inglis, a most useful and much esteemed Christian lady, was called away, shortly after the death of her beloved married daughter. Mr. Inglis felt these sorrows keenly, but laboured on even more than before. During his last year, he suffered from weakness of heart, and receiving three months’ leave of absence, visited Italy and Switzerland. On his return he resumed his work; but the end was near. On the fourth Sabbath of October he conducted the communion service in his church, and he was present at the Monday evening thanksgiving service. He was busy in pastoral work on the next two days, and wrote letters, in one of which he said, “Evening has come, and I am quite acquiescent. I have had a longish day. I only wish it had been better filled up.” It was found on the Thursday morning that during the night he had calmly fallen asleep in Jesus. The “Life of Henry Martyn” lay open on the pillow beside him. Apparently the last sentences he had read were these: “‘My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up,’ etc. (Cant. 2:10, 11). Ah! why cannot I rise and go forth and meet my Lord ? … I have nothing to distract me from hearing the voice of my Beloved, and coming away from this world and walking with Him in love, amidst the flowers that perfume the air of Paradise, and the harmony of the happy spirits who are singing His praise.”
“Soldier of Christ, well done!
Praise be thy new employ;
And while eternal ages run,
Rest in thy Saviour’s joy.”
REV. JOHN INGLIS, D.D.
(Died July 18, 1891)
Author: Rev. Dr. Goold, Edinburgh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, October, 1891, Obituary, p.310
At the ripe age of eighty-four, this veteran in the cause of missions has been called to his rest in the home above. He died at Kirkcowan on the 18th of July. The event closed a life of struggle, which, however, had ultimately issued in success and comfort and honour. He was born at Moniaive, and on the decease of his father he had to support himself and his mother almost from the years of boyhood. He took to the craft of the mason, and managed so prudently that he saved enough to become a student during winter in Glasgow College. His proficiency so commended itself to his professor—Sir D. Sandford—that he was employed as tutor in his family. He kept a school in Rothesay, went to the Reformed Presbyterian Hall in Paisley, and, after license, was ordained as missionary to the natives of New Zealand in 1843. The field in New Zealand, however, was in a great measure preoccupied, and circumstances rendering the settlement at Manawatu no longer suitable, in 1852 he transferred his services as a missionary to Aneityum, an island in the New Hebrides. He was blessed with no small success, planting churches and opening schools, till the whole population—never at any time very large, and lessening year by year under the decrease of the races inhabiting these regions— was brought under Christian influences, and through the peculiar skill of Dr. Inglis in organizing and administering the settlement at Aname, it became a model as a missionary station, frequently supplying teachers to neighbouring islands. In conjunction with Dr. Geddie, who had been labouring for some years previously in another portion of the same island, he translated the Scriptures into the language of the natives. The revision and preparation of it for the press fell to Dr. Inglis, and it cost him, to use his own phrase, “three years of hard, dry, solitary toil.” The translation of the Shorter Catechism, the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and other works followed; and he published a dictionary of the language, with an explanation of its grammar and syntax, and an introductory dissertation on the languages of Melanesia. Returning to his native country on furlough, he was elected Moderator of the Reformed Presbyterian Synod in 1861. He exerted himself in many a good cause — connected with temperance, the labour traffic, the rights of missionaries to protection, the threatened encroachments of the French, and the development of trade and industry among the natives of the New Hebrides. He trained them especially to the careful manufacture of arrow-root, from which a considerable sum has annually accrued to the mission. The service and help rendered him in his efforts to Christianize and civilize the natives of Aneityum, and generally to promote the missionary cause, by Mrs. Inglis, are recorded by himself in a sketch of her life and character, which one reads with a unique and vivid interest.
He retired from Aneityum finally in 1876, after thirty-three years of solid and successful work. It was not, however, to be idle. His two volumes, “In the New Hebrides” and “Bible Illustrations from the New Hebrides,” full of reliable information, written in a vein of lucid and vigorous English and rich in the discussion of important principles, a well as in interesting incidents, are well entitled to a high place in the literature of missions. As these volumes will probably continue to be the best record of the New Hebrides Mission in its origin and early progress, as well as of the life and labours of their author, it may be well to quote the judgment of a scholar eminently competent to judge of their merits particularly in regard to the latter. Professor Sayce in thanking the author for his “very interesting volume,” is pleased to add: “It will be welcomed both by the anthropologist and by the Biblie student. I wish that your example would be more generally followed, and that others who have been in the same favourable position for studying the thoughts and manners of uncivilized tribes would make an equally good use of their opportunities.”
Dr. Inglis, from his youth, was the very impersonation of duty. Calm and thoughtful at all times, it might have seemed as if he had a cold temperament. On closer acquaintance, it would have been found that with his habitual prudence there was blended the utmost unselfishness; with the sternest regard for what was right and true and just, a deep and touching generosity. This combination of noble qualities was due to the high-toned religious principle of the man. We may refrain from a fuller estimate of his character, in view of the excellent sermon by the pastor, his life-long friend, with whose congregation he was connected, and published under the title, “A Voice of Death and Life from the Churchyard of Glencairn.” The Glasgow University in 1883 did honour to its distinguished alumnus by conferring on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Even better honours await him—in the affection with which his friends will cherish the memory of his worth and abilities and important services, of his true and loving heart in union with his calm sagacity; and in the gratitude of many whom he brought to Christ and trained up in the knowledge of the gospel; and, above all, in the reception awaiting him at the hands of the Divine Master whom he served so faithfully.
REV. ROBERT INGLIS, M.A., EDZELL
(Died January 19, 1876)
Author: Rev. William Nixon, Montrose
The Free Church Monthly March 1, 1876, p.71
The Rev. Robert Inglis, minister at Edzell, died there on the 19th of January, in the thirty-ninth year of his ministry and the seventy-third year of his life. Brought up at the Manse of Lochlee, of which parish his father was minister, and licensed to preach the gospel in 1826, from that date he acted as parish schoolmaster for eleven years, and then succeeded his father in the ministry. Four years later, in 1841, he became assistant and successor to Rev. Mr. Hutton of Edzell, who died a few months afterwards, in 1842.
But for the stirring events of his time, Mr. Inglis would probably have passed through life as a quiet parish minister, of marked simplicity and plainness of manners, of great good sense, of an affectionate nature, who knew the gospel, and taught it faithfully to old and young, mingling with and securing the respect of the noblemen and gentlemen that came to the shooting in his quarter of the country; and withal manifesting and preserving a character for integrity and independence, which his Christian principles operated to guide and sanctify and confirm.
During the two years of his ministry in his second charge as parish minister —namely, that at Edzell — he gathered around him a numerous congregation, drawn not only from the parish, but from adjoining “Moderate” parishes. The Disruption then made him an outed minister, and he had no ordinary trials to endure in consequence. Old Lord Panmure, under evil counsellors, from being a great friend to Mr. Inglis, as to his father and the family, became his unappeasable adversary; and, being proprietor of all the convenient ground in Edzell, refused him a site for either church, or manse, or school. After occupying a tent for a time, Mr. Inglis secured a portion of a feu belonging to one of the members of his congregation in the village of Edzell, and erected a church. But for years he could secure no accommodation for his numerous family except such as was of the most unsuitable and insufficient character. The result was, that a number of his family were laid down in fever; when, for weeks, he had neither leisure nor opportunity wholly to put off his clothes night or day. No wonder that his own health gave way! This roused a few of his friends to secure contributions, which effectually aided him in erecting, in 1849, a cottage to live in, on a portion of another feu for which he paid a heavy price. At length in 1859, on a site obtained from the late Earl of Dalhousie, he got a manse erected, which he occupied till his death. But being refused persistently a site for a school, he suffered heavily with reference to the education of his family; as, after being suddenly bereaved of three of his children immediately before the Disruption, there remained nine sons and a daughter to educate. It says much for the nobleness with which difficulties can be overcome, and the blessing that rests on the right rearing of children, that the parents of the children of the Free Church Manse of Edzell so reared theirs, that nine sons have gone out into the world, some to the most distant regions, and are not only making for themselves good outward positions, but as regards the bulk, if not the whole of them, are remembering and exemplifying the lessons taught them under the parental roof.
Besides the trials to himself and congregation from the want of church, manse, and school, other trials came on pastor and flock. Nearly five hundred communicated in Edzell in July 1843, though of these a proportion were from neighbouring parishes, who attached themselves to other Free Churches when erected nearer home. Then summonses of removal were issued, which, if carried out, would have swept out of the parish two hundred and fifty-seven individuals, or about a fourth of the whole inhabitants. These summonses, indeed, were never carried out. But though they did not frighten from his ministry those who had embraced it, others probably were frightened from adhering. This was followed by keen efforts of landlords to get quit of Free Church farmers, and by keen efforts of Moderate farmers to get quit of Free Church servants; and this, of course, had some effect in reducing the numbers of Mr. Inglis’ congregation. Still, at the end of the first nine years after the Disruption, the numbers were reduced only about 90 in all,—that is, from about 500 to 410. A far more serious diminution took place from the policy of the late Earl of Dalhousie, in forming numbers of small farms into a few large ones. That policy reduced the congregation in sixteen years — that is, between 1852 and 1868 — by 180 members, or from 410 to 230. Subsequent unhappy circumstances reduced the congregation still further; so that during his later days he had the pain of seeing it scarcely the shadow of its former self. It is to be hoped that the remembrance of his services, and the history of their success, may serve, under God, along with other means, to revive there the work of the Lord.
For some years previous to his death, Mr. Inglis suffered much bodily pain with a great deal of patience and even of cheerfulness. The breaking up of his constitution was realized by himself, and was improved as a call to become more and more earnest in special preparation for the crisis before him. During the last three weeks of his life, at the sight of any of his family while waiting on him, he prayed for the Divine blessing to rest on them, exhorted them to holiness and mutual love and helpfulness, and commended them to the Lord and to the word of his grace. To a co-presbyter, who visited him, he spoke with deep humility of his own unworthiness, and of the mercy of God, and the merits of Jesus, as his only trust and stay. And on the 19th of January, as the day was passing into evening, in a state of utter exhaustion, he fell asleep; and, unperceived by the family, and amidst the silence which they were preserving on his account, his spirit gently left its tenement for the rest that remaineth.
On the 24th, six of his affectionate sons, from different parts of the country and the world, along with a large company of friends, conveyed his remains to the old churchyard of Edzell, and there committed them to their final resting-place.
REV. JOHN INGRAM, M.A., UNST
(Died November 19, 1892)
Author: Rev. Robert Fordyce, Hawick
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1893, Obituary, p.94
Of the goodly band of pre-Disruption ministers, now so rapidly disappearing from our midst, few, we believe, performed nobler work in their own sphere, or will remain longer or more affectionately enshrined in their people’s hearts, than Dr. Ingram of Unst, and his son and colleague and successor, the subject of this notice. The two were so truly father and son in every respect, and their lives, work, and influence were so intimately and harmoniously interblended, that we cannot separate the one from the other. And so lengthy were their two careers that, taken together, they almost spanned a century.
It was in 1796 that the father, James Ingram, came to Shetland, at the age of twenty, to act as a family tutor. An Aberdeenshire man, and a graduate, he bore with him the scholarly habits and tastes of that highly educational district. In 1800 he became assistant in the united parish of Fetlar and North Yell, and in 1803 obtained the full charge. The labours and perils of working the two islands, separated by miles of restless, seething tideway, must have been very great. The manse was in the isle of Fetlar, and there, early in 1808, John, the subject of our notice, was born. In 1821 the father was translated to Unst, and thus the three north isles shared the benefits of his powerful and fruitful ministry.
The state of religion in those parts at the time was very low. In Unst a disputed settlement had been followed by a quarter of a century of the feeblest and most feckless Moderatism. The advent after this of a minister of such superior gifts, evangelical teaching, and rare spirituality and devotedness, seems to have been like life from the dead. The enthusiasm with which aged people used to dwell on the crowded attendances, profound interest, and spiritual results of those days, indicated a ministry of exceptional power and fruitfulness.
It was during this period of the father’s ministry that the son prosecuted his studies and obtained his M.A. degree at Aberdeen, and then attended the Hall at Edinburgh for divinity—proving at both places an able and successful student. His studies over, he taught in Unst Parish School for three years, and then, in 1838, was ordained as colleague and successor to his father, then sixty-two years of age. “The old man,” as he was called by the islanders, survived till 1879, so that the colleague-ship lasted forty-one years, during thirty of which the father continued to officiate with rare vigour. Never was a colleagueship more affectionate and harmonious. The two shared one home, and in all their work were of one mind and one heart.
Their sphere of labour was isolated in the extreme —the northmost island and parish of all Scotland, containing about three thousand souls. But both men were in close and living touch with the central movements of Scottish life and thought in those stirring days. The Evangelical Revival and the Ten Years’ Conflict were the thrilling forces of the time; and not even in the metropolis and the General Assembly did they stir profounder interest than in the manse and congregation of that remotest isle. There were aids to this. Both father and son were earnest educationists: not a child, we believe, grew up without learning to read. A parish library also was set up, supplied with an excellent collection of books in general and religious literature. Novels were excluded; but there were voyages and travels, histories and biographies, and a good collection of that sound and solid divinity on which our fathers and mothers used to feed and grow strong. All the people were not readers, but many were; and under the living ministry of two able and devoted men, and nourished at home on Baxter and Doddridge, Henry, Hervey, Flavel, and Boston, and the “Scots Worthies” and “Cloud of Witnesses,” there grew up a generation of godly men and women on whose intelligent, high-toned, and practical piety we look back with ever-increasing veneration.
When the Disruption came, people of this type needed little tutoring to discern the issues and to take their side. But there was a keen conflict. The great bulk of the people followed their ministers; but the lairds, and all who laid claim to social superiority, took almost without exception the other side. “You will admit,” said an old lady to a humble but clever woman, “you will admit that if you have got numbers, we have the quality.” “Oh yes,” replied the woman, “just what the Scriptures say, ‘Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble,'” etc.
Prior to the Disruption one church had served the whole island; now two were erected six miles apart. Sites were obtained with extreme difficulty. An interdict arrested the work at one of them for a time. But at length both churches were finished, and the father and son worked the double charge. During the time of conflict and excitement the younger man had come to the front, and become a power all over the islands. When the crisis was over he and his father continued their good work with great ardour. Nowhere have we heard preaching more rousing, solemn, and awfully impressive than we heard from them in those days. The father had the rich, glowing, melting style of the Willison and Erskine school; the son, though in private extremely gentle and tender, excelled in the pulpit rather in overpowering solemnity and urgency of appeal, which those who heard will never, never forget.
Somewhat later, revival seasons came once and again, and were hailed and fostered by them with genuine sympathy. But other and less pleasant changes also came. Populous parts of the island were taken from men and given to sheep. Indeed, the whole face of the isle became changed almost beyond recognition, and ere the aged pastor closed his eyes there were scenes over which he might have wept. Now he is gone, and the generation whom he served are rapidly following. The results of his and his father’s long and laborious labours it is not ours to estimate. But much fruit, beyond doubt, are already garnered with them in glory; and in their beloved isle, and all over the world, are others that will follow. Good is also propagative, and the seed they sowed others will reap. Let our Church rejoice that, even in her most isolated and obscure corners, she has had labourers of such ability and devotedness, whose lives were one high and sustained endeavour for the good of souls, and whose memories are cherished in the tenderest affections of their people.
REV. WILLIAM INGRAM, M.A., ROTHIEMAY, STRATHBOGIE
(Died July 31, 1900)
Author: Rev. James Gray, M.A., Fochabers
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November, 1900, Obituary, p.262
The announcement lately made in the local press of the death of the Rev. William Ingram, senior minister of Rothiemay, must have thrown the minds of many middle-aged people back to a time when he was a recognized force in the Free Church life of Strathbogie. It is not too much to say that had the sad event occurred when he was in the full exercise of his gifts and activities, there would have been a sorrowful sense of loss over a wide region where his services were much sought after and his influence felt. How well he was remembered, even after he had entered the shade of complete retirement from public work, was made manifest by the many interested inquiries made about him in all the surrounding parishes.
Mr. Ingram’s life was, in some respects, singularly uneventful. He closed a ministry of unusual length within a few miles of the scene of his childhood, youth, and life-long labours. He had therefore none of the excitements of change nor any of the stimulus that comes from exercising a ministry under new conditions. All through he had to deal with the same people, the same virtues and vices, and the same habits of thought and action.
He was born in New Machar in the year 1812. In his infancy the family settled in Gartly, and there, in the parish school, he received his education. He was early marked as “a lad o’ pairts.” For youths of that stamp, the old, much-maligned parish schools, with their savage, thrashing dominies, often did great things. It was so in Ingram’s case. He was able to go straight from the country school to Aberdeen University in his sixteenth year, and take a very high bursary in open competition. Following the usual college course, he graduated in 1832. After an interval of varied teaching engagements, he was appointed master of the Grammar School in Portsoy, where he laboured for four years with much success. During this period he had been able to put in the attendances required at the classes in divinity, and after undergoing the prescribed trials and delivering the usual discourses, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Fordyce in July 1838. His efficiency as a teacher had not gone unnoticed, and about the time he became a probationer he was promoted to the mastership of the parish school in Gartly, on the benches of which he had sat as a scholar only a few years before. In those days it was a common enough thing for the schoolmaster to act as helper to any infirm minister in the neighbourhood. An engagement of this kind brought Mr. Ingram into the parish which was to be the centre field of his lifelong labours. While he was schoolmaster in Gartly, he acted for nearly four years as assistant to Mr. Leith, minister of Rothiemay. During this period, as all the world knows, there had been great ecclesiastical ferment in Strathbogie, Mr. Edwards, by patronage and the remorseless action of the Moderate majority in the presbytery, had been thrust into Marnoch against the unanimous protest of a large congregation. By this action Moderatism threw down a challenge, and at the same time revealed its true inwardness. It became apparent that Moderatism was animated not merely by respect for law, but by a wish and a resolve that Caesar should be head over all things—both the earthlies and the heavenlies. Its ideal was an alliance between Caesar and Christ, in which Caesar should be recognized as the predominant partner. For its conduct in the Marnoch dispute was more than a mere approval of the system of patronage. It was the acknowledgment of a deeper thing than that. It was the acceptance of the root out of which patronage and all like things grew—namely, the right of the civil governor to rule in the church as well as in the state.
In the very thick of all this Mr. Ingram was teaching and preaching. It was therefore inevitable that he should occupy himself with the very serious issue raised; and it appears that at a very early stage he discerned that the matter in dispute was not the merits or demerits of patronage. Any reform regarding that, even the entire abolition of it, was but touching the surface. He was not one of those who think that the Disruption can be sponged out by an Act of Parliament ending or mending patronage. As he viewed the situation, there was but one way out of all such troubles, and that was the way of assured spiritual independence; and he held that that must be had at all costs, even the cost of walking outside the Establishment.
Mr. Ingram took his side accordingly, and when the conflict passed from words to deeds, he was ready to play his part. Like so many others, he had to make very considerable sacrifice. His adhesion to the Free Church cost him his school, and also the loss of a presentation to a parish which had been promised him. But he never hesitated. A clear conviction of right delivered him from the appeals of worldly advantage. To him, as to thousands of others, conscience gave courage and consolation.
At this time Mr. Ingram’s uncertainties came from another quarter. He received a unanimous call from the congregation that had left the Established Church in Rothiemay, the parish in which he was acting as assistant. He was in everything a lover of fair play and honourable conduct, and he was painfully concerned lest his acceptance of that call should wear a look of unkindness to the old minister. So serious was his scruple on this head that it was overcome only by a distinct intimation from Dr. Chalmers, who had been appealed to, that it was his clear duty to take the place.
Mr. Ingram accordingly fell in with the wishes of the people, and was ordained on August 7, 1843, in a mill-loft. Thus began a happy, fruitful, and most blessed ministry. Of course there were initial difficulties to be met. But on the part of the people the self-sacrificing spirit so conspicuous in most of the ministers was not awanting. Faith, fervour, and liberality rose to the occasion, and in due time church, manse, and school were provided.
It is sometimes said that the ministers of the present day are entire strangers to the difficulties that faced their fathers in Disruption times. It has, however, to be remembered that difficulty is a relative term. It is to be measured by the force available to attack it. And if the ministers of ’43 had a great work thrown upon their hands—as undoubtedly they had—it must not be forgotten that they had a corresponding resource in the marvellous heartiness and energy of a united people.
From the very beginning success cheered Mr. Ingram. His congregation steadily grew in numbers, influence, and liberality. Its attachment to him deepened as his worth came to be better known. His services in the pulpit and in other departments of ministerial duty were growingly appreciated. It may indeed be truly said that seldom has a preacher drunk deeper of the joy arising from the double source of work well done and reverently prized by those for whom it was done.
Nor were these pleasing relations of a temporary character. They stood the test of time and sacrifice. In 1877, when Mr. Ingram was laid aside by a serious illness, the congregation and their friends in adjoining parishes made him a present of £260. And in 1893, when his ministerial jubilee was celebrated, it was very evident there was no abatement in the affection and confidence of his people.
For three years beyond his jubilee Mr. Ingram continued his work, aided only by an occasional assistant. In 1897, though his mind was vigorous as ever, bodily infirmity grew upon him, and a colleague and successor became necessary. The congregation elected the Rev. Alexander McTavish, and Mr. Ingram was relieved of his long-borne but pleasing ministerial burdens. He retired to Huntly, where he resided till his going home. The writer of this notice paid him a visit in February of the present year, and was not a little surprised to find that all his old mental alertness was still visible, as also his kindly interest in the doings of his brethren. He was able then to attend church, and spoke with much appreciation of the sermons he was hearing in Huntly. This ability to look out with zest remained with him and blessed him till the very day of his death.
One or two things may be said about the peculiar equipment of Mr. Ingram for his place and work. It was very obvious to any one but a short time in his company that there was in him an unusual combination of qualities. It was seen at once that he had a vigorous understanding. He grasped a subject, took in the essential elements of it, and saw their bearing all round. It was no less noticeable that he had great capacity for emotion. He could feel deeply, especially in the way of pity and kindliness. His fine head and heart made him singularly free from anything like pettiness. Maggoty people could always get a patient hearing from him, and also a kindly word if that was possible. He never provoked any man to anger or bitterness. Everywhere he figured as a peacemaker, going with reactionaries and progressives as far as conscience would allow. He generally managed to find a softer word than heretic for the man he couldn’t agree with. Such a man could hardly have enemies. Even those from whom he was separated by settled difference of opinion and policy looked on him with kindly eyes. The late Established Church minister of Rothiemay left him a legacy—a very significant fact, when one remembers how strongly Mr. Ingram held Free Church principles, and how frankly he gave expression to them.
But perhaps the most outstanding of all his gifts was his sense of humour. He had a quick discernment of everything that had a laugh in it. The odd sayings and doings of the people he met with never escaped him. The funny side of a controversy, in the presbytery, for instance, would strike him, and he would drop a remark that changed fierce looks into smiles, and made the heated disputants wonder why they had been so warm.
As a preacher Mr. Ingram had a high reputation. No man was in more request for fast-days, communions, and other special services. When it was known that he was to be the preacher, there was always a full muster of the congregation. His preaching was evangelical, in the best sense of that word. He brought his vigorous intellect to bear on Scripture, and was able to set its true teaching before the hearers. But he never sank into a mere icy setter forth of doctrines. His warm heart and fervent piety made the truth glow and give light to men needing guidance and cheer. When he was at his best there were few preachers that could move and melt an audience as he could.
May the church never want a large band of pastors of his stamp.
Mr. Ingram in 1843 married a daughter of the late Rev. Mr. Robertson of Gartly. He had a family of three sons and four daughters.
His widow and children all survive him. His eldest son is a lawyer in Portsoy, the second is a bank accountant, and the third is Dr. Alexander Ingram of Helensburgh. His eldest daughter is married to the Rev. R. Niven, Burghead, the second to the Rev. R. Gordon, Pluscarden, late of Amoy, and the third to the Rev. R. Scott, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Wilson College, Bombay. The youngest daughter lives with her mother in Huntly, and continues there the hearty service to the church which she gave in Rothiemay.
REV. JAMES INNES, M.A., PANBRIDE
(Died October 28, 1894)
Author: Rev. Alexander J. Campbell, M.A., Barry
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1896, Obituary, p.17
Mr. Innes was born in Aberdeen in 1832, and received all his education in that city, taking his Master of Arts degree in the usual course. In his student days his spare time was occupied with teaching and missionary work, and he was in the Presbytery of Ellon when, in 1857, he received licence to preach the gospel. His ordination at Panbride took place in 1858; and his ministry there extended over the long period of nearly thirty-six years. In 1872 he married the youngest daughter of the late Mr. David Morris, Edinburgh, and has left a family of one son and two daughters.
James Innes was no commonplace, ordinary man. Schooled and trained in Aberdeen—that most scholastic of our Scottish cities—he was one of the church’s most scholarly ministers; and his love of learning shone out to the end. Hebrew and kindred Semitic subjects constituted special attractiveness for him. So much so was this the case, that he was regarded by some as one of the best Hebrew scholars of our day. It was his constant delight to study his Bible in the original, and often was he found by friends in his study poring over his well-fingered Hebrew or Greek Testament. Our church and presbytery were greatly indebted to him for the hearty interest he took in the students. As a member of the Assembly’s Examination Board, he did for long years most useful work, and I as his successor in the convenership of our Presbyterial Bursary Committee can speak with some authority regarding the good he did for the students of our presbytery. In this connection his influence was far reaching, and the outcome of his work is apparent almost everywhere. There are not a few of our ministers all over the land—with some of our missionaries as well—who speak with gratitude of the sympathy and attention, the love and help given to them in student days by our departed friend. Few men know the anxious labour which this work entails, but for long years he cheerfully bore the burden of it. It was a delight to him, and the memory of it will last for long.
Amidst the brightness and beauty of Mr. Innes’ home life, there were times of special sorrow and darkness. I remember well standing with him, with but brief intervals between, in the death chamber of wife and daughter, mother and sister. And when I went to preach for him in these solemn days, it was touching to hear him speaking of the will of our heavenly Father being for good, and bowing himself as a little child to what was sent. Like the sweet herb emitting its fragrance after it has been crushed, so our friend’s spirit in these days was remarkable for its gentleness, tenderness, and love. With all the ports of earth closed, special satisfaction was found in the great harbour of safety, Jesus Christ. “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” “My beloved ones are not dead; they only sleep,” “They have gone to be with Jesus, and I shall soon meet them in glory,” was the language of his soul.
I need say but little of Mr. Innes’ work as a minister. That is sufficiently known to a wide circle. For thirty-six years he occupied the pulpit at Panbride, and went out and in among a loyal and attached people. To the sick and the poor, the distressed and bereaved, he was a specially good pastor indeed. To the poor our brother was particularly generous and loving and sympathetic. During his long ministry, indeed, one of his great aims was to care for the poor, and not a few homes and hearts have been brightened and cheered and lifted up by his generous help and timely counsel.
Into his preaching he carried his scholarly instinct. With his attainments, however, he never departed in all his preaching from the old gospel, and the great truths of Biblical revelation. “Men can only be saved by Christ,” and “We must preach Christ,” was the position he constantly maintained. I am sure all will bear me out when I say that from the pulpit at Panbride, for these many rears, Christ was faithfully preached—Christ in all the aspects of his work, Christ necessary for man’s salvation.
For some time prior to his death—which took place on the Sabbath before his communion —Mr. Innes felt unfit for work. He did not wish, however, to go from home, and it was only by earnest entreaty of his friends that he took a prolonged rest. Returning from a visit to Switzerland, he became unwell in London, and with difficulty was taken to the house of Mrs. Auchie, his sister-in-law, in Edinburgh— a lady well known for her attachment to the Free Church, and her lively interest in all our church’s schemes. For a time he revived, and his friends hoped for a full restoration to health and work. This, however, was not to be. Quietly but peacefully the end came. As he lived, so he died—a true but humble soldier of Jesus Christ. The congregation at Panbride—one of the most interesting and important of the congregations of our church —has indeed been well ministered to, at first by the late Dr. Hugh Martin, and afterwards by James Innes. The recent settlement has been an exceedingly happy one, and Mr. Macpherson may well be congratulated on his entrance to such an auspicious field. I cannot but believe that, as in the past so in the time to come, prosperity, success, and usefulness will attend the ministry in Panbride.
REV. ROBERT HENDERSON IRELAND
(Died February 12, 1881)
Author: Rev. Dr. Bonar
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June 1, Biographical Notices, p.148
Mr. Ireland was born in 1827 in North Leith, and passed the whole of his educational career in Edinburgh. He was licensed in 1849, and ordained at Skene, in Aberdeenshire, in 1850. There he was greatly blessed in his ministry. He was translated to Portobello in 1861. There he laboured most successfully and with great acceptance till his death, which took place on the 12th of February last. Besides his own ministerial work, he did much for the town itself; being actively engaged in all works of public benevolence, social improvement, and education. He lived greatly for others, and was always ready to put forth his hand in the promotion of schemes of usefulness. His last illness was brief, and his end was peace. Among his last words were the following;—”‘He is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever;’ ‘I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with his likeness.’ Yes,” he repeated, “satisfied, satisfied.”
He had passed through many sorrows. Many a wave had gone over him, and he had known what chastisement is—both the bitter and the sweet which the cup contains. He had learned, in many ways and at many times, that it is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of heaven. Having passed through sorrow, he could sympathize with the sorrowing; and he proved himself at all times a wise and tender comforter, who could speak to the suffering, or the bereaved, or the burdened, out of the fulness of his own experience. At the sick-bed and the death-bed he showed his aptness in speaking words in season; and into many a weary and troubled heart he brought what he himself so happily wrote of—”Light from Calvary.” To the soothing words which he thus spoke there was added the kindness of look and tone and manner which made the glad tidings which he brought with him doubly glad.
To a clear and vigorous intellect, which had been fully cultivated, he united a warmth which made his words winning and effective, while his calmness in speaking and acting gave weight to all he said or did.
Sound in the faith, clear in argument, single-eyed in aim, simple and chaste in style, he preached with persuasive power, whether warning the heedless, or instructing the ignorant, or dealing with the perplexities of the inquiring, or edifying the body of Christ. Pointing the eye backward to the cross and its sin-bearing work, or forward to the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, he spoke with wisdom and with authority, yet with love, as one dealing with eternal verities and with dying men, and as one thoroughly resolved to speak out what he believed, and to give forth the whole truth of God.
He loved his Bible, and knew it well. He loved the gospel, and preached it freely as the divine message of peace from the God of peace to rebellious man, as the proclamation of forgiving love and eternal salvation to the unsaved and unforgiven, as the divine embassy of reconciliation from heaven to earth, as the bright revelation of that grace on which alone the sons of men can take their stand in drawing near to God. He loved his Lord; and as one who loved him he preached him fully, joyfully, lovingly—both in the shame and the glory—as wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, yet also as hereafter to be revealed in majesty and glory as King of kings and Lord of lords.
He loved his country, he loved his own Church, he loved the whole Church of God. I need not say how well and truly he loved his flock—caring for them, watching over them, sympathizing with them, bearing their burdens, sorrowing in their sorrows, and rejoicing in their joys; not sparing himself, if so be he might minister to them in health or in sickness; as the shepherd whom they had chosen, leading them to the green pastures, and making them to lie down beside the still waters.
He loved his brethren, as many of us can testify, in the remembrance of his kindness and obligingness at all times; and no less so of the pleasant and congenial intercourse we had with him, both in private and in public. They will not soon forget him, though he has departed from them to be “with Christ, which is far better.”
REV. LEWIS HAY IRVING, FALKIRK
(Born December 29, 1806; Died June 28, 1877)
Author: Benjamin Bell, F.R.C.S.E.
The Free Church Monthly August 1, 1877, p.200
This well-known and highly-esteemed minister was one of that rapidly diminishing band — the Waterloo men, as they have been called — who stood firm by the old blue banner of the historical Church of Knox, Melville, Henderson, and Chalmers, through the stormy period of the “Ten Years’ Conflict,” and, in proof of their sincerity, demitted their parochial charges at the Disruption in May 1843. It may be added, that he continued a loyal Free Churchman to the last, holding the Establishment principle in subordination to that of spiritual independence; earnestly longing for union with the other unendowed branches of the Presbyterian Church; and utterly unaffected, indeed disgusted, by all the plausible but unsatisfying baits held out to weak men who may seek a pretext for returning to the Establishment,
Mr. Irving came under deep religious convictions at an early period of life; and before entering on the systematic study of theology, spent many months under the roof of the late revered Dr. Caesar Malan of Geneva. It would be hardly possible to overestimate the importance of this source of spiritual influence, for the faithfulness, the fervour, the evangelistic earnestness of Dr. Malan are well known. And it is interesting to notice that Mr. Irving, during that period of his education, would acquire that familiarity with the French language and customs which afterwards made him so available and useful to the Free Church as a trusted deputy to the ecclesiastical meetings of France and Switzerland.
Mr. Irving became minister of the parish of Abercorn in December 1831, before the completion of his twenty-fifth year, and laboured there, with great energy and acceptance, for twelve years. An incident may be mentioned which gives a good idea of the man, and is quite in accordance with the whole tenor of his future life. The first invasion of Asiatic cholera took place before the young minister had been many weeks in his quiet country manse. Several fatal cases created, as elsewhere, a panic among the parishioners, and no one could be got to bury the dead. Mr. Irving dug a grave himself, put the body into its coffin, and thereby restored confidence to the neighbourhood. Were not the self-denial, the courage, the energy, the promptitude which a calm sense of duty inspired on this occasion, more deserving of decoration than some of those brilliant deeds of valour which have won the Victoria Cross amid the shot and shell of battle?
At the Disruption, having to leave his much-loved residence at Abercorn, he experienced, for a time, some of those trying difficulties which were then so common, in finding accommodation for his wife and child. But he soon became the Free Church minister of Falkirk, a more important charge, and entered on a career of intense activity, which knew no abatement for a long series of years. That was a time when much work had to be accomplished all over the country, in planting and fostering new congregations; and Mr. Irving certainly undertook of that work a very ample and conspicuous share. He was then young, and lithe, and vigorous, and had pleasure in trying his strength to the uttermost — running up an account, we fear, which made itself known in after years. In addition to his pastoral and other ecclesiastical duties, he took, from the commencement, a great interest in the local affairs of the town: in the Parochial Board, of which he was chairman for many years; in the National Securities Savings Bank; in the Industrial School, and other public institutions. In fact, the Bank and the School were the offspring of his own exertions, and grew into importance and wide usefulness under his almost paternal care. His removal creates a very conspicuous blank in Falkirk, of which, for many years, he was the most outstanding citizen.
Mr. Irving took a warm interest in all the missionary enterprises of the Church; but his name will long be identified with the Colonial and Continental schemes. The former he superintended with characteristic zeal and sagacity, for a considerable time, when his friend, the late Dr. John Bonar, was no longer able for the work, and after the death of that devoted man, until a permanent successor was appointed. To the Continental scheme, as we have already indicated, he had frequent opportunities of rendering important service, by representing the Church at synods and conferences. On the latest occasion, he undertook a long journey to the south of France, when the state of his bodily health would have deterred men of less spirit, energy, and self-denial.
As a preacher, Mr. Irving was distinguished for the “full-orbed” gospel which he invariably proclaimed, with unmistakable earnestness and solemnity. In early life, we always thought that he moulded his style both of composition and delivery upon those of a man whom he greatly revered, the late Dr. Robert Gordon of the High Church, Edinburgh. Like him, he was utterly devoid of self-consciousness, forgetting himself in the vital importance and momentous issues of his message.
His prayers were of the same real character — solemn, pointed, precise, earnest, and not overladen with words. His reading of the Bible was worth hearing —reminding one of the mingled intelligence, reverence, pathos, and power which characterized that of Dr. Candlish.
For many years Mr. Irving was in the habit of spending some weeks of autumn in Skye and other islands of the Hebrides, where his name was a “household word”; not as a mere holiday, but for real and often fatiguing work. He took a very great interest in the Highland schools supported by a Committee of ladies, and every one familiar with the printed reports of that Association will testify to his eminent services in connection with these schools. His laborious duties, and sometimes even his exposure to the elements among these remote islands and stormy arms of the sea, present an example worthy of imitation by younger men, who have not passed, like him, through the trying discipline of the Disruption period.
Mr. Irving was a man of strong individuality of character, always forming his own judgment, comparatively indifferent to mere conventionalities, and tenacious of his own opinions and purposes. Policy he had none. Everything he did was above board. Manly and devoid of affectation, he was sometimes impatient of opposition, and might be regarded as dictatorial. But in the end, those who at first might feel slighted or aggrieved usually came to see and admit that the clear understanding and strong will which they opposed had been in the right. At the crisis of the Disruption, his father — Mr. John Irving, W.S., the chosen companion of Walter Scott in his boyhood — was decidedly on the opposite side of Church polities; and the same may be said of his cousin-german, Sir George Clerk of Penicuik, the trusted friend of Sir Robert Peel; but family considerations had no influence with Lewis Irving in matters of duty. Conscience kept him right, and his nearest friends respected him all the more.
The strong man, with all his firmness, had a tender, almost womanly heart, which manifested itself not merely in the bosom of his family, and among children, with whom he was a special favourite, but in all his intercourse with relatives and friends, as the writer can testify, after a close friendship of more than fifty years. By nature he was buoyant in disposition, and active in body. This in his youth appeared in almost irrepressible muscular exertion, fun and frolic; and traces of the same were still discernible in the elderly man, when his outward frame could no longer respond to his inward tendencies. He was a man by himself; able, accomplished, serious, but ever ready to unbend — Dulce est desipere in loco. Those who esteemed him most highly, even his clerical brethren, generally spoke of him as “Lewis Irving,” — thus evincing that the endearing qualities of their friend were not overshadowed by those other qualities which commanded their unfeigned respect.
Mr. Irving was, we have said, an accomplished man, remarkably well informed on almost every subject, his knowledge being both accurate and reliable. He had an extensive library, and was a devourer of books — although the wonder was, how he found the requisite time, considering the number and variety of his out-door avocations.
When absent from home, especially among the beauties and sublimities of nature, he often seized an opportunity for sketching what he saw; and many of these hurried pencil drawings were full of talent and taste. Some of our readers must be familiar with a set of boldly executed and coloured lithographs of Gibraltar and Algeciras Bay, from drawings by Mr. Irving, which, on being offered for sale, aided not a little towards the erection of a church in that far-off station.
As a young man, Mr. Irving was spare, dark, and active, above the middle height, with strongly marked and handsome features. In later years, when unable for so much active exertion as formerly, he became stout; but his venerable gray hair and keen intellectual countenance, mellowed, as it seemed to us, by the hand of time, gave him a notable, indeed a picturesque appearance.
His personal piety was ardent, although unobtrusive. During the closing weeks of his life, when completely laid aside by heart disease, he was calm, unmurmuring, and happy, in spite of great bodily prostration. He did not say much, but, occupied with reading, calmly awaited the great change slowly yet surely approaching. He continued sensible and cheerful until half an hour of his departure, and then quietly breathed his last. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
REV. JOHN ISDALE, FREE ST. ANDREW’S, GLASGOW
(Died March 29, 1891)
Author: Rev. Alex. McKenzie, Falkland
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1891, Obituary, p.181
As is the case with the majority of men, the strictly biographical facts in the life of Mr. Isdale are few and soon told. He was born in the manse of Dron, in Perthshire, on the 16th February 1818. From his father, the Rev. Alex. Isdale, minister of the parish, he inherited much of the shrewdness and delicate sense of humour which were such marked features of his character. A son of the manse, he had that indefinable but unmistakable something about him which marks off the manse-bred children from all other children.
In 1832 he entered the University of St. Andrews, and went through the usual curriculum prescribed to candidates for the ministry. In those days St. Andrews was the capital of Moderatism and the university its citadel. Mr. Isdale, a mere boy in years, but already a man in physical and mental stature, fearlessly took up the glove which Moderatism threw down, and, along with a goodly band of earnest, pious, capable, and leal-hearted fellow-students, steadfastly fought, during the whole of his college course, the battle of Evangelicalism. The conspicuous ability with which he acquitted himself in the students’ part of the conflict, as also his decided piety, drew upon him the notice and secured for him the life-long friendship of such leaders of the Evangelical party as McFarlane of Collessie; Roxburgh, Dundee; Macgill Crichton of Rankeilour, and others. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Cupar in 1842, and immediately several congregations endeavoured to secure his services. The heritors of Dunbarney, where he was educated, made a requisition to him to be parish minister, while calls from the congregations of Sauchie in Stirlingshire, and Invertiel in Fifeshire, followed.
Having accepted the call to Invertiel, he was ordained to that charge by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy on the 4th of February 1843. When, three months and a half later on, the ever memorable Disruption day came—that day of sifting and of decision to many ministers—unlike some who had been loudest in their protestations of loyalty to the crown rights of the Redeemer, Mr. Isdale neither faltered nor flinched, but came out, and earned for himself the honourable distinction of being the youngest ordained minister who renounced the State emoluments and cast in his lot with the Free Church.
Without neglecting his own congregation, he took his full share of the arduous work which fell to the Disruption ministers, and which they did so nobly and so well. In nearly every congregation within the bounds of the Synod of Fife his figure was as familiar as his services were acceptable and in much request. To this day the memory of the man and the varied work he did in those days is fresh and fragrant in the hearts of not a few of the Lord’s people. After ministering for thirteen years with much fidelity and with many tokens of success to his deeply-attached congregation at Invertiel, Mr. Isdale was, in 1856, translated to Glasgow as colleague and successor to the Rev. Dr. N. Paterson of Free St. Andrew’s Church, a church situated in the very centre of the city. In the Glasgow of those days he found a congenial and fairly manageable sphere of labour. As the years, however, rolled on, bringing with them a constant movement of the population from the city to the suburbs, the work of keeping up the congregation became growingly more difficult; and no better test of Mr. Isdale’s efficiency as a minister could be given than that which is furnished by the fact that, at the close of his five and thirty years’ ministry, his congregation stands undiminished in membership, greatly increased in Christian activity and manifest spiritual life, and from the youngest to the oldest and from the richest to the poorest of their number, one and all actuated by a love and loyalty to their minister excelled only by their zeal in their and his Master’s cause. During the last fifteen months of his life he was a great sufferer from an incurable ailment, which was attended by excruciating pain, and which made walking extremely difficult and painful. To a man of his active habits and uniformly good health this was a sore trial; but he bore it with unmurmuring resignation, content that the rod was in a Father’s hand, and heroically determined to spend what strength was left to him in preaching the gospel. He was able to preach once a day till within three weeks of his death. The sermons of this period of suffering were felt to be “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”—the utterances of one who was consciously face to face with the unseen and eternal, and fast ripening for glory. Much as it wrung the hearts of his kind people to see the effort it cost him to get into the pulpit, they would not have missed these sermons, so ripe in knowledge and so full of fervor and unction. They felt, as one of the elders said at the last congregational meeting, that Mr. Isdale’s affliction was being greatly blessed both to pastor and people. His last sermon, on the first Sabbath of March, was upon the text: “I am crucified with Christ,” etc. In the course of that week he got a chill which brought on an acute attack of his malady, under which he sank gradually until, on the 29th day of March, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, and the forty-ninth of his ministry, he quietly “fell on sleep.” On the following Thursday, in presence of a large concourse of mourners, his mortal remains were laid to rest in the Necropolis. The prayerfulness, the thirst for God’s Word, particularly his keen relish for the Psalms, the simple, child-like clinging to Jesus as his all, and the quiet sense of holy triumph which marked the closing days of his life here, were the best proofs to the loving watchers that the gospel which he had preached to others did not fail him in the hour of death.
From this necessarily brief sketch it will be apparent to the reader that Mr. Isdale’s youth and opening manhood fell upon stirring times, when the atmosphere both of Church and State was charged with influences which could not fail to leave their stamp upon those who came under them. In him they found one who was responsive and sympathetic in a high degree. This was the case in particular with the dominant and almost magic influence of Dr. Chalmers.
As a preacher Mr. Isdale was popular and instructive, being always practical and plain; and when the fire burned within, as it not unseldom did, it broke out in bursts of impassioned, effective eloquence. As a theologian he had a clear and firm grasp of the covenant theology; but whilst firmly clinging to the old school, he had an open eye to see and an open mind to receive all that is good in the new. With no morbid dread of controversy, and firmly convinced that our present controversies will eventually issue in good to the Church, yet he regarded with regret and misgiving the rash, over-confident, and intolerant way in which some of the advocates of the new theology are putting forward their views. As an ecclesiastic Mr. Isdale for many a day had a prominent place in the courts and committees of the Church, and was regarded as a man of good common-sense and sound judgment, effective in debate, and eminently fitted to carry through any piece of work requiring calmness, patience, and tact. Much of this sort of work fell to him at one time in the Presbytery of Glasgow, his services being in constant request in dealing with congregations into which divisions had crept.
He was large-hearted and open-handed, and utterly unworldly; gentle, honourable, and unselfish almost to a fault; ever ready to stretch out a helping hand to the weak and the erring, some of whom have been heard to say, “There is more of the gospel of Christ in a shake of Mr. Isdale’s hand than in the sermons of many.” It falls to the lot of but a few to carry out in every-day life as fully as he did the apostolic injunction: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another.”
REV. JAMES IZZETT, WESTRUTHER
(Died October 2, 1887.)
Author: Rev. John Lister, B.A.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.51
Mr. Izzett was a native of Kilconquhar, and went directly from the parish school to the United College, St. Andrews, well prepared to join the humanity class, but with less Greek than he would have had had he remained longer under his schoolmaster, or had professors refused to teach the mere alphabet of that noble language. He certainly entered the university at too early an age—a common error with young men fifty years ago; but he took, notwithstanding, a very creditable place in all his classes, and had his mind well disciplined for severer studies as its powers were matured.
Shortly after the close of his philosophical curriculum, be commenced in St. Mary’s the study of divinity, where he received the commendation of his professors, and gained the esteem of his fellow-students, with several of whom he formed a life-long friendship. Before going to St. Andrews he had been seriously inclined, and his conduct while there was quite consistent with his views as a student of divinity; but he had not undergone the great and vital change by which man becomes a new creature. He had heard the gospel in his native parish, but it was preached vaguely and timidly, as if it was truth to be stealthily and in smallest measure communicated, rather than boldly and fully taught, and it failed to impress him. St. Andrews, with its dense Moderatism, did as little for him, and he left it without having experienced any movement or impulse of spiritual life. It was in London that he became “a new creature,” by the blessing of God on the preaching of Rev. James Hamilton, with whose sanctified and winsome genius he was brought in contact.
The Disruption took place while he was in the metropolis, and without hesitation he resolved to give himself to the service of the Free Church. He could not carry his resolution into immediate effect, but as soon as it was possible he took license; and immediately thereafter he began to exercise his gifts in the Presbytery of Kelso. Within the bounds competing calls came to him from Westruther and Morebattle; and having declined to make a choice between them, the Presbytery decided in favour of Westruther, where, after having undergone the usual trials, he was ordained in the month of April 1840.
Full of ardour, he devoted himself to the zealous discharge of his ministerial duties, and thus speedily gained the affection and esteem of his flock, and justified their choice of him as pastor. He had a naturally vigorous and now well-cultivated mind, a memory which for readiness and retentiveness was quite exceptional; he had formed an intimate acquaintance with his Bible and with systematic divinity, and was at the same time largely read in sacred and secular literature, from which he could and did draw copiously in illustration of the topics on which he discoursed in the pulpit. There was, besides, in him a strong vein of originality, which enabled him to present the truth in striking aspects, and thus to arrest the attention of the dullest minds. All who knew him were well aware of his intellectual wealth, and the facility with which he could draw upon it, either in conversation or in writing; and it was no wonder to them that, with his broad sympathies and exuberant humanity, his genial nature and intense feelings, and the prayers and pains he employed in his preparation for his Sabbath work, he had around him from the beginning to the end of his ministry an earnest, attentive, intelligent, and admiring people. He never thought of serving God with what cost him nothing; but he read and studied, prayed, and wrote and put from week to week as much mind and heart into his sermons, as if he had been the minister of one of the largest congregations.
His preaching, as at the first he announced he meant it to be, was evangelical. He would know nothing among his flock but Christ and him crucified. He occupied to the full, indeed, his commission; “he preached the word;” he was instant in season, out of season; he “reproved, rebuked, exhorted with all long-suffering;” he stood on his watch-tower, cried aloud, and spared not.
He was diligent also in his visitation from house to house, and in his care for the sick of his flock; and no distance, no roughness of roads or want of roads, no storms, would deter him from carrying to them the comforts and consolations of the gospel.
And he had his reward in the conversion of sinners, and in the edification of believers; and though his success was not as large as his desires, still it cheered him in his work, and lightened the trials which, like other ministers, he experienced in the performance of duty; and he saw around him, before he was called away, a generation who had been baptized and admitted by him to the communion of the Church, steadfast in the faith and “adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour.” His labour had not been in vain in the Lord.
His death was somewhat sudden. His health had begun to fail during last spring, but not to such an extent as to occasion alarm; and it was only in Edinburgh, some months afterwards, whither he had gone on his way to seek change, that symptoms of the malady that proved fatal suddenly appeared. The best medical skill was at once obtained; but it was of no avail. All that could be done by able physicians, and by the tender and unwearied ministrations of his affectionate wife, was done to alleviate his sufferings, patiently borne; but he became gradually worse, until at length, wasted and weary, and reposing in the Saviour whom he had loved and preached, he was called away on the Sabbath morning to another Sabbath than ours—the rest that remaineth for the people of God. And thus there passed away from us a man of fine powers, of scholarly tastes, and of large literary acquirements, original, genial, sympathetic, attractive, beloved by his relatives, his congregation, the parish at large, and ministerial brethren and friends, and now deeply lamented by those who knew him best.
A few of us, very few now, and each beyond the threescore and ten years, who had been knit to him by the friendship of more than half a century, felt, as we stood beside his grave, that the world was greatly the poorer henceforth for us. No one could fill the void in our hearts created by his death.