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kine, and the present Earl of Buchan was his pupil. Mr. Erskine cherished a warm attachment to his young friend, and kept up an intimacy with him till his death. I have heard Dr. M. speak of the short time of his residence in the family of this distinguished man, as among the happiest periods of his life. Of the disinterested kindness of his friend and patron, he ever retained a grateful remembrance.
It was during the progress of his studies in The. . ology, that Dr. Macgill first appeared as an author. In a collection of pieces for the use of families and schools, well known in those days under the name of “ Macnab's Collection," there appeared an article under the title of “ The Student's Dream," which was well known to have been written by him, and indeed expressly acknowledged. It is a kind of allegorical anticipation of the future duties of a minister of Christ, with a special reference to his present studies. It is a pleasing apologue, and highly creditable both to the head and heart of its author.
In 1790, Dr. Macgill was licensed to preach the gospel by the presbytery of Paisley, before whom he had passed his trials with commendable credit.*
* A much-respected friend in Paisley, who still survives, at the venerable age of fourscore and two, informs me that on occasion of Mr. Macgill passing his trials for license before the Presbytery, he was present and heard several of his discourses. One of these, the popular Sermon, had for its subject, i Sam, xxiii. 5. “ The everlasting covenant.” The discourse was much approved; but Dr. Snodgrass, one of the ablest divines of his day, and whose minis. try in the Middle Church of Paisley, Mr. M. was often in the prac
Soon after receiving license, he obtained, through the interest of the Honourable Henry Erskine, an offer of the chair of Civil History in the united colleges of St. Salvador and St. Leonard, St. Andrews; coupled with the proposal of its union afterwards with a small country parish. The offer was tempting to any man of ambition; but Dr. Macgill, at this early stage of his career, had subjugated all ambitious views to higher and nobler aims. He considered the preaching of the gospel as his appropriate and exclusive calling. The idea of a plurality he could not for a moment endure; and in his instant declinature of this tempting proposal, we discover the germ of that uncompromising opposition which all his life long he most disinterestedly made to the pluralizing system. It was in connexion with his noble appearances many years after, in the church courts, on this interesting question, that Dr. Macgill communicated to me in friendly intercourse, what I believe very few knew, the circumstances connected with this early period of his life.
In the summer of 1791, Mr. Macgill was presented to the parish of Eastwood, then vacant by the death of the Rev. Mr. M‘Kaig, who was cut off in the flower of his age. The patron of the tice of attending, offered some critical remarks upon it, with the particular view of suggesting in some parts a more full developement of evangelical truth. I mention this just to illustrate the fact, that at this period the young divine was considered as some. what superficial in his views, and rather moderate than otherwise in his leanings.
parish was Sir John Maxwell, Bart. of Polloc, the representative of an ancient family, several of whose members have figured honourably in the annals of the suffering Church of Scotland. He was pleased to leave the nomination to a much-respected relative of his own, Mrs. Montgomery of Auldhouse, whose constant residence in the parish, and commendable attention to all its local interests, gave her, in the opinion of the patron, a peculiar claim to this distinction.
Mrs. Montgomery, from her knowledge of Mr. Macgill, and the recommendations of mutual friends, was induced to select him as a suitable, and every way well qualified pastor. A presentation was accordingly given in to the Presbytery of Paisley in May 1791, and, according to the usual practice of the presbyteries of Scotland since the era of the revival of patronage in 1711, was simply “received,” or, as it is technically expressed in the minutes, “laid on the ta
Notwithstanding, however, the hesitation
Paisley was the first presbytery on whose “Table” a deed of presentation was laid, after the act of May 1711. In the autumn of that year the earl of Glencairn “presented” a clergyman to PortGlasgow, a new parish which had been erected and endowed a few years before at the sole charge of the corporation of the city of Glasgow. The presbytery declining to "sustain” the presentation, the parish remained vacant for some years, and was not settled till the patronage had been purchased by the city of Glasgow, who retain it still. It is remarkable that the presbytery of Paisley were not in the practice of“ sustaining" presentations till within these ten years. Their not doing so was intended as a standing protest against the evils of patronage. Up to the present day also, no call can be moderated in within the bounds, unless there shall first be a petition of the same tenor with that in favour of Mr. Macgill.
or reluctance to sustain" the document, an important step was, in the.ordinary way, taken by the presbytery. They appointed the presentee to preach two separate Sabbaths in the vacant parish church; and on the 8th June we find a petition from “heritors, elders, and heads of families of the parish," presented by one of the elders to the presbytery, setting forth that “ Mr. Macgill had preached before the parish according to the appointment of the reverend presbytery, to their entire satisfaction, and to that of the parish in general.” In consequence, they express their wish that Mr. Macgill should be settled among them with all convenient speed;" and they pray for “ the moderation of a call” in his behalf. After due consideration of this petition, the presbytery unanimously granted its prayer. A call was accordingly moderated in on the 30th of the same month; and on the general concurrence of the parish having been thus ascertained, Mr. Macgill was taken on trials, the result of which proving highly satisfactory to all the members of presbytery, he was, on the 8th September, solemnly ordained to the pastoral charge of Eastwood. On this occasion, Dr. Snodgrass of Paisley was the presiding minister. The subject of his discourse was that most appropriate passage in 1 Cor. ii. 2. “ I am determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified;" a text on which the whole ministry of that eminent clergyman had afforded a pleasing comment. His addresses to the ordained pastor and the people were equally appro
priate with the discourse he had delivered; and the whole proceedings of the day were conducted with a solemnity and interest suitable to the formation of that holy tie, on which are suspended so many affecting results in time and in eternity.
Dr. Macgill, while minister of Eastwood, was conspicuous for his diligent attention to pastoral duties. He was careful in his preparations for the pulpit, and he was practically alive to the importance of the more retired parts of the ministerial office.
There is one branch of duty to which, as a parochial minister, he was particularly attentive;-I refer to the religious and moral education of the youth of his parish. In the life of the eminently pious Dr. Doddridge, his biographer, Mr. Orton, has given peculiar prominency to the care with which he conducted the business of catechising families, and visitation of schools; and that distinguished man is not the only minister of Christ who could state from experience the blessed results of pastoral attention to the young in nourishing congregations, and strengthening the tie betwixt minister and people. Dr. Macgill entered at once into the spirit of those regulations which the Church of Scotland has laid down on this subject for the guidance of her ministers. Not only did the business of individual examination form part of his ordinary family visitations;—he held in addition regular diets of catechising in different districts of the parish, and his affectionate and solemn manner of address rendered these meetings highly agreeable and useful