Графични страници
PDF файл

was made absolute, and independent either of the clergy or the estates of Scotland. In this it differed from the claims of the supremacy in England, which are by law limited and controlled, if not by the church, at least by parliament. The perfidy and cruelty of the actual administrations both of Charles and James added unspeakably to the wretched state of the poor in Scotland, and contributed not a little to open the eyes of enlightened men in the south both to the interests and claims of freedom. In Scotland, it was the Rutherfords, the Gillespies, and the Browns, who taught in their writings the true principles of civil liberty, but it was the Sydneys, the Hampdens, and the Russels of England who practically applied them. In the all-wise and over-ruling providence of Almighty God, the covenanters of Scotland, and the patriots of England, though setting out from very opposite points, united in paving the way for the glorious revolution of 1688.



AFTER six years of laborious pastoral duty at Eastwood, Dr. Macgill was, in October 1797, translated to the Tron Church Parish of Glasgow, as successor to the Rev. Dr. M‘Call. The duties of the ministry in a large city are substantially the same as in a rural parish, but they are necessarily modified by change of circumstances. In a country charge the people of the parish and the members of the congregation are generally speaking one, and the labours of the clergyman through the week are thus concentrated on those families whom he addresses from the pulpit on Sabbaths. It is different in a large town, where, from obvious circumstances, it is impossible to identify the two; and hence it is, that the minister of a city parish becomes, almost by necessity, a pluralist.

He has a large parish, over whose ecclesiastical interests he must preside; whose sessional discipline and government he must incessantly superintend; whose educational and charity establishments he must patronise; and whose families he must catechise and visit. In addition, he has a congregation which may or may not be gathered from the parochial locality, and yet whose families he must make himself acquainted with by personal visitation, if he desires to be really a useful minister to them, and rightly to divide among them the word of truth. Indeed, the main design of ministerial visitation of families is to facilitate mutual acquaintanceship. The minister who is never seen save once a week in the pulpit can hardly expect to acquire or to keep a very strong hold of the affections of his

people. One thing at all events is manifest : he cannot know his people thoroughly; he cannot enter into their individual feelings or family relations ; he is placed beyond the plastic influence of those tender and endearing associations which connect the affectionate pastor with the people among whom he ministers; he is deprived of the very best means of acquiring that knowledge of human nature in its varied phases by which a minister's public prelections acquire a truly experimental and practically useful character. If there is any meaning at all in those beautiful expressions of Scripture which speak of ministers “ feeding the flock,” and “giving to every one his portion of meat in due season,” they unquestionably imply a comprehensive knowledge of the people whom they address, and a discriminating method of appeal.

Dr. Macgill felt all this, and he acted upon it from the moment of his entrance on the ministry at Glasgow. While his Sabbath ministrations retained the same character of earnestness and affection, his week-day labours were still more abundant. He regularly visited his parish and the members of his congregation, and his visits were always visits of kindness and of mercy. Often has he returned to his house in the afternoon or evening of the day completely overcome by the labour of its pastoral duties, and ready to sink under the pressure. To his susceptible mind the scenes of misery and vice, which, even at that period, the lanes of his city parish presented, were a never-failing source of the deepest concern.

Often have I heard him speak of the comparative ineffectiveness of a pastor's labours in such a locality; and yet I never heard from him any

other than the most warm and decided indications of a paramount sense of the importance of such labours.

As illustrative of the affectionate but firm fidelity with which he maintained the wholesome discipline of our church, amidst the temptations to a relaxation of it which a large city possesses, I shall quote an extract from the copy of a letter found among his papers, and addressed to a gentleman of his congregation who had become amenable to church censure, and whom the excellent pastor wished to instruct in the real end and aim of all spiritual discipline. It bears date, Nov. 2, 1800. The name of the person to whom it was addressed is not given; and at this distance of time we may feel no delicacy in printing the extract. After various judicious remarks on the nature of the case, we have the following well-timed and affectionate appeal:

Independently of these circumstances, it was my intention to have earnestly requested you to


review your past life, and with seriousness to examine whether you have been exercising genuine repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. If you have not, you must be sensible that you injure yourself and the feelings of others by seeking to sit down at the table of the Lord. When repentance seems to be sincere, it is the duty, and I trust will be the delight of a minister of the gospel, to speak peace to the wounded mind, and to encourage in every devout and holy purpose. Yet even in such a case, especially when irregularities have been subjects of public attention, it may be often his duty to wait for such evidences of a change of life as may give satisfaction and assurance of sincerity, before he admits to full communion with the Christian society. I will not conceal from you that my reason for writing to you in this manner is, that I have received hints which lead me to fear that your conduct, even within these few months past, has not been such as became the purity of the Christian character. I hope I will not give offence to you by writing to you on a subject of this nature. Believe me, that it is a painful duty, and that it has not been without a struggle with my own feelings that I have engaged in it. But your time and mine in this world is short and uncertain. We have each of us a great account to render; and it seemed to me that I was called on, office as a Christian minister, both for your sake and from the duty which I owe to my people, to write

by my

« ПредишнаНапред »