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lasting boon to the working classes : and in Paisley, the Schools of “the Educational Association” have done great good. But all this just demonstrates more clearly the wisdom of Dr. Macgill's views, and the necessity of a comprehensive measure by which the blessings of a good elementary and Christian education may be brought within the reach of all classes in our densely peopled communities.
It was well remarked by Sir Samuel Romilly in the House of Commons, on a motion for a monument to the immortal Howard, that Britain has neglected to raise the only monument that was worthy of his character, or would have been agreeable to his wishes, in neglecting to accomplish those great improvements, the justice and humanity of which he had so ably demonstrated and so loudly proclaimed. What has heen applied to Howard, embraces a much wider field. How many
admirable hints are lost even amidst the national gratitude which they seem to elicit! How little after all is really done in the way of human improvement, and the progress of human happiness! How often, alas ! have those great interests been sacrificed to the mercenary claims of selfishness, or the proud pretensions of party!
From the statements which have been made in this chapter we are not to infer that Dr. Macgill limited his efforts of benevolence to the relief of temporal distress, or bounded them by the
comparatively narrow range of a purely home agency.
Assuredly there were some of his brethren in Glas. gow, and in particular the late eminent and deservedly esteemed Dr. Balfour, of the outer High Church, who came forward more prominently on the field of Foreign Missions at the commencement of the Glasgow Missionary Society in 1796. At that early period in Dr. Macgill's ministry, the subject had not engaged his mind to the extent which it afterwards did, although we have no reason to think that at any period he was indifferent to a cause so noble as that of the diffusion of the gospel over the world. Every man has his peculiar sphere as well as his distinctive capacities of action; and it so happened that for years after his settlement in Glasgow, Dr. Macgill felt that the local institutions of the city demanded the whole of that time which could be properly spared from the special duties of his immediate calling. At a later period of his ministry, Dr. Macgill took a far more prominent part in the schemes of Christian philanthropy. There are in particular three of these schemes with which his name was very closely associated. The first of these is the society for benefiting the highlands and islands by means of Gaelic schools. At its formation in January 1811, Dr. M. hailed this institution as one of the most likely means of spiritual good to the destitute districts in the North and West of Scotland ; and he cheerfully gave his effective services, as one of the secretaries to its auxiliary in Glasgow. As that auxiliary did not limit itself to the single object of collecting money for the parent Board, but had a distinct department of its own—the establishment of English schools where these might be required, and certain additions to the branches of education contemplated by the Edinburgh institution—the result was a very considerable demand on his time and attention in the way of correspondence and examination of candidates for schools. There is reason to believe that much good was done by means of those schools which the Glasgow Society originated, as well as by the effective aid which it gave to the parent society; a society which still exists, but which has not of late years received that portion of countenance to which its invaluable labours, for upwards of thirty years, have earned for it an imprescriptable title.
The second of those great objects which engaged Dr. Macgill's mind during a considerable part of his ministry in Glasgow, was the propagation of the gospel in India. He took a deep interest in all the evangelical associations for this end; and when, about thirty years ago, the renewal of the Company's Charter brought the question of India Missions prominently before the British Parliament, there was no man in the west of Scotland who took a more active part in helping forward the claims of justice and of enlightened Christianity, than Dr. Macgill. By discussions in the church courts and at public meetings; by promoting petitions to Parliament; and by a ceaseless application of his personal and official influence in this particular chan
nel, he performed services to the cause of christianity in the East whose value can never be over-estimated. In the discussions to which the great question gave rise both in the House of Peers and in the House of Commons—discussions which called forth the first talent and the most splendid oratory which Britain could command—he took a peculiar interest; and the success with which the efforts of the friends of Christianity were so signally crowned in that momentous struggle was to his enlarged and benevolent mind a source of the purest satisfaction. Nor did he consider it as detracting from the credit of the western metropolis of Scotland—though on this account eliciting the choler of the London Quarterly Review—that it was the first town in Scotland which addressed Parliament on this deeply interesting subject.*
The third Christian institution which interested Dr. Macgill and engaged his efforts, was the mission on behalf of God's ancient people, the Jews. Long before the Church of Scotland had moved on this or any other missionary scheme, Dr. Macgill beheld with great satisfaction the efforts made in England for the conversion of the Jews. When, at a comparatively late date, the matter was brought by the friends of Israel, under the notice of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Dr. Macgill, from his well known attachment to the cause, and the active part he took in the movement at Glasgow in its behalf, was nominated as Convener of Committee. In that capacity it fell to him to prepare the public documents connected with the first efforts of the Committee; and, although the infirmities of age soon incapacitated him for effective personal effort, he was ever ready to give his countenance and advice to those excellent friends on whom the burden of the active management naturally devolved. His eye glistened with delight when he spoke of the mission to the Continent and to Palestine; and the scriptural hopes which he cherished regarding the restoration of Judah, and the recovery of the long-lost tribes of Israel, sustained his fainting spirit, and gilded the evening of
* See a full reply to the Quarterly, in Edinburgh Christian Instructor for January and February 1814.