« ПредишнаНапред »
joicing that his youth was given to God; if spared long, he has the delightful privilege of obtaining a full reward.
The period had now come when it was necessary to determine the future career of this interesting boy. Various objects presented themselves to the minds of his anxious parents. They thought of the professions of the law, and of medicine, and perhaps of another profession also, though they feared to avow it, especially to himself. It is not improbable that his own mind was directed to the ministry; but as he had given no decided indications of piety, neither his father nor myself encouraged him to think of it. Convinced of the deep injury done to religion, by the education of men for the ministry, who afford no evidence that they themselves know the truth as it is in Jesus,
consider the encouragement of such persons, the greatest wrong which can be done to their own souls, and to the church of Christ. In some instances, it is true, the salvation of the Gospel is afterwards received by them; in numerous instances it is altogether and finally rejected, although the most solemn obligations are submitted to, to preach it; and in many cases there is reason to fear, a cold orthodoxy is all that is ever attained. Under the influence of these causes, Christianity has sustained more injury than from all other things. The ruin of any church may be dated from the time that it commences the training of men avowedly for the ministry, from their infancy.
This is a different matter from a Christian parent devoting, in his own mind, to the work of God, a promising youth, provided he shall become a partaker of divine grace. In that case, it will be his duty to give him such an education as his circum
stances admit, and which may eventually further the object of his wishes. Such were the views with which I tendered the advice to the elder Mr. Urquhart, respecting the education and prospects of his son. I was powerfully convinced, that, should it please God to call him to the knowledge of himself, he had all the elements of an accomplished and attractive preacher. He had a fine voice, a pleasing address and appearance, besides being remarkably fond of knowledge, and diligent in its pursuit. To himself I said nothing; but I pointed out these things to his father, and convinced him of the importance of giving his son such an education, as might suit any of the professions in which the knowledge of literature is required. To every thing except study, he always manifested great reluctance or aversion; so that the path of duty to send him to St. Andrew's became at length clear.
The high satisfaction which this afforded to John was very evident. The buoyancy and vivacity of youth, no doubt, appeared, in the prospect of going to a new scene, especially as that scene was a university. But he was to be placed among those to whom he was almost an entire stranger,to be separated from his own family, which he had never before left, except for a few days together, -and to be made, in a great measure his own master. These considerations could not fail to make on his delicate mind, some painful impression.
His parents, too, could not but feel the risk to which they were exposed, though he had hitherto conducted himself with much propriety and success. He possessed a large portion of good sense for his years. He was exceedingly steady and persevering
in all his habits; and was ardently set on rising to eminence in some honorable department of life. But he was yet a boy; having only completed his fourteenth year: To many temptations he was now to be exposed, from which he had before been exempted, or the influence of which had been in a degree counteracted. Dangers of a very formidable kind frequently assail an inexperienced youth, not only from the associates of his academical pursuits, but from some of those pursuits themselves. But the election had been made; it was therefore necessary to commit him to the care and blessing of God.
I feel pleasure in remembering, that, with his father, I accompanied him to St. Andrew's, and thus far assisted in introducing him to that scene of usefulness, and perhaps, in the best sense, I might say, of glory, in which he was destined to act a conspicuous and an important part. Lodgings, of the humble kind which are generally occupied by the young men who attend that university, whose circumstances and prospects are not of a superior description, were provided for him. The respective Professors on whose lectures he was to attend, were spoken to, and he was commended especially to the watchful care of my respected friend, the Rev. William Lothian, Minister of the Independent congregation, whose ministerial labors he was to enjoy, on the Lord's day. Of that gentleman's kind and affectionate attentions, John ever spoke with great warmth; and to him he was indebted for much useful instruction, in private as well as in public.
Here I cannot allow the opportunity to pass without bearing my public and decided testimony
to the liberal principles on which the universities of my native country are conducted. At these important establishments, no distinction of party is acknowledged. They are open to men of all professions. No subscription is required at entrance or in any stage of future progress. Their highest honors are attainable by the Dissenter as well as by the Churchman: and, in the distribution of their rewards, I am not aware that any difference is made in consequence of the candidate not being of the established faith. At St. Andrew's all the students are required to attend public worship on the Lord's day, at the College church; but a young man has only to signify that he is a Dissenter, and that he means to attend regularly at the dissenting chapel or meetinghouse, and his attendance with his fellow-students is at once dispensed with. It is due to both parties that I should state, that John Urquhart entered the College of St. Andrew's as the son of dissenting parents; while there, he regularly attended a dissenting meeting, and became a regular member of a Dissenting Church; he left it with a mind unaffected on the subject of dissent; and throughout his course of study, he received from all the Professors, the most marked and affectionate treatment. Of their kind and honorable conduct, he always spoke with the warmest respect and gratitude.
Of this impartiality he had soon a very substantial proof. Contrary to the wishes of his father, he was determined to offer himself as a candidate for one of the exhibitions, or bursaries, as they are termed, in Scotland; most of which have been left for the encouragement of young men at the commencement of their college career,
with a view to help them to defray the expenses of it. Though the sum is usually small, it has often proved highly beneficial; not merely in aiding those whose resources are rather limited, but in exciting and stimulating the successful candidate to farther exertion. The effect produced in this way on the mind of my young friend, I have no doubt, was both considerable and beneficial. But, as happily his own account of his trial and his success remains, I shall allow him to tell the story of this first adventure himself. In a letter to his father, dated St. Andrew's, 7th of November, 1822, he writes as follows:
"My dear Father;
"The bursaries are at last decided. Tuesday was the day appointed for the competition; we met accordingly, at ten o'clock in the morning, and got a passage to translate from Latin into English, which we gave in at two o'clock. We were then allowed an hour for dinner, and assembled again at three, when we had another version to turn from English into Latin, which we finished about six o'clock. We were then, without getting out, locked up in a room to wait till we were called in our turn to be examined upon an extempore sentence. I was not called upon till near eleven, when I was dismissed for that night. The Professors met yesterday to determine the bursaries, from the exercises that had been performed the day before. There were no less than thirty-three competitors, and as I knew many of them to be very good scholars, from their answers in the public classes, I had given up all hopes of getting one. You may then judge of my very agreeable disappointment, on going last night to