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1. To Rev. R. MacDONALD, during illness, before going to Palestine,
Do. before going on the Mission,
3. How God works by Providence,
30. Rev. P. L MILLER. On beginning his Ministry,
Mr. G. Saaw. The Jews --Studies,
His SABBATA School TEACHERS,
BLAIRGOWRIE SOCIETY. Advices,
56. .. ONE WHO HAD LATELY TAKEN UP THE CROSS,
ONE OF RIS FLOCK DESERTED IN SOUL,
Rev. ALEX. GATHERER. Visit to the North,
SPECIMENS OF HIS SKETCHES OF SERMONS.
Proverbs xiv. 9,
V. BETHANY, Part 1,
HIS YOUTH, AND PREPARATION FOR THE MINISTRY.
* Nany shall rejoice at his birth; for be shall be great in the sight of the Lord.”—LUKE I. 14.
In the midst of the restless activity of such a day as ours, it will be felt by ministers of Christ to be useful, in no common degree, to trace the steps of one who but lately left us, and who, during the last years of his short life, walked calmly in almost unbroken fellowship with the Fatter and the Son.
The date of his birth was May 21, 1813. About that time, as is now evident to us who can look back on the past, the Great Head had a purpose of blessing for the Church of Scotland. Eminent men of God appeared to plead the cause of Christ. The Cross was lifted up boldly in the midst of Church Courts which had long been ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. More spirituality and a deeper seriousness began a few years onward to prevail among the youth of our Divinity Halls. In the midst of such events, whereby the Lord was secretly preparing a rich blessing for souls in all our borders, the subject of this Memoir was born. * Many were to rejoice at his birth;" for he was one of the blessings which were beginning to be dropt down upon Scotland, though none then knew that one was born whom hundreds would look up to as their spiritual father.
The place of his birth was Edinburgh, where his parents resided. He was the youngest child of the family, and was called ROBERT MURRAY, after the name of some of his kindred.
From his infancy his sweet and affectionate temper was remarked by all who knew him. His mind was quick in his attainments; he was easily taught the common lessons of youth, and some of his peculiar endowments began early to appear. At the age of four, while recovering from some illness, he selected as his recreation the study of the Greek alphabet, and was able to name all the letters, and write them in a rude way upon a slate. A year after he made rapid progress in the English class, and at an early period became somewhat eminent among his school-fellows for his melodious voice and powers of recitation. There were at that time catechetical exercises held in the Tron Church, in the interval between sermons; and some friends remember the interest often excited in the hearers by his correct and sweet recitation of the Psalms and passages of Scripture. But as yet he knew not the Lord, he lived to himself, having no hope and without God in the world.” Eph. ii. 12.
In October 1821, he entered the High School, where he continued his literary studies during the usual period of six years. He maintained a high place in his classes; and, in the Rector's Class, distinguished himself by eminence in geography and recitation. It was during the last year of his attendance at the High School that he first ventured on poetical composition, the subject being, “Greece, but living Greece no more.” The lines are characterized chiefly by enthusiasm for liberty and Grecian heroism, for in these days his soul had never soared to a higher region. His companions speak of him as one who had even then peculiarities that drew attention :--of a light, tali form--full of elasticity and vigor-ambitious, yet noble in his dispositions, disdaining every thing like meanness or deceit. Some would have been apt to regard him as exhibiting many traits of a Christian character; but his susceptible mind had not, at that time, a relish for any higher joy than the refined gaieties of society, and for such pleasures as the song and the dance could yield. He himself regarded these as days of ungodliness—days wherein he cherished a pure morality, but lived in heart a Pharisee. I have heard him say that there was a correctness and propriety in his demeanor at times of devotion, and in public worship, which some, who knew not his heart, were ready to put to the account of real feeling. And this experience of his own heart made him look with jealousy on the mere outward signs of devotion, in dealing with souls. He had learnt in his own case how much a soul, unawakened to a sense of guilt, may have satisfaction in performing, from the proud consciousness of integrity towards man, and a sentimental devotedness of mind that chastens the feelings without changing the heart.
He had great delight in rural scenery. Most of his summer vacations used to be spent in Dumfriesshire, and his friends in the parish of Ruthwell and its vicinity retain a vivid remembrance of his youthful days. His poetic temperament led him to visit whatever scenes were fitted to stir the soul. At all periods of his life, also, he had a love of enterprize. During the summer months he occasionally made excursions with his brother, or some intimate friend, to visit the lakes and hills of our Highlands, cherishing thereby, unawares, a fondness for travel, that was most useful to him in after days. In one of these excursions a somewhat romantic occurrence befell the travellers, such as we might rather have expected to meet with in the records of his Eastern journev. He and his friend had set out on foot to explore, at their leisure, Dunkeld and the highlands in its vicinity. They spent a day at Dunkeld, and about sunset set out again with the view of crossing the hills to Strathardle. A dense mist spread over the hills soon after they began to climb. They pressed on, but lost the track that might have guided them safely to the glen. They knew not how to direct their steps to any dwelling. Night came on, and they had no resource but to couch among the heath, with no other covering than the clothes they wore. They felt hungry and cold; and, awaking at midnight, the awful stillness of the lonely mountains spread a strange fear over them. But, drawing close together, they again lay down to rest, and slept soundly till the cry of some wild birds and the morning dawn aroused them.
Entering the Edinburgh University in November, 1827, he gained some prize in all the various classes he attended. In private he studied the modern languages; and gymnastic exercises at that time gave him unbounded delight. He used his pencil with much success, and then it was that his hand was prepared for sketching the scenes of the Holy Land. He had a very considerable knowledge of music, and himself sang correctly and beautifully. This, too, was a gist which was used to the glory of the Lord in after days-wonderfully enlivening his secret devotions, and enabling him to lead the song of praise in the congregation wherever occasion required. Poetry also was a never-failing recreation; and his taste in this department drew the attention of Professor Wilson, who adjudged him the prize in the Moral Philosophy class for a poem,“ On the Covenanters."
In the winter of 1831, he commenced his studies in the Divinity Hall, under Dr. Chalmers; and the study of Church History under Dr. Welsh. It may be naturally asked, What led him to wish to preach salvation to his fellow-sinners ? Could he say, like Robert Bruce, “ I was first called to my grace, before I obeyed my calling to the ministry ?” Few questions are more interesting than this ; and our answer to it will open up some of the wonderful ways of Him “ whose path is in the great waters, and whose footsteps are not known;" Psalm lxxvii. 19 : for the same event that awakened his soul to a true sense of sin and misery, led him to the ministry.
During his attendance at the literary and philosophical classes he felt occasional impressions, none of them perhaps of much depth. There can be no doubt that he himself looked upon the death of his eldest brother, David, as the event which awoke him from the sleep of nature, and brought in the first beam of Divine light into his soul. By that providence the Lord was calling one soul to enjoy the treasures of grace, while he took the other into the possession of glory.
In this brother, who was his senior by eight or nine years, the light of Divine grace shone before men with rare and solemn loveliness. His classical attainments were very high ; and, after