« ForrigeFortsæt »
who had any regard for religion, being desirous of conversing with him. And indeed, it was his duty, as well as his inclination, to gratify them. For he had such an inexhaustible fund of edifying pleasant discourse; such a constant cheerfulness and flow of spirits, attended with the most serious piety; so obliging a readiness to hear others; and so unaffected a desire to make all about him happy, that there never was, perhaps, a man better qualified to recommend Christianity in the way of con versation; nor were his endeavours without success.
But though so large a portion of his time was thus actively employed, he read a great deal to the last. . There was hardly a new book of any note, but he made himself acquainted with it: nay, he found time to study and compose upon a variety of divine subjects. To ac count for which, we must consider, that as he had a very quick apprehension, so he was capable of extraordinary application, attended with a certain earnestness to finish every subject he had once begun. And then he generally retired several months in the summer season to the country, where his studies were both his business and recreation; for he never seemed to be weary of them nor to give them up, except when necessarily interrupted.
Notwithstanding his incessant application, he enjoyed a very good state of health, seldom interrupted except by some fits of a rheum in his head, and a pain and weakness in his eyes.
In Spring 1754, he was feverish for some days, but soon recovered, and was so well as to attend the General Assembly in May, where he had the pleasure to meet with the late Rev. Messrs Tennent and Davies, agents for the college of New Jersey; a design to which he heartily wished well, as he did to all that tended to promote Christianity. It gave him great pleasure to see with what readiness the Assembly granted a collection for carrying on that good design.
After he came home, he had frequently in his hands a small volume of Mr Shaw's pieces, one of which is entitled, A Farewell to Life. About the end of August he complained much of the rheum in his head, which,
notwithstanding the good effects of medicines for a short time, still returned. Yet he preached on Sabbath, August 25, and went abroad next day, as usual. There were at that time some foreigners in town, who were desirous to be introduced to him on account of the great esteem they had for his brother. As his humane, sociable, and Christian temper made him always behave in a very obliging manner to strangers, he waited upon them with great cheerfulness, and conversed with them in his usual entertaining and facetious way. He was again to have waited on them on Thursday, August 29, but found himself so much indisposed by the pain in his head, that he could not go abroad. About two o'clock afternoon, he became suddenly so ill, that his memory failed him, and he could not express himself with his usual readiness. After that, he had a continual inclination to sleep, attended with a slow fever. At the same time, a little swelling under one of his cheeks, increased till it became what the physicians call an Erysipelas. On Sabbath, September 1, though he did not speak with his former distinctness, he conversed, in the intervals of his drowsiness, in the same heaven◄ ly strain he used to do on that day; repeating many comfortable passages of Scripture, and improving every thing that came in his way as the means of devotion and a spiritual frame; taking occasion from the cordials he was using, to speak of the fruit of the tree of life, and of the pure water of life. Afterwards his trouble increased, and carried him off in the sixty-first year of his age, on Sabbath, September 8, near twelve at night; the end of a Sabbath on earth being the beginning of an eternal Sabbath in heaven,
He was a man in whom were united, in a very remarkable degree, the most valuable gifts and the most lovely graces-a lively and striking instance of the truth and power, and amiableness of Christianity; employed from day to day in some good design, without the smallest appearance of vanity or ambition, or any interested view.
There was a perpetual cheerfulness in his temper, attended with that decency of behaviour, and that useful
and pertinent discourse, that, in conversing with him, one enjoyed the pleasures of the most lively company, along with the advantages of the most serious. His conversation was always pleasant, but never trifling. He was ingenious in making the best improvement of every occurrence. He equally disliked debates and a sullen reserve of temper, and diverted every thing of this kind, by introducing what tended to cheer and edify.
He was eminently given to hospitality, and was always ready to distribute to the necessitous to the utmost of his power, if not beyond it.
His kind and affectionate heart, to those who were in any trouble, whether of body or mind, was such as cannot well be expressed; and yet, even when those who were dearest to him were under alarming diseases, he retained a tranquillity and cheerfulness of temper, always hoping for the most comfortable event; and when deeply afflicted by the disappointment of these hopes, he, on every occasion, overcame the tenderest grief by the most pious resignation.
As a minister of the gospel he was very exemplary. The great subjects of his sermons were the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, which were the life of his own soul. In dealing with the consciences of men, he thought the proper method was (according to the Scripture pattern, particularly in the epistle to the Romans) to convince them first of their having broken the Divine law, and their being condemned by it, and then to lead them to the blood of Christ. He thought the alienation of the human soul from God in its unconverted state, is a sufficient proof of its depravity and misery. He inculcated the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. His opinion concerning the nature of faith in Christ, was, that it is the receiving of a free gift, and lies much in a supreme and rooted esteem of Christ, and all his benefits, with proportionable desires after them. His clear and scriptural views of the imputation of the Redeemer's righteousness, and of the agreeableness of this doctrine to reason, may be seen in his essay on preju dices against the gospel.
He was no bigot. He did not love party names, nor
laid undue stress upon lesser matters. The grand truths just now mentioned, of justification by the blood and righteousness of Christ, and sanctification by the Holy Spirit, were the main objects of his attention. When
he treated on other points, he made them subservient to these.
The style and method of his sermons, which was abundantly clear in his younger days, became afterwards more obscure, so that it was difficult to follow him attentively through a whole discourse; but every sentence was a short sermon, and the whole was in the true spirit and strain of the gospel.
In reproving sin, he was very sharp and severe; in the case of insensibility or obstinacy, but far from condemning any person without evidence. When he heard bad reports, he was a strict but impartial examiner, and spared no labour to find out the truth. And his inquiries this way were attended with great success, and fre quently made the means of vindicating injured innocence and exposing concealed wickedness. With the same steadiness and application he pursued every good design; whether he was engaged in helping those who needed his assistance, or in promoting any public inte rest, he stuck close to it till he carried it through, if any success was to be expected.
He was much beloved by his brethren in the ministry in general, especially by his colleagues in Glasgow. And what heightened the value of all his other talents and graces, and endeared him to every one, was that humility and self-diffidence that so eminently distinguished him, and appeared in all his behaviour.
"What he was in his family," says the late Dr Gillies
of Glasgow,* "I am at a loss to express. He was so
exceedingly and deservedly dear to all his relations, that the description must fall far short of the reality. Indeed, the remembrance is too affecting. Our only comfort is, that his Saviour and our's lives for ever, and that in his blessed presence we hope to enjoy a far happier society together than we even did in this life.
The greater part of this Account is taken from that of Dr G. prefixed to the first edition of Sermons and Essays."
"His stature was a little above the middle size. His body pretty strong and nimble-a fair complexion-an honest, open countenance, full of cheerfulness, good na‐ ture, modesty and gravity. He was liable to be absent and lost in thought-spoke very readily and agreeably -sometimes continued speaking longer than he designed, (though he was not tedious) his attention being car ried away by the subject. The same amiable simplicity run through all his behaviour-animated with no worldly views, but with an unshaken and well-grounded belief of Christianity, and a continual joyful hope of heaven.
"In 1721, Mr Maclaurin married Lilias, daughter of Mr John Rae of Little Govan, by whom he had nine children, of which four died in their infancy. His son John, a very promising young man, died in 1742, in the 17th year of his age. His eldest daughter (spouse to the Rev. Dr Gillies) died soon after the birth of her eighth child, Aug. 6. 1754, about a month before her father, whom she very much resembled in a peculiar sweetness and vivacity, and in the most serious piety. Mrs Maclaurin (a woman of great plainness and integrity, and very dutiful and affectionate to her relations) dying in 1747; Mr Maclaurin in 1749, married Margaret, daughter of Mr Patrick Bell of Cow-Caddins, who survived him."
Extracts of Letters to the Original Publisher.
"I was entertaining hope that so precious a life would be preserved a while longer for the service of the church of Christ, at a time of so much need. But the Master has seen meet to call home his faithful and wise servant. As we loved him, let us rejoice that he hath gone to his Father; while justly bewailing the loss to his surviving friends, the general loss to the church, to the world; how rare such a character! how difficult to find a successor to such a minister of Christ in any period of the church.
"It strikes me with pleasant wonder, and excites my grateful praise to the Supreme and most gracious Order