The James Begg Society

The James Begg Society

Publishers of Protestant, Reformed Christian Literature

Memoirs of Rev James Begg, D.D., by Rev. Thomas Smith, D.D.

CHAPTER I.

BIRTH AND EARLY DAYS.

I WAS born in the manse at New Monkland on the 31st October 1808. There are two parishes of the name of Monkland, distinguished as New and Old. They are situated in the north-eastern district of Lanarkshire, extending from the Clyde eastward to the boundary of the county. They originally formed only one extensive parish, but were divided into two parishes called New and Old Monkland, in 1640. The whole district was called Monkland, because it was once the property of the monks of Newbattle Abbey in Midlothian. New Monkland, in which I was born, is about ten miles in length and seven in breadth, being bounded by Old Monkland and Cadder on the west, by Hosts on the south, Slamannan on the east, and Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, in the county of Dumbarton, on the north. Airdrie, now a very thriving town, is in the parish, and the old great middle turnpike road from Glasgow to Edinburgh passes through Airdrie, the distance from Edinburgh being thirty-two miles, and that from Glasgow nearly eleven. The district is high and somewhat bleak, but tolerably well cultivated and wooded, and very healthy and bracing. Although there is no hill or mountain in the parish, the church and manse occupy an elevated position, and from the church-gate the distant chimneys and smoke of Glasgow are clearly seen; whilst, on the other hand, in passing along the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway near Croy, or the Caledonian Railway near Coatbridge, the old parish church of New Monkland, a plain but commodious structure with a stunted spire, is visible on the rising ground. The manse is at a little distance towards the east, the parish school-house and teacher's house standing between. The manse was enlarged during my father's incumbency, and the glebe extended to eleven acres.

Dr. Begg's Birthplace.

The parish was somewhat famous, and suffered severely, during the Covenanting period. The people of New Monkland sent a detachment of men to the battle of Bothwell Bridge, John Main, elder, Ballochnie, being the standard-bearer. He carried a handsome yellow silk banner emblazoned with inscriptions and emblems in gold, which is still preserved by his descendants, and which I have often seen - indeed, which I got some time ago repaired. The principal motto on the flag is, "EAST MONKLAND FOR CHURCH AND STATE, ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD AND THE COVENANT," and there is the representation of a Bible, a crown and thistle, with the motto,Nemo me impune lacessit, and under it a hand grasping a drawn dagger. Eleven men from New Monkland were killed at Bothwell Bridge, including Andrew Yuill, the gardener of Rochsoles, which is close to my father's manse, and others with names and from places still equally well known in the parish. Eight were made prisoners, and nineteen were fined in considerable sums. Dreadful hardships were endured in New Monkland during the Covenanting period. An old writer says:-

"For the space of ten years, the parish, with little exception, was at the mercy of the military, who wantonly wasted and plundered, and took a pride in their cruelties.... Troops of dragoons frequently came to the parish, under pretence sometimes of seeking arms, and sometimes to hinder conventicles; but their chief end was plunder, which, when they collected, they would have compelled the people to furnish horses to convey to head-quarters at Hamilton. The cruelties they exercised during such marauding are indescribable. When those whom they designed to seize upon had made their escape, they seized their cattle. When not hunted after by the military, they were frequently, upon reports and information, called before the Sheriff and other courts, where they were fined and forced to come under bonds and engagements contrary to their consciences, and which to many of them were more grievous than all the losses they had sustained. Few parishes were more harassed, for when the military were in the neighbourhood they seldom failed to pay East Monkland a visit either going or returning. On one occasion the curate at Cumbernauld brought two hundred dragoons to search for men in the woods, and when they found none they quartered themselves upon the inhabitants, and consumed everything at their pleasure. The laird of Monkland was subjected to forfeiture, and that most unjustly.... His son was obliged to sell the half of his estate after the Revolution."

These facts may account for the strong Presbyterianism of the district, for the welcome with which the Revolution was greeted, and for the circumstance that in both of the Monklands the 600 merks were paid to the patrons under the Act 1690, so that Queen Anne's Act restoring patronage did not take effect in them. In both of these parishes the heritors and elders still 1 "propose" the minister for the acceptance of the congregation, and to this probably may be traced the fact that my father was ever a parish minister there.

[Footnote 1: This was of course written before the Patronage Abolition Act of 1874. - T. S.]

At the time when I was born the district was tranquil and comparatively thinly peopled - there was little stir or enterprise; but the discovery of coal and iron has since added enormously to the surrounding wealth and population. The southern district especially is now densely peopled. My father was minister of the New Monkland for upwards of forty years, having been previously for a short time assistant at St. Ninians, and afterwards for seven years, with much acceptance, minister of the Calton Chapel, Glasgow. He was born at Douglas in the upper ward of Lanarkshire, and both his father and mother were stern Reformed Presbyterians. There are still favourable recollections of the family in that district. My grandfather is said to have been a man of much excellence; and Dr. Symington of Paisley told me that my grandmother was distinguished for her knowledge of the Bible above almost all the women he ever knew. She was so determined a Reformed Presbyterian, however, that she would never go to hear her son preach, he having at an early period joined the Established Church. All my relatives by that side were nearly equally determined Covenanters. Although they came to live in the manse occasionally, and although everything was pleasant as amongst friends, they would never enter the parish church, but doggedly walked two miles to the Reformed Presbyterian chapel at Airdrie. These are amongst my earliest recollections; and although, as a little boy, I did not understand these controversies, I remember holding these friends in decided veneration. Their conduct and determination gave me even then a strong impression of the importance of fixed principles. It is one of my oldest recollections that I asked one of my uncles, who was a Reformed Presbyterian elder, why he did not go to the parish church; when I received in the most solemn manner the following answer, "Thou shalt not hear the instruction which causeth to err from the words of truth." How astonished these people would have been, had they been now alive, at some very different characters who affect at present to be the standard-bearers of Reformed Presbyterian orthodoxy! The older "Cameronians," as they were called at that time, were a noble race, and the very stringency with which they adhered to what they regarded as fixed principles, avoiding, like Davie Deans, "right-hand extremes and left-hand defections," was very remarkable, and a peculiar glory in the race of Scotchmen. I have always felt it to be an honour to have some of this blood running in my veins.

My mother's name was Mary Mathie. She was daughter of a merchant in Greenock, and was born in Manse Lane in 1777. She was a woman of great amiability and considerable humour, a person of excellent sense and devoted Christian principle, an excellent manager of domestic affairs, but very quiet and retiring. She was in some respects a considerable contrast to my father. This often happens, and with great advantage. My father was a man of a strong and determined nature, although also kind and considerate, and possessed of very noble qualities. He possessed great natural talent and sagacity, high Christian principle, and was one of the most popular preachers in the West of Scotland in his day. He retained his popularity to the last. His church, which contained upwards of 1,000 people, was filled every Sabbath, and many people regularly came great distances, some of them seven and eight miles, to attend public worship. The recollection of his ministry is still strong in the district, and no doubt will be heard of in eternity. He was one of the best specimens of the old parish minister, and had vast local influence for good. The church bells were rung thrice every Sabbath by a curious but excellent old character called William Brownlee, a worthy sample of the old Scotch beadle, who took as deep an interest in everything parochial, as if he had been the minister himself. Before the third bell began, the people were seen flocking in their Sabbath dresses with the utmost gravity from all quarters to the church. When William Brownlee, with his picturesque broad blue bonnet, came round for the Bible, before beginning to ring the bell for the third time, my father was in the habit of asking him what o'clock it was; and I have heard him answer, with the greatest solemnity, " It's jist seven minutes and three quarters frae the oor, if I'm no mista'en, for I wouldna like to tell a lee." These peaceful and striking Sabbaths never can be forgotten. They are the glory of Scotland; and it is impossible to deny that if the system of parochial subdivision and thorough Scriptural instruction had only received justice and kept pace with the population, we should have had, by the blessing of God, a model country in a far higher degree than statesmen have ever imagined. To have powerful Christian men acting in manageable districts everywhere, backed by public authority, surrounded by a loving and devoted people, preaching the doctrines of the Gospel with all earnestness from Sabbath to Sabbath and from house to house, was a blessing of inestimable value, and a marked contrast to much that we see at present under pretence of "progress." My father was a thoroughly devoted evangelical minister, and his time was entirely engrossed with preaching, visiting, catechising, managing the poor, attending Presbyteries, assisting at communions, and generally promoting the temporal and spiritual interests of all around. There are some features of his private character, moreover, that are specially worthy of notice, for his religion was not of the shallow and inconsistent type so often met with at present. He had the greatest abhorrence of debt, and when, after his death, we advertised for his creditors, there was found to be nothing due but the bill of the doctor who attended him on his death-bed. My subsequent experience in life has proved that this is by no means a common thing, although there is no clearer precept in Scripture than "Owe no man anything." Very few seem to square their expenditure rigidly by their income, "paying as they possess," as the Scotch people say; although there is no other way of being thoroughly honest. A universal system of ready-money payment in all domestic transactions would remove one of the greatest evils and sources of discomfort, although some people seem to take their debts very coolly. We have heard of a Scotch woman, to whom a neighbour said, "Ephie, I wonder hoo ye can sleep wi' sae muckle debt on your head;" to which Ephie quietly answered, "I can sleep fu' weel, but I wunner they can sleep that trust me!" My father was most particular in making statements as to matters of fact, and if we made an assertion in an apparently careless or exaggerated way, he instantly cross-questioned us, to see that we had sufficient ground for what we said, and that it was neither untrue nor exaggerated. He was very bold, and would say nothing behind a man's back which he was not prepared to say to his face. At the time of what were called the Radicals, when I was very young, my father, although always an advocate for reasonable reform, yet because some of them maintained theories of spoliation to be promoted by force and civil war, and were supplying themselves with pikes and other instruments, denounced them from the pulpit, and declared that it was an attempt on the part of "the scum of the earth" (this was said with great emphasis, and I yet remember it distinctly) to become rulers of the nation. It was alleged at that time that some of the leaders of the Revolutionists in Airdrie were proposing to divide the different estates. Each was making his selection of a considerable property in the neighbourhood - some were for Airdrie House, others for Cavinhill, others for Rochsoles. One of them said, "John, I think I would just be contented wi' your house and garden." "My house!" exclaimed John, with the utmost astonishment and indignation. "Are you going to become a public robber?" "The case being altered, that alters the case." They were very violent, and threatened to shoot all who should oppose them, and my father among the rest. He adopted his measures at once, sent away his family, but set the enemy at defiance himself. I remember well being sent as a child, in a cart covered with blankets, with all the rest of the family, to the neighbouring manse of Slamannan, ten miles distant, and inland, far from the scene of strife. The minister, Mr. Robertson, was a quiet and comfortable bachelor, and received us with great hospitality. But my father himself would not move, lived in the manse, continued to denounce what he regarded as unsound views from his pulpit, and walked the streets of Airdrie as if nothing were happening. After a time the storm blew over, and we returned in safety and comfort to our old residence, whilst the ordinary routine of parish action proceeded as before. A thoroughly evangelical preacher, my father entered more fully than many do at present into all the details of duty and sin, "breaking sanctification small," as Dr. Chalmers was in the habit of phrasing it. Airdrie was chiefly at that time a place of weavers, and some of them had stolen the yarn of the Glasgow manufacturers. I have the most vivid recollection of my father preaching on this with great earnestness and emphasis in a sermon from the text, "Let him that stole steal no more." The general population was, in ordinary times, very quiet and orderly; and family worship, or, as it was called, "taking the books," was almost universally observed. But there were a few noted and less satisfactory characters in the parish, and amongst the rest a well-known drunkard called Willie Paul, who was the terror of the children as he reeled home at night. At length the news was spread through the parish that Willie, in one of his drunken fits, had fallen into an empty coal-pit and was drowned. This produced a deep sensation, and the following Sabbath I remember most vividly my father's sermon on the text, "At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." As a decided Presbyterian, he stoutly maintained his own opinion. He hated all mere partisanship in Church Courts, and never allowed himself to become a mere follower of men. But yet, at the same time, he never carried public discussions into private life; and I have heard him say that, if he was brought into collision with any of the brethren in public debate in the Presbytery or Synod, he not only endeavoured to avoid mere personality, but he contrived as soon as possible to see them, so as to remove any feeling of asperity, and to have friendly conversation on other subjects. His rule was, moreover, never to desert a friend in difficulty, or to admit any one in whom he had confidence to be wrong until he was proved to be so. A remarkable case of this kind occurred, which I have often heard him mention. The celebrated Dr. Mackinlay of Kilmarnock did what is generally held to be a very imprudent thing, namely, married his own servant. There were circumstances connected with the marriage which gave rise to remark; as, for example, that on his marriage jaunt he was alleged to have worn a coat with metal buttons, and some other similar circumstances of which a handle might be made. But my father, who had investigated the whole matter, was convinced that there was nothing in it but a proceeding of doubtful prudence and taste, and especially that there was nothing morally wrong. He therefore stood bravely by the doctor, as did all his own numerous congregation at Kilmarnock. He went as usual to assist him at his communion, when others refused, till the cloud had passed away, which it did afterwards most thoroughly. "A friend in need is a friend indeed." On the arrival of my father at Kilmarnock, he announced to Dr. Mackinlay that he would do the whole usual work of his assistants single-handed. And I often heard him mention that, accordingly, he preached twice on the Thursday, twice on the Saturday, exhorted ten tables, and preached in the evening on Sabbath, and wound up all by preaching twice on the Monday. Some one who was present at the ten tables declared, that the longer he spoke, he spoke the better. On one occasion a warm admirer of his said that he had "a Bothwell Brig face;" and he was just the man to carry out his resolution in such circumstances with heroic determination. He was a great advocate for punctuality in keeping appointments, and reckoned the waste of other people's time, by keeping them waiting, little better than a breach of the eighth commandment. Whilst abundantly frank and outspoken in proper circumstances, no one referred more frequently to, or understood better the propriety of, the proverb - "A fool uttereth all his mind, but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards." He had a stern dislike of all meretricious modes of courting popularity, of all innovations in worship. Hence his successful struggle in favour of the old form of the communion table, in opposition to the administration of the sacrament in pews, as a violation of the original institution of the Lord's Supper, and inconsistent with the very appearance of a feast or sacrament of communion. Hence his struggle, along with others, which was also crowned with success, against the organ in St. Andrew's Church, Glasgow, as inconsistent with Presbyterian principle, as a restoration of part of the Temple service, as opposed to the simplicity and spirituality of New Testament worship, and fitted seriously to divide the Church. Hence his contention against the painted window representing Christ blessing children in St. Enoch's Church, Glasgow. Hence his dislike to the whole modern system of certificates carried about by preachers, as if they were a kind of servants in quest of situations, as derogatory to the license which they have received after thorough study and examination, from a Presbytery, and as no real proof of their qualifications. I remember a preacher who had been in the parish for some time on one occasion applying for a certificate, expecting, no doubt, a towering enumeration of all his qualities. My father simply wrote, "I certify that is a member of this congregation, and that he is free from scandal or any ground of Church censure, so far as I know." I do not know whether he used the certificate or not. Probably he did not. But this system of carrying about a sheaf of certificates, which was then only beginning, has now grown into a gigantic abuse. The people and preachers are equally to blame for this. It is said that a Scotch client on one occasion, hearing his case defended by an eloquent lawyer, exclaimed, "I aye kent that I was ill-used, but I never kent how ill-used I was until I heard yon man speak." So, many of our preachers may well say, "We always knew, or at least hoped, that we were very clever fellows; but we did not know, and people will never suspect, how clever we are, except by our certificates."

My father said that in his younger days he was rather delicate. His constitution, however, must always have been good; his voice was singularly clear and powerful, and by his plain and wholesome diet and quiet life in the country he became, by the blessing of God, strong and robust. Indeed, he was a strong man till very advanced in years, and died at his post with unclouded intellect, and scarcely diminished strength, at eighty-three. He had an amazing knowledge of the Scriptures. Not only could he quote them easily and accurately, but his knowledge of them was most minute. For example, in quoting from the book of Job, he could tell whether it was Job himself, Bildad the Shuhite, Zophar the Naamathite, Eliphaz the Temanite, or Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, that spoke; although at the same time he had a great contempt for all knowledge of the Scriptures which had not a special reference to matters vital and of eternal interest. He was a great walker, not keeping a horse. I have repeatedly walked with him to Shotts, Slamannan, and Hamilton, distances varying from eight to ten miles. His chief business at Hamilton was to attend the Presbytery, although on one occasion I went with him there to be introduced to the then Duke of Hamilton, who examined me in Horace, and gave me a bursary in Glasgow College. I remember still the fear and trembling with which I was ushered through several apartments in the Palace of Hamilton into the presence of the great man, who rather plumed himself upon his scholarship, and the delight with which I heard the expression of his Grace's satisfaction.

To Shotts and Slamannan my father went to preach on the days of the communion, and I sometimes went with him. But in every case we walked home again after the work of the day was over, the distance altogether being from sixteen to twenty miles. His preaching on these occasions was very powerful. Although I knew some of the sermons before-hand, having heard them before, I always listened to them with fresh interest, and the more pathetic or alarming passages always came with fresh power. He preached without a note before him, but not without thorough preparation. He was a great advocate for this mode of preaching, and an admirable model of it. He deeply regretted the gradual prevalence of a different method, as fitted to weaken the power of the pulpit. It may suit men of genius, but in the case of ordinary men and ordinary people it is much less effective for good. Some one asked him on one occasion whether there was any good reason for the change in the case of common preachers, when he answered with his usual decision and in strong Doric, "The reason is doon-richt laziness."

In my young days the mass of the people of that district, with the exception of those resident in Airdrie, which was then only a small village, belonged to the rural population. There were a number of small proprietors scattered through the parish, commonly called in Scotland "bonnet lairds." Most of them were very respectable people, although their means were at that time very limited. The discovery of iron, which has since brought such a vast population to the district, has since enriched many of them. Coals were then abundant, and the indication that iron existed under the surface was even then evident in some places by the red colour of the water, although the matter excited little attention. In particular, there was a well in the parish strongly impregnated with sulphur and iron, called the " Virtue Well," to which the people resorted, with little idea of the immense wealth that was stored up beneath the surface. Coatbridge at that time had only a few houses. Amongst the first persons to make the discovery that iron existed, and might be of great value, were the family of the Bairds, whose remarkable rise from high respectability in common life into prodigious fortunes I remember. The result has been almost incredible in certain instances. For example, it is said that one piece of moss land was bought at that time for £300, and that out of it £100,000 worth of iron has since been taken. In my early days, however, nothing of all this great wealth existed. But although not very rich, some of the small lairds were remarkably litigious. Although my father was the sort of local judge and general arbiter, yet one or two of them ruined themselves by prolonged cases in the civil courts. My father remonstrated strongly with them. The matters in debate were often very trifling, as a gravestone in the churchyard, or a seat in the church, or a precise boundary. One of them, in answer to these remonstrances, said with great emphasis, "I really dinna ken ony greater pleasure on earth than a weel-gawin' 2 law-plea." That same man ruined himself by this insane love of litigation. He was forced to part with a very comfortable property, and left his family in penury.

[Footnote 2: That is, "well-going." - T. S.]

These were the exceptions, however; the mass of the people being very respectable and well behaved. I believe many of them were true Christians. They were most regular attenders on public worship. The intelligence exhibited at the public examinations held by my father in the different districts, their love of Divine ordinances, the heartiness of their singing the praises of God, in which they were led by a most exemplary and intelligent precentor, called Ebenezer Patterson, a thorough and enthusiastic musician, were all extremely refreshing and symptomatic of good. Large gatherings of people assembled at the communion seasons, a peculiarity which still exists in the north of Scotland. Besides much week-day preaching by able ministers on such occasions, the church was crowded on the Sabbath during the long but deeply interesting service, whilst five or six sermons were at the same time preached to an immense congregation at "the tent." The effect of all this I believe to have been on the whole very beneficial, notwithstanding the ridicule of Burns, and the comparative coldness of later times. All my own earliest and most solemn impressions of Divine things were connected with these memorable scenes, although they were much deepened and confirmed afterwards by the early death of one of my sisters, and by other circumstances.

Apart from other considerations, these great and memorable seasons of communion were of much value, by breaking in upon the routine of the ordinary Sabbaths, confirming at the mouths of many witnesses the great truths of the Gospel, giving the people of the whole district an opportunity of hearing the most powerful preaching, and refreshing and stimulating the ministers themselves by pleasant and edifying intercourse with each other. The alleged drawbacks to the system were as nothing in comparison with these great and manifest advantages.

Some of the able men who assisted my father from year to year at the communion were very remarkable. Dr. Scott of Greenock interchanged services regularly with my father. He was a grave and able man, and had collected a large and deeply attached congregation in the Middle Church of Greenock, in the ministry of which Dr. Cunningham afterwards acted as his colleague. I have still a vivid recollection of a sermon he preached on one of these occasions on the text - "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" He dwelt with peculiar power and emphasis on the word "neglect," showing that men required simply to do nothing, only to let the matter alone, to secure their final destruction. Being condemned already, they had merely to allow the day of grace to pass away unimproved, and their ruin was certain. Simple as the truths are, they came with peculiar force from the lips of Dr. Scott. The following passage in regard to him is from the pen of Dr. Cunningham:-

"Dr. Scott was possessed in an eminent degree of almost all those qualifications which render a minister of the Gospel a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, - excellent talents, extensive information, very high attainments in personal holiness, a thorough knowledge of the Word of God, sound and comprehensive views of Christian doctrine, great practical acquaintance with the effects of the truth on the minds of men of different characters and in different circumstances, and much Christian wisdom in rightly dividing the Word of Truth, so as to make it bear most directly and successfully upon the minds of those whom he addressed.

"I had not the happiness of knowing him until after he had been laid aside from the discharge of public duty, but it was my privilege for several years to act as his assistant, and to minister among his flock; and I can truly say of him, as Burnet did of Leighton, that 'I have the greatest veneration for his memory, and that I reckon my knowledge of him among the greatest blessings of my life, and for which I know I must give an account to God in the great day.' I had an opportunity of witnessing, and I think it proper to bear testimony to, his singular freedom from those feelings which, even among good men, sometimes disturb the cordial and affectionate harmony that ought to subsist between an aged pastor and his assistant and successor, his profound and lively interest in the spiritual welfare of his flock, manifested in every way that was practicable, and especially in habitual prayer that the blessing of God might rest upon them, and his holy and magnanimous disregard of everything but what might tend most to promote the glory of God in the salvation of their souls. From peculiar circumstances, he was placed in a situation in which he was called upon, after he had been laid aside from public duty, to choose between securing what he reckoned a pure dispensation of Christian truth to his flock, and the accomplishment of an object which must have been dear to his strongest natural affections, and he never hesitated which side to choose. He continued, while he lived, to act firmly and conscientiously, under the conviction that he was bound to have for his first object the spiritual welfare of the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made him overseer, whatever sacrifices this might require at his hand." 3

[Footnote 3: Preface by Dr. Cunningham to a volume of sermons of Rev. Dr. John Scott, Greenock, pp. 4, 5. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1839.]

In the life of one of his most excellent hearers, to whom his ministry was much blessed, we find the following:-

"Mrs. Johnstone always enumerated among her most precious means of spiritual instruction, the ministry of her beloved pastor, the late Rev. Dr. Scott, which she long enjoyed and highly prized, particularly the discourses he preached for many years every alternate Wednesday fore-noon. She would say, 'He frequently seemed to be allowed to catch a glimpse, as it were, within the veil, as the spirit of grace and supplication was largely poured out upon him when he brought us to the mercy-seat where grace reigns, and with a fluency and copiousness of expression peculiarly his own, made our requests known unto God, carrying us, through our Advocate with the Father and glorious High Priest, into the holiest of all, that we might receive those gracious communications which would prepare us for entering His glorious presence in Heaven. Then he exhibited in a manner peculiarly convincing and attractive the doctrines of the Cross, unfolding to the eye of faith the dignity and glory of the person of Christ, the nature and perfections of God, as seen in Him in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwells, setting forth what debtors we are to sovereign kindness, and proving from the Word of Truth the suitableness to our utter helplessness and spiritual destitution of all the offices which Christ sustains, as well as of all the relations in which He is revealed.'

"She often spoke of the remarkable blessing which flows from sanctified affliction, as eminently qualifying her pastor to direct and comfort many in their day of distress, by pointing them to the fountain of consolation from which he had been enabled to draw all his support, under manifold, continued, and complicated trials. She would say, 'Dear Dr. Scott has been called to drink largely of the cup of affliction, but in the school of experience and of Christ "he has learned in whatsoever state he is therewith to be content;" like his blessed Master, "learning obedience by the things he has suffered;" ' and would go on to observe, 'Ministers who are faithful need not escape trial and suffering, for the Scripture has it, "And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation." ' " 4

[Footnote 4: Memoir of the late Mrs Ann Johnstone, Willow Park, Greenock, pp.35-37. Second edition. Edinburgh: Oliphant & Sons, 1846.]

Yet, like most of the other excellent men of this stamp that I have met with, Dr. Scott had a great deal of innocent humour, and told a story with much zest. I remember his telling one of a sailor who came to be married, and when asked if he would take the woman to be his lawful and married wife, he hesitated, looked blank, and said, "I would like to know first what you are going to say to she." On another occasion when the woman was asked if she would obey, and did not at once answer, the sailor exclaimed, "Leave that to me, sir."

Dr. Love of Anderston also was a regular assistant. He is well known to have been a man of high spirituality and great mental power. He was an early secretary of the London Missionary Society. He was a slow and solemn but very impressive preacher. Some one has said that his sermons consisted of a strong view of the attributes, with "a use" of terror. His sermon on the Revolution, on the text, "He is terrible to the kings of the earth," is very powerful.

In the Appendix to Dr. Scott's life it is said:-

"Those who knew Dr. Love in the pulpit only could not conceive of him as he appeared in the social circle, modestly conspicuous for Christian cheerfulness and Christian courteousness; and, when he chose, contributing in a singularly engaging manner to rational and profitable enjoyment. Much as his society was sought by eminent ministers and Christians of almost every denomination, and much as his ministerial labours were increased with his advancing years, he continued to secure leisure to cultivate the favourite classical studies of his youth, and also to read with delight some of the most celebrated works of the Greek Fathers; and though about the same time he was not chosen to fill the theological chair of a northern university when he submitted to a comparative trial, the electors declared him to be 'worthy of the highest literary honours,' and a sister university, not long after, conferred on him the highest degree in divinity.

"Thus distinguished for talents and literary acquirements in ministerial duties and in social life, Dr. Love was still more distinguished, in secret and in private, as a man who lived to God, and 'walked with God.' Frequently as he worshipped the Supreme Being, he habitually guarded against 'drawing nigh to Him with his mouth, and honouring Him with his lips, while his heart was far from Him.' He anxiously sought a sense of the Divine presence in his devotions, how short soever, and diligently watched for the tokens of it. He gratefully acknowledged them when perceived, and the least diminution of them he as tenderly lamented; nor, for near thirty years, was he either frequently or long deprived of this his richest enjoyment, even amid sharp trials and depressing infirmities." 5

[Footnote 5: Appendix to volume of sermons by Dr. John Scott: Memoir of Dr. John Love, p. 488.]

Such was another of the men by whom the large congregations at New Monkland were roused and led during the seasons of communion. I remember well that grave and sweet old face relaxing into the utmost tenderness, and the quiet and genial humour with which this Elijah-like man told pleasant, interesting, and profitable stories, and enjoyed a hearty laugh.

Mr. Bower of Old Monkland was an extremely popular minister, and a great preacher in the tent. He carried on long dialogues in his sermons, which were extremely fascinating to the people. William Anderson was the village innkeeper, and he, on his own behalf, was anxious, as the afternoon wore on, that some one should preach in the tent who was less popular, that the people might adjourn for their simple refreshment in his hostelry. It is said that on one occasion he was looking out of his door, with blank and unavailing anxiety, and seeing one stray man approaching from the preaching ground, he eagerly asked, "Are they no moving yet?" To which the reply was, "Mr. Bower has ta'en the tent, and they'll no be moving for an hour yet." It is a pity that samples of that old and effective kind of preaching have not been preserved. I only remember the introduction of one of Mr. Bower's sermons. The text was, "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord," and Mr. Bower proceeded to say, "When a man dies people say to one another, 'When did he die? What did he die of? Was he long ill? What family has he left? Has he left any money? Who has he left it to?' But, alas! alas! how few ask the question, 'Did he die in the Lord?'" He also was a considerable humourist. Indeed, it may be almost taken as an axiom, that there can be no thoroughly great man without some sense of the ludicrous, for everything has a ludicrous side, and a man cannot see all the sides of any truth, unless he sees this amongst the rest. Like the ministers of those days, Mr. Bower was a man of great influence at Old Monkland, and exercised a general superintendence of all things in his parish. Curious cases were sometimes brought before him. I remember his telling of one woman who came to complain that her husband did not give her enough to eat, and in proof of this she brought the actual porridge that was to serve for her breakfast, and did this more than once. Whereupon Mr. Bower at length exclaimed, "If ye bring them any more I'll sup them." He at the same time thought that she ought to manifest more respect to her husband, and reminded her of Sarah, who "honoured her husband, calling him lord," upon which the woman exclaimed, with the utmost scorn and disdain, "John Tamson my lord, bonny my lord!" Mr. Bower disliked very much new and ranting tunes, and preaching on one occasion in a church where the precentor was alleged to be fond of novelties, he leant over the pulpit after giving out the psalm, and giving him a smart tap with the psalm-book on the head, said, "Now come, gie us nane o' your lilts." It was a practice in those days for some of the people to stand up during the sermon to shake off a tendency to drowsiness, but with poor human nature this was sometimes made a means of indulging vanity and a spirit of display. On one occasion a man who had got a very smart and rather gaudy vest stood up more than once, and threw back his coat apparently to let the vest be seen. Mr. Bower said at length, "Noo, John, ye had better sit doon; we have a' seen your braw waistcoat." The system of public rebuke in the church still continued, and on one occasion, calling up for some offence a woman named Janet Greenhorn, he began by saying "Janet Greenhorn," and with emphasis began, "Nae Greenhorn in sin." Preaching, it is said, at one time, of Peter weeping, he said, "Now observe this was not a woman, for everybody kens that there's sometimes little between their greeting and their laughing." These were the eccentricities, however, of a truly able and very popular man. My father heard him preach his first sermon, from the text, "Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no " (Deut. viii. 2). The first words of his first public prayer were, " Lord, we pray for all men, from Pharaoh riding in his gilded chariot to the maid that is behind the mill."

Mr. Bower had a beadle who was a considerable character as many of the old beadles were. On one occasion he said to the minister, in reference to the grave-digging, which was also part of his function, "Trade's very dull the noo; I hae na buried a leevin cratur for three weeks.' It reminds us of the language of the poet:-

"See yonder maker of the dead man's bed, The sexton, hoary-headed chronicler, Of hard unmeaning face, down which ne'er stole A gentle tear."

This same beadle, who was very much an eye-servant, was appointed to watch the gooseberries during the days of the communion, when, amongst a multitude of worthy people, some doubtful characters came about. On one occasion, when the beadle saw some one coming out of the manse, and therefore likely to observe and report, he exclaimed, with the greatest apparent zeal, to strangers going near the garden, "How daur ye touch the minister's grosets?" but as soon as the manse people had again vanished out of sight, he proceeded to add, in an undertone, "Tak a pickle for a' that." Mr. Bower had no children of his own; but a young relative of the name of James (or, as he was more generally called, Jamie) Hamilton stayed with him. The minister was very indulgent. Jamie was a great pickle, and gave poor Mr. Bower a great deal of trouble. He gave himself out as a kind of doctor, and, out of pure mischief, made absurd prescriptions, which sometimes had only the effect of making bad worse. Occasionally he took fits of running away, and Mr. Bower had much trouble in hunting him out and bringing him back. On one occasion, it is said, he went to Edinburgh, took up his quarters in a hotel, calling himself Captain Hamilton. After much trouble Mr. Bower found where he was, arrived at the hotel, and demanded whether a Mr. Hamilton was there. The waiter said, "There's a Captain Hamilton here." Mr. Bower, entering into the humour of the joke, immediately said, with great briskness, "Will you be good enough to tell him that Major Bower has come?"

Dr Mackinlay of Kilmarnock was one of the leading assistants both at Old and New Monkland on those sacramental occasions. He was certainly a most powerful preacher, and I have the most vivid recollection still of the sermons that I heard him preach to large crowds in the open air. One was upon the text "Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel " (Amos iv. 12), and the other on "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light " (Eph. v. I4).

There was something singularly imposing in Dr. Mackinlay's appearance. He was a born orator. His manner, voice, and matter, all conspired to produce a great effect. From the time of his entering the tent or pulpit, you were struck with him as no ordinary man; and his various, solemn, perfectly self-possessed, and lively manner sustained the attention throughout. It might be said of him, in the words of Milton in regard to one of his heroes:-

"All gave attention mute, and he began."

The caricatures of him given by Burns, who had evidently heard him, and deals with him as a man of great power and celebrity, convey a tolerably good impression of the general effect of his preaching. The following statement is founded in truth, although, of course, it is distorted and exaggerated:-

"Hear how he clears the points of faith Wi' rattlin' and wi' thumpin'! Now meekly calm, now wild in wrath, He's stampin' and he's jumpin'!'

There was a considerable art in effective tent-preaching, with which, however, except in the North of Scotland, very few of our Scotch ministers are now familiar. The great secret was to keep well within the tent, and to use it as a speaking trumpet. In this way a man with a clear voice could speak to a great multitude. It was not a tent such as the military use, for covering both the people and minister, but simply an upright enclosed pulpit with a book-board and small canopy, and it was upon the whole admirably adapted for the purpose in view. Skilfully employed by a man accustomed to it, thousands could be addressed with the greatest ease, whilst the exercise of the lungs in the open air is much less exhausting than in a crowded meeting within doors. I have heard my father's voice distinctly nearly half a mile away on a still Sabbath. The exercise, however, had its difficulties. When the day was stormy, the ordeal was sometimes trying even for the experienced. The rule of the tent was that a minister continued till the next arrived. It is said that on one occasion, when the wind was blowing hard in the mouth of the tent, a worthy minister began to hesitate about going up the steps to continue the exercise, whereupon one of the worthy old women who generally clustered round, and were notable at all tent-preachings, said, "Gang up, man, gang up; is it no said that ye should spend and be spent?" To which he quietly remarked, "It's quite true, my good woman, but no a' in ae day." It was in connection with this form of preaching that the dislike of the common people to reading sermons came out into greatest prominence. The well-known story of the man who had a portion of his sermon blown away out of the tent, and to whom one of the hearers on handing it back said, "There's your fourthly," is an illustration of this. This feeling prevailed in the strongest form in the district about which I am writing, and at the time to which my narrative relates, I remember well the pungent remarks of the people on the subject: "Hoo can we mind the minister's sermon, if he canna mind it himsel'?" was the constant theory. It was regarded as a kind of imbecility not to be able to speak "without the paper." It was supposed to prove that colleges were after all of no value. The idea was that a "college-bred man" should be able to speak as often and as long as was necessary. This was the great purpose of college training. On one occasion when my father was from home, which was very seldom, he sent a youthful substitute, who turned out to be very conceited, and a slavish reader. A poem was sent to my father on his return home. I wish I could give the whole of it, but after a high eulogium on my father's preaching ability, and the effect of this both in promoting spiritual good, and in producing a reaction against weaker men, the anonymous author went on to say:-

"The ither Sabbath I did mark, The conduct o' yon braw young spark He slipped the Bible in the dark, Thought nane would see. Awa wi' siccan smuggled wark, It's no for me. An' thinkin' he wad no be seen, Did something in the Bible preen; 6 But, ah! there were ower mony een On him that glanced, And ca'd it weak and unco mean, What he advanced. I never likit sermon readin', It's but a dry and sapless feedin', Sae tell yon chiel for to be heedin' If he comes back; His sermons dress in ither cleadin' Than white and black."

[Footnote 6: i.e. "pin"]

Dr. Mackinlay was an admirable sample of the method of preaching without reading, and Dr. Chalmers an equally remarkable illustration of the opposite method. Dr. Chalmers, however, was an exception to all rules, and it is simply absurd on the part of men of little talent and dull mediocrity to say, "We will read our sermons, because Dr. Chalmers did so." A sermon to be read with effect should be most powerful, "every sentence the weight of a talent." If it were possible to have an average of men of the power and eloquence of Dr. Chalmers, they might adopt any course they pleased. But as the whole experience of the world in past ages, and the experience of all other kinds of oratory at present prove, a man as a general rule loses immense advantage by reading sermons, provided always he will take sufficient previous pains in the way of preparation. This must be assumed on both sides. It is not to be forgotten that there is such a thing as extemporaneous writing, as well as extemporaneous speaking, and one is, to say the least of it, quite as dull and intolerable as the other.

Turning to the ministers of that period at New Monkland; Dr. Gardiner of Bothwell was a regular assistant at the communion. Many of my readers know that he afterwards made a great figure in what was called the "Moderatorship Controversy," and that he is only lately deceased. He was a man of strong, constitution, of good sense and sound doctrine, but not a remarkably popular preacher. In seconding the motion for his appointment as Moderator in 1837, my father said:-

"That gentleman is well qualified to occupy the Moderator's chair, and if he is called to it, I feel assured that he will discharge his duties with ability and dignity. I have had every opportunity of being acquainted with Dr. Gardiner, and know him to be a man most distinguished for his character, talents, and acquirements. During more than twenty-five years he has been a member of the Presbytery of Hamilton, and he at all times has attended most regularly and most minutely to the business of that court. I know his steady and unwavering zeal in behalf of the best interests of the Church of Scotland, and especially of that noble and patriotic scheme of Church Extension in which we are so happily engaged," &c.

A very different man in some respects, although less publicly known, was Dr. Hodgson of Blantyre - a great ally of my father's in the Presbytery of Hamilton and other Church Courts, although he did not often preach at New Monkland. He was a great scholar and an eloquent preacher - a devoted minister - and at the same time a man of much wit and vigour of mind. In the debate in the General Assembly on the communion table, some one had said that it was a small matter. Dr. Hodgson exclaimed, "Principles are never small, although deviations from them often seem of little importance. There is a river which at its source a child may step across, but on its vast expanse, when it approaches towards the sea, all the navies of the world may ride." He only published one sermon, so far as I know, a sermon preached at the opening of the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, on the text, "They stoned Stephen, calling upon God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." But this sermon contains many fine passages, and amongst the rest the following in regard to Scotland:-

"There is a land of small extent, whose shores have been pronounced inhospitable, whose sky has been described as ever foul with clouds, and whose surface is drenched by frequent rains. And yet to this country the eyes of Europe have been directed, assembled senates have made choice of it when in a high debate they considered the advantages of knowledge, and orators have delighted to expatiate upon it as the land of educated men."

Dr. Hodgson was famous at repartee. He was once travelling on the outside of a coach, when a man began to speak disparagingly of John Knox. Dr. Hodgson suddenly turned round, and said, with the greatest gravity, "Sir, we have no men now-a-days like John Knox; he never opened his mouth but he blew down a cathedral!" He was a great friend of the late Dr. Clason, whom he familiarly called "Peter." On one occasion when Dr. Hodgson was telling a story, Dr. Clason said:, "I think I have heard you tell that story before, Doctor." The Doctor promptly replied, with that strong and rich burr for which he was distinguished, "Very likely, Peter, every man has a limited number, you know. You have two, Dr. Russell (of Dalserf, a noted man also at that time) has five, and I have twenty-six." some one hinted that they had heard him preach the same sermon before, when he quickly retorted, "Yes, and by the blessing of God, I hope you may live to hear it again." some one heard Dr. Hodgson preaching on a Sacrament Sabbath evening, when a heavy-footed plough man in the gallery left his seat about the middle of the sermon, and with heavy tramps made his way towards the door, disturbing the Doctor and the whole congregation. Dr. Hodgson immediately exclaimed "Where did you learn that, sir? Did you learn it in your Catechism, or did your mother teach you it?" and he added, with great emphasis, "SIT DOWN, SIR." The man, entirely taken by surprise, instantly resumed his seat, and the congregation was no further disturbed. Dr. Hodgson's wife was rather a character, and often tried to measure swords with him in the way of wit, but, although a clever woman, seldom with much success. A preacher who told us the story once officiated at Blantyre. After the sermon, and on his return to the manse, Mrs. Hodgson ventured upon a few words in the way of commendation, whereupon the Doctor exclaimed, "Ann, that won't do; you couldn't judge of that sermon; you slept." Poor Ann was obliged to acknowledge that she had been overcome with sleep during part of the discourse, but she attempted to turn off the criticism, and stumbled out, "The spirit was willing." "Ah, but," said the Doctor, as quick as lightning, intercepting her quotation, "you are going to pervert that text, my dear; the inference is Watch therefore; you would make it Sleep therefore."

Dr. Macgillivray of Aberdeen was tutor at Craighead, above Bothwell Bridge, and attended for a little Dr. Hodgson's ministry during his latter days. On one occasion he called at the manse, and the Doctor being poorly, Mrs. Hodgson brought a dose of medicine, which the doctor had strictly ordered, but which Dr. Hodgson was most reluctant to take. Dr Macgillivray says that, "turning towards her with a queer twinkle in his large gloomy eyes, he said, 'Well, my dear, they say that man and wife are one; take you the medicine for me, and if it does you any good, I shall get the full benefit of it.' " Dr. Macgillivray speaks of his "humorous anecdotes and witty remarks," and adds:-

"His style of preaching was strictly expository, comparing Scripture with Scripture; turning up all the parallel passages, and commenting upon them as he went along. These comments were generally very striking, and applied sometimes with sudden and most telling force. During a great part of the time that I was in the way of attending his church, he went over the 50th Psalm in this way, confining himself to a couple of verses at a time. He drew the substance of his lecture out of the marginal references before him in the pulpit Bible. Although it is upwards of thirty years since I used to hear him, I remember well his magnificent descriptions of the Judgment Day, and his dramatic representations of the words and actions of the Judge, as, calling 'to the heavens from above and to the earth below,' He summoned His people to gather about Him, and to witness His judicial proceedings.

"But his prayers were to me more remarkable than his preaching. They were generally marked by a tone of sadness that was deeply impressive, and sometimes almost swelling out into a wail of despair. He seemed as if stretching up his hands to God out of a deep pit, from which there was scarcely any hope of escaping. It was touching and solemnising, but it was exceedingly depressing to hear him at times."

There were other men of less note who came to assist my father occasionally - such as Mr. Robertson of Slamannan, whose guests we youngsters were during the Radical outbreak - a good man, but stern; Mr. Watson of Cumbernauld; Mr. Proudfoot of Strathaven; Mr. Young of Chryston Chapel, who was poorly paid, and who, when asked if he intended to marry, said, "My horse won't carry double." They were worthy and excellent men in their own way, but not very popular. Some of the plain people said "they had nae affluence." The rest, although some of them are now nearly forgotten, were men of great eminence. They stood head and shoulders above the mass of the people and of ordinary ministers. They were men of great individuality and much vigour and influence, totally unlike the dull level of mediocrity to which our present system, or our more degenerate age, seems to be fast shaping down, in so far as the mass of our ministers are concerned.

To some this may seem the mere dream of childhood, but after a large experience of human life I am convinced that it is a sober reality, and that many of the ministers of the present day of considerable pretensions are not to be named beside their more powerful predecessors, whilst the rank and file of our present ministers are immensely inferior. These men besides were all great Church reformers, and had their wise schemes of Church reform and extension been adopted, most of our present evils would have been averted. But after all that has taken place, it is a problem of the greatest importance, Why has the relative position of the mass of the ministers of Scotland degenerated of late? We apprehend that two causes at least have had something to do with it. The talent of the country is drained by India and the Colonies, and by means of the Snell bursaries at Glasgow College; and the remuneration of ministers has in no respect kept pace with the progress of society. The result, however, if allowed to continue, will prove disastrous. It is a great calamity to a country when its ministers are men of little power and influence, when its priests are, as in ancient times, made of "the lowest of the people," and this evil seems now increasing in Scotland. Weak and unworkable theories are put forth, but in the meantime the old parochial system, which of old accomplished so much, was never extended to keep pace with the population, and now, amidst increasing heathenism and degeneracy, men of high talent and Christian power are failing.

In addition to the powerful ministers with whom I was thus brought into contact when a boy, I heard much from the conversation of these men of earnest and stalwart ecclesiastics in other districts, who are also now vanishing into the obscurity of the past. It is chiefly, I fear, their vigorous eccentricities that have caught hold of my memory.

There was Mr. Risk, of Dalserf, who when a lady of his congregation sent him a polite message that "he should clean his teeth," returned it by a suggestion that "she should scrape her tongue." When the people sent a deputation to ask him to be more evangelical in his preaching, he exclaimed, "What do you mean?" They said, "We mean you should tell us more about renouncing our own righteousness." Whereupon the minister tartly replied, "It is the first time I have heard that you had any righteousness to renounce."

Mr. Brisbane, of Dunlop, was a remarkable character, of whom we heard much, although his parish was at some distance. Many stories are told of his peculiarities. The late Mr. Brown, of Roslin, who was his assistant in his young days, wrote to me that he was a devoted minister, thoroughly evangelical, sound in the faith, an excellent classic scholar: He added, "I lived in the manse with him rather more than two years, and I look back on that part of my life as about the happiest I have spent. I had the entire charge of the parish, in so far as a probationer could take it. The population amounted to 1,020. There were only two Dissenters in it, and these were Mr. Brisbane's two servants - an old confidential servant and her niece - but they both regularly attended the parish church." Mr. Brisbane was a strong adherent of the Evangelical party in the Church. Mr. Brown told me that he used to say of the sermons of some of the more extreme Moderates that "if they had not read them no person could have supposed that they had written them. They consisted chiefly or wholly of a dry morality which many of them did not understand or attempt to practise. In their harangues on morality they were guided more by the speculations of the infidel philosophers than by the announcements of the Word of God."

To illustrate this, one of the more extreme Moderates preached on a Fast Day for Dr. Clason, and an old man said to him, "Ye manna get yon man to preach ony mair" The Doctor asked for what reason; and the old man immediately replied, "He's far back, very far back in his information, yon man; he doesna ken that Adam's fallen yet." It must have been with some of this sort that Mr. Brisbane was surrounded. Some of them, it is said, were extremely anxious to get to the General Assembly every year by the resignations of their brethren, especially their Evangelical brethren, whose turn it was to go. One of them, by way of taking time by the forelock, came to Mr. Brisbane a good while before the election of members took place, and said, "Mr. Brisbane, it is your turn to go to the Assembly, and as you are getting up in years perhaps you don't care to go. It would be a great favour were you to resign and suggest that I should go in your place." Mr. Brisbane understood the matter thoroughly, and only quietly said, "I gut nae fish till I get them." The Moderate now waited until the election was over, and thinking that all was secure, now went over again to the manse of Dunlop, and announced to Mr. Brisbane that he had been elected, and there was now no difficulty in the way of the arrangement formerly proposed; whereupon Mr. Brisbane as coolly as ever remarked, "I keep my ain fish-guts to my ain sea-maws," and bowed him out of the room. One of his parishioners, who was not very steady, was constantly in the way of seeking to make reparation by asking a certificate in his fits of repentance, upon pretence that he was about to leave the parish and give no more annoyance. Mr. Brisbane at length handed him the following document:-

"I certify that the bearer (naming him) has too little grace to be good, and too little sense to be desperately wicked.

"THOMAS BRISBANE, Minister."

When the parishioner read the certificate, Mr. Brown says he instantly handed it back to Mr. Brisbane, and never returned for another. All who knew the man, and who heard of the certificate, admitted that the description was perfect. Mr. Brisbane sometimes amused himself by writing epitaphs for his friends. A preacher who was reputed to be very soft-hearted, and to make large use of Ralph Erskine's sermons in his preaching, came under the lash of Mr. Brisbane, who made in regard to him the following epitaph:-

"Here lies interred A man of feeling, Who lived on love, And preached by stealing."

The late Mr. Fleming of Neilston long carried on a contest with his heritors about church accommodation. This was his great theme for years. One day when Mr. Brisbane was at Neilston, Mr. Fleming took him to the churchyard to show him what church accommodation he still required the heritors to furnish. Having done this he said to Mr. Brisbane, "I hear you have been making epitaphs for some of your friends, and I wish you would make one for me." Mr. Fleming's; name was Alexander, and Mr. Brisbane was in the habit of familiarly calling him "Sanders." He immediately said, "We cannot make epitaphs for everybody, but how would this do for you?

'Welcome, Sanders, to your station; Here ye'll find accommodation."'

Mr. Brisbane had a great dislike of all preaching that was not textual. On one occasion, after hearing, a weak sermon from a young preacher, and being asked how he liked it, he exclaimed with great tartness, "The man might have said to the text at the beginning what he said to the folk at the end, 'we'll may-be meet again and may-be no.' " On another occasion he heard a sermon by a young minister on the text "The angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on." Some one said, "What did ye think of the sermon?" Mr. Brisbane said, "The sermon was not unlike the text - the lad did wondrously, and the text lookit on."

In this enumeration of remarkable ministers of this and the preceding period, I must not omit one of the most distinguished, namely, the Rev. Dr. Balfour of Glasgow. He was by much the most popular minister in Glasgow previous to the translation of Dr. Chalmers from Kilmany. By all accounts, and I heard of him from many quarters, he was a most eloquent preacher and an admirable man. He was my father's minister whilst he was a student, and he introduced him to his first charge as assistant at St. Ninian's by preaching an eloquent sermon on the text, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables." Dr. Love and he were extremely intimate; and in preaching a funeral sermon on the occasion of his death, Dr. Love wound up by saying that when he reached heaven he would not be long in looking round to welcome the triumphant embrace of Dr. Balfour.

In my father's house I heard a good deal of a previous generation of ministers, as well as of those then prominent in the West of Scotland. The most remarkable, probably, of these was Mr. Thom of Govan; more distinguished, however, by talent than by grace. It is said that on one occasion he was taking part in the ordination of a minister of whose ability he had not a very high opinion. The Presbytery being large, and it being difficult for all the ministers to reach the head of the one about to be ordained, so as to lay their hands upon it, Mr. Thom thrust out his stick and laid it on his head. When some of the ministers remonstrated with him for this extraordinary procedure he said, "It'll do weel eneuch; timmer to timmer." Mr. Thom was always at feud with the authorities of the College at Glasgow, and a volume of his works has been published containing some very pungent satires upon the professors. It contains also a specimen of his sermons, which are very peculiar. In the satires he criticises with great severity an address presented by the College to the Crown, and affects to have discovered, by its want of sense, grammar, and logic, that it must have been a forgery. There is also a letter bearing to be from one of the professors to a friend in the country, giving reasons why they had left the Blackfriars Church and set up a chapel for themselves within the walls of the College. The Professor tells his friend in confidence that they were shocked at the preaching in the Blackfriars Church, which spoke so plainly of sin and duty, and especially because when the minister spoke of drunkenness, Sabbath-breaking, and other vices, all the people turned and stared at the professors' gallery, as if they were the persons chiefly at fault. They resolved, therefore, to have a chapel where these things should not be spoken of, but where they should have treatises on the beauty of virtue, on virtue being its own reward, and other kindred philosophical subjects. Tradition reports that he maintained a similar warfare against the Glasgow magistrates. Standing on the street, it is said, one day with the Provost, who had risen from nothing, a little urchin came up begging, and being refused and driven away sternly by the Provost, Mr. Thom interposed and said, "Hey, laddie, there's a penny; ye'll maybe be Provost of Glasgow yoursel' yet."

Mr. Thom was fond of riding a good horse, and it is alleged that one of the magistrates said, "You're greater, Mr. Thom, than your Master, for He rode on an ass." Mr. Thom immediately retorted, "We would be willing enough to ride on asses too, but they're no to be got noo-a-days; they've made them all magistrates." Preaching before the magistrates on one occasion, it is said that he took for his subject the Ethiopian eunuch, and said amongst other things, "Suppose you saw one of our public authorities riding in his chariot, certainly not a very unlikely thing. But suppose you saw him reading the prophet Esaias, a highly improbable thing. But suppose, further, you were to say to him, 'Understandest thou what thou readest?' a highly necessary question in such circumstances, Do you suppose he would say, 'How can I except some man guide me?' This is the very last thing that would enter a modern magistrate's head. He would say, 'What right have you to ask? Go about your business.' " Preaching on another occasion before the magistrates, it is reported that he suddenly halted and said, "Dinna snore sae loud, Bailie Brown; ye'll wauken the Provost." And on another occasion still, it is said he called a dead halt, took out his snuff-box, tapped it on the lid, and took a pinch of snuff with the greatest deliberation. By this time the whole audience was agog with eager curiosity to know what was wrong. Mr. Thom, after a little, gravely proceeded to say, "My friends, I've had a snuff, and the Provost has had a sleep, and if ye like we'll just begin again." He was a great enemy to the American War, and crowds of people flocked from Glasgow to hear his sermons preached on the days of humiliation appointed by the Government in connection with successive defeats sustained by our troops in that struggle. He exercised a good deal of ingenuity in announcing these days of humiliation so as to retain his principles and yet obey the Government. On one occasion he said, "My people, ye're muckle thocht o'. The folk in London have committed a great sin, and they have sent me a letter asking me to call you together to pray for them." On another occasion he said, "I've been aye telling ye that ye are very wicked people, but I have a very serious thing to tell ye to-day. The news of your wickedness has reached as far as London, and I have a letter appointing ye to meet together for prayer and repentance." One of the neighbouring ministers of a small borough had fallen out with the magistrates, the ground of offence being, that he did not pray for them in suitable terms. Mr. Thom was asked to preach on one occasion instead of him, and in his prayer he used the following expressions: "Pity the magistrates of this place; pity those that sit in council with them; have compassion on the people under their care."

The Rev. John Campbell of Renfrew was a man also famous in his day, and we used to hear of him from some of the visitors at the Manse. Only two of his sayings I remember. In the General Assembly a very young elder, an advocate, had made a speech breathing anything but an evangelical flavour. Mr. Campbell rose and tersely said, "In the speech, Moderator, to which we have just listened, there was a good deal of the young man, not a little of the old man, very little of the new man." On another occasion a young aristocratic champion had been defending the law of patronage, and amongst other things had said that he gave thanks to God every day for the existence of such an excellent arrangement. Mr. Campbell in reply quietly said, "Moderator, there is some hope surely for the Church now. We are getting very devout and pious young men amongst us. Here's one, for example, that's thankful for very sma' mercies."

Of Mr. Oliphant of Dumbarton, also, whose fame is very widespread, we heard a good deal. He was a man of great excellence, but at the same time of considerable eccentricity. His Catechism on the Lord's Supper is very good indeed. My father used to tell that when any one said to him, "Such a man is a very fine man," he would say, "Is he very fine? What proof have ye of that? Had ye ever ony money transactions wi' him?" Many stories have been told of him but the following, which we heard at that time, seem characteristic. He is said on one occasion to have borrowed half-a-crown from one of the elders before he entered the pulpit, and returned it immediately after the service was over. The elder expressed astonishment at the transaction, and asked what it meant. Mr. Oliphant said confidentially, "I think a man aye speaks baulder when he has siller in his pooch." My father once saw him go into the pulpit and discover that he had forgotten his spectacles. There were a number of elders round the pulpit, venerable men, each of them having on his nose what were formerly called "specs." Mr. Oliphant deliberately bent over and took the specs off the nose of one of these ancients, who looked up with great astonishment at what had taken place. But the minister without one word of explanation placed them on his own nose and gravely proceeded with the service. On another occasion, he happened to quote the passage in reference to the hairs of our head being numbered, and looking round at the circle of wigged elders, he added with emphasis, "Ay, and even of your wigs." Old Mr. Carrick, the banker, of Glasgow, in his own department seems to have been a somewhat similar character. He bought a great deal of land in New Monkland parish during the earlier days of my father's ministry. He came out in a postchaise, which met him at the outskirts of the town, that people might not suspect where he was going, and he brought his dinner with him in the form of hard-boiled eggs and bread. He was a man of much shrewdness, thoroughly honest, and a keen scrutiniser of bills, as well as of the solvency of those who subscribed them. He was in the habit of saying, when he was not prepared to honour a bill, simply, "It's no convenient," which must have come upon many hard-pressed merchants like the sound of doom. When asking about the pecuniary capabilities of people, if any one said, "He's a very rich man," Mr. Carrick would eagerly retort, "Hoo do ye judge that?" And if the answer was, "He keeps his carriage," the old man would quietly say, "That's nae sign ava'; the mair a man spends the less he has." On one occasion, when the same carriage argument was used to him, he impatiently exclaimed, "I dinna want to ken if he keeps his carriage; I want to ken if he can keep his feet."

But enough of such characters and of old reminiscences, although these quaint old figures often rise up still before me like a vision in the distance, and give a vivid idea of a power and energy that are gone. These are chiefly eccentricities, which one most easily remembers, but they were to a large extent, in most of these men, accompanied with thorough independence, real worth, and Christian excellence.

The union of church and school was another admirable feature of the parochial system. The teacher dealt with the young and the minister with the old, and under a harmonious agreement they worked to each other's hands for the purpose of bringing the whole population under enlightened Christian influence. Men speak of compulsory education, and most assuredly children should not be suffered to grow up in ignorance; but it is still better if no compulsion is required; and all my early recollections are connected with a state of things in which it would have been thought disgraceful for any child to be allowed to grow up in ignorance, and where ministers and teachers were most cordial fellow workers in promoting the universal Christian instruction of the people.

Our parish teacher and my own instructor, the Rev. Hugh Watt, was a preacher of the Gospel. He discharged his various duties in the parish with great assiduity and faithfulness, and died only recently, at a very old age. He taught remarkably well, not only the elementary branches, but Latin and Greek, preparing young men for the college. He turned out a number of preachers. The late Dr. Black of the Barony, the present Rev. David Black, Tillicoultry and many more, were amongst his pupils. We all held him in high esteem and veneration, although on proper occasions he did not spare the rod. The sentimental views of more recent times had then no existence. I look back with the utmost respect even to that venerable instrument "the tawse," and I am certain that society would be saved a good deal of trouble and much expense, not to speak of the many advantages to the people themselves, were the maxims of Solomon more literally observed, "He that spareth the rod hateth the child;" "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it away." How professedly Christian people can say they regulate their whole opinions and conduct by the Bible, and yet disregard one of its plainest precepts in regard to their children, we have never been able to understand. Very few prizes were given. So far as I remember, there was only one, viz., a prize to the scholar who could repeat the 119th Psalm without omission or alteration, and this prize I was happy enough to secure. It bore the following motto:- "To Mr. James Begg, for general eminence in repeating psalms." Mr. Watt was an inveterate smoker, and must have puffed away an immense quantity of money in the course of such a long incumbency. He and the Rev. Mr. Lawrie of Airdrie, and the Rev. Mr. Gibb of Holytown, who were all teachers in the neighbourhood, being all at the same time preachers of the Gospel, all of them occasionally officiated for my father during his rare absences from his own pulpit. They were all excellent and accomplished men, but none of them were remarkably popular as preachers; and indeed my father's people were very difficult to please. Mr. Gibb was a strong, raw-boned man, a sort of Dominie Sampson in appearance, but a great Hebrew scholar, and at the same time a man of much simplicity of character. He was always aiming unsuccessfully at being married, although with very limited means, and some people were alleged occasionally rather to practise upon his simplicity. "What letter was that you wrote recently?" said some one to Mr. Gibb. The simple man proceeded to tell the name of the young lady who was favoured with his correspondence. "Was there not a curious piece in the middle of it?" said the interrogator. Whereupon Mr. Gibb, to vindicate himself, and having a capital memory, proceeded to repeat the whole epistle, the contents of which were soon spread through the village. And yet, with all his simplicity, he was a man of great learning and mental force. I remember still a sermon of his on faith, although I must have been very young at the time, which gave me a clearer and more discriminating idea upon that subject than I previously possessed: Our worthy teacher, Mr. Watt, paid the greatest attention to Scriptural instruction and to our knowledge of the Catechism, as did also my father on the Sabbath evenings. We were then made to write down whatever we remembered of the sermon, and to repeat large portions of Scripture and of the Catechisms, together with the whole Book of Psalms. I derived more advantage from this than from any subsequent process of training, and I am certain that wherever these Sabbath evening exercises are neglected or superseded by evening worship, the children suffer an unspeakable loss.

There were four chapels in the parish in addition to the parish church. All of them were in Airdrie. One of them was a chapel-of-ease, of which the Rev. Joseph Finlayson was minister, a man of some pretensions to literature, but by no means a successful minister. He must have been very ill-paid, and was understood to live chiefly on his own private resources. The Rev. Mr. Mushet of Shettlestone is alleged to have said that "naebody preached the Gospel so cheap as he did, except perhaps that ill-paid minister, Mr. Finlayson of Airdrie." The other chapels belonged to the New and Old Light Seceders and Reformed Presbyterians respectively. Mr. Duncanson, the New Light Seceder, was an accomplished man, and a diligent and respectable minister. Mr. Torrance, the Old Light minister, was also a very excellent and diligent minister, although more eccentric. Many stories were told of him, and no doubt some of them were exaggerated. He spoke with great familiarity and simplicity, both in preaching and prayer. Some one told me that they heard him in prayer most earnestly beg for favourable weather for maturing and gathering in the harvest, and he added with the greatest gravity, "For I was at the Shotts a few days ago, and the corn was as green as leeks."

He was alleged to have said that marriage was "like twa fir deals glued thegither, and whiles grooved." All the ministers lived in good neighbourhood, and many of the controversies which have since sprung up were then wholly unknown. The abolition of patronage and a system of parochial subdivision, both of which my father strongly advocated, would have probably united them all except the Reformed Presbyterians.

My father having a good manse and glebe, had no trouble in regard to his stipend, which was paid in slump by the College of Glasgow, who received all the surplus teinds. We always kept two or three cows and a quantity of poultry, over all of which my mother presided with much assiduity and skill. In those days to be an eminent housekeeper was reckoned a high and necessary qualification for any woman, but especially for the wife of a minister. More modern theories had not appeared; and Solomon's picture of a virtuous woman, who "openeth her mouth with wisdom, the law of kindness being under her tongue," and who is "not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet," was universally admired. My mother told us that, in connection with the boarding-school which she attended, she was trained in a knowledge of cookery, housekeeping, mending clothes, and, in a word, everything that is necessary to make domestic management successful. Under her kind and affectionate treatment we were brought up with great comfort, although in the plainest style. We had abundance of good porridge and milk for breakfast - a dish in which I have delighted ever since, and which I believe has done more to give bone and sinew to the Scotch people, and to make them the men they are, than all other material causes put together. Being somewhat distant from market, and sometimes entirely snowed up in winter, my father laid in large barrels of oatmeal. At the beginning of every winter, moreover, he killed, salted, and stored in barrels what was called a "mart," in other words, a fat bullock, and sometimes a couple of pigs, and these being scientifically dealt with by my mother's domestic wisdom, gave us, with the produce of the garden, abundant materials for warding off starvation during the whole winter. As boys, we not only took an interest in the cows and poultry, but were allowed to enjoy ourselves by keeping rabbits and pigeons, the latter being trained to great familiarity, so that they would alight on our hands. In this respect, it is of importance to indulge the innocent tastes of children; and I remember carrying these tastes to Glasgow, and gratifying them by cultivating acquaintance at the windows of our lodgings with the dingy pigeons of that great city. Our parish doctor was Dr. Tennant, a highly intelligent man and a skilful physician. Fortunately for himself, he had a small private property of considerable value in the parish, for the district was generally so healthy that I am afraid he never earned very much by professional remuneration.

The time was now approaching for my going to college, which I did at an early age. Although for seven years more I still came and went to New Monkland during the intervals of the sessions of college, my permanent connection with the place now began to be broken. We were then a large family of seven children, besides my father, mother, and two servants. Although I found Glasgow unhealthy, I continued to gather health anew, and, I trust, to make some intellectual and spiritual progress, during these pleasant summer vacations. These early scenes can never be forgotten. The farmers around - a most worthy class of people - were all glad to see the minister's children, and to give them of their good things. I, on the other hand, mixed freely with them, studying farming in so far as it was then practised, and trying my hand at all their occupations. I became pretty expert at all kinds of country labour, and I have never since lost a taste for country life, although I have had few opportunities of indulging it. I close this chapter with the following inscription over the grave of my excellent father and mother in New Monkland churchyard:-

"Here lie the Remains of THE REV. DR. BEGG Late Minister of this Parish, Who died on the 11th June 1845, in the 83d year of his age, and 52d of his ministry. 'An eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures.' Also of M. MATTHIE, his Wife, who died in Aug. 1831, aged 54 years."