The James Begg Society

The James Begg Society

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Articles from our past Email Newsletters

Excerpts from the
Memoirs of James Begg, D.D.

by Thomas Smith, D.D.,

Professor of Evangelistic Theology, New College, Edinburgh.
(Two Volumes, 1885 and 1888.)

The following is a selection of excerpts from the Memoirs of James Begg, D.D., by Thomas Smith, D.D., which is available in full elsewhere on this website [click here].

Some of the excerpts following are quotations from Dr. Begg himself. Others are from his biographer. Where some portions have been removed, they have been replaced with "[...]." Any additions (mainly for purposes of explanation) are also enclosed in [square brackets]. The excerpts have been taken from throughout the two-volume Memoirs and are provided here without references to page numbers or chapters; only dates in Begg’s life have been provided.

This article was included in our Email Newsletter No.6, 3rd January 2007.

Covenanter Connections

I WAS born in the manse at New Monkland on the 31st October 1808. [...] 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. [...]

My father was minister of the New Monkland [parish presbyterian church (of the established Church of Scotland)] 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.

The Death of Begg’s First Wife

Within a month after the meeting of the Inverness Assembly [1845], and just a fortnight after its close, the Edinburgh newspapers contain[ed] the following notice:—

“At 15 Minto Street, Newington, on the 13 th instant Margaret Campbell, wife of the Rev. James Begg.”

Mrs. Begg’s death was very sudden. A few months before she had given birth to a still-born child, and had not, I believe, recovered her wonted strength, but her last illness was only of a few hours’ duration. The following notice from Hugh Miller’s pen, appears in the Witness of September 20:—

“Our obituary this week records an event of a painful nature. The wife of the Rev. James Begg – a name endeared to thousands of his countrymen — has been taken, on a few hours warning, from the bosom of her family and the society of her friends. ‘Her sun has gone down while it was yet day.’ It is not our purpose to portray the character of the deceased, though it would exhibit much that is worthy of admiration and imitation. Her manners were of that quiet, unassuming, courteous, and yet dignified kind which never fail to make a powerful impression on all who come within the circle of their influence. Sincere piety presided over the graces which encircled her life, and amidst the ardour of her affection for fellow-creatures it was always evident that she loved her Saviour. She died in peace, ‘looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.’ The decease of Mrs Begg has excited a wide, deep, and unmingled feeling of sorrow. Human sympathy, indeed, can do little to assuage the grief of the bereaved; but to them the consolations of religion are abundant.”

Those who knew Dr. Begg but slightly, and who looked on him as he showed in the atmosphere of the public meeting or the Church court, will fail to realise the depth of his feeling under this sore trial. Those who were intimate with him knew otherwise. It might be that his strength made him less sensitive than weaker men to small sufferings, but that same strength made him suffer the more when great trials were laid on him. The largest eyes, in great sorrows, shed the largest tears. The time of his sorrow was to him a time of blessing; and as his beloved flock shared with him his sorrow, he would have them partakers of his blessing. With this view he presented each of them with a copy of a sermon which he had sent to a periodical for publication, to which he now prefixed, as a preface, a pastoral address to his congregation. 18 As this preface was never published, in the ordinary sense of the word, and as probably few copies are still in existence, I venture to reproduce a portion of it, both as an autobiographical fragment, and as indicative of the earnestness with which its author watched over the souls of his flock, “as one that must give account”:—

[Footnote 18: “Are you Prepared to Die? An Address and Sermon to his dear Flock – September 1845. By the Rev. James Begg, Newington, Edinburgh, 1845.”]

“MY DEAR PEOPLE, for whose salvation I earnestly long and pray, the following Sermon was sent to theChristian Treasury for publication, 19 when I little dreamt of what was about to take place — before it pleased God, in His adorable sovereignty, to remove so suddenly from this vale of tears one dear to me as my own soul, the sweet companion of all my struggles, the blessed mother of my children. The Lord’s hand has been very heavy upon me, and I have been bowed down to the earth. But what shall I say? A Father’s hand has done it; and done it, I trust, in love.

[Footnote 19: The Sermon was published in theChristian Treasury, then a weekly publication, of 26 th February. — T. S.]

‘Dumb was I, opening not my mouth,
Because this work was Thine.’

“It has been, indeed, a very solemn lesson to me. Oh that it may be a sanctified lesson. ‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.’ In calmly looking back to this sore bereavement, I desire to record my deep sense of the faithfulness and love of our Heavenly Father in mingling so much comfort with a trial otherwise overwhelming, — unspeakable comfort in regard to the beloved dead; great comfort in the kind sympathy and prayers of so many of you and others of God’s dear people; comfort especially in access to Him who is a merciful as well as a faithful high priest, and who can be touched with a feeling of all our infirmities. I can humbly set to my seal that God is true, who saith, ‘As thy day is, so shall thy strength be;’ and oh for grace to be enabled to say, ‘Not my will, but Thine, be done.’ God doth all things well, and what we know not now we shall know hereafter. Oh for grace to ‘know the rod, and Him who hath appointed it,’ and to ‘work while it is day, before the night cometh when no man can work.’....

“ARE YOU PREPARED TO DIE? Were God as suddenly to summon you to His judgment-seat, how would you appear? Oh, my dear friends, ponder on this. The answer to this question depends entirely on another: Have you ‘fled for to lay hold on the hope set before you in the Gospel?’ All out of Christ are condemned; but there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Observe the expression — ‘in Christ Jesus,’ that is, united to Him by faith, in Him, as their peace, their surety, their intercessor; — in him, as in the ark of eternal safety. Out of Christ ‘God is consuming fire.’ This is the fearful state of all careless, prayerless sinners; they are on the brink of destruction, and are ready continually to be driven away in their wickedness. Oh my hearers, ought not this to be a time of great heart-searching to you all; for I fear that many of you are still far from God, and far from righteousness. God has not yet cut you off: There is room yet for you in the heart of God, in the love of Jesus and of His angels and people, in that house in which there are many mansions. And the precious blessings of the Gospel are still freely offered to all. I protest before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and kingdom, that I again, in circumstances of peculiar solemnity; urge upon your acceptance this free salvation, and beseech you, even with tears, in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled to God; and if ye still reject the precious offer, the wrath of God shall not only abide on you for ever, but your blood shall be entirely on your own souls.

“I dare not trust myself to speak in public of what has taken place; but the following sermon, of which I desire each of you to accept a copy, with my most heartfelt prayers to God for your everlasting salvation, contains a statement, however imperfect, of some of the most vital truths of the Word of God, and truths also wonderfully applicable to the recent solemn events; for the principles and truths of this sermon were strikingly illustrated in the life and death of her who is now with Jesus. The grand matter, beloved brethren, is our being born again, washed in the blood of sprinkling, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, having passed from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Until this great, this blessed change is accomplished in us, nothing is done, all is mere dead formality and hypocritical pretence.... But what abundant encouragement, when we look up to the great ‘cloud of witnesses,’ by nature as guilty and as weak as we, but by grace triumphant now over every difficulty and every foe, and remember that Jesus, in whose blood they washed, in whose strength they triumphed, is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Amidst all temptations and in the discharge of all duties, let the question ever recur: ‘What would we think of this if we were about to die?’ and let us commit our souls in well-doing to Jesus as unto a faithful Creator, a merciful Redeemer, who knows our frame, who remembers that we are dust, who will make His grace sufficient for us, and perfect His strength in our weakness. No one can tell to whom the messenger of death shall next come. It will soon come to all. Pastor and people shall soon stand at the judgment-seat. Oh to be prepared to go out and meet the Bridegroom! — to be enabled through abounding grace, to live and die in the humble but cheering confidence that ‘when this earthly house of our tabernacle is dissolved, we shall have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens!’ A few short years, and all the family of God shall be collected and death shall be swallowed up in an everlasting victory ‘Be thou faithful unto death; I will give thee a crown of life.’ ‘What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.’ ‘Be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.’

“Your unworthy but affectionate Pastor,


This will give a fair idea — though of course a very imperfect one — of Dr. Begg’s faithfulness and tenderness in dealing with his people.

Second Wife

On the 25 th of November 1846 Dr. Begg married Miss Maria Faithfull, daughter of the Rev. Ferdinand Faithfull, of Headley Rectory, Surrey. There was a good deal of gossip at the time – with more of truth in it than gossip on such matters generally possesses — as to love at first sight, a romantic courtship, and a speedy engagement. All that I have a right to say, all that the public has a right to know, is, that if it was a case of hasty marrying, it was not one of leisurely repenting.

Pastoral Diligence

Having said so much, and having still so much to say as to Dr. Begg’s actings as a public man, this may be as proper a place as any for the interjection of a caveat, a sense of the necessity for which has been growing upon me. It must not be supposed that, either at this or any other time, Dr. Begg was merely an ecclesiastic. As to his personal and family life, I have no wish to say much if I had means of knowing much, and such means I have not, simply because his private life was, by God’s blessing on him and his, most happily uneventful; and not very different was what I may call his pastoral life. In his pulpit preparation and in his pastoral labours he was steady and conscientious. With a vigorous physique, he did not, until a much later period of his life, find it necessary to interrupt these labours by such holidays as are probably indispensable to feebler men. I have often heard him humorously, and somewhat sarcastically, comment on the advertisements which now appear every Saturday morning, intimating that this and that minister is to conduct the services in his own church on the following day. “I think,” he would say, “it ought to be taken for granted that I am doing my duty, without my paying for an advertisement to tell the world that on some particular day – as if that were a remarkable and exceptional phenomenon — I mean to do it!” It should be emphasised that no number of ecclesiastical engagements interfered with his family and social and pastoral duties. Indeed, it may be said that the only period of his life in which there was a tendency to allow such encroachment was during his Liberton ministry before the Disruption.

Sabbath Observance

[Reminiscences from Begg’s childhood:] 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.” [...]

[From a petition:] “I pray you to speak a word in favour of the poor shop-girls, who are often so fatigued with the late hours on Saturday night that we are hardly able to walk home, and cannot get up on the Sabbath morning to go to church. Such is the grasping disposition of many even among professing Christian shopkeepers. Do not suppose that we are free when the shop-doors are closed, as we are detained till all the odds and ends of the goods are made up; and much evil follows, and no good, from such a practice.”

Dr. Begg took a prominent part in the proceedings of the Assembly of this year [1847]. He moved a resolution urging the Church to aid the Irish Presbyterian Church in their protestant missionary efforts. Also the motion for the approval of the report on Sabbath observance. In connection with this he recommended that a memorial should be sent to the Directors of the North British Railway on the subject; and at a subsequent diet he submitted such a memorial as prepared by a committee. [...]

[Incidental comment in the conclusion of his speech regarding the Government Education Scheme:] “I cannot see that, by accepting the aid of Government in promoting our schools, if it is accepted along with a firm and decided testimony in favour of right principles, and in opposition to wrong ones, we in the slightest degree compromise the position we occupy as the Free Church of our land. [...] But if we continue to bear testimony against what is evil, I can see no more harm in accepting the aid of Government, than I can see evil in receiving my letters on Monday morning, because I know that they are conveyed by the Sabbath mail, if I do my duty in protesting against that Sabbath mail; or, as was remarked by another reverend friend, I can see no more evil in it than a member of a temperance society would see evil in making his coffee with water from the same well from which a neighbour took water to make his toddy. In point of fact, it appears to me to be the very same position as that in which we were placed before the Disruption happened at all. We took the support of Government, when, at the same time, we knew that the Government gave support to popery, and to other systems which we condemned. If by taking that money we had consented to bury our testimony, there would have been inconsistency; but as long as we bore our testimony, we never considered that, by accepting money for what was right, we necessarily countenanced the Government, or aided the Government in giving money for what was wrong, so long as we avoided temptation, and prevented it from injuring in the least our bold and uncompromising testimony against anything that might be wrong on the part of the Government.” [...]

As to Sabbath observance, Dr. Begg very distinctly apprehended the connection which, in such a country as this, must necessarily subsist betwixt the various classes of the people, and their various employments. In particular, he seems to have laid hold upon the propagating power of Sabbath desecration by its enforcement or tolerance in the Post-office. This is by far the most extensive department of work for which the nation as such is responsible, and it is greatly to be lamented that it should be the great centre of Sabbath desecration. The question ought to be settled on the principle of simply regarding the Sabbath hours as non-existent as hours of business; as they are reckoned in our factories and our workshops, our courts of law and our public offices, our shops and other places of business. Perhaps I may be disposed to estimate more highly than Dr. Begg would have done the difficulties of the arrangements that would have to be made, and the inconveniences that might arise during a transition period. But it were purely ridiculous to suppose that with the marvellous organisation of our magnificent postal system, these arrangements could not be satisfactorily made, or that the inconveniences would not soon cease to be felt.

There was a subject in which Dr. Begg took as warm and continuous an interest as he did in the opposition to Romanism. That was the subject of Sabbath observance. But with this difference. On the Romanist question, Dr. Begg was the acknowledged leader; on the Sabbath question, that honour belonged of right to his friend and mine, Dr. Davidson of Glenorchy’s. In all the church courts, from Assembly to kirk-session, and in the press and on the platform, Dr. Davidson was present in the fight. But. Dr. Begg gave no half-hearted support to his leader in a cause which he regarded as second to none in its bearing on the honour of God and the wellbeing of man. On the 21 st of February 1856 Sir Joshua Walmesley, in the House of Commons, moved a resolution in favour of opening the British Museum and the National Gallery on the Lord’s Day. The question was debated at great length and with great ability, two future Lord Chancellors (Cairns and. Roundell Palmer) maintaining a noble stand for the sanctity of the Sabbath. The resolution was negatived by a majority of 328 (376-48). Dr. Davidson reported this to the Presbytery, and moved the adoption of a memorial to the Queen, praying for the discontinuance of the musical performance in the Kensington Gardens on the Sabbath. Dr. Begg seconded the motion.

Visit to Canada

Dr. Begg gave a full account of his Canadian trip in the General Assembly, and afterwards in a series of articles in theFree Church Magazine. 21 [...]

[Footnote 21: “A few more Notes of a Visit to Canada,” by the Rev. James Begg,Free Church Magazine, 1846, pp. 169, 202, 248, 374; and 1847, pp. 325, 341, 378.]

The mission on which Dr. Begg was sent to Canada was to preach the Gospel to those who were destitute of religious ordinances, to expound the principles of the Free Church, and to suggest means whereby the [Canadian] adherents of the Free Church might be organised into congregations, and might have the ordinances of religion brought within their reach. With a zeal of which only an ardent soul was capable, and amid the obstacles and difficulties of a Canadian winter, which a less powerful physical frame could not have encountered, he carried out the first two of these objects. As to the third his practical mind led him, both in Canada and after his return, strenuously to advocate the training of an indigenous ministry, again and again referring to the example of Dr. Duff in Calcutta, and pointing out that the Continental Committee, by sending out a minister to a Canadian congregation, did a comparatively small work which needed to be repeated after a short interval; whereas, by aiding such institutions as the Toronto College, and encouraging the extension of secondary education, they would sow the seed of a permanent and self-propagating benefit. He also strove to inculcate upon the colonists the duty and the privilege of self-help, and was not sparing in his denunciations of the spirit of dependence which was too prevalent among them. [...]

The following is an interesting bit of natural theology:—

“If one is properly dressed, there would be little danger even in going to the North Pole; and that simply because, owing to the manifest design of God, the parts which require to be exposed will not freeze. A man’s eyes and lungs must be exposed, for a man must see and breathe,.... and these are just the parts that are not injured by frost. That is a very singular thing, and illustrates the truth that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ One would think that if there was a part of the face more tender than another it was the eye; if there was anything more apt to freeze than another, it was the liquid of the eye, and that the same frost that would congeal mercury, and turn the naked hand very speedily into a piece of ice, would soon freeze the eye.... Now here is the proof of infinite wisdom, that the eye is altogether unaffected even by the extremest cold. Again, the coating of the lungs is more tender then the coating of the head or of the ears.... the singular fact, illustrative of ‘the manifold wisdom of God,’ is, that the most piercing cold, which makes you involuntarily put up your hand to discover if your nose and ears there, only exhilarates your lungs.”

In connection with the support of the ministry by the colonists, the following anecdote is introduced:—

“At the same time it must be confessed that there are strong temptations to a worldly spirit on the other side of the Atlantic. Many of the colonists have been very poor, and have come through extraordinary hardships, which makes them cleave with extraordinary tenacity to their newly acquired wealth. The tales of these sufferings are like novels. I shall never forget the story which a most worthy man told me of his sufferings and shipwreck. The vessel in which he had sailed from Scotland having been wrecked off the coast of Nova Scotia, was deserted by its captain. The passengers were advised to try to escape by the boats. The boat was lowered amidst a dark and stormy sea, and they proceeded to attempt getting the passengers on board of it. Of course the females must be first put on board, and this man’s wife was the first fixed upon. She was fastened to a rope and lowered over the ship’s side. But lo! the fearful discovery was made that the rope was not long enough to reach the boat. There was not a moment to be lost, and one can imagine how a man’s blood must have curdled when it was resolved to let his wife go, uncertain whether she was to alight in the boat or to go to the bottom of the sea. In the kind providence of God she did alight in the boat. By various plans the others were got down. No sooner had they left the ship at a little distance than she went to the bottom. The perishing emigrants were landed on a bleak shore; and the man who told us this adventure is now in very comfortable circumstances, and his wife, who passed through this strange ordeal, is alive and well.”

Visit to the Niagara Falls

“It is no part of my intention to attempt a description of this great wonder of nature. [...] In order, therefore, to see it properly, one must get down into the bed of the river below the fall, and look up at the vast circuit and sweep of the wilderness of waters. It so happened that the river was frozen across immediately below the fall at the time of our visit, so that we could clamber down the steep sides and get upon it right opposite, and at a very small distance from the descending deluge, and although the ice was riven and torn in all directions, we pretty easily managed to walk over to the British side, and then leisurely to view all along the thundering cataract in all its perfection.

“After all, vast and overwhelming as it is, I am not sure that it is the greatest wonder of the New World. The vast internal oceans, and the interminable forests planted by the hand of God, were, to my mind, even more sublime and astonishing. At all events, I think they are more thoroughly beyond the comprehension of a man who has only beheld the miniature scenery of our little island [i.e., Great Britain]. A man who has seen Falls of Clyde and of Foyers, can, by an effort of imagination, have some distant conception of Niagara, but of the others he can form no idea.” [...]

Visit to the United states of America

I have said that Dr. Begg seems never to have carried out his purpose of giving a full account of his visit to the United States. All the more valuable are the fragmentary references to it that he made on various occasions. The following I take from the Assembly speech:—

“Having finished that work, I returned to Montreal, and proceeded through the United States. I visited New York, and preached five times there, and went thence to Philadelphia. From Philadelphia I went to Washington, and there I had the privilege of preaching the Gospel to the Congress of the United States, standing in the Vice-President’s chair. I had also the honour of an interview with some of the leading statesmen of that country, including the President 25 himself, who traces his descent from Scotland, and alleges that, by the mother’s side, he is connected with John Knox. Whether he be in all respects a worthy descendant of the great Reformer I will not pretend to say, but at the time I can say that he treated me with great courtesy and kindness. His conversation indicated that he took an interest in the Free Church, and that he also took some interest in the sanctification of the Lord’s Day.... I afterwards visited the deeply interesting College of Princeton, and after reaching New York and Boston, where also I preached and addressed a meeting, I returned to this country.”

[Footnote 25: President Polk. — T. S.]

Further on in the same speech he says:—

“I had some intercourse with Christians in the United States of America I saw many excellent men there; and I could bear my testimony, as I have done before, to this fact, that while our Voluntary friends in this country at one time, in my opinion, thought far too much of America, as if it were a perfect paradise, and without a fault, they have now swung to the other extreme, and many of them now think far too little of America. For my own part, I found many delightful Christians in America. I never spent a more interesting day, for example, than I did at Princeton, visiting the sepulchres of Jonathan Edwards and Wotherspoon, and holding intercourse with such men as Dr. Alexander, Dr. Miller, and Dr. Hodge. I afterwards received a letter from Dr. Miller from which I take leave to read the following extract.”

(The extract is as to the relation of the American Churches to slavery, the interest of which has now happily passed away for ever. After reading it, the speaker entered with great earnestness into the “Send-back-the-money” controversy.)

“We shall not at present break our connection with the Christians — the multitude of noble Christians – on the other side of the Atlantic and their missionaries scattered over all parts of the world. We will not send back the money. We will not send back one farthing of the money. The money is not the worst thing that has come across the Atlantic. If I had the choice of what I would send back, I, as a friend of the slave, would send, and that right speedily, something else than the money, 26 and bring over some of the Christian men of America, the true friends of the slave, who, actuated by Christian principle, would speak like Christian men, and who take the Word of God for their guide. With these men we will cheerfully co-operate, not only in promoting the cause of Christ, but in maintaining that all the Churches of America are bound to take up, and to keep up, a testimony against that atrocious system, and never let that testimony down till the last manacle shall be struck from the last slave.”

[Footnote 26: The special American import which Dr. Begg would gladly have had exported was doubtless an eloquent agitator who originated the controversy, and who afterwards became Member of Parliament for one of the districts of London. — T. S.]

All through his after life Dr. Begg very frequently referred to his preaching in the Congress Hall, and to his visit to Princeton. I am indebted to my friend, Mr. Salmond of Glasgow — himself a Princeton student — for a note addressed to him in answer to a request that he had made at the time of Dr. Hodge’s death for some information respecting him:—

“50 GEORGE SQUARE, EDINBURGH, November 17, 1879.

“DEAR MR SALMOND, — I have often heard Dr. Cunningham refer to the late Dr. Hodge in the highest terms. He regarded him as decidedly one of the greatest theologians of modern times. My own visit to Princeton was brief, but to me very interesting. At that time fully thirty years ago — there were three pre-eminent Presbyterian ministers in the world, viz., Dr. Chalmers, Dr. Cooke of Belfast, and Dr. Hodge of Princeton, The two former I had the honour and privilege of knowing intimately, and I was anxious to see Princeton, partly as an old Paisley minister, to stand at the grave of Wotherspoon, but mainly to see Dr. Hodge. I preached to the students there — although, I hope, with due humility — the group of eminent professors being present. Dr, Hodge I found possessed of all the respect and influence to which his eminent talents and attainments justly entitled him, and yet, like all truly great men, marked by the utmost simplicity and unpretending humility of manner. The removal of such men seems a great loss to the Church below; but the great King and Head of the Church ever lives, and we must ‘be still and know that He is God.’ — Yours ever faithfully,


[To] “Rev. Charles A. Salmond.”

Opposition to Popery

Dr. Begg was not a member of the Assembly of 1851; but he appears to have had the honour conferred on him — unexampled, so far as my memory serves me — of being requested to address the Assembly on the subject of Popery. He accordingly delivered a racy speech, referring mainly to Mr. M‘Menamy’s work in Edinburgh. The following short extract will be read with interest:—

“They would find sometimes a turn given to a discussion so rich and so remarkable as to illustrate at once the acuteness of the Irish understanding, and to bring the slower Scotch wits almost to a stand. One of them asked one evening: ‘What do you say to this objection — Christ said to Peter, “thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my church?”’. ‘Ah,’ said one, ‘turn up Peter, and see what he says to it himself (I Pet. ii. 6, 7) — “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone,” and “unto you who believe He is precious” — not I am precious, but He is precious.’ On another occasion the question of Purgatory was being discussed, and it was affirmed that there was no Purgatory. A burly-looking Patlander got up and said, ‘But there is a Purgatory, and I will prove it by a passage in Peter:— “He went to the spirits in prison.”’ ‘Ah, but,’ said one, ‘look what goes before that. It was by “which spirit” he went, and it was in the days of Noah.’ ‘Well,’ said Dr. Begg, ‘what is really your idea about Purgatory?’, ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘I believe that all the saints were kept in Purgatory till the death of Christ, and then Christ went and preached to them, and delivered them out of Purgatory.’ ‘Now,’ said he (Dr. Begg), ‘how do you prove that that was the case?’ Said he, ‘Where do you find any passage to prove that that was not the case?’ ‘Oh,’ said he (Dr. Begg), ‘it does not belong to me to disprove it. You say it is so, and are bound to prove it; but I will prove the contrary.’ I quoted a number of passages, and, amongst the rest, referred to Moses and Elias appearing in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration before the death of Christ. The Irishman thought this was rather a finisher; but in their characteristic way he quickly rejoined that, after all, he did not think they could have been in heaven, or they would not have come out of it. ‘Ah! but you will notice that they could not have been in Purgatory, or they could not have got out of it.’”

The peroration of this eloquent speech must be given entire:—

“What a land is this in which we live, and with what noble recollections is it associated! If an ancient father of the Church said that his interest in Rome did not proceed from its imperial dignity, or its numerous inhabitants, or its power stretching from sea to sea, but from this, that Paul had walked its streets and preached to its inhabitants, I am sure that this country of ours derives all its dignity, not from anything in its soil or in its climate, but from this, that it was the land, of all others in the world, where men on bended knees and with uplifted hands have consecrated themselves and their substance to the service of the living God, and by a solemn covenant have abjured the errors of the ‘man of sin.’ This it is which still irradiates with glory the mountains of Scotland. And yet here is again the old enemy thundering at our gates. We must tear out the bloody pages of history for a thousand years; we must erase the inscriptions from ten thousand monuments; nay, we must silence — (and we desire to say it with all reverence) — even the voices of murdered saints, whose souls are under the altar of God, crying, ‘O Lord, holy and true, how long wilt Thou not avenge our blood?’ We must silence these voices before we forget that the triumph of Popery is the downfall of spiritual Christianity, the end of freedom, and perdition of all that is dear to us as men and Christians. I have, in one sense, no fear for the cause of God. Neither, in one sense, have I any fear for the cause of Protestantism. In one sense, God will plead His own cause. But He may do it in such a way as to remove the Gospel from us, because we despised our privileges, which He may give to other lands that will bring forth the fruits thereof. The crisis is truly urgent; and I am jealous for the honour of this Church in the great battle against the Man of Sin. It is our Presbyterian organisation and scriptural creed that are eminently adapted to meet all the efforts of that unscriptural system. No fear have I for the cause of God; but I am most anxious that the sword of Caledonia should be seen, if I so may speak, foremost in this great fight, and that in the very hottest of the struggle, in the very front of the embattled host, we should be seen bearing the blue banner of our beloved Free Church of Scotland.”

[...] In 1852 Dr. Begg made his first essay of book-authorship, by the publication of his “Handbook of Popery.” 46 This book has had, and still has, an extensive circulation, having passed through several editions, and afterwards been stereotyped. No one who reads it will have any difficulty in judging as to the cause of its popularity. I have had occasion ere now to state in substance that the chief element of Dr. Begg’s strength was his knowledge of his own strength and of his own weakness. This remark is illustrated and confirmed by the “Handbook of Popery.” There are many questions bearing on the Romanist controversy whose discussion requires extensive erudition, historical research, and nice scholarship. But there are many other matters at issue which require for their treatment only intelligent observation and plain statement. To the latter class of topics almost exclusively Dr. Begg confines himself. Thus he has produced a book of much utility. While it may be admitted that it does not stand in a very high rank of theological or ecclesiastical controversy, it stands high in its own rank. I venture to hint that the Handbook, instead of being constantly issued in its original form, or with only slight variations, might with advantage be revised and extended, so that it might present other aspects of the Romanist controversy. As it is, while it is not the book that we would recommend to the student who desires to have a full and minute knowledge of the Romanist system in all its phases, it is a book which may safely be put into the hand of an honest inquirer — Romanist or Protestant — with confidence that the former will be staggered, and the latter will be confirmed in his faith.

[Footnote 46: “A Handbook of Popery ; or, Text-Book of Missions for the Conversion of Romanists, being Papal Rome tested by Scripture, History, and its Recent Workings.” By James Begg, D.D. With an appendix of documents. Edinburgh, 1852.]

Social questions

It is very remarkable to what an extent Dr. Begg anticipated the feeling which now prevails on the subject of sanatory and social, and distinctively Scottish questions. There is not one of these questions on which he did not expatiate long before almost any one else had turned his mind to it. On a multitude of them he expressed his mind in a lecture which he delivered in a United Presbyterian Church in Edinburgh on the 10th of January 1850. Referring to the “Charter” and its “five points,” he stated that his charter contained seven or eight points. Some of them he merely indicated; others he expounded at some length. These points, although they are not very definitely stated in the report before me, appear to be the following:— 1. Education, improvement of its quantity and quality. 2. Suppression of drunkenness. 3. Better dwellings for working people and the poor. 4. Public washing-houses and bleaching-greens. 5. Reform of the land-laws. 6. Simplification of the transference of land. 7. Treatment of crime and pauperism. 8. Greater justice to Scotland in [the British] Parliament.

On all these points he was distinctly a leader of public opinion, to the extent that he strongly advocated reforms which a few deemed desirable, and fewer thought to be attainable! while now some have been happily attained, and all men believe that the rest are to follow. “Next to the spread of the Gospel itself,” he said, “he would put in the very front of the reformation which he proposed for the elevation of the working-classes, a universal system of education. He was convinced that ignorance and degradation would always be found to go hand in hand.” [...]

On the subject of drunkenness he only touched, but referred with hearty recognition to “the marked change in this respect which had been produced in America by the efforts of Temperance Societies, upon both the temporal comforts of the people themselves and the aspect of the country.”

On dwellings for the working-classes and the poor his utterances were, as ever, most emphatic. “The reverend doctor forcibly illustrated the evils which were produced by the want of proper houses for the working-classes in large cities, and also in agricultural districts, particularly referring, as respected the latter, to the evils of the bothy system. He also said that, not only on grounds of humanity, but also of self interest, society had a deep stake in the question, both of promoting sanatory reform and providing better houses for the poorer working-classes, seeing that disease was generated by crowding people together, as was the case at present, and that they had to support the children of those who were cut off.” [...]

The treatment of crime and pauperism was a subject on which Dr. Begg thought much, and spoke and wrote much, for many years. It is unfortunate that the dealing with the two classes should have so many elements in common as to occasion their being treated together. The unhappy result is — and it is a very unhappy one — that the idea is encouraged, which many in such a community as ours are too prone to entertain, that a certain measure of criminality attaches to poverty. Few men were able to handle these subjects better than was Dr. Begg, avoiding at once the Scylla of sentimentalism and the Charybdis of severity. His invariable prescription in the treatment of all who through crime or poverty are thrown on public support was work; hard and continuous work for the criminal, work suited to the age and powers of the poor. He probably overestimated the extent to which, in either case, the work could be made remunerative; but unquestionably the principle was sound.

Dr. Begg was always a strenuous advocate of “Scottish rights.” Many a time I have heard him laughingly say, that while he was no Parnellite, he was to a very large extent a Home Ruler, and he was either the first, or one of the earliest, to agitate for the appointment of a special Minister for Scotland. I must transcribe a passage relating to this from the lecture under review:—

“This, he said, led him to notice another point; and that was, that the state of Scotland would never be materially improved until some better plan was fallen upon by which to govern it. At this moment Scotland was treated not merely as a petty province, but just as if it were an additional county of England; and yet every man who had studied history, or who could study human nature, must see that no three kingdoms could be more different from each other than Scotland, England, and Ireland. They were united most happily together in one sense; but still, the kind of legislation applicable to the several countries must, to a large extent, be different. [...]

“Scotland must take up her own questions, and bring her own intellect to bear on them. He thought that, at the very least, they ought to get that justice in Scotland which was dealt out to every colony of the British empire. [...]

“They had, however, reached times which required very wise and careful statesmanship; and if no attention were to be paid to their affairs, — if a Secretary of State were not appointed for Scotland, with a Council of Scotsmen, — if some effectual plan were not fallen upon, he was not sure but they must endeavour to get such a change in the existing system as would secure them some legislative body in their own country to dispose of purely Scottish questions.”

It is to be remembered that this was spoken in 1850. I am sure that Dr. Begg never seriously contemplated such a “repeal of the Union” [i.e., a dissolution of the United Kingdom] as would be involved in the institution of a separate Scottish parliament, although he does seem to hint at that as a last resort. [...]

National Education

On the Monday preceding the meeting of the General Assembly of 1846, the foundation stone was laid of the Knox Monument, and in connection therewith a great meeting was held of the “Friends of the Reformation.” Very naturally Dr. M’Crie, son of the biographer of Knox, was the chief speaker. Mr. Thomson of Banchory, a descendant of Knox, was in the chair. To Dr. Begg it was assigned to “make a few observations on the subject of education in connection with the Scottish Reformation.” In an eloquent speech he detailed the educational plan of the Scottish Reformers, and advocated a strong effort for its fulfilment. The following extract is of permanent interest in itself, and as striking the keynote, which he kept up all his days in the advocacy of the union of religious and secular education, and the extension of its blessings to all our people:—

“There are three points in the plan of Knox which I think worthy of notice. First, he goes on the idea, the clear perception, that all men are infinitely valuable, as being possessed of immortal souls, and proper subjects of that Gospel which the Lord Jesus Christ has enjoined to be preached to every creature, to the poorest of the poor as well as the greatest of the land. On this ground he repudiated, on the one hand, the Popish maxim— which is still the Popish maxim, notwithstanding all professions to the contrary — that ‘ignorance is the mother of devotion;’ and on the other, the maxim of the infidel, that men should be left to themselves in regard to spiritual knowledge; that they should be taught only secular knowledge, that spiritual knowledge would come afterwards, thus leaving Satan in full possession of the field; thus leaving the field to grow a crop of tares, and then leaving to ministers the task of planting the good seed of the Word. On the other hand, Knox maintained that all men being equally possessed of immortal souls, and equally the objects of the Divine command, ‘Preach the gospel to every creature,’ should be taught spiritual knowledge from the very first. Not only so, but it is most important to observe that, coupled with this, the plan of our great Reformer embraces plans of the utmost moment in regard to wholesome secular knowledge. It is a rule that there can be no inconsistency between the works of God and the Word of God; and so it is not the amount of information that Christianity has to dread, but the deficiency of information.... It was the principle of the Reformers, and they maintained it strongly, that there should be higher secular education, and that the sons of the poorest of the people, if possessed of talents, should be trained to fill offices of eminence in the State as well as in the Church.”

[...] The Free Church Education Scheme originated in the necessity of providing maintenance and employment for numerous teachers who had been ejected from the parochial schools on account of their adherence to the Free Church. No Free Churchman ever dreamed of withdrawing his children from a parochial school on the ground that the teacher of it might be an Established Churchman. Neither did any one imagine that teachers who were Free Churchmen ought to inculcate the distinctive principles of the Free Church on their pupils. It would have been absurd to make such an attempt; and I do not think that in all the heat of the controversy the charge of making it was ever brought against any teacher. But when Free Churchmen were ruthlessly ejected from the schools, on no other ground than that of their being Free Churchmen, the Church was compelled to institute an educational scheme, not on sectarian grounds, but as a defence against a sectarian movement on the part of others. Nothing shows more clearly the hold that the Free Church had of the minds of the people than the marvellous success of her educational operations. [...]

On the 17th of April [1847] the committee appointed on the 7 th gave in an elaborate report, [...] it will be well now to extract the main portion of Dr. Begg’s first public speech on the subject of national education. The report of the committee, given in Dr. Candlish, recommended the Presbytery to petition for delay, till the Government scheme could be more fully considered; and went on to assert certain principles which ought to be carried out in any national system. These principles I shall state in an abridged form. (1) It is very strongly asserted that it is the duty of States and their rulers to advance and promote the education of the people, and that Christian Churches should be willing, as far as they conscientiously can, to concur with the civil government in forwarding this end. (2) It is asserted equally strongly that any general system to be adopted ought to be based on religious truth, and pervaded by a religious spirit; and that “it is an imperative obligation lying on the Church at present to be peculiarly on the watch against any system which may seem to tend towards the giving of public countenance and encouragement to Popery, Socinianism, and infidelity, and other forms of error, as well as to the sound Protestantism of the Evangelical Churches of the country.” After the seconding by Dr. Duncan of the motion to adopt the report, and a powerful speech by Dr. Cunningham,—

“Mr. Begg said that the Presbytery must rejoice that the committee had been able so far to come to a unanimous report upon the very difficult subject which had occupied their attention. They did not see their way so clearly as some of their brethren 27 did, — they were not quite so far advanced. The substance of the report was that they wished for more time and more light. They had, however, certain decided principles which were announced in the report; but with regard to the scheme of the Government they were anxious for delay and for further information; and it was therefore recommended to the Presbytery to petition Parliament, praying for time to enable them to consider the subject in all its bearings. He did not intend to go over any of the ground already occupied; but these two questions — first, what was the duty of the Government, and second, what was their own duty — though quite distinct, and important to be discussed separately, were yet considerably mixed up together. He did not consider it desirable altogether to preclude the latter question, though there was at present perhaps more urgency with regard to the former —viz., with respect to the duty of Government in the matter of education. 

[Footnote 27: The reference is to the English Voluntaries, who were for condemning the scheme on the ground that the Government ought not to support the teaching of any religion. — T. S.]

“In regard especially to England, that was a somewhat complicated question in the present state of the country; not that he had any difficulty on the principle that Government was not entitled in any circumstances or state of the country to support what was flagrantly inconsistent with the Word of God. But even after that was admitted, there was great difficulty, in regard to England especially, arising from the immense number of sects that prevailed there, and the state of the Established Church. But in connection with that point, it had often occurred to him as very desirable that they should separate the case of Scotland altogether from that of England; that they should see their way to recommend something to Government wish regard to Scotland, substantially right in itself, and which would in reality be of national extent, because in the matter of education they were very far ahead of England. That subject had been discussed in Scotland many, many years, even centuries back — discussed and settled at a time when this country was not so divided and broken up into sections; they had the advantage of a system of education based upon principles of which they approved, with the exception that it had, in consequence of the Disruption, become exclusively attached to the Established Church a system which was based on a recognition of the Divine Word, the Confession of Faith, and the Shorter Catechism. It would be very important if they could recommend the reformation and extension of that system to the Government as the basis of a sound national system of education for Scotland. 

“[...] Now if they applied for Government aid, one of two answers might be given. If the Government, without trying to reform the existing system, consented, it would be a plain waste of the public money to support two schools where one would be sufficient. Or Government might say, though they had no objection to support schools in connection with the Free Church, yet they would judge for themselves as to the localities of these schools, and in all such cases, and those the most necessitous, refuse money altogether, and thus clog and hamper our own educational scheme. This matter of the parish schools must, therefore, immediately be looked at, or it would be found a great obstacle in their way. On that ground, and as they occupied high vantage-ground with regard to Scotland, having a system in existence capable of reformation, he thought it worthy of consideration whether they should not immediately recommend to Government something satisfactory, not only to them, but to the whole evangelical dissenters of the country. 

“With regard to the second question, that of their own duty, if they found Government persevering, notwithstanding the remonstrances addressed to them, in carrying through anything found to be objectionable in their scheme, he thought it was not unattended with difficulties. It was no doubt a difficult question, though not in regard to the principle. He was glad that Dr. Cunningham had spoken out. There was no ground of principle requiring them to refuse a grant for a good object, because, in spite of our remonstrances, one might be also given for a bad object. Such a principle was absurd and dangerous. But as a question of expediency, he thought it would be, in some of its bearings, and in our peculiar position, one of the most difficult that the Free Church had ever been called to grapple with, though they should not allow any one to suppose that they were committed at all, or that they would be prevented from accepting the money of Government for the purpose of doing what was good, although the Government should persist in applying a portion of the money in doing what was evil.”

Opposition to the Highland Clearances

At the meeting of the Commission in November [1849], Dr. Begg made a strong but temperate statement on the subject of “Highland Evictions and Emigration.” On this subject he was of one mind from first to last. No man ever held more decided views as to rights of property, but none had clearer convictions as to the responsibilities attaching to proprietorship. While he was ready to recommend spontaneous emigration, as in many cases conducive to the well-being of the people, and while he ever took a deep interest in emigrants to the colonies and to other lands, he never ceased to protest against the notion that proprietors of lands should have it in their power to deprive their tenants of their holdings, and so to make emigration practically compulsory. In the speech before me, he refers to this as “the exercise of that which is the highest criminal function of the State next to execution — the power of banishing people to any extent they pleased.”

Appreciation of the Christian Highlanders

[From theWitness, 1840.] [...] “I arrived at Huntly on Thursday, April 2, [...] I never saw a more interesting people. Their desire to hear the Gospel is perfectly wonderful. They listen with the most eager interest; and, week-day or Sabbath, an audience may be collected on the shortest notice. The kind of preaching lately introduced appears to be perfectly new to them, and I do trust that great and eternal good will be the result. [...]

“A large audience assembled at seven to hear the sermon, and remained for nearly two hours and a half. The Rev. Mr. Macintosh of Tain preached a sermon in Gaelic at six o'clock to the Highlanders, who in all parts of the world thirst after the Word of God in their native tongue. [...]

“The district of Alford is a beautiful strath on the banks of the Don, nearly twenty miles from Huntly by the best road. On our way we passed through Gartly, the excellent minister of which has stood by the Church and fulfilled his ordination engagements. We passed the church and manse of Rhynie, the wild and upland parish of the leader of the seven suspended ministers. We also saw the place, the court of an inn, where from a thousand to twelve hundred persons at present meet every Sabbath in the open air to hear the ministers sent by the Commission; and we spoke to a most intelligent watchmaker in the place, who is a warm and devoted friend to the Church in her present movements. [...]

“In such districts the Moderate system has existed for years, but some of the people have Boston, Flavel, and the Confession of Faith in their houses, and there are amongst them strong recollections of better days. Gordon of Alford was in former times sent to London to endeavour to secure the repeal of the Act of Queen Anne. Malcolm of Leochel-Cushnie was an excellent man, and his memory is much revered.

“The people seem most anxious to have a minister in this district who will act upon the principles of the Evangelical party, and most eagerly inquired at us whether such a thing could not immediately be by the authority of the General Assembly. They said his church would be crowded. [...]

“The public meeting we had at Leochel-Cushnie that evening was certainly one of the most splendid I have seen. It was just like a west country tent-preaching, such a number of fine-looking people, and so well dressed. They came showering down the hills in every direction, although one could not divine where they came from, and stood in a dense and eager crowd for more than two hours. There must have been at least 1,000 people — some say 1,200 — and they had come from fourteen parishes. It was beautiful to see the vast multitude uncover at once, as by magic, the instant the psalm-book was opened, and delightful to hear the voice of such hearty praise rising in that distant valley. When the daylight failed, two willing assistants stood on the same table with me, and held up the two gig lamps on the right and left, whose light shone on the interesting faces of the people, whilst I stood and spoke in the midst; and at length, when the resolutions were proposed by most respectable men in the meeting, in favour of the great principle of non- intrusion, and of the popular party in the General Assembly, the whole hands went up at once like a forest, and a long shout of enthusiasm was echoed back amidst the darkness from the distant hills. The meeting, after a psalm and prayer, broke up with the utmost harmony. We were loaded with thanks, and entreated to come to many neighbouring parishes [...]

At the Inverness Assembly [1845], Dr. Begg gave a most interesting account of his tour, and of the state of matters in the Highlands, speaking strongly, but “more in sorrow than in anger,” of the sufferings inflicted on the people by site-refusing proprietors. I shall give some extracts from this speech, not apologising for their length, but rather regretting that I cannot transfer it in its entirety to my pages. It is happily not requisite now to reproduce the statements regarding the refusal of sites, and therefore I shall only extract such passages as refer to the country and the people:—

“I crossed from Tobermory to the district of Ardnamurchan, at a point called Laga. It was mid-day, but the people had nevertheless assembled to hear sermon. I there saw for the first time what I had often read of before – I saw a light burning on the hill as I advanced to the place, and, on inquiry, was told that it was a light to intimate to the people on the opposite side that there was to be sermon; and I saw the boats coming from the opposite shore with people to attend the service. Here was the fiery cross that used to bring out the Celts to war, now used to bring them out to hear the gospel of peace. another man present began the services of the day; and I heard the solemn sound of the psalmody die away in the distant hills. I went to Strontian, where public worship was to take place, and it was requisite that means should be taken for summoning the people. As we sailed along the shore, I was much struck with the primitive way in which the intimation was made. A catechist was seated in the boat, and as she brushed along the shore, he cried out in Gaelic, ‘Searmon aig sea nairean,’ which means ‘service at six o’clock.’ This flew from hamlet to hamlet, and a large audience, when worship commenced, was assembled on the hill.... I could not understand the Gaelic sermon; but one thing I could not fail to observe, that a more effective sermon could scarcely have been preached. Not only did the people hang on the lips of the speaker, but they exhibited the deepest emotion. The audience was dissolved in tears, ad deep sobs were heard throughout.... I shortly spoke to the people of the district; and a venerable patriarch afterwards came forward, and made an address to me in his native tongue. That address was interpreted, and the meaning of it was, that he blessed God that he had lived to see the day when the Church of Scotland was taking so deep an interest in her scattered children, and was sending men to witness the trials to which they were subjected; with a prayer that all blessings might descend upon the Church, and upon us....

“We came to Lochcarron, on the Applecross estate; and, to give you an idea of the intense interest that prevails among the Highlanders as to the preaching of the Gospel, I may state that we had not gone many miles on the road to this place before we saw individuals who were on the highway accosting in a most earnest manner the person who carried our luggage. We afterwards learned that they were inquiring if we were Free Church ministers, and if we were to preach. Our arrival was spread far and wide over the neighbourhood, with an intimation that we were to preach, and though it was seven o’clock when we arrived, by eight o’clock about 800 people were assembled to hear us, and they remained till eleven o'clock to hear the Word of God preached to them....

“We at length came down upon Applecross, with the Atlantic lying before it. It was a cold evening, but we found a large number of people assembled, and we were shocked to see them gathered together in a place almost inaccessible on the seashore. We had to sit on stones, literally amid the tangle of the seashore; 14 and there were to be seen amiable matrons, and old men and maidens, sitting to hear the Gospel preached, while the waves of the Atlantic dashed at their feet.... [...]

[Footnote 14: It is difficult to believe, but yet it is true, that a Christian congregation, in a district where there were thousands of acres of rough pasture land, could find no place to assemble for worship but between low and high water mark. — T.S.]

“I was anxious to find out the real ground on which the Secession in the Highlands rested. I think I may explain shortly to our south country friends, that it was entirely and exclusively, in general, on Christian and Scriptural grounds that the Highlanders left the Established Church. I found in every instance in which I have made inquiry that it was because in previous times, and at the present day, they had been blessed with the preaching of the Word of God, that the Highlanders had left the Establishment. One great good of our coming to Inverness has been to mingle not only our sympathies with our northern friends – which I anticipated as the result of the Assembly’s coming — but to make known to us the eminent men who laboured here, of whom we had never heard before. For example, at Lochcarron, I found that an eminent servant of God had long been there, of whom it may be said, ‘This man has laboured, and you are entering into his labours.’ I heard all the people speaking of Mr. Lachlan Mackenzie; and when I asked who he was, I was told that he was one of the most eminent ministers that was ever in Scotland. I was shown his pulpit, which was kept as a sort of relic, and they said that many a great word had been spoken from that pulpit. I went to the churchyard, and wrote down the inscription on his grave-stone, and I am persuaded that I am addressing some of those who will remember the man himself. The inscription struck me as peculiarly beautiful, I will read it to you.

“‘Here are deposited the mortal remains 
of the Rev. Lachlan M‘Kenzie, late minister of Lochcarron,
who died on the 20th of April 1813,in the 37th year of his ministry,
a man whose simplicity of manners presented a picture of apostolic times;
whose benevolence of mind still spurned the rain objects of time and sense,
whose broad imagination shed a bright lustre on every subject which he handled,
and whose holy unction in all his ministrations endeared him to the people of God,
and embalmed his memory in their hearts, his praise is in the Churches!
His parish mourns!’ 

“Now, I say that there were a number of men of a kindred spirit scattered over the north of Scotland, and they are even there still. You had the Calders and the Robertsons, there was that great and holy man Kennedy of Redcastle, individuals lately gone; and you have your own Dr. Macdonald still living to preside over this Assembly. These men had sown broadcast the living bread among, the people of the north of Scotland; and when they saw these men not only leave the walls of the Establishment, but when they saw them carrying it were, the Word of God away with them, these Highlanders, as one man, followed their footsteps....

“Let us not fear what man can do. We know that man cannot go farther than God permits him, and we see that even the opposition which men have been permitted to raise has been the means of forcing our cause on the notice of individuals in the three kingdoms, and in distant lands. If we had been always sailing on smooth waters, if everything had gone on well with us, could we have had it to tell of our cause being so triumphant as we see it to-day? Let us therefore thank God and take courage.”