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AUGUST, 1824. Vol. XXIII. No. VIII.
RELIGIOUS COMMUNICATIONS, &c.
FOR THE CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTOR.
Biographical Notices of Eminent Ministers of the Church of Scotland.
HENRY ERSKINE, CHIRNSIDE.
them for some years, he was ejected
with about two thousand more, for was born in 1624 at Dry- non-conformity to Prelacy, which, burgh, by Melrose, in the county was then restored with King Charles of Berwick. His father was Mr. the Second. His income in that Ralph Erskine of Shieldfield, descen- small parish being somehow withded from the noble house of Mar. held for several years ere he was He had thirty-three children, of ejected, be was advised to go to whom the subject of this memoir London, and apply to his Majesty was one of the youngest. But, for relief. Going by sea, it happenthough descended from an anciented that the ship in which he emand noble family, he was more ho- barked was obliged to put into Harnourable as a Christian, a minister wich, where it continued windof Christ, and a sufferer for his sake. bound for three weeks. Even this,
He was educated in the college which at first was discouraging, was of Edinburgh, and passed the ordi- a kind providence to Mr. Erskine. nary courses with considerable re- He became acquainted with the putation. Some time before the Re good people of that place, exercised storation in 1660, he was ordained his ministry among them, and reat Cornbill, a parish within the ceived much kindness from them, English border, Northumberland. both during his stay, and at his deWhen he entered on his ministry in parture. When he got to London, this place, he found the people ex- he applied to some Scotch nobleceedingly rude and ignorant : sit- men about the court, soliciting them ting in his own house he sometimes to forward his petition to the King. heard them cursing him in the open But, after presenting his petition, street ; but in a little time he gained and long and expensive attendance, much upon their affections. Yet, he was told for answer, that he after labouring successfully among could have no warrant for payment
VOL. XXIII. NO. VIII.
of arrears, unless he would, for the sided without meeting with moles. time to come conform to the esta- tation, as far as is known, till 1682; blished Church. Some of the Scotch but in April that year he was seized noblemen made him offers of con- by the Laird of Meldrum with a siderable benefices, if he would do company of soldiers, when he was so, but he had not so learned Christ. worshipping God on the Lord's day He was therefore under the hard with his family. After confinement, necessity of returning home, with a first at Melrose and then at Jedheavy heart and empty purse; hav- burgh, the hardship of which was ing exhausted what money he had increased by a violent ague under brought along with him. Being on which he laboured, he was, though ship-board, in order to his return, still indisposed, carried to Edinwith only a crown left to support burgh, and compelled to appear behim, he offered to exchange it for fore a committee of the privy counsmaller money, when purchasing cil. When he came before them, afsome refreshment; but to his great ter some previous examinations, Sir surprise he was told that his crown George M.Kenzie, the King's adwas not worth a farthing. Upon this vocate asked him, if he would give he told his case to the master of the bond to preach no more at convenvessel, and asked him to lend him ticles ? To which Mr. Erskine an. some money, promising payment for swered:-“ My lord, I have my whatever he should furnish him with commission from Christ, and though when once they got to Edinburgh. I were within an hour of my death, Here again providence interposed I durst not lay it down at the feet in his favour. They were a second of any mortal man.” The advocate time compelled to put into Hare having made a report to the counwich by a severe storm, and de- cil, his affair was delayed till the tained six weeks. But he was 6th of June, and he gave bail under among his friends. He had an op- four thousand merks to compear at portunity for the exercise of his that time, upon the 6th of June; ministry among them, and they he appeared before the council and kindly supplied his wants in the a libel was read against him, charmean time, and at his departure ging him with preaching at convenfurnished him with what was ne. ticles, and with disorderly baptizing cessary for his voyage. Nay, so and marrying. Being asked by the much did they regard him, that chancellor, what he had to say to they earnestly solicited him to come the libel ? - he answered, it was and settle as their minister. He well known to those who lived in would willingly have yielded, but his neighbourhood, that from Sephe could not prevail with his wife tember 22, 1681, to the end of Feto go so far from her friends and bruary this year, he was under bonative country.
dily indisposition, so that he was not After his return he removed his capable of exercising any part of his family from Cornhill to Dryburgh, ministerial function. The chancellor, and lived in a house belonging to according to the custom of those se. his brother, Mr. Erskine of Shield- vere times, asked him if he would field. Depending on a good provi- make oath that he had not preached, dence for subsistence to himself and baptized, or married from Septemfamily, he exercised his ministry ber last? To which he answered, as he had opportunity, preaching he was not at liberty to give his sometimes in the fields, and free oath for the whole of that time. quently in his own house, to such Nothing in particular was as ventured to attend. Here he re. against him, and yet he was fined
five thousand merks, committed to one day for his recreation he obthe tolbooth of Edinburgh, and ora served several young people, who dered to be carried next day to the had been digging peats, diverting Bass, to lie there till his fine was themselves during the time of rest paid, and bond given he should with various frolics ; in his grave preach no more. To prevent if pose manner he says, “ I think you are sible his going to the Bass, which too merry,” to which one of them might have been hazardous for him replied, " Sir, we suppose you are in his present weak condition, in a minister, and if you will preach a the afternoon he presented a peti. sermon, we will sit down and be tion to the council, representing that grave.” “ I fear,” said Mr. Erskine, confinement in the Bass must en.
you are not in a proper frame for danger his life, begging he might hearing a sermon." They, however, have liberty to quit the kingdom, pressed it so much upon him, that and offering to find sureties for his at last he consented, and after re. doing so. Through the interest of tiring for a little into a secret place, some friends this was granted as a he came and preached to about favour ; and Mr. John Brown of thirty work people. This issued in Park, Mr. Erskine's nephew, bound the conversion of eleven of them to himself in a bond of 5000 merks, the faith and obedience of Jesus. that his uncle should within four- He was afterwards invited by Mr. teen days remove out of Scotland. Gray of Preston to live under him, When he was released out of his in an obscure village called Moni. imprisonment, the clerks of the laws, about a mile from Cornhill ; council got twenty-one dollars from but he did not live long here in him, and the jailer and his servant peace. In the end of July 1685, four, which Mr. Erskine could cer- he was apprehended by eight of the tainly very ill spare.
militia horsemen, and carried first Thus this good man, of whom the to Wooler, and next day to Colonel world was not worthy, prepared for Struthers at Foreberrie. The Cogoing into a voluntary exile, as se- lonel told him that he must go to veral of his brethren had done be- Sir John Fenwick at Newcastle, by fore him. Having prepared him- virtue of an order from the King. self for his journey, and taken leave That night he was sent back to of his wife and children, he remov. Wooler, and confined in prison, ed out of the kingdom, within the where, to their mutual comfort, he time determined, like Abraham, not found Mr. Luke Ogle, an ejected knowing whither he went, nor have minister. On the 4th of July they ing a view of any certain abode, were carried, under a guard of nine but his God provided better things soldiers, on horseback, to the house for him than he could foresee. He of a justice of peace at Coldingham. went first to Northumberland, then Here they staid till Monday the 6th into Cumberland, and at length instant. On the morning of that fixed at Parkridge, about ten miles day Mr. Erskine was seized with a from Carlisle, the proprietor of the violent cholic, so that he expected place offering him a house. In death every moment; yet Such was September he sent for his wife and the barbarity of the soldiers, that small children to that place; and they would hurry him away though here they lived pretty free from ex, in the greatest extremity, and ternal violence for about two years scarcely able to sit upon his horse. and a half. The following anecdote By the kind providence of God they is told of the success of his ministry got to Newcastle about seven in the in this place :-As he was walking evening. When they came to Sir John Fenwick's gate, he not only O my soul! on Christ, heaven, or ordered them to prison, but violent. thyself, when thou went to the ly took both their horses from them, Newton of Whitsome, to hear a which were never restored.
Mr. preaching, when Christ first dealt Erskine's sickness and pain conti, with thee. There thou got an unnuing, he found more favour with expected cast.” And again he says the prisoners and the jailer himself to his soul, “ Consider what a bad than with those of higher rank. The case thou thyself was in when prisoners dealt with the jailer on his Christ concerned himself for thy behalf, that he might have liberty good. Thou wast going on in the to quit the prison for a time for his way to hell, as blind as a mole ; at relief, which was obtained. Here last Christ opened thine eyes, and again Providence showed him un- let thee see thy hazard, by a preachexpected kindness.
He obtained er that was none of the unconcernlodging with one Mrs. Moon, who, ed Gallios; who spared neither his though none of his acquaintance, body, his credit, nor reputation, to took care of his health, and would gain thee and the like of thee.” take nothing for his entertainment, This one instance is worth a thouthough he continued fourteen days sand. The seed of grące sown in sick in her house. Upon the 22d Mr. Boston's heart has sprung up of the month, he and Mr. Ogle were in a numerous multitude of spiri. set at liberty upon an act of indem, tual children. Yet all this, in renity then passed. At his depar- spect of means, originated in a sinture, the prisone
ners were so kind as gle sermon preached by Mr. Erto give him thirty shillings to bear skine. Herein that Scripture was his charges home. On his return remarkably fulfilled, “ A little one to Monilaws, he continued preach- shall become a thousand, and a ing till the toleration in 1687.
small one a strong nation.” Isa. Ix. When liberty was thus granted 22. After the Revolution, Mr. Erin providence, number of godly skine was called to be minister at Presbyterians in and near the pa- Chirnside, in the Merse ; and here rish of Whitsome, several miles he continued faithfully and successwest from Berwick, on the Scotch fully to exercise his ministry till side, gave him a call to be their mi- the day of his death, which took nister, which he accepted ; and in place August 10, 1696, in the seSeptember this year, he got up his venty-second year of his age. bond from the council of Scotland. The following remarkable occurHe removed with his family to Re- rences in this good man's life were velaw, in the neighbourhood of the communicated by his son, Ebenmeeting-house, which the people ezer Erskine, late of Stirling. had erected for him. Here he con- When he dwelt at Dryburgh, aftinued preaching with no small suc- ter his ejectment from Cornhill, he cess till the memorable Revolution and his family were often in great in 1688. One instance of the suce straits. At one time particularly cess of his ministry in that place the cruise of oil and barrel of meal deserves to be had in thankful re
were entirely spent. When they membrance. It is the conversion supped at night there remained neiof the eminent Mr. Thomas Bos- ther bread, meal, flesh, nor money Lon of Etterick, when a boy of only in the house. In the morning the about ten years
children cried for their breakton gives this account of it in his fast. In such circumstances, those Soliloquy on the Art of Manfish- who know the bowels of a ing " Little wast thou thinking, must feel for Mr. Erskine ; but his