Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

His body was interred on the 25th in the new burying-ground, Greyfriar's church-yard. The hearse followed by a large number of mourning-coaches, passed through a vast concourse of the populace, who had assembled to view the funeral of their venerable and beloved pastor.

[ocr errors]

On the sabbath following, the subject of his death was improved from many of the pulpits in Edinburgh. At the request of his widow, his much respected friend Dr. Davidson, preached in the Old Greyfriar's church, to a numerous and afflicted audience, a suitable discourse from 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.

Dr. Erskine married the hon. Miss Mackay, daughter of Lord Rae, who survives, with one son and three daughters, to lament his loss.

In his temper, Dr. Erskine was ardent and benevolent. His affections were warm, and his attachments perpetual. His piety was constant and lively; and, while he exhibited in his conduct a beautiful example of the graces and virtues of that religion, of which he was a minister, he enjoyed, in a high degree, the cheering hopes which the faith of the gospel inspires. He was remarkable for the simplicity of his manners, and for that genuine humility, which is the attendant and brightest ornament of real greatness. His beneficent deeds, which were very numerous, and remain a precious memorial of him, were performed in the unostentatious manner of that charity which "seeketh not her own." He was never ashamed to avow his own convictions of the truth: and, while he put the most candid construction on the motives of those who differed from him in sentiment, he maintained his own principles with firmness. In the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, he was considered as a leader of the popular party. There, however, his openness and integrity of character, secured him, what few have enjoyed, the confidence and affection of his friends, and the esteem of his opponents. Of the high reputation to which his virtues had raised him, no proof more decisive can be given, than a circumstance which occurred during the disturbances in Edinburgh, in February 1779, occasioned by the celebrated bill, proposed at that time to have been introduced into parliament, for the repeal of the penal statutes against the catholics in Scotland. The furious mob, which, in defiance of the military, had assembled in the College-court, with the intention of demolishing the house of principal Robertson, became quiet at his approach; and, in consequence of his exhortation to them, desisted. from their purpose.

Dr. Erskine's independence and liberality of mind, deserve to

be particularly mentioned. These were qualities that shone conspicuously through the whole of his life; and which he possessed in so eminent a degree, that many thought he carried them to an

extreme.

Considering the time Dr. Erskine spent in the minute discharge of a very extensive and laborious office, it may seem astonishing that he could read and write so much as he did. They, however, who had the happiness to know him, and saw how he husbanded his time, wonder not so much at the amount of his labours, as at the manner in which his feeble constitution underwent the fatigue. Like his divine Master, he seemed ever to think himself bound to be about his Father's business. A saying of his own, fresh in the memory of many of his friends, was the maxim that governed his conduct: "Action is the rest of the soul."

Dr. Erskine was the last of an old school of divines in Edinburgh, who were an honour to the age in which they lived; many of whose names will be perpetuated in the history of their country to the latest generation.

SERIES OF LIVES.

THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL.

[Continued from page 215.]

AFTER Saul had publicly recanted his former principles, professed his sorrow for his past conduct, given an account of his conversion, and fully vindicated the faith he had persecuted, he went to Arabia, where he commenced his apostleship to the Gentiles and Jewish strangers. We cannot say what success may have attended this mission, but no doubt it was considerable. For though stripes, imprisonment, stonings, and such like, were the ordinary honours of the apostles; and though most of them died in a way terrible to nature, yet of all men they were least afflicted with that greatest of evils which can befal a minister, the spending his strength in fruitless labour.

From Arabia he returned to Damascus; and there he appears to have preached with great success and much opposition, till he escaped for his life. Three years having now elapsed from his conversion, he judged proper to make himself known to the rest of the apostles. For this purpose he went up to Jerusalem, but when he would have joined himself to the disciples, they were afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas brought him VOL. II. Kk

[ocr errors]

His body was interred on the 25th in the new burying-ground, Greyfriar's church-yard. The hearse followed by a large num ber of mourning-coaches, passed through a vast concourse of the populace, who had assembled to view the funeral of their venerable and beloved pastor.

On the sabbath following, the subject of his death was improved from many of the pulpits in Edinburgh. At the request of his widow, his much respected friend Dr. Davidson, preached in the Old Greyfriar's church, to a numerous and afflicted audience, a suitable discourse from 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.

Dr. Erskine married the hon. Miss Mackay, daughter of Lord Rae, who survives, with one son and three daughters, to lament his loss.

In his temper, Dr. Erskine was ardent and benevolent. His affections were warm, and his attachments perpetual. His piety was constant and lively; and, while he exhibited in his conduct a beautiful example of the graces and virtues of that religion, of which he was a minister, he enjoyed, in a high degree, the cheering hopes which the faith of the gospel inspires. He was remarkable for the simplicity of his manners, and for that genuine humility, which is the attendant and brightest ornament of real greatness. His beneficent deeds, which were very numerous, and remain a precious memorial of him, were performed in the unostentatious manner of that charity which "seeketh not her own." He was never ashamed to avow his own convictions of the truth: and, while he put the most candid construction on the motives of those who differed from him in sentiment, he maintained his own principles with firmness. In the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, he was considered as a leader of the popular party. There, however, his openness and integrity of character, secured him, what few have enjoyed, the confidence and affection of his friends, and the esteem of his opponents. Of the high reputation to which his virtues had raised him, no proof more decisive can be given, than a circumstance which occurred during the disturbances in Edinburgh, in February 1779, occasioned by the celebrated bill, proposed at that time to have been introduced into parliament, for the repeal of the penal statutes against the catholics in Scotland. The furious mob, which, in defiance of the military, had assembled in the College-court, with the intention of demolishing the house of principal Robertson, became quiet at his approach; and, in consequence of his exhortation to them, desisted from their purpose.

Dr. Erskine's independence and liberality of mind, deserve to

be particularly mentioned. These were qualities that shone conspicuously through the whole of his life; and which he possessed in so eminent a degree, that many thought he carried them to an

extreme.

Considering the time Dr. Erskine spent in the minute discharge of a very extensive and laborious office, it may seem astonishing that he could read and write so much as he did. They, however, who had the happiness to know him, and saw how he husbanded his time, wonder not so much at the amount of his labours, as at the manner in which his feeble constitution underwent the fatigue. Like his divine Master, he seemed ever to think himself bound to be about his Father's business. A saying of his own, fresh in the memory of many of his friends, was the maxim that governed his conduct: "Action is the rest of the soul."

Dr. Erskine was the last of an old school of divines in Edinburgh, who were an honour to the age in which they lived; many of whose names will be perpetuated in the history of their country to the latest generation.

SERIES OF LIVES.

THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL.

[Continued from page 215.]

AFTER Saul had publicly recanted his former principles, prafessed his sorrow for his past conduct, given an account of his conversion, and fully vindicated the faith he had persecuted, he went to Arabia, where he commenced his apostleship to the Gentiles and Jewish strangers. We cannot say what success may have attended this mission, but no doubt it was considerable. For though stripes, imprisonment, stonings, and such like, were the ordinary honours of the apostles; and though most of them died in a way terrible to nature, yet of all men they were least afflicted with that greatest of evils which can befal a minister, the spending his strength in fruitless labour.

From Arabia he returned to Damascus; and there he appears to have preached with great success and much opposition, till he escaped for his life. Three years having now elapsed from his conversion, he judged proper to make himself known to the rest of the apostles. For this purpose he went up to Jerusalem, but when he would have joined himself to the disciples, they were afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas brought him Vol. II. Kk

unto the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen Jesus in the way, and had preached boldly at Damascus in his name. The account is perfectly natural, and proves how deep a terror his ferocity had struck into the church. The rude state of social intercourse in those days; the distance of Damascus from Jerusalem; the danger and difficulty of keeping up a communication with apostles, who where probably obliged to take precaution for their own safety; and perhaps an overruling Providence, which intended to assert the dignity of the great apostle to the Gentiles, as derived from Christ alone, and every way equal to his brethren; might be the causes of their remaining so long in ignorance about him. James the Lord's brother, and Simon Peter, at whose house he lodged fifteen days, were, however, the only apostles he saw. It is easier to conceive than to express, what were the feelings of St. Paul on the theatre of his persecutions, and in the presence of the church which he had wasted. Influenced by these feelings, he laid aside every consideration of personal safety, and with great publicity and boldness disputed against the Grecians, who went about to slay him. Nor were the arguments and persuasions of the brethren able to remove him from this dangerous post; until the Lord, in a vision, remanded him to his mission among the Gentiles, telling him, that the Jews would not receive his testimony.

Reluctantly quitting the beloved city, he turned his steps to Tarsus, and for four years spread the Gospel in Syria and Cilicia, until, in the year 42, Barnabas went to seek him at Tarsus, and returned with him to Antioch, where, for a year, they taught much people; and the disciples were called christians first at Antioch, This venerable appellation they received with pleasure; and they ever appear to have gloried in it, as happily descriptive of a people purchased with the blood of Christ, baptized into his name, dependent on his grace, endued with his spirit, and bound by every sacred tie to tread in his steps. Happy days, when christians knew no name but that of Christ! when the militant host of Emmanuel marched under one standard, and had but one cause and interest. Blessed Lord, shall these days never return to cheer thy fainting church? O may we hear thy voice, and rally round thy cross! Restore, we pray thee, our broken ranks, and lead us to a warfare worthy of our Lord!

The following year Saul paid a second visit to Jerusalem, accompanied by Barnabas; and as his ministrations in that city were interdicted, as soon as he had delivered the contributions with which he was charged for the mother church, he returned to Antioch with Barnabas and John Mark, a young minister of promis

« VorigeDoorgaan »