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are able to retain so small a measure of its waters. But it is not too late yet to acquire the art.
“ In entering on life, it is of the last importance that a proper direction be given to our mind; for as the twig is bent, the tree will be inclined. Connect all your pursuits with immortality, and consider the bearing of every action on futurity. Set the Lord ever before you, and that will make your deportment steady. Shew kindness to inferiors, and deference to those above you. Farewell for the present. May the Father of mercies guide, guard, and support you! Write me frequently, and long letters. Try to bring your style of letter-writing as near to the style of conversation as possible.”
“ London, Nov. 10, 1812. “ Your letter of the 3d instant supplied to our minds additional grounds of thanksgiving for the care of Providence in bringing you in safety to the end of your journey. Let every instance of God's preserving mercy awaken your gratitude, and strengthen your confidence in his fatherly government.
“ I have no doubt of your assiduity in your classical and philosophical pursuits. You know my concern in regard to your proficiency in the Latin and Greek languages, as the key to the treasures of heathen wisdom and of Christian knowledge, especially in the works of the early writers of the eastern church, which are little known by ministers in general. Mathematics will form the habit of close reasoning, and save you from the errors to which the excursions of unbridled imagination ever expose our judgments. But, above all pursuits, mind, my dear Alexander, that the furniture of the heart is the great endowment. Before the great Preacher of righteousness opened his commission, his Father furnished his mind with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord. Look up to the same source. Cry mightily to God, that he may baptise your opening faculties with large measures of the Holy Spirit, that your heart may feel deeply its obligations to redeeming love, that the most tender compassion may be created in your bosom for perishing souls, and a readiness to consecrate all your powers, and every degree of culture they may require, to the advancement of the Redeemer's glory in the salvation of men.
“ In regard to the peculiarities of your professor of moral philosophy, as I myself am a disciple of Reid and Beattie, and have never seen reason to alter ny views, it will not be supposed that I should be fond of novelties, whatever mental energy they are supposed to discover. I have long been the friend of common sense, and wish to die in habits of attachment to my old friends.
“Your concern about economy in your support is very commendable. The habit will be of great advantage, and will, probably, be found absolutely necessary in your future life. The prospects of a Seceding minister require high measures of spirituality of mind, and of all the virtues connected with limited and precarious income. But you would greatly err, my dear son, if you should conceive that these hints betrayed a grudging frame of mind towards you, or the most distant suspicion of inattention on your part to avail yourself of all the means of co-operation in your power.
“I have been absent for three months on a missionary tour. The time is not favourable for making collections ; but He, at whose girdle hangs the key that opens human bearts, was graciously pleased to open the hearts of the churches I visited, in such measure as to enable me to collect the sum of 8531. Ils. 11d. I ought, with unfeigned gratitude, to record the good and guardian care of Providence, and to invite those to whom my life is an object to unite with me in the record.”
The following extracts are from letters to his son after he had entered on the study of theology:
“ You will now enter on a new field of mental exercise. Under the tuition of such a master, and by the Divine blessing on your diligence, I hope your profiting will appear to all. It will often occur to your mind, and often be suggested to you by your pious teacher, that theology, as a science, must be studied with a very different frame of heart from that with which other sciences are studied. Its sacred nature, and our interest in its truth and importance, demand peculiar gravity of mind, much prayer to God, and constant dependence on the aid of his promised Spirit. The closest attention to the state of your own heart, and to the progress of religious principle and feeling there, is indispensably necessary. Follow out these hints, and be well assured that I shall not cease to bear you on my heart before the throne of God, and to implore the Divine communication of all needful grace to your soul. Read over and over good old Mr. Brown's Address to Students, at the beginning of his System, and apply to your own soul the deep and impressive sentiments which you will find there. Watch over your thoughts, desires, and diversions, when alone. The kingdom of God is within us. “As a man thinketh, so is he.' God weighs our thoughts, and nice is the balance in which thoughts are weighed. David speaks of remembering God on his bed, and of his soul following hard after God.
“ Be assured that there is no matter, short of your own salvation, in which more deep reflection and searching of your heart is necessary than in your present object. I would rather see you, my dear son, a faithful and holy minister of the blessed Gospel, than lolling in a carriage with a ducal star on your side; but I tremble at the thought of your entering into the office lightly, and without much consideration and prayer to God for aid and direction. I do not wish to discourage you (far, far from it); but I wish
you solemnly to view the measure in all its bearings. Ask your own heart what are the motives which incline you. Are they love to the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, and a tender concern for souls perishing around you in guilt and pollution,-a desire to employ your faculties in the way in which God will be most honoured ? — or is your heart captivated with the credit which good men usually attach to the office, with the prospect of an easy life, and the hope of being soon settled in the world, or any similar object? If so, all is wrong. You had better beg your bread from door to door, than enter into the ministry in such a frame of mind. Pray that you may see yourself in the light in which God sees you. In the Secession there is absolute need of great self-denial, patience under trials, and humility. Nothing but ardent love to Christ, and compassion for souls, will reconcile the mind to the privations, the insult, and opposition to be met with in the ministry. These words seem to be inscribed on the doors of our divinity schools, · If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'
“Pay considerable attention to composition. Facility in putting your thoughts together, and conveying them in words simple, expressive, and harmonious, is an acquisition of great moment, especially to a divine. The more of ease in the manner, and the more of the sentiment and language of Scripture in the matter of discourses, so much the more likely are they to please persons of good taste, and to benefit the poor. Mr. Robert Walker of Edinburgh's Sermons are, perhaps, the best models in our language. Texts of Scripture are the bones and marrow of sermons, and when happily introduced, they form the best charm of composition. The connexion of the church with any form of political government is a difficult question; but it appears to me, that in the present imperfect state of our nature, the countenance of a Christian government seems not at variance with the Bible, and is, on
many accounts, desirable. The countenance I plead for is associated with a sacred regard to the right of private judgment in all things.
“ Your inquiry into the truth and excellencies of our holy religion, is the most awfully important exercise of your mind in the present world. Implore light from on high ere you enter upon it. Prosecute it under a deep impression of the weakness and fallibility of our faculties, and with the reflection that, in a great and progressive plan, such as Divine revelation exhibits, there must be found many difficulties which our limited faculties are unable to remove; and that not merely the credit of your discernment, but the eternal condition of the mind, is connected with the result. Read Lord Lyttelton on the Conversion of Paul, West on the Resurrection, and Campbell on Miracles; but, above all, study the New Testament itself; and when you have contemplated the character of our Lord, and of Paul, ask your own heart,· Is it possible that the former could be a deceiver, and the latter a party to the continuance of the deception ?' The result, I am confident, will be joy in God your Saviour, and the assurance of strong and affectionate conviction.”
It appears that his son had some doubts in his own mind as to the mode of government appointed by our Lord for his church, and had set himself to a careful inquiry into the topic. This circumstance is creditable to his candour and conscientiousness, and shews that, instead of indulg. ing that tame indolence of mind which takes every matter on trust, he resolved to follow only the conviction of his own understanding. The hints his father gave him upon this subject are fresh indications of his honourable principles.
“ Unless you see in the New Testament the outline of