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OF THE REVEREND

EBENEZER ERSKINE, A.M.

OF STIRLING,

FATHER OF THE SECESSION CHURCH.

TO WHICH IS PREFIXED,

A MEMOIR OF HIS FATHER,

THE REV. HENRY ERSKINE, A. M.

OF CHIRNSIDE.

BY DONALD FRASER,

MINISTER OF THE UNITED ASSOCIATE CONGREGATION,

KENNOWAY, FIFESHIRE.

EDINBURGH:

PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM OLIPHANT:

AND SOLD BY WILLIAM COLLINS, AND M. LOCHHEAD, GLASGOW ;
HAMILTON, ADAMS, & co. LONDON; W. M'COMB, BELFAST;

AND W. CURRY, JUN. & co. DUBLIN.

MDCCCXXXI.

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PREFACE.

ALTHOUGH the prevailing taste of the age had not been decidedly favourable to biographical writings, few would have disputed the claims of the Reverend Ebenezer Erskine to a niche among those who deserve the gratitude and the veneration of posterity.

To possess authentic and circumstantial accounts, not only of the great masters of science, and of the inventors of useful and elegant arts, but also of the acknowledged founders of communities and parties, whether civil or religious,—is generally considered desirable. Religion being preeminently the highest of all concerns, public curiosity has been peculiarly alive to the character and history of men, whose opinions and efforts have exercised a powerful and lasting influence on the sentiments and conduct of others, with regard to that interesting subject. If it is deemed neces

sary to acquire information relating even to those unprincipled impostors and distempered enthusiasts, who have appeared in different ages and countries to mislead mankind, and to sully the purity, as well as disturb the peace of the church; - those 6 men of God,” whom providence has raised up in various periods to correct existing errors and abuses, to rekindle the latent embers of piety, and to give a new and salutary impulse to the spirit of religion, have certainly a far better title to general attention,' To investigate the character and behaviour of individuals of this description, is an exercise equally beneficial and pleasing. To examine their leading views of the truth; to mark the noble motives and aims by which they were influenced; to trace the develop ment of their talents ; to survey their integrity, wisdom, and magnanimity, as displayed in difficult and trying situations; to contemplate the felicitous results of their upright and zealous exertions; to notice with a candid and enlightened eye even the failings and defects which may have somewhat shaded the lustre of their general excellence, and obstructed the success of their laudable designs ;-these are employments calculated to interest an intelligent, a devout, and a benevolent mind.. . *: It is highly proper, therefore, to study the biography of an AUGUSTINE, a WICKLIFFE, a LuTHER, and a KNOX. Reformers, too, of more recent times, or of less exalted fame, ought not to be

treated with neglect. To say nothing of those distinguished men, who were happily instrumental in promoting the interest of religion in Britain in the seventeenth century; it is well known that, at an early period of the last century, several eminent Clergymen, both in England and Scotland, discovered an ardent zeal for the defence of Divine truth against the encroachments of error, and for the restoration of piety from that state of languor into which it had fallen. Amongst the Scotish Ministers who embarked in this sacred cause, some satisfied themselves with those exertions which were practicable within the pale of the National Church; while others, under the leadings of Providence, adopting a bolder and more unfettered course, prosecuted their efforts in a state of open Secession. - To deny, or to palliate the faults and imperfections of the Secession Church, either in its ministers, or members at large, would be equally unfair and unwise. But whether we take a view of its numbers and extent, or of the good which it is directly and indirectly the means of doing, no candid person will question its title to some consideration and respect. Nor can it be reasonably doubted that the magnitude and usefulness which it has attained should dispose, not only those immediately connected with it, but all of every persuasion to whom the prosperity of Zion is dear, to take an interest in the history of its FOUNDERS. i

Independently of the public influence which the

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