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not a few of the sons of Brechiners obtained a good ordinary education. This was a bold and noble step for å small Seceder congregation to undertake. It reflected much credit both on Mr. Gray and his people, and was the means of doing much good among the young in the place. The little establishment was also favoured in the selection of its first master. Dr. M'Crie, the celebrated historian and author, was then a student of fifteen or sixteen years, and held that position for several years. His success as a teacher can only be gathered from the popularity and reputation of the little school over which he presided. One thing we feel certain of, that although a mere youth, he would discharge his duties with earnestness and fidelity. In the course of years many changes occurred, and other heads and hands did the work of training the young idea. Some forty or fifty years ago a Mr. Hebenton was head of the school. It was then popularly known as “Hebbie's Skule.” By this time it was largely attended, and in the winter time, the feeling of rivalry that existed between it and the “New Skule," as the grammar school was called, led to “snaw-ba" battles among the boys.
This Mr. Hebenton, according to our informant, who privileged to sit under his rule," was a decent bodie, a pedagogue not by any means to be despised. My impression is that he was a teacher of fair ability, so far as the possession of a certain measure of ruling power, and an aptitude to impart instruction in primary branches were concerned ; and my personal recollections of him enables me to say that though his bodily presence was weak, he being little of stature, or, rather, painfully deformed, through curvature of the spine, he was yet by no means contemptible as a disciplinarian.
He could without any trouble put a big fellow of a dunce away into an elevated corner of the school with a fool's cap on his head, a species of humiliating punishment which many a teacher of greater ' presence would have had some difficulty in carrying out."
But however comfortable and happy Mr. Gray may have been among his people, older and younger, clouds began to gather and lower in the Secession horizon which could not fail to throw a feeling of anxiety into his mind. Political and religious notions of a revolutionary and dangerous character had been imported from France, and insidiously circulated in Scotland. They were readily embraced by numbers, in both branches, of the Secession, and at length found their way among the ministry and into the Church courts. Objections were taken to the Confession of Faith, to the public Testimony of the Body, to the Covenants, and to other matters of a public nature, all indicating a desire to relinquish those reformation principles which it had been the object and the glory of the Secession to maintain. At the meeting of the General Associate Synod, in 1791, overtures on these subjects were laid on its table. One of them was from the Presbytery of Forfar, in which, among other things, they prayed the Synod to simplify and extend the Testimony in opposition to prevailing errors and evils. These matters were fully considered at a meeting of Synod in October 1793 ; when a committee of seven ministers was appointed to prepare the draft of an Act for extending the Testimony, the simplification being delayed, among whom we find the name of Mr. Gray of Brechin. The result of this appointment was a draft of the “Narrative and Testimony," and which document was presented to the Synod in April 1796. The revisal of the Narrative and Testimony was the “weighty work” of eight years, and before its completion Mr. Gray was called away to the better land, to the church above, where strife and division, the fruits of human imperfections, are unknown.
How Mr. Gray might have acted, had he lived to see the New Testimony adopted, it is impossible to tell. This much we can say, that he lived and laboured, and died a consistent adherent of the Original Secession Cause, and was preserved from the snares and defections into which many of his brethren fell. We purpose resuming the narrative of these events in connection with the Brechin congregation at a future time, and close at present with a few notices of the personal character and public work of Mr. Gray.
We have referred to the employment of Dr. M‘Crie at Brechin as a teacher. The young schoolmaster and the aged minister appear to have assorted well. Both detested and shunned games of chance, but both were fond of the draught-board, and often had a game together. Mr. Gray was a genial and social man, and could relish and enjoy the company of an intelligent youth like Thomas M'Crie. At their first onsets over the board, the minister carried everything, but it was only a temporary victory. M'Crie resolved not to be beaten. So, having heard of a shoemaker in town, who was a celebrated player, he ferreted him out, says Dr. Guthrie, and finding how much money he could earn per hour at his employment, he agreed to pay him the value of the time he would occupy in teaching him the secrets of his skill in draughts. Keeping this strictly to himself, he became master in time of the shoemaker's tactics, sits down on an afternoon with the minister, who expected his usual triumph, and leaves the old gentleman staring in amazement and mortification at the boy who had plucked the laurels from his grey-hairs, and swept him clean off the board.
Another incident connected with this harmless recreation has been
communicated to the writer. A commercial traveller, also an enthusiast at draughts, had been in the habit of visiting Brechin on business. Hearing of Mr. Gray, he introduced himself or was introduced, and thereafter the two occasionally met to enjoy their favourite game. The stranger it seems was an irreligious man, Mr. Gray discovered it, and the fact had been spoken of in the family, and understood by the younger members. When in Brechin on a Sabbath, he nevertheless attended public worship in Mr Gray's church. On one of these occasions he called at the Manse on the Monday following, and being shewn into a room where a little girl, one of the family, was alone, he commenced talking to her in a kindly manner. Among other things he said: “I saw you in church yesterday.” “Yes,” was the reply, “I was in church yesterday.” “I suppose,” he continued, “you think you are in heaven when you are in church?” "No," she said, “I saw you there.” That, it is said, was his last visit to the Manse.
Little has been left on record, or remembered, as to Mr. Gray as a preacher. One writer, however, bears testimony to his having for thirty four years sustained the character of an able and popular minister of the gospel," while another good man who sat under his ministry when a boy, in some personal recollections of him, extols his preaching very highly, and speaks of him as “a most earnest and devoted servant of God, who, as a preacher, was thoughtful and impressive, and remarkable for the enforcement of Christian doctrine upon his hearers.”
Mr. Gray's ministry was well attended, the church at the evening services being often crowded to the door, As a good and faithful minister he occupied a warm place in the affections of his flock, and was also much respected by all classes in the community, while at sametime he stood very high in the estimation of his brethren in the ministry, who appear to have looked upon him as a man of "wisdom and understanding," in whose counsel and judgment they might confidently repose.
It is related that on the occasion of his last sermon—which was preached in somewhat singular circumstances—the effect produced upon the congregation was very touching. At the time we refer to, he was an invalid in his last illness, but he insisted on preaching once more from Col. ii. 10, “Ye are complete in him.” It was a Sacramental Sabbath, and he was assisted to the pulpit by his two sons, James and John. But this last effort appears to have over-tasked his little remaining strength. His illness was of short duration and rapid. Entering the dark flowing river, he realized, in his own sweet experience, the sustaining power of that “precious faith,” and that " blessed hope" in Christ, which through life he had so earnestly commended to others. He fell asleep in Jesus, and entered on the heavenly rest, within ten days after the Sabbath alluded to-on the 8th September 1802-being the thirty-fourth year of his ministry. He thus came to his grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in its season fully ripe.
Works Doctrinal and Practical of the Rev. Thomas Houston, D.D., Knock
bracken : in four vols. : Vols. III. and IV. Edinburgh : Andrew Elliot. To these volumes we accord the same warm commendation that was given to the first two, noticed by us some months ago. In every respect they are worthy companion-volumes to those which have preceded them; and the entire series, now completed, reflects the greatest credit upon their accomplished and indefatigable author. Treating in a style, at once pure and simple, forcible and elegant, of subjects of the most varied and interesting character, all having a very direct practical bearing upon the interests of religion in the individual, the family, the church, and the world, these works are eminently deserving of a much wider circulation than, we regret to think, they are likely to obtain in these days of boasted “progress" and “modern thought," when the words of inspiration are being everywhere sadly verified—“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine." It is surely a significant sign of the times, and one to be deplored, that writings such as these, so admirably fitted to inform and elevate the mind, to enlarge and sanctify the heart, and to regulate the life, should meet with such a limited demand that the publishing of them is almost certain to be attended with pecuniary loss, while the latest three-volume novel, issued at double the price, and other productions equally ephemeral and unwholesome, can hardly be supplied fast enough to meet the growing, insatiable craving of the public for what is fictitious and sensational and more or less demoralizing.
The first of these volumes contains two distinct treatises, “ Christian Baptism" and "A Memorial of Covenanting." The former is one of the fullest and most satisfactory popular discussions of the subject of Baptism with which we are acquainted. Many of our readers are familiar with M'Crie's Lectures on the same important subject; but the work before us embraces a wider range of topics, and these it treats in a manner eminently adapted to edify and con
firm the faith of all who peruse it, and in particular to quicken Christian parents to a conscientious discharge of their solemn obligations, and lead the young to an improvement of the high and holy privilege of baptism. How exhaustive Dr. Houston's mode of treating the subject is will appear from the headings of the various chapters, which are as follows:-(1), The Sacraments of the Church; (2), Institution of Baptism; (3), Special ends of Christian Baptism ; (4), The Doctrines exhibited in Baptism ; (5), Subjects of Baptism ; (6), The Mode and Place of Baptism ; (7), Preparation for Baptism ; (8), Engagements and Duties connected with Baptism ; (9), Christian Education ; (10), Improvement of Baptism and Encouragements arising from Baptismal Dedication ; (11), Abuses of Baptism, Neglect, and Apostasy ; (12), Special directions to persons concerned in the Administration of Baptism ; (13), Salvation and Death of Infants ; Conclusion. A chapter invested with special interest at the present time is the long one devoted to the vitally important question of " Christian Education," in which, while fully recognising the duty of the Christian State in the matter, the writer insists upon the obligation which rests upon parents and the Churcb, arising from the baptismal engagement, to see that a thorough Scriptural education be provided for the young, who are the Church's baptised members. In the last chapter, the delicate subject of the salvation of children dying in infancy, on which the anti-calvinism of the day so presumptuously dogmatises, is wisely and tenderly handled, in accordance with the principles expressed in the following sentences—“With reference to the salvation of infants, we must in this, as in every other case, bow implicitly to the authority of God speaking in His Word. Whatever information the Sacred Oracles communicate, whether by direct statement or by legitimate inference, we are bound to receive and cordially believe; and where the Scriptures are silent we must be content to remain ignorant. To interpose in such a case our own theories, however plausible, or to embrace the sentiments of others, however pleasing or beautifully expressed, is presumption, intermeddling with what God has not seen fit to reveal, and seeking to be wise above what is written.” We are delighted to observe the announcement that Dr. Houston is preparing a similar treatise on " The Lord's Supper,” to be published as soon as a sufficient number of subscribers have been obtained.
The second part of Vol. III.—"A Memorial of Covenanting"-we bave read with peculiar interest. It was first published about twenty years ago, the main design being to give an account of a renovation of our National Covenants by the Reformed Pres erian Church in Ireland, with the view of furthering a similar movement on the other