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In conclusion, let servants endeavour, through grace, to embody, in all their relative conduct, the universal principle of Bible religion, “Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Personal religion will prepare for the discharge of every relative duty, but it cannot exist in cold isolation. If it is genuine, it will pervade every sphere of duty, and sweeten every relation. Study well the parable of our Lord, contained in the Gospel of Matthew (chap. xxv. 14-30), where the kingdom of heaven and the final judgment are set forth by a reference to the relationship between master and servant. Here the characters of the faithful and unfaithful servant are portrayed with inimitable beauty and power, while the final rewards in accordance with character, are recorded with peculiar emphasis. To the man who bad traded with the ten talents, according to the command of his Master, it is said, “Well done thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” But to that servant who had secured the one talent, and had hid it in the earth, there is a very different announcement. He had been only idle,
may suppose ; but this involved disobedience of legitimate authority; hence he is pronounced a “ Wicked and slothful servant." The solitary talent is withdrawn, and the appalling sentence issued, “ Cast ye that unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
NOTICE OF REV. GEORGE HILL.
The Rev. George Hill, whose death was announced in our last, was born at Cumbernauld, in the county of Dumbarton, towards the end of the last century. His father was minister of Cumbernauld for nearly thirty-six years, and Professor of Divinity to the Synod of Original Burgher Seceders from 1803 till his death, which took place in June 1818. His mother, Ann Hamilton, died in November 1817. Both Mr Hill's parents spent the greater part of their unmarried life in the parish of Shotts, and were members of that congregation of which their son afterwards became minister.
After finishing the usual accademical course at the University of Glasgow, and studying divinity, under his worthy father, Mr Hill was licensed to preach the gospel by the Associate Presbytery of Glasgow, in the early part of the year 1816. His first appearance as a probationer in Shottsburn excited great interest in the congregation, which had been vacant for five years, from the demission of the charge of it by the Rev Mr Hislop, who was translated to a congregation in Dalkeith, and during that time, had four times sustained a disappointment in their efforts to obtain a successor to Mr Hislop. A call was given to Mr Hill by the congregation of Shottsburn, in September of that year; and much about the same time, additional calls were presented to him, from the vacant congregations of Kirkintilloch and Paisley. Owing to the competition in these congregations, and vari
ous other circumstances which it is unnecessary here to detail, bis settlement was delayed till the 10th of December 1817, when he was ordained to the office of the holy ministry, and the pastoral charge of the congregation of Shottsburn. The ordination services were conducted by the Rev. Mr Watson, Edinburgh, and the Rev. Mr Connal, Bathgate, the former preaching on the occasion, and the latter offering the ordination prayer, and delivering the charges to the minister and the people, which he did, it is recollected, with much solemnity and affection.
The faithfulness with which, for many years, Mr Hill discharged the duties of the sacred office to which he was then set apart, was long gratefully appreciated by his attached flock. And when, about twenty years ago, they resolved on acknowledging this, which they did by giving him a substantial token of their regard, in returning them thanks for the present, Mr Hill expressed himself in terms to the following effect :-" That firmness and decision of character are requisite in a faithful minister, of which, to guide him, the most interesting examples were given by the Saviour of men, and by his accredited servant, the Apostle Paul.” After alluding to the kindred spirit which animated the Scottish Reformer, John Knox, Mr Hill said, “ Had he been of a vacillating temper, and a preacher of that spurious liberality so much in vogue in the present day, he certainly would not have been honoured to overturn the Papacy in his native country, nor to establish the Protestant religion in its room.
It was in such footsteps, that ho (Mr Hill) was ambitious to follow; and however weak and unworthy he was, it was his desire, and be trusted it would ever be his aim, to be found faithful; neither awed by the fear of men, nor, what is more dangerous, cajolled by human applause."
An opportunity of testing bis sincerity soon occured. In 1839, & large majority of the Burgher Associate Synod agreed to return to the Established Church. This was a severe trial to Mr Hill, thinking, as he did, that the time had not yet come when Seceders could, consistently with their profession, make such a movement; and accordingly, his congregation being all of one mind with himself, he protested against the union, and, along with a small minority of the Synod, continued to maintain his Testimony.
In 1842, the majority of the Burgher Synod united with the Synod of Original Seceders. At the time of this union, Mr Hill and his congregation felt reluctant to accede to it; not from any objection to the principles on which it was effected; but simply on the ground of their dislike to change. For several months, accordingly, Mr Hill stood alone ; and at the Sacrament, which occurred in the month of June that year, no assistant being procured, be dispensed it bimself, delivering the usual number of discourses on the three week days observed at communions in Scotland, and going through all the services of the Communion Sabbath without any assistance. On the Sabbath evening, he met with the elders, according to his usual practice, and on one of them observing that he behoved to be much fatigued after such abundant labours; he pleasantly answered, that
were it necessary, he felt bimself able to preach another sermon still. At length, however, having fully satisfied the congregation that an accession to the Synod of Original Seceders involved no change of principle, and would not, in any manner of way, affect their position, be, with their cordial concurrence, applied to the Presbytery of Glasgow for admission, and was received accordingly, the deed of admission being afterward unanimously sanctioned by the Synod.
During the year 1851, Mr Hill's health began visibly to decline. He was seized with spinal disease, which continued slowly but surely to advance, till it cut him oft. The last Sabbath he appeared in the pulpit was the first Sabbath of June, 1852, when his utterance was so bad, that he was scarcely intelligible in preaching to the people. In the shattered state of his health, strong influence was exercised by some of his brethren to induce him to consent to a contemplated union with the Free Church of Scotland, which was agreed to be effected in 1852, on the part of the Original Seceders, by a majority of one. From taking this step, which he at first seemed inclined to take (and no wonder, when the influence of brethren whom he respected, and the broken down state of his health, are considered), he was saved by his congregation, none of them consenting to follow bim. Having ascertained this, Mr Hill resiled from the purposed union, and remained in connection with the Original Secession Church till his death.
In June 1852, Mr Hill resolved to resign the charge of his congregation, which he did in a very solemn and affecting manner, in a written paper, of which the following is the purport :-" In consequence of my continued weakness, and unfitness for the duties of my office, both in the pulpit, and in the visitation of the congregation and of the sick, to all which duties I have paid particular attention, with great profit and pleasure to my own soul; and by the advice of medical men, and of some of my own family, and, it may be, according to the desire of many of the congregation; I do now give in my resignation to the session and people, among whom I have laboured for the long period of thirty-four years and a half, and where, by the blessing of God, I bave enjoyed such a measure of bealth and strength, as has enabled me to preach, with the exception of a few Sabbaths, during the whole of that long period, either in Shottsburn, or in some of the neighbouring congregations, with what degree of success the great day of the Lord will alone declare. In thus bidding the session and congregation my last farewell, I cannot do it in better terms than those of the Holy Spirit, by Paul to the Corinthians; 1 Cor. xv. 28 :• Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.' 2 Cor. xiii. 11 :- Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.' Verse 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.''
The reading of these solemn and appropriate Scriptures produced a powerful sensation in the minds of all present, particularly in those who recollected the ordination of Mr IIill.
About Whitsunday next year, Mr Hill, with his family, removed from the manse to a house in the neighbourhood, belonging to his brother-in-law, James Marshall, Esq. of Goodockhill, where, amidst much weakness, both of body and mind, he lingered till the month of January this year, when he died, deeply regretted by a numerous circle of friends and acquaintances. Being visited by one of them, an aged minister in the Church to which he belonged, he having addressed to him such consolations as he considered suitable to him in his dying condition, asked if he was not relying on the merits of Christ alone for pardon and eternal life; to which question he answered that he was. This, as that brother remarked to the congregation, in improving the event the following Sabbath, was quite sufficient; for who ever trusted to Christ and was put to shame ? and justified the hope that Mr Hill had gone for ever to be with the Lord, where there is no more sin, no more death, neither sorrow nor crying.
On the following Thursday, the remains of the veneralıle pastor were carried to the grave by his four sons, accompanied, notwithstanding the unfavourable nature of the day, by a large assemblage, both of the members of the congregation, and many other friends from all parts of the parish. He now rests from his labours; let us trust that his works shall follow bim, in an abundant harvest of souls, gathered through his instrumentality.
Mr Hill, it is only necessary to add, had the satisfaction of seeing his successor ordained, Mr John Ritchie, a young man of eminent abilities and of great promise, in whose society he had the greatest pleasure, and from whose attention he derived the greatest advantage in his last days.
AYR HOME Mission.
The Congregation of United Original Seceders, Ayr, held their half-yearly Missionary Meeting, on the evening of Monday, the 10th March. The attendance was larger than on any preceding occasion, and all present appeared to take a very lively interest in the proceedings. The Rev. John Robertson presided, and opened the meeting with praise and prayer. After stating the object for which the meeting had been called, the Chairman requested the Secretary, Mr Andrew Taylor, to read the Minutes of last meeting (which were approved), and the Mission Committee's Annual Report. The Rev. George Roger, Auchinleck, in a short but neat speech, moved the adoption of the Report He described the importance of mission work; said the duty of witnessing for Christ is binding on all who fear hinı; but they are equally bound to use the appointed means to bring others into His Church. The Ayr Mission he regarded as a Church Mission, enjoying the sanction and support of the Synod, and trusted that it would be crowned with a large measure of God's blessing. It had been for a lamentation, and had been bronglit up against us as a reproach, that we had no mission ; but he hoped that the one now in operation in Avr would be maintained, and penetrate into other places besides those mentioned in the Report. The Missionary whom Providence had sent to Ayr, being no stripling, would declare the message of mercy with clearess, zeal, and authority. Mr Roger concluded by saying, that he heartily moved the adoption of the Report.
The Rev. James Smellie, Stranraer, in seconding the motion, sail, he entirely concurred in the remarks made by Mr Roger. We had been too long indifferent to
the condition of the lapsed masses, and this indifference tended to sink them deeper, and to harden them in impiety. It was wonderful how the law of kindness operated in softening the most obdurate. Many who were steeled against all arguments could not resist the force of kind and regular attentions, and he had no doubt that the visits of the Missionary, and of tract distributors, would tell favourably on the district in which they laboured.
The Report was unanimously adopted.
The Missionary, Rev. E. Ritchie, gave a short address, in which he combatted an opinion recently broached in some quarters, that, if generally believed, would suspend all efforts to extend the kingdom of Christ; and then read a number of interesting extracts from his journal of visits. The Secretary read an overture on the subject of missions, and moved that it should be sent to the Synod. The motion was seconded by Mr James Miller, and unanimously agreed to.
After giving a summary of the evening's proceedings, the Chairman requested the Rev. Jolin Ritchie to engage in prayer, after which the Meeting was closed with praise and the apostolic benediction.
Report adopted at Congregational Meeting. " Your Home Mission Committee having, in last year's Annual Report, given a particular account, under four several heads, of mission operations adopted, it will not be necessary to do more now than mention the results of the past year's work, and indicate the changes which experience has suggested. Your missionary, Rev. E. Ritchie, continues to visit, in regular rotation, all the families of the district who are supposed to be destitnte of the means of grace. In these ministrations from house to house, he always meets with a bearty welcome, except, occasionally, from Papists,-a number of whom are more disposed to argue than to listen to the truth. Such persons are invariably found trusting to their own righteousness for acceptance with God, instead of the perfect works of our Lord Jesus Christ--one proof among many that the whole system is essentially Anti-Christian, and destructive to the souls of its votaries.
"In addition to his regular visits, your missionary has visited, less or more frequently during the past year, sixty-four sick persons. Of these, twenty-two hare died ; and about forty of the whole number visited would have been almost, if not altogether, destitute of pastoral care, but for your missionary. So far as man can judge, his labours in this field have neither been fruitless nor in vain. A goodly number have eagerly received instruction respecting the way of salvation through Jesus, joined fervently in prayer to the God of our life, manifested great thankfulness for the visit, and expressed a strong desire for its renewal.
“ As the demand for Mr Ritchie's services to supply the vacant congregations in the body has not been so great during the past year as it was in the preceding, the public preaching of the gospel in the Mission Station has been maintained with greater regularity. This, combined with the visitation of the district previous to the hour of meeting, has raised the number attending to nearly thirty persons, all of the neglected class. To induce the thinly-clad and infirm to attend, the place of meeting has had the comfort of a fire during the winter months.
At a meeting of your Committee, in the month of April last, it was proposed aud agreed to change the time of meeting in the Mission-House on Sabbath, from the evening to the afternoon, as the great proportion of those who attended in the evening were regular hearers of the gospel, and their presence was supposed to keep back those for whose benefit the mission was established. The change proved the correctness of the supposition; but it had not been long in operation, till an applica. tion came from New Prestwick for Mr Ritchie's services. This application Mr Ritchie duly submitted to your Committee, and it was unanimously agreed that he should preach every alternate Sabbath afternoon at New Prestwick. The attendance, however, from thirty to sixty, has been so encouraging, that he now preaches there every Sabbath afternoon when at home, except those days on which the evening Lecture is delivered. Your Committee anticipates the happiest results from this extension of the Mission. It embraces a class of the community beyond the pale of the visible Church, but not quite so deeply sunk in depravity' as those who tenant the dens and hovels of our lanes and closes, and may be supposed more accessible to that living and life-giving Word, through which the Spirit operates in sanctifying the souls of men.