Page images

name of Constitutional, he continued to preach to the congregation, as his sentiments and those of the great majority of the congregation harmonised with those who adhered to the original principles of the Secession. Mr Willison was very useful at that time in confirming the minds of the people in their attachment to the principles of the Covenanted Reformation. The congregation soon after petitioned the Constitutional Presbytery for supply of sermon; and it ought to be recorded that, in that application, they intimated their resolution to stand by the original principles, though they should have to do so alone. The congregation being satisfied with Mr. Willison, he came to be admitted as their minister, under the inspection of the Constitutional Presbytery.

In consequence of the adoption of New Light views by the Antiburgher Synod, many congregations were more or less divided ; and a party in the congregation of Birsay adhering to the Synod, and adopting their new principles, that congregation came also to be divided; and there, as well as elsewhere, the question was raised as to whom the property of the congregation belonged. A law-suit was entered on, and it was not till after a struggle of fourteen years in the Civil Courts that the Old Light party at Birsay established their claims to the Church and Manse.* The great majority of that congregation have all along continued strict and consistent adherents of the original principles and objects of the Secession.

Mr Willison, their first minister, was succeeded by Mr Cairncross, of whose ministry many in the congregation have still a savory remembrance ; and in his time the solemn work of Covenanting was engaged in by the congregation.

În 1852, when the Original Secession body was again divided on the question of union with the Free Church, this congregation re-acted the same honourable part as they had done on a former occasion : the great majority of the elders and members adhering to

* The plea commonly raised by the New Lights, for retaining congregational property, was, that they had made no change in their principles, and through the ignorance of lawyers on such subjects, they were successful in most of the actions which were raised. The falsity and injustice of this plea was admirably exposed by Mr White of Haddington, the former editor of this Magazine, in his " One word to the Scottish Press.”. An article having appeared in that Journal reflecting on the principles of the Original Secession, Mr White remarked (see 0. S. Mag. for Nov. 1849) — " It was quite natural that a periodical, representing the sentiments of a party which has deserted and repudiated the principles of the first Seceders, and of the Covenanted Reformation, after all the office-bearers and thousands of the people had sworn perpetual obedience to them, and which deposed ministers because they would not break their ordination vows, and robbed congregations of their property, under the pretence, sworn to before the Civil Court, that no change of principle had taken place, a pretence whịch all men now acknowledge to be false ; it is quite natural that parties, with the recollection of this still haunting them, should welcome, as a farther opiate to their consciences, every seeming symptom of vacillation among Original Seceders.”

The same unworthy game is now being played in several parts of the country by those who left the Original Secession and joined the Free Church in 1852. Once the question of property is settled, we have no doubt but these parties will publicly glory in having abandoned the principles of the Covenanted Reformation, as the New Lights did half a century ago.

the protesting Synod, although at this time they had to contend against all the influence which Mr Auld, their minister—who sided with the deforming party-could employ to lead them into the course which he himself took. They had not been left, however, in that remote place, wholly in the dark as to the current of sentiment in the south, sometime before the determination to join the Free Church, by avowed compromise, was so much as mooted in the Synod. It is a remarkable fact, that so bent were certain parties on being united to the Free Church, that, despairing of getting the Synod to take such a step, they had conceived the idea of breaking off from the Synod and forming themselves into a Presbytery; and one of the party whom we could name, held correspondence with the minister of Birsay, with a view of persuading him to take part in the movement, and become one of this projected Presbytery, which was to stand on the watch to embrace the first opportunity to get into the Free Church. This accounts for the desperate means which were sometimes used to introduce measures by which a plausible excuse for a rupture with the Synod might be furnished.

CHAPTER FOR THE YOUNG. When the Saviour sojourned in our world, the young were the objects of his special care. When children were brought to him, he laid his hands on them and blessed them, and said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”; teaching us that even children must be brought to him as the Saviour, in order to obtain eternal life. A time is promised to the Church when the child will die a hundred years old ; and although its full accomplishment may still be distant in the future, yet, whenever we see the saving knowledge of Jesus," the most excellent of the sciences," manifested in early life, the promise is so far fulfilled. It is painfully true, that the evidences of decided piety among the youth of the present generation are rarely to be found; and when we reflect on the immense proportion of our race which is removed by an early death, this melancholy fact ought to call forth the most anxious endeavours of parents, that Christ may be formed in the souls of their offspring. It does not follow, that because parents may be pious, that their children will necessarily be pious too. They must also be born again, and made the subjects of saving grace, as well as the man of boary hairs. “Grace,” it has been remarked,

may run in the line, but it does not run in the blood ;” but to those, who themselves have tasted that the Lord is gracious, is the promise given, “ I am your God, and the God of your seed," and they only have a full warrant to claim an interest in it.

But passing from these general remarks, we will now present our young readers with a brief notice of one who was early removed from this transitory scene, but not until she had given good evidence that she had experienced a saving change, with the earnest wish that it may be the means, in the hand of the Spirit, of leading some to participate of the same privileges, and enjoy, as she did, the accomplishment of the promise, “ They that seek me early shall find me.”

Elizabeth Faulds Hislop was the only daughter of Robert, third son of Samuel Hislop of Dalzien, of whose life, and remarkable Christian experiences, a notice appeared in the number of this periodical for May 1853. Her mother was Marion, daughter of Andrew MacMillan, farmer of Mineyboy, in the county of Dumfries. For a short period after their marriage, the sunshine of prosperity and happiness shed its rays around this youthful pair. Seldom, indeed, has the “ domestic constitution " been formed under more promising auspices, than in the case of Robert Hislop and Marion MacMillan. Both had been trained in the school of early piety under the parental roof, and being now married in the Lord, it was their aim to live as heirs of that grace, which will be revealed in all who are united to the Lord Jesus Christ. But the fairest of earthly prospects are often doomed to be blasted in the bud, and the ruddy bloom of health suddenly turned into the paleness of death :

“As I have seen the gentle little flower
Look fairest in the silver beam which fell
Reflected from the thunder cloud that soon
Came down, and o'er the desert scattered far

And wide its loveliness." A short time after their marriage, Robert's health began to be seriously affected, and the course of his disease was increased by an accident from a cart, by which he was injured in several parts of his body. After this accident, decided symptoms of consumption began to appear, and plainly told, that in a little time he must drop his clay tabernacle, and bid farewell to the world below. From the commencement of his illness, his mind was calm, and resigned to the will of his heavenly Father, and he was sustained by the power of that grace which enables the believer to exclaim, even in the valley and shadow of death, “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” His sufferings were indeed not long, but they were peculiarly trying and severe. In the most tender and affectionate manner, he would have drawn the attention of his young and beloved partner to the prospect of an early separation, with a view to prepare her for the blow that was impending; but, at the sametime, would endeavour to sooth her wounded spirit, by referring to that blessed union which subsists between all the members of Christ's family and Himself, commending her to the fatherly sympathy of Him who has specially promised to be the widow's shield and the orphan's stay. Robert lingered on till the 22d of February 1825, when death put an end to his sufferings, and emancipated his spirit from this scene of trial.

Elizabeth Faulds Hislop, the subject of this brief memoir, was born at Mineyhive, on the 4th day of November 1824, being only three months old when her father died. The Lord saw meet to remove, by a premature death, the husband and father, but he always mingles mercy with judgment to them that fear him. The wound in the widow's heart was, in a great measure, healed and solaced by Elizabeth, a fine promising child; and as it now devolved on her as

By the

a duty, so it became her constant care, to train her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, that when old, if spared, she might walk in his ways. Years passed on ; infancy was succeeded by childhood and youth, and Elizabeth's mother had the satisfaction of seeing the fruit of her prayers and labours beginning to blossom in very early life, in the knowledge and conversation of her only child. Elizabeth, as a scholar, far exceeded the most of her companions, especially in those parts of her education which were drawn immediately from the Bible. The Psalms of David, and the Shorter Catechisms, were her special favourites for reading and meditation, the most of which she committed to memory Her acquirements in knowledge, however, were not merely in the head, they had also taken root in the heart. blessing of the Holy Spirit, she was early brought to feel that by nature she was a lost sinner, along with the whole race of mankind. This truth touched her mind with peculiar force and interest. She would frequently say, "I must be polluted, I must be carnal, and sold under sin." But when like to be cast down by an overwhelming sense of her guilt, she would have opened her Bible, and read with unmingled satisfaction that sublime declaration of the Apostle, “It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” On the Sabbath evenings, she took special delight in conversing with her mother about the sermons they had heard during the day, particularly on any allusions that may have been made to the fullness and freeness of the Gospel. Few, indeed, at her tender years, have been privileged to get so enlarged and correct views of the doctrines of salvation by free grace; and when speaking on this precious doctrine, she would repeat with evident emotion that blessed passage, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

A charge has been brought against religion by the world, that it makes men morose, and unfit for the social intercourse of life. The fallacy of this was never more clearly exemplified, than in the case of the young and pious Elizabeth F. Hislop. Elizabeth had a number of companions of her own age and station, in whose society she was ever cheerful and happy, and with whom she could enjoy all the innocent recreations of youth. At the same time, she had the happy art of turning all their pleasures into profits, and was ever on the watch to communicate a word in season to souls. Elizabeth had learned from the Bible the two great commandments, " Love to God, and love to our neighbour.” When anything unpleasant occurred among her associates, she would quote the loving advice of her great Redeemer, "See that ye love one another.” Whenever she heard of a case of want or distress among the poor, her labour of love was never wanting ; and when she could communicate in no other way, she would retire to her closet, and pour out her soul in their behalf. Such, indeed, were her sensibilities at the sufferings of any creature, that her sympathy was often extended even to the brute creation. Frequently would she gather the birds of the air around her, by scattering the crumbs which fell from her own table.

But amidst the various little offices of kindness and love imposed on herself, Elizabeth never omitted her own spiritual concerns. When her daily tasks were over, she always read a portion of the Bible, and committed some of its precious texts to heart, and sometimes would have had a short discussion with her mother about their meaning. In this way did she seek to obey the Apostle's exhortation, "Be diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”

The modest Christian-like conduct of Elizabeth F. Hislop, was a pleasing contrast to the manifestation of our depraved nature, alas ! so common in those of her years, and she gave happy promise of being, in her humble sphere, a light in the world. But oh ! how mysterious are the ways of Divine Providence, either as regards the individual Christian, or as exemplified in the history of the Church. How often have we seen eminent servants of the Lord cut down in the flower and vigour of youth, and in the midst of usefulness, and their congregations and families left in desolation and sorrow. How often have we seen the godly man suddenly removed by the hand of death, his place in the family and the Church made vacant, while the wicked continue to flourish like a green bay tree. In like manner have we seen the young believer, like the blossom of spring, just allowed to shoot forth, that, under the influence of the Sun of Righteousness, his graces might appear before being transplanted to the paradise above. To such dispensations we can only reply,“ My ways are not your ways, nor my thoughts your thoughts, saith the Lord.”

-We have told you something of the life and conversation of this young Christian ; she is young still, and yet we have now to tell you something about her last exercise and her decease. About the month of January 1839, Elizabeth F. Hislop began to complain, or rather, her health began to decline, for she never complained. She was attacked by that insidious disease, which, while working its way into the very vitals of the human system, often sustains the bloom of health on the countenance, till the hand of the last enemy draws the curtain which divides time from eternity, and tells that all is past. During her illness, which was prolonged for several months, no change was observable in her natural cheerfulness of disposition. She bad, for a long time, lived in close communion with her Saviour, and she could now say, “I know in whom I have believed, and he will keep that which I have committed to him against that day.” Her sufferings were at times very acute, but she bore them with patience. Her desire was to glorify God in the furnace. She loved to repeat the valedictory words of the Spirit to the Old Testament Church, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver,” and would then add, “ He will purify me, and continue the process, aye, and until he can see his own image reflected in me; for I believe, that of all the Father has given to my Redeemer, he will lose nothing, but will raise it up at the last day.”

As her end drew near, her weakness increased; but her mind remained firm, and gradually expanded in spiritual and heavenly things. About three weeks before her death, she said to her mother one day, “O mother, what a blessed and glorious place heaven must be ;


« PreviousContinue »