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Memoir of the Rev James MacGregor D.D.
Chapter XV. - From his Marriage till the Ordination of Mr Dick
1796 - 1803


“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matt. ix. 37, 38.

After the formation of the Presbytery, as recorded in the last chapter, the supply of vacancies engaged the attention of the brethren. In consequence of the manner in -which the newly arrived ministers were disposed of, these did not derive much advantage from their arrival. Pictou obtained two ministers, and Mr. Brown only filled the place of the Rev. David Smith, who had died a few months before. So that Amherst, Douglass, and the various places in Prince Edward Island were left vacant, while new places were craving supply. The Presbytery did all in their power to meet their necessities. For several years, its members were sent generally once a year and sometimes oftener, on missionary excursions. In this work Doctor MacGregor was ever foremost. He had come to take great delight in it, and scarce a single summer elapsed without his spending some weeks in visiting destitute localities; and some of his longest journeys and most interesting excursions were undertaken after this period. It is to be regretted. however, that we can give but a very imperfect account of them. His own narrative, written after he had had a stroke of paralysis, and imperfect as it was, would have gone far to supply the want, but unfortunately the larger portion has been lost. Of the rest of his life, only a few fragments have been preserved, the Presbytery kept no records for the first five years, and though we have carried on a large correspondence, we have been able but very imperfectly to supply the defect.

Two new places now engaged his attention, Cape Breton and Miramichi. To the former he represents himself as proceeding the same summer as his marriage. But we rather think that he availed himself of the privilege afforded by the Jewish law, of not going out to battle for a year after that interesting event, for in a letter of the Presbytery dated 5th February 1799, it is stated that the visit was not paid till the August previous.

In reference to the Island of Cape Breton, we may mention, that, though now included under the government of Nova Scotia, it then formed a distinct colony. Its greatest length is about a hundred miles, and its greatest breadth about eight)', and embraces a surface of about two millions of acres. One of its most remarkable physical features is the Mediterranean Sea, commonly called the Bras d’Or Lake, which occupies so much of the interior. It communicates with the Atlantic by two narrow channels, and spreading irregularly, is broken into almost innumerable bays or creeks of every size and shape, and approaches so nearly to the opposite side of the lake, that a narrow neck of land, little more than a mile in width, is all that separates it from the sea on the other side, thus nearly dividing the island into two.

A large portion of the soil is of the very best quality, and it abounds in eoal, and other valuable minerals, while it is favourably situated for commerce and fisheries. Yet at that time its capacities were underrated and its resources were unknown. With the exception of the French Acadians the inhabitants were few. At Sydney there resided the Lieutenant Governor and the various officers of government. A regiment of soldiers was commonly stationed there, and a few emigrants from various quarters had settled around. In other portions of the island some small settlements had been formed principally of disbanded soldiers and American loyalists, who were chiefly engaged in the fisheries.

We may remark here, that his present visit was undertaken principally at the solicitation of a pious woman, named Janet Sutherland, who had emigrated with her husband and family from the Highlands of Scotland, and who had for years mourned the loss of those religious privileges, which she had enjoyed in her native land. But we must now allow him to tell his own story.

“This summer I performed my long intended voyage to Cape Breton, which proved very troublesome. I had waited in vain, for years, for the opportunity of a passage thither. I, therefore, hired a good boat with three hands, and having laid in plenty of provisions and water, we set off. We had a pleasant sail till we reached Cape George, where we met the wind right ahead. There we anchored all night and part of nest day, and then set off for the Gut of Canso, the wind being partly ahead. Nest day we sailed pleasantly through the Gut, having a good view of the houses on both sides. I had a great desire to preach to them, but could not stay. We landed at one house which stood close to the shore, where I saw a bad woman, whom I had often eshorted in Pictou. I exhorted her, prayed, and gave her a tract. I could not but admire that Providence which sent me without my knowledge to visit and eshort that woman, about whom I had been much concerned in Pictou. She was very thankful.

“That night we reached St. Peter’s, where Mr. Kavanagh lodged us all with great kindness and generosity.1 He informed us that our best way to Sydney (the metropolis of Cape Breton) was to haul (about a mile) overland to the Bras d’Or Lake, and sail up the lake till we came to the head of its western branch, about forty miles off, and then walk to Sydney, which is little more than twenty miles off.  'This' said he, 'is far shorter than sailing east along the coast of the island, and then working along the east coast till you come to the river, and then up the river to the town.’ This was agreeable to the information received before we left Pictou. We agreed to take this short way, and lie readily offered us his own oxen to haul our boat across to the Bras d’Or.

“Next morning Mr. Kavanagh directed his man to surround the boat with a strong rope, and hooked the oxen to it. lie directed two of my men, one on each side, to hold it on the keel, and his own man to drive the oxen and fetch them back. Thus in a very short time we were fairly launched on Lake Bras d’Or with a fine fair breeze.

u We had imagined that we would meet with a plain landing place at the other end of the lake, and a road leading from it toward Sydney. We took no thought to ask direction of Mr. Kavanagh. 'When we came so near the head of the lake that it was very narrow and shallow, our eyes were fixed on the shores looking for a landing place, but in vain. We heeled her on her side as far as we could, but had to stop before we could see any landing place or road. We hauled the boat as far ashore as possible, concealed the oars, rudder, and sail, under the bushes from thieves, and hung up our provisions as high as we could in trees, to preserve them from bears and other wild animals, and then composed ourselves for sleep, after worship, in the open air.

“The next day being Sabbath, I was anxious to get up early, hoping to get to town in time to preach. We got up with day light, and one of our company went back by the water side in quest of the road, and the other went up the water side, now a moderate brook, with the same view. He returned in about an hour’s time, informing us that he had found a good path, more than a mile further up the brook. We could not conceive how a path was found so far up the brook, and none leading to it. We waited till the other man returned, who told us that he had seen no vestige of a road. With courage we set off for the path found by the other, and soon reached it. We went cheerfully along for three miles, when it went into a brook, but did not come out. There was no trace of a road on the other side. We stood amazed for a few seconds, when one said, ‘ This is an Indian path for carrying their canoes from one brook or river to the other/ At once we understood it to be the case, but it left us more puzzled than ever how to dispose of ourselves.

"We resolved to make another attempt to find a road. A regular ridge of hills rose on each side of the brook. One went up each hill to the top, and one went along the side of the brook, looking to the right and left carefully. I went down the brook side, but soon met with long grass and soft swampy ground, in which I sank deep. I was struck with a sudden fright, lest I should sink irrecoverably, or be bitten by snakes, or unheard-of creatures (water-kelpies), for the long grass concealed danger. I reached a lake, went along the edge of it nearly a mile, and then returned.

“The two men who went up the hill having returned, we all met, and soon found that the least mark of a path had not been seen by any of us. The day was excessively hot, and we were already tired and hungry, without anything to eat, for we had expected to reach a house in time for breakfast.

“The lake puzzled us as completely as the want of a path. Mr. Kavanagh made not the least mention of it. With reluctance we gave up the hope of reaching Sydney by land. We resolved to return to our boat, to sail back twenty miles, then cross to the next prong or branch of the lake, which would carry us out to the sea, and so come to Sydney from the east. Though we were already tired, by travelling through long grass, small entangling bushes, and windfalls, yet we returned to the boat with courage and speed. We found everything as we left them.”

We regret that the rest of this interesting account has been lost, but we may explain the circumstances in which they were placed, and the manner in which they were relieved. The lace where they had landed was the head of what is now called St. George’s Channel. Deeming it impossible to reach Sydney overland, they, as mentioned, here turned back, and proceeded up the lake twenty miles, and rounding the cape, they passed through what is called the Straits of Barra, and through the little entrance of the Bras d’Or out to sea, and then round the coast into Sydney Harbour, which is six or seven miles to the southward. This harbour stretched a considerable distance into the interior. Four miles from the entrance it divides into two branches, called the North-west and the South-west arms. On the eastern side of the latter and two or three miles above the point of divergence is situated the town of Sydney, established in 1784, when Cape Breton received a separate government and Governor Des Barres was appointed Governor. This arm extends some distance farther up, and at its head receives two rivers or brooks, the northernmost proceeding from a little lake called the Portage Lake. From this the land is low for two or three miles, to a lagune, or, as it is termed in this country from the old French name, a Barrasoi, at the head of St. George’s Channel already mentioned. The distance between the two waters is only four or five miles. Now it was here that they had lost their way. They had passed the lagune and the low ground to the lake, and they were almost within sight of the head of the harbour. Indeed they discovered afterward, that they were almost within call of the very people they were going to visit.

He was cordially welcomed among the people by whom he was invited, but we have no particular account of his labours among them. The general results of this visit are stated by the Presbytery as follows: “ Partly because so few of them were desirous of the gospel, (the generality being lukewarm,) that they could scarcely support it; and partly because there was no hope of getting their petition granted for a long time, through the backwardness of ministers to come out; and because so many other places were entitled to be supplied before them, they were advised to delay sending home their petition for some time. But had they a minister, there is no reason to doubt that lie would soon form a congregation; for the gospel would be a new thing to them, and through the divine blessing, would run, as it did among the Gentiles at first.” On this visit he baptized two children belonging to Janet Sutherland. Being anxious to enjoy the ordinances of religion, she induced her husband to sell his farm and remove to Pictou, that they might be under the ministry of Doctor MacGregor. She lived a consistent life, and her family followed in her footsteps. One of her sons then baptized was the late Wm, Sutherland, after* ward for many years an Elder in Doctor MacGregor’s congregation in his own lifetime, and that of his successor. The other was the father of the Rev. George Sutherland, Free Church minister at Charlotte Town, Prince Edward Island.

The Miramichi, next to the St. John, is the largest and most important river in the Province of New Brunswick. In two large branches it traverses nearly the whole country, and falls into the Bay of the same name in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is navigable more than thirty miles for large vessels, and for barges nearly to its sources. It has since been famous for its large export of timber, and its salmon fishery. The first British settler was a Mr. Davidson, who in the year 1764 emigrated from the North of Scotland, and on the following year obtained a grant of 100,000 acres on the South-west Branch. He was afterwards joined by a Mr. Cort from Aberdeen, and they soon established a valuable trade. During the American Revolutionary war, the place was plundered by the Indians, but it recovered, and at the time of his visit, a population considerable for the time had been collected from various quarters.

In the year 1797 he paid his first visit to Miramichi. He had been applied to as early as the year 1791, but hitherto had not been able to visit them. We are not certain how he went, but it is probable that it was by water. In regard to his visits to this quarter all the information I have been enabled to gather is contained in the following extract of a letter from the Rev. John MacCurdy:

"Many recollect him distinctly, but few can give dates. His being present at the induction of Mr. Thomson, in 1817, is well remembered. One old lady, Mrs. MacR., remembers his visit in 1797. She and another person speak of a sermon from Isa. Iv. 1: ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, &c.' as having made a deep impression/ They remember his remark on the word, ‘Ho,’ that it was the cry of one who passed through the streets of the city. Mr. Percy remembers of his coming up from Bay du Vin, in a vessel with two ship-masters, that he called at his house, and that, as they were at the door, the Doctor turned their attention to a field of ripe wheat before them, and said, referring to the drooping heads, ‘ these were the heaviest, and so they that have most grace, are the most humble/ I suppose that during his last visit he did not itinerate any. But, on the first and second he preached and baptized at Black River, Bay du Yin, and on both sides of the Miramiehi, up as far as the point, so called, at the junction of the North and Southwest Branches. Those who recollect him remark his happy faculty in introducing religious conversation.”

The result of this visit was an application for a minister. Upon this the Presbytery say in their letter already referred to: “Though the people of Miramiehi, in New Brunswick, be last in their application, yet they themselves consider their case as so deplorable above others, especially on account of the breaking dispensations they have met with, that they are entitled to be first answered. And, indeed it is hard to deny their claim.” One of the “breaking dispensations” here referred to, was the misconduct of an individual bearing the name of a minister, who had been stationed for a time among them.

To meet the demands thus made upon them from these new fields as well as the old, the Presbytery continued to importune the Synod in Scotland. That body showed every desire to meet their wishes. Preachers were appointed to proceed hither, but on one pretext or another, they managed to elude the appointment. Some positively refused, and were even for a time deprived of their license. One of their letters appealing for ministerial help we give in the Appendix, as it will show the state of the church at that time, and also as it bears internal evidence of its being the composition of Doctor MacGregor.*

In turning to the immediate sphere of his labours, we must now advert to a change that from this period began to pass over its moral and social condition. During the first years of his ministry, we have had to record a great improvement in the state of the people of his charge. But from this time succeeded a period of degeneracy, which continued for a considerable number of years, during which the labours of himself and his brethren in the ministry were one continued struggle against the influx of irreligion and vice. His own account of it is as follows:

“By this time the influence of the war began to reach us, and we indulged a hope, a vain hope, that it would all prove to our advantage. It was so in part. Our government raised a regiment to help it on, and this freed us of almost all the vagabonds and drunken old soldiers, who had lived in Pictou since the peace of 1783, for they all, and they only, enlisted.

“We hoped to profit by an increase of the price of such articles as we could sell; and in this too we partly obtained our desire. Among other things, squared timber came to be in demand; and even this might have been turned to profit had we known to make it in moderation, and for the purpose of obtaining articles really useful; but the love of money did not allow us to stop here. The farmer neglected his farm and went to square timber; the consequence was, that he had to go to the merchant to buy provisions, and the merchant persuaded him that he needed many other things besides provisions. If the farmer scrupled to buy mere superfluities, he would ask him, Why do you hesitate? you know that a stick of timber will pay it. Thus a taste for vanities and expensive living was introduced among us. This answered well enough for a time, but after a few years the price of timber fell, and the taste continued and could not be gratified. A still greater evil was, that the love of grog was introduced among us. "We did not see its evil in time, for the enemy sowed his tares while we were asleep. But after some time it was seen to increase, and spread irresistibly. Many thousand pounds worth of timber have been sold from Pictou, which cost nothing but the making; but it were telling Pictou many thousand pounds that never a stick of it had been made.”

This degeneracy began about this period. As early as the year 1797 we find the following drawn up by him, in the name of the Session, and read to the congregation on announcing a day of humiliation:

Pictou, April 22d, 1797.

The Session taking under their serious consideration the abounding sinfulness of professors, together with the aspect of Providence towards the world, and especially toward this place, have judged that we have a loud call to the exercise of deep humiliation and earnest prayer.

Ignorance of the Scriptures is a prevailing evil, which is the cause of ignorance of God, of Christ, as to his person, offices, and righteousness, as also of the Holy Spirit, in his renewing and sanctifying work in the soul, and, of course, the cause of much ignorance, carelessness, and wickedness, in our daily practice. People in general are strangers to the faith and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, these powerful motives to holiness of heart and life, and so they are left to a soul-ruining trust in their obedience to a broken covenant of works, which they are daily breaking more and more. People in general are strangers to their guilt by original sin, and lo (the) hellish corruption of their whole nature by that guilt, and so their religion docs not at all reach the heart, but consists in superficial, outward performances. It is not to be expected that people who are in such a case toward God, should have any true love toward one another, accordingly there is little attention paid to the duties of justice or mercy farther than self-interest leads.

The young generation are growing up in ignorance, vanity, pride, and self-conceit, following all the bad, and little or nothing of the good example of the aged.

The people of this place are particularly guilty of a woful contempt of the gospel, a dreadful stupidity under judgments, a grievous backsliding from reformation attained to, a heinous profanation of the Sabbath day, a breaking of their Baptismal engagements, not giving education to their children, nor endeavouring to bring them up in the fear of God, a growing inclination to the horrible vice of drinking, wasting their means to ruin soul and body, and many other evils which might be mentioned. On these accounts the judgments of God are abroad in the earth. A most expensive, bloody, and destructive war has been desolating the nations for s.veral years past, and though God has kindly shielded us from its worst effects, we have been neither thankful nor humble. lie has, however, made us to feel several strokes of late, though unspeakably lighter than we might expect. The last crop was much blasted, the last winter was uncommonly severe, much cattle have suffered through scarcity, and it is not unlikely that many of the poor may suffer through the ensuing summer Besides these there are grievous spiritual judgments upon us, which few of u feel, as blindness of mind, hardness of heart., unbelief, earthlincss of mind, &c. For these and other reasons the Session call all under their inspection to the duty of humiliation and prayer; sorrowing for our sins with a godly sorrow, and drawing near to the throne of grace, for the spirit of grace and supplication to lead us in this and other duties ; and particularly to receive the blood of Christ by faith, for pardon and sanctification. And the Session accordingly appoint Thursday, the 27th day of April, to be observed as a day of humiliation and prayer, by all under their inspection.”

The above indicates that already he felt the commencement of a change. But the evil grew, and in subsequent years attained a prodigious height. To this we shall have occasion to refer in the sequel. In the meantime the above will show how prompt he was in noticing its commencement, and how earnest he was in sounding the alarm.

As we are tracing the social history of Pictou, we may remark that the year 1799 was distinguished for the first contested election in Pictou, remarkable in itself, but especially in its ultimate results, as the commencement of the party feuds, which have since disturbed the peace of the county. At that time the counties of Halifax, Colchester, and Pictou formed but one county, but in reality the representation had hitherto been in the hands of the town of Halifax, and indeed of the Government officials there. But a feeling was now rising against such subserviency, and the voice of the country was beginning to make itself heard. The present was the first attempt made for the representation of the rural districts of the county, and taking a wider view of the struggle, it was the commencement of an effort to bring popular influence to bear upon the Government. Cottnam Tenge, who for a time made a noise in the Province, said to have been a man of brilliant talents, and an eloquent speaker, was at that time the leader of the popular party. To contest the county of Halifax, he united with Mr. Mortimer, then the chief man in Pictou, and wielding so much influence as to be called the king of Pictou, and Mr. Fulton, afterward a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, who was an influential man in the district of Colchester. The most noticeable of the nominees of Government was the late Michael Wallace, for a long time treasurer of the Province, a member of the Council, and on two occasions, administrator of the Government, during the absence of the Governor. He was long one of the most influential men in the Province. Indeed no one man had the entire machinery of Government so entirely at his disposal as he had. Such was the state of things then, that it was considered unpardonable presumption for any man in the country to set up as a candidate for what was then the Metropolitan county, particularly in opposition to Government. The result, however, was that, principally from the inhabitants of Colchester and Pictou combining on behalf of Fulton and Mortimer, Wallace suffered a complete defeat. In Pictou, only William MacKay and three or four others voted for him.

From this period Wallace had a most vindictive spirit against Pictou and its leading inhabitants, and those being the days of irresponsible Executive power, he was able to exercise Government influence for their annoyance. He also extended his hostility against our church, of which Mr. Mortimer and the principal inhabitants of Pictou were members, and he continued to encourage MacKay and other dissentients, who gradually formed a party opposed to the leading inhabitants of the district, both in church and state. Thus it is generally considered that the seeds of division were sown at this time, which brought forth their bitter fruits many years after. But to this we shall have occasion to allude in the sequel.

In connection with this election a circumstance may be mentioned indicating the progress of the county. The last day’s polling was at the East River, the previous having been at Fisher’s Grant, then called Walmesley, where a town had been laid out. After the last day’s polling, the Doctor entertained the candidates and some strangers at dinner, and made for them a fire of coal. This was considered quite a novelty, and an important event for the country. It was only the year previous (1798) that coal had been discovered on a brook passing through the rear of his and Wm. MacKay’s lots. In that year Win. Fraser earned a sample to Halifax to the Governor, Sir John Wentworth, who sent him with it to Admiral Sawyer, who ordered a small cargo to be sent to Halifax, which was done, but it did not prove of good quality. The Doctor and some of his neighbours took out licenses from government to dig eoal on their own land, and soon after he used them regularly in his house. His pit was on the banks of the brook back of the present mines, about a stone’s throw from the bridge on the old road from the Middle River to the East. In the fall of the year he regularly got out his winter’s supply, and sometimes sold some. The blacksmiths who had previously burned charcoal, now supplied themselves with coal for their work. Afterward when the mines were leased, these private licenses were all revoked, but it was privately intimated to him that he might dig as much as he liked.

As we have referred to his temporal affairs we may here mention, that shortly after his marriage he obtained a lot of land which he cultivated from that time forward. Considering the manner in which his stipend was paid, as already recorded, and the increase in the price of almost every article of living in subsequent years through the war, we need not wonder that he found this necessary to the subsistence of his family. He did not, however, follow farming as a business in such a way as to neglect the work of the ministry. In no one of its duties did he relax. It has too often been the case in this country, that ministers have made the insufficiency of their support an excuse for neglecting some of their sacred functions—either giving up visiting and catechizing altogether, or giving little attention to their preparation for the pulpit. They have turned to other employments, making the work of the ministry a secondary matter, and the result has been to increase the evil complained of—to render the support still more inadequate, and often to leave a congregation to spiritual barrenness, and perhaps to send leanness to the minister’s own soul. To the temptation to relax his diligence in the work of the ministry either at borne or abroad, by turning aside to other employments, Doctor MacGregor never gave way. He generally employed a man to work his farm, and with the thrifty care of a wife, who, as my informant expressed it, “looked after every thing outside and in/’ it added but little to his cares. Still, such was the activity of his mind, that he exercised an active superintendence over the operations of the farm, and took an interest in having them conducted in a superior manner. Most of his people at that time managed their farms in a very slovenly and unprofitable manner, but among his other efforts for their welfare, he endeavoured to lead them to improved modes of cultivation. A person told me that he^ has heard him say from the pulpit, that he felt it his duty to do them good in every way he could. In pursuance of this view he imported agricultural works; in his intercourse with the people he was often found pointing out errors in their system of farming, and suggesting improved modes of culture; and on his own farm he took the lead in agricultural improvement. He endeavoured to secure the services of farm servants, who had been acquainted with the improved systems adopted in the old country, he introduced improved implements, he had the first roller and the first double harrow on the river, and we deem it not unworthy of notice, that, when some years later a Provincial Agricultural Society was formed, he took the first prize for turnips. These things, however, did not divert his mind from his great business. They were but the "side work” of an active mind, whose main efforts were engaged in more important concerns, and they were a sort of relaxation from the sterner cares and more solemn duties of his sacred office.

Referring to himself personally we have only to remark, that from this time forward the improvement in his domestic circumstances afforded him more favourable opportunities for study. From the time of his arrival he was diligent in this, as far as his circumstances would permit. He did not make his labours in travelling an excuse for neglecting his books, or preaching without preparation. He had as he was able given “attendance to reading,” and his sermons, if not written, were the result of much thought. But his frequent absence from home, sometimes for weeks together, was very unfavourable for study. But he was now relieved from the disadvantages under which he had formerly been placed. His congregation was not so scattered. He did not generally need to be from home at night when visiting or catechizing, and his domestic affairs were now so well attended to, as to leave him free from anxiety, and to afford him all requisite outward comfort. These advantages he diligently improved. Returning home from visiting, he would sometimes scarcely wait to warm himself, till he sat down to his reading or his writing. His remote situation precluded him from any minute acquaintance with the literature of the times, or plunging deeply into the lore of the past, yet his diligence was such in availing himself of the means at his disposal, that he accumulated a large amount of general information. And in Theology he gathered a stock of books of the old divinity, good for his circumstances, and by his diligent study of them as well as of the Scriptures, his “profiting appeared unto all.”

It may be mentioned to the credit of the parties concerned, that a number of persons in Britain having heard his representations regarding the scarcity of books, got up a respectable subscription for the purchase of such as might be useful to ministers and people. The Rev. Mr. Alice, of Paisley, in one of his letters specially mentions among the contributors, R. Scott Moncrieff, Esq., of Glasgow, Doctors Erskine, Hunter, and Davidson, of Edinburgh, Lady Maxwell, and John Thornton, of London, the latter of whom sent five guineas. Such books as suited ministers were to be retained for the use of members of Presbytery, and the rest were to be distributed as they might see fit among the people. One letter mentions two boxes besides what had been previously .sent. These formed a sort of Congregational Library, and were regularly lent out, and were valuable in diffusing scriptural information among the people. When we say that they were lent out, we do not say that they were always returned, for many are still scattered up and down the country. We may add that one of his Scottish correspondents mentions this as another result of his printed letter.

Of his studies at this time we have a specimen in his Essay on the Millennium, published in the Christian Magazine for the year 1800. This Essay we have deemed well worthy of republication. We believe that it will be found to indicate a mind of considerable power of thought, and a close study of the Scriptures. With all the conclusions the reader may not be disposed to coincide. In his remarks concerning changes of climate, he certainly draws general conclusions, which the few facts adduced will not warrant. Granting that the climate of America has been modified by the clearing away of the forest and the cultivation of the soil, yet this is far from warranting the inference that the climate at the earth’s poles will be so moderate, that it will be fit for human habitations, and the soil there capable of cultivation. A closer acquaintance with the physical structure of the globe, would have shown, that there were great natural causes in operation which must for ever prevent such a result, without an entire change in the natural laws by which our planet is governed, nay in the arrangements of the whole solar system. The question of the duration of the Millennium too is one open for discussion.

Yet still in reference to the age to come his conclusions as to its intellectual and spiritual character are just and scriptural, and the whole viewed as the production of one in so secluded a situation, as to be indebted to almost no other aids but his own meditations and the study of the Scriptures, we deem a most creditable production. Two remarks made at the outset will show how clear and accurate were his views as to the interpretation of Scripture. “ Indeed the Millennium is so lively an emblem of heaven, that it is not uncommon for both prophets and apostles in their descriptions to slide insensibly from the one into the other, so that sometimes it is difficult to know which of the two they describe.” And, again, “ In treating of it we need not confine ourselves to those passages of Scripture, which speak directly to the point, because the Millennium being the most prosperous period of the church upon earth, whatever passages will apply to other prosperous periods must apply to this with greater force.” In these remarks, if we mistake not, there is indicated an acquaintance with the true structure of prophecy, which anticipates the conclusions of the most learned recent writers on the subject.

Iu the beginning of the year 1800, he was called to mourn the loss of his aged father. He had long since become so engaged in his work here, as to have no desire to reside in his native country, yet the tenderest feelings of a son and brother went forth to his surviving relatives. None of his letters to them are preserved, but the recollections of those who heard them point them out as characterised by deep affection for his friends, sympathy with them in their trials, and full of Christian advice and consolation. As his circumstances improved, too, he gave more substantial tokens of his sympathy by sending means to add to the comforts of his declining years. Thus a letter of Mr. Barlas acknowledges the receipt of Ł9 for his father.

His letters also contained full particulars of his circumstances here, and we need not say were received by his relatives and acquaintances, with great interest. The details, regarding a state of things so entirely new to them,—his trials and successes—were all read with eager curiosity. They were circulated from house to house, among friends and neighbours, and they were read and talked over at the Christian Fellowship meeting. His father particularly rejoiced at hearing of the success of the Gospel, and though feeling the separation, considered himself amply rewarded by hearing of his son being the means of advancing the honour of Christ in this distant land. Thus as early as 1788, he writes to his son under date,—April 7th, as follows:

“I was refreshed to hear from the Rev. Mr. Barlas’ letter, of your ministry having some apparent success. I would be glad to hear something particularly from yourself, as nothing would be more satisfactory to me, nor such a compensation for the loss of you, as to hear that you would be instrumental in spreading the fame of our glorious Redeemer, in the dark places of the earth, and a people formed for praising him ; and as the Lord in his adorable sovereignty has called you to a dispensation of ordinances in that place, faint not nor be discouraged at trials that may be in your way, for the Lord has the management of all in his own hand. So look to him for grace to trust in him, for grace and strength for the work he has called you to, and 'as thy day, thy strength shall be. ”

Mr. Gilfillan, in a letter of December 8th, 1794, says, “Every week seemed a month to your father, at the time he used to receive letters from you. He reckons it his principal earthly comfort to hear of your welfare, and of the success of the Gospel in those parts where you live. I cannot describe his joy to you. The tears start in his eyes, and his face glistens when he hears from you.” And a relative in writing says, that he was revived in hearing of his success, as was Jacob on hearing that his son was yet alive.

His letters to his son contain many enquiries regarding this country and its people, and his labours among them, and among other things express a strong desire that he should again visit his native land, with a natural anxiety of a parent, urging this particularly, that he might get some virtuous woman for a wife.

For some time he had felt the infirmities of age increasing upon him. He, however continued to attend the house of God till the beginning of the winter in which he died, where, on a seat prepared for him in front of the precentor’s desk, on account of his being dull of hearing, he listened with eagerness to the word of life. He also regularly attended the Fellowship meeting. lie also continued his visits to read religious books to his neighbours. Having a premonition of his approaching end, he shortly before his death went round among them to give them his last, and as it proved his dying advice. A nephew, in writing to the Doctor an account of his decease, says, “About two nights before he died he was in James MacFarlane’s house till nine o’clock at night, with the Christian Magazine, where there was a discourse, by yourself from Nova Scotia, on the Millennium, which we all liked well. He endeavoured to keep the Fellowship meeting with us as often as he could.”

On the first Sabbath of the year and of this century, on his grand-daughter, who waited upon him, returning from public worship, he asked what was Mr. Gilfillan’s text? She told him, “When a few years are come I shall go the way whence I shall not return.” “Well,” said he, “I have not years to live, nor months, nor weeks, only a few days.” On the Tuesday following he took his candle, which he usually carried with him when he went out reading, lest they should grudge him a light, and proceeded to a neighbour’s house. On his leaving, she asked him if she would go and bring him home. He replied, “James will surely come home with me the nicht, for it is the last.” The evening was spent partly, at least, in efforts for the conversion of a Roman Catholic, who had married a daughter of James MacFarlane, a friend of his just alluded to. His neighbour came home with him to the door, and left him to lift the latch, but ere the door was opened he had fallen down, and was carried to bed insensible. He revived the following day, but died on Saturday. During these few days he conversed with his friends, but was most of his time engaged in prayer, and repeating passages of Scripture. When asked if they would send for Mr. Gilfillan, he replied, “No, he will be studying, and I do not wish the Lord’s work to be interrupted. Send him word that I am a dying man, and he can remember me at a throne of grace, as well there as here.” One asked him if he had any thing to trust to. He replied, "Yes, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he will stand at the latter day upon the earth.” He asked a friend to read the 119th Psalm, lie said that he had got forty passages out of that psalm to comfort him during the preceding night. Thus, amid exercises which showed how much his mind had already imbibed the spirit of that better world into which he was about to enter, he fell asleep in Jesus on the 8th of January, 1801; aged 84 years, and upward. The writer visited Comrie and Lochearne, in September, 1847, and found that, at the distance of nearly half a century, his memory was still fragrant.

He is life suggests many useful reflections. Especially, it illustrates the remarkable manner in which God orders ev<yits in his Providence, both with reference to individuals and the interests of the church; and also how much good an individual of sincere piety, though in an humble station, may be able to accomplish.

The years following exhibit the same course of labour at home and abroad as in the past. In the year 1800 he visited Prince Edward Island, but we have gained no particulars regarding his visit. The only memorial of this year we possess is the following short letter to an old acquaintance, who had emigrated to Philadelphia:

LETTER TO MR. WILLIAM YOUNG.

Pictou, July 18th, 1800.

Dear Sir:—I was once a companion of yours at Alloa, under the name of James Drummond MacGregor. I do not recollect now whether I knew of your emigration to America before my own emigration, but I am certain that I was here a number of years without minding that such a man had ever been; and this would still be the case I believe, if I had not chanced to see your name on the title page of a book, which made me recollect an old acquaintance. This was several years ago. Since then I had some faint desires of writing to you, but now having an opportunity of Mr. Andrew MacAra carrying a letter to you, my desire is strong enough to move my fingers to write. I have little else to say to you, but that I have an affectionate remembrance of you, though I hope not to sec you in this world. How strange the dispensations of Providence! You and I left, Scotland and came to the parish of America, but there are never likely to meet. What puny reptiles are we to live on one continent and never to meet!

I have been living in this Province very near fourteen years: almost ten of these I was without wife or fellow labourer in my work; about five years ago two other ministers came out to help me, which have been a great comfort to me. About four years ago I married, and have now two children; these also arc comforts. Here we live in a manner out of the world. I would not care for being out of the bustling world, but I am much excluded out of the religious world. I have hardly seen a dozen of clergymen, since I camc to this Province, and were it not for the Christian Magazine, I would hardly know any thing done at a distance in the Church.

I beg you will be good enough to write me, and let me know how you fare, and what family you have, and any thing else you may think suitable. You may expect my next letter to be longer. Is there no way for me to get the Appendix to Gib’s Contemplations, published in Philadelphia? You may send my letter to the care of Mr. John MacKenzie, cabinet maker, Halifax. Wishing you the favour and love of Jesus Christ.

I am, Dear Sir, Yours, &c.,

James MacGregor.

From the minutes of Presbytery which began to be recorded in the year 1801, we learn that he was appointed in the latter year to Amherst for three Sabbaths, and from a subsequent minute of Presbytery in which he reports the settlement of a ease of some difficulty in the congregation, it appears that the appointment was fulfilled.

In the year following (1802) the brethren were delighted by the accession to their number of the Rev. Alexander Dick, who arrived about midsummer to share their labours and trials. He had been a carpenter, but moved by the earnest entreaties of Doctor MacGregor for some to go to his assistance, he devoted himself to study with a view to coming to Nova Scotia. He was a man of warm temperament, and from the time of his entering upon his studies a perfect enthusiast in regard to missions to America. He was possessed of good talents, and in his preaching had a very earnest and singularly attractive manner, so that of the early Presbyterian ministers of this Province he was, with the exception of Doctor MacGregor, the most popular. He was also a man of most amiable disposition, so that he was universally beloved, while a vein of humour added to the pleasure of his society. In view of all these circumstances, his arrival gave great pleasure to the brethren, not only as affordine; supply for one of the destitute fields, but as affording them the addition to their fellowship of “a brother beloved.” On his arrival he preached for a time in Prince Edward Island, and in several places in Nova Scotia. In the fall of 1802 he was called to the congregation of Douglas, as it was then called. It embraced not only Maitland and Noel, but a large extent of country back, including Nine Mile River, the upper part of the Shubenacadie and Gay’s River. In describing it afterward he said, “It is little short of sixty miles long, and the breadth has never been ascertained. Instead of a congregation it might with more propriety be called a shire.”

His ordination however did not take place till the following year. On this occasion Doctor MacGregor preached the ordination sermon and delivered the charge both to the minister and people, while Mr. Ross preached the evening sermon. We may mention that in those days an ordination was both a novelty and a matter of wide spread interest; and this, as the first Presbyterian ordination in the Province, -was a matter of special interest to the brethren, and of great delight to the people, many of whom were pious, and had long sighed at the remembrance of the privileges they had enjoyed in other lands, and longed for the time when their eye should see their teacher.

After the ordination, the members of Presbytery being together in the house of Mr. Ellis, the Doctor said to him, that they ought to be very thankful to the Presbytery for having brought them a good minister. “Oh,” said Mr. E., “we deserve a good minister.” “You deserve Hell,” was the Doctor’s reply.

We should add here that in the year 1800 the Rev. Mr. Urquhart came to Princetown, where he continued for about two years. He was originally from the Established Church of Scotland, and came by the way of the United States. He was a sound and interesting preacher of the doctrines of grace, but for some circumstances, of the nature of which we are ignorant, and into which we care not to enquire, he never presented his certificates, so that he was not recognized by the Presbytery; but he relieved them for the time from supplying Princetown and the adjacent settlements.


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