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Memoir of the Rev James MacGregor D.D.
Chapter XVI. - From the Arrival of Mr Dick, to the Arrival of Mr Gordon, 1803 - 1806


“And they went forth and preached every where,—the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.”—Mark xvi. 20.

During the year 1803 the Presbytery received another accession to their number in the person of one whose name was afterward to be a prominent one in this Province; we allude to the late Doctor MacCulIoch. In the expectation of his arrival the Presbytery had appointed him to Prince Edward Island, but it was so late in the season when he arrived, that it was deemed imprudent to proceed thither that autumn, or he was unable to do so. He was engaged to supply the congregation of the Harbour of Pictou, till spring. But before winter was over the people there gave him a call, which being accepted, he was inducted as their minister, on the 6th of June, 1804. This settlement relieved the ministers of Pictou of part of their home labours, but left the destitute localities to which they had been giving missionary supply in the same position as before.

During the years 1802-3-4, part of his time was as usual devoted to missionary excursions. In the year 1802 it appears from the minutes of Presbytery, that he was appointed for three Sabbaths to Douglas. In the year 1803, he mentions in his narrative, hereafter to be given, that it was on his return from a missionary excursion that he found a vessel at the beeches,1 with Doctor MacCulIoch on board. Where he had been on this occasion we are uncertain. In the year 1802, and again in 1804, he was sent on a mission to Prince Edward Island; on the former occasion for three Sabbaths, and on the latter for five These visits arc so blended with a number in subsequent years, and with the visits of other ministers, in the recollection of those who enjoyed them, that we cannot give an exact account of each; but we may mention the general course of his visits, and record such incidents as we have been able to glean regarding them. Sometimes he obtained a passage to Bedeque, and proceeded from the west to the eastern parts of the Island, and sometimes he obtained a passage to Charlotte Town ; but, perhaps, more frequently he was landed at the eastern part of the Island, principally at George Town. From this place he travelled by Bay Fortune to St. Peters, thence to Cove Head, Cavendish, Princetown, Bedeque, sometimes as far as Lot 1G, on the western side of Richmond Bay. Sometimes he got a passage home from Bedeque, but frequently he returned by the eastern part of the Island, visiting, on his route, such places as Tryon, West River, Charlotte Town, and Wood Islands, now called Woodville. The people of the latter place on several occasions took him home in a boat.

On these visits his mode of procedure was as we have described it in Chapter XI. The following additional incidents may throw some additional light on his labours. On one occasion, at Princetown, he found a man and his wife who were not living in great harmony, and who had come to the conclusion that the reason was that they had^ been married by a magistrate. They applied to him to marry them over again. He made them stand up before him on the floor, and gave them an address on their duties; concluding by saying that he hoped they would now live peaceably together, that he had now married them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, but he believed that before they had been married in the name of the Devil. It is stated that they lived happily together during the remainder of their lives.

Many of the people were very ignorant in religious things.

One man with whom he was conversing, could not be persuaded that he had a bad heart, or that he was at all such a character as the Doctor was accustomed to describe men in their natural state. In the course of reasoning with him the Doctor said,

“Have you never told lies?” “May-be I have, sometimes.” “Theu you are a child of the Devil. He is the father of all liars.” The man became very indignant, and afterward would scarcely go to hear him preach. On another occasion in the course of a sermon, speaking of divine truth as a closely connected system, he said that it was like a chain, if one of its links were broken it would be useless. One of his hearers said afterward, that that was not true, as the two parts might afterward be united.

On one visit, preaching at St. Peters in a private house, a woman, who had a child that was troublesome, put her hand up to the mantel-piece, feeling for something to amuse it, but brought down a pack of cards, scattering over the floor. The woman commenced picking them all up and putting them in the fire, while he went on with the sermon, without saying a single word on the subject, or giving any indication that he had noticed what transpired.

On another visit to St. Peters, a daughter of his host, Mr. Mac-Ewan, was married, and in deference to him there was no dancing. He remarked that “ such were the weddings he liked best,—in which he was piper himself.” We do not mean by this to have it appear that he frowned upon amusement on such occasions. We refer to it for the purpose of noticing the fact, that at that time marriages were most commonly celebrated by magistrates, who received authority from the Government for that purpose. From there being so few ministers in the country at that time, some such arrangement was necessary. The early Presbyterian ministers generally performed the service in their own congregations after proclamation of the banns on three successive Sabbaths, according to Scottish practice.

The following remarkable incident I have heard from more than one person who had it from the Doctor’s own lips. It probably occurred on one of these trips. He was staying at the house of Mr. William Douglass, St. Peters, then, or afterward an Elder. When the family on Saturday night or Sabbath morning, were assembled for family worship, he asked if all about the house were present. The reply was, all except an Englishman, who did not care for the service. “Oh." said the Doctor, “bring him in, he has a soul to be saved." When worship was over, the Doctor entered into conversation, and found him to have been a man-of-war sailor. Having heard from what part of England the man was from, the Doctor asked if they had any good ministers there? he replied, “We had a Mr. Ptomaine, where I lived.” “Indeed,” said the Doctor, “did you know Mr. Romaine?” “Yes, my father was a member of the church. Did you know him ?” the man asked in return. “No,” said the Doctor, “but I know his writings. Have you any of them?" “Yes, I have one that my father put in my trunk, when I first went to sea.” On the Doctor asking to see it, the man brought it forth. It was one of Romaine’s works on faith. A conversation then ensued, to the following effect, “I think that you have been well brought up.” “Yes,” said the man, “my father was a good man and taught me well.” “I am afraid,” said the Doctor, “that you have not profited much by your early instruction.” The man assented. “Going on board a man-of-war did not do you much good?” The man confessed with shame, how irregular had been his life there. “And is it not time that you were beginning to think seriously about your past life and a future world?” The man professed humbly to feel that it was so. “Then come and hear me preach, and see if I preach like Mr. Romaine.” The man did so. On returning, the Doctor asked, “Do I preach like Mr. Romaine?” “Yes,” replied the man, “you do. I have heard from you to day some of the same things that I used to hear from Mr. Romaine.” The Doctor continued to ply him with warning, instruction, and encouragement, and the result was that he became a sincerely pious man, and an active and useful member of the church. When the late Rev. Peter Gordon was settled in St. Peters he became an Elder, and Mr. Gordon stated to a minister on a visit to that quarter, that he was the most active in the congregation.

We cannot forbear some reflections upon this incident. How remarkably does God in his Providence order events for bringing his chosen into his fold! How strange that an individual should be spared through a life of sin, amid battle and shipwreck, and his steps guided to meet in what then might be called our western wilderness, far from the land of his birth, the travelling missionary, who should be honoured of God to lead him in the way of peace! This incident also shows the propriety of ministers embracing the opportunities which may be afforded them, in the private intercourse of life, to deal faithfully with individuals regarding their great concern. It warns us also against despising any man. “Honour all men,” is the injunction of Scripture, and there is no man beneath the notice of the minister of religion. “He has a soul to be saved,” a frequent remark of Doctor MacGregor’s, conveys a truth of solemn and awful importance. Some of those whom we may lightly esteem, may be “chosen vessels unto him.” We also see the benefit of early parental training. The seed of divine truth early sown in the young heart may long lie dormant, and may seem to have perished for ever; yet favouring circumstances in the Providence of God may, through the influence of the Divine Spirit, cause it yet to germinate and to bear fruit unto life eternal. We know not the circumstances in which it may appear. Little did the parents of the last individual, when they saw their son enter the navy and pursue a course of sin, imagine that the good seed which they had sown should spring up in what was then the wilds of Prince Edward Island. How strikingly does this illustrate the divine saying, “Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days !”

We shall insert here one or two letters, which belong to this period:

LETTER TO WILLIAM YOUNG, PHILADELPHIA.

Dear Sir :—It is about two years since I bad your letter with Mr. Gib’s Appendix. I can assure you your letter gave me the sincerest pleasure. The kindness of Providence to you in giving you such a portion of the good things of this life, as to enable you to give such education to your children, and especially in giving you children on which the means of education are so well bestowed, should be remembered with the most lively gratitude. What a incrcy to have children that grow in understanding as in years, and arc a pleasure instead of a cross to their parents ! God has also visited you with trouble and death. I hope you see his kindness in this as well as the other. The best of us would forget God in uninterrupted prosperity. In mercy he puts bitter tilings into our cup. But, alas ! how often do we misconstrue his kindness.

I have got a wife and three children, a girl and two boys. The girl is only learning to read, and the oldest boy his letters. I have now the happiness to inform you that I have got three fellow labourers in the work of the ministry in this wilderness. I was nine years in this country without ever seeing a minister or preacher belonging to the Synod. Judge what a pleasure I now enjoy in having so many companions. They are all, I hope, men of piety and zeal, and willing to be partakers of the afflictions of the gospel. The inconveniences of ministers arc considerably great here on account of the uncultivated state of the country, and the thinness of population, which makes the congregations very extensive. We have also the agreeable expectation of one or two more ministers this fall, which will be a farther strengthening of our hands. As to the success of the gospel among us, I cannot say much, only we do not labour in vain. We have chiefly to contend with Arminians, that is, Methodists. There are a few Universalists among us, occasioncd by one or two copies of Winchester on the Universal Restoration, and Scarlett’s New Testament. I hear there is an Emmons who has written against the Universalists, I believe you could get it in Philadelphia, and I would esteem it a great favour if you would be kind enough to send it to me, to the care of Mr. Daniel Fraser, Merchant, Halifax. We lie under great difficulties in getting books here, as our commerce with the States is restrained, and the people in general have but little taste for books. I shall hope for a line upon your receipt of this, and I shall be happy to hear how you arc prospering in soul and body, as also to answer any questions concerning this part of the world as far as my information extends.

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

James MacGregor.

Pictou, August 11th, 1803.

P. S. I had almost forgot a principal design of this letter. There is a report here that Tom Paine is converted, is a Presbyterian, keeps worship twice a day, and lives a sober life. It is said that this is published in the American papers. If it be true, you must know it. Pray, fail not to commimicate the agreeable news, if true. It will give pleasure to many.

To an aunt of his "wife, residing at Inverness, "without date, but written either in 1805 or the beginning of 1806:

Dear Madam :—Though I did not write to you last year, yet your letter of the 12th of Julj', 1804, I received in due time. In that letter you have great complaints of your want of submission to God’s dispensations, and of the deceivings of your heart. Very likely the same complaint still continues, and I suspect it will continue all your life. It would be a very strange thing to see a Christian in this world that had no remains of sin or corrupt nature to complain of; but I think it would be fiir stranger to see a Christian in this world, whose grace lived in perfect harmony with his corrupt nature, so as to have no complaint of it. No; we are not to get quit of sin nor yet to agree with it, while we have breath. But we must live and die warring against it, against ourselves, for it is ourselves. We must take no rest, for every minute’s rest on our part is so much victory to the enemy. Though we are sure of the victory at last, we must not expect it complete till death. Romaine’s Walk of Faith (Line obliterated)

* * * *

I had lately a letter from James Forbes, and it is the only letter I had from him since his arrival in Deinerara. It is very seldom there is an opportunity for letters between here and there. He says he had a good deal of sickness there at first, but that now he enjoys good health. My sister-in-law, Mrs. Fraser, had a letter from Hannah Heywood. She says the funily is in Demerara and is well, but Mr. Heywood himself is at St. Kitts. What a great burden and trouble are riches ! They will not let a man live with his wife and family. It is very seldom that a poor cottar-man is deprived, by his poverty, of the comfort of living at home with his wife and children. He however is not without his trials. “Lord, give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food convenient for me.” Hannah’s letter says, that James Forbes intends to return home after a year or two with a small fortune. A vain intention indeed! How many have made the same resolution, but could never put it in execution! Every man promises to be content with a little fortune while he has it not, but as soon as he gets it, it is nothing, and it requires more to make a little fortune, till old age or death comes. Besides how many drop off especially in the unhealthy climate of Demerara, and the West Indies, before a year or two run their round! Alas! few have the wisdom to know they have enough. Fortune hunters are among the chief of fools.

I have not much news to tell you from this place. We are all in health. Mr. Fraser and sister-in-law Catherine left Halifax and came to Pictou this last summer. There is none of us at all in Halifax now. But though we are all in Pictou we do not live all close together, for Pictou is bigger than some shires in Scotland. Father-in-law and I live close together. John, my brother-in-law, and Mr. Fraser live close together, where there is something of a town, and which is increasing fast, about nine miles distant from my house to the north. Mr. Graham and your sister Betsey live 29 about a mile and a half or two miles south-east from John’s and Mrs. Fraser’s. We all live by the water side, and boats arc going always backward and forwards, so that we can easily go and see one another; yet when we have no particular business, we arc oftentimes a long while without seeing one another. To give you some idea of our situation, father-in-law and 1 live at the head of the tide, eight miles up a river which rui s north somewhat like as if we lived eight miles up the Ness. John and Mr. Fraser are as if they were on (the north) side of the frith at the Ferry of Kessoch, and Mr. Graham as if lie were a piece east from Inverness along the shore. We are all in comfortable circumstances each upon his own (property). But death will be here by and by, and remove us from our dwellings. And wc know not which of us will get the summons first. I fear that some of us, instead of preparing for death, are striking their roots deeper and deeper in this earth, as if there were never to be a removal. This is a great evil. What a terrible amazement will Death, Judgment, and Eternity bring upon such ! To be pluckt in a moment from every thing the heart is set upon, to undergo pure and unmixed wrath, for ever and ever. Lord Jesus, may we be found in thee, and in thy righteousness, and wc shall be safe.

I remain, Dear Madam, Yours, &c.,

James MacGregor.

Having now to describe a journey through a large portion of the Province of New Brunswick, one quarter of which he had formerly visited, and other sections of which he afterward traversed, we may here give a brief account of the colony.

This Province lies between Nova Scotia and Lower Canada, having the State of Maine on the one side and the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the other. It forms a kiud of irregular square, lying between 45° 5' and 48° 4' north latitude, and embraces an area of over 26,000 square miles, or about 17,000,000 acres. It is not so much indented by deep bays as Nova Scotia, and it therefore is not so entirely maritime. But its coast is extensive, and is well adapted both for commerce and fisheries. But it is particularly distinguished by its noble rivers. Of these the principal is the St. John, which rises far beyond the boundary of the Province. For eighty-five miles up it can be used by vessels of fifty tons, thence small vessels of twenty tons can ascend to the Grand Falls, about one hundred and twenty miles higher, above which it is only fitted for boats. Next in importance is the Miramichi, to which we have formerly referred.

The soil in most parts of the Province is of the highest degree of fertility.

Till the year 1784 New Brunswick formed part of the Government of Nova Scotia. The French had settled various places during their occupancy of the country, but the first British settlement was made in the year 1762, by a number of families from Massachusetts, who obtained a large grant of land on the St. John River, in what is now the county of Sunbury. It was, we believe, to visit a portion of these people that he took his present journey. The Province, however, made but little progress till the year 17S4, when a large number of loyalists arrived, who laid the foundations of its prosperity. These were such as we have described them in Nova Scotia, some of them disbanded soldiers, whose habits rendered them ill adapted to contend with the difficulties of a settlement in a new country. But others were sober, industrious, and enterprising.

In the year 1805, in answer to a petition from Sheffield in New Brunswick, he performed one of his longest and most interesting missionary journeys, viz., up the St. John River in that Province. We have the last part of his own account of it preserved, though he sets it down for the year 1803. We shall supply such information as we have been able to gather regarding the first part of it. He travelled on horseback, taking his own horse, which members of his family recollect as a very sagacious animal—one particularly that would follow a track with great sagacity, or a road that it had once travelled. His course led him by Amherst where he lodged with the Rev. Mr. Mitchell, then labouring there, from whom he received direction as to his route. The next day he started for the Bend of Peticodiac. Here he met with an incident, which he used afterward to relate as an example of the power of prayer. In the afternoon having got off his horse for some purpose, when he was ready to mount he could not find the animal. He looked about but could see no sign of him. The road being through the woods and covered with moss or leaves, it left no track. He concluded that it must have gone on. He therefore proceeded on a distance, as he judged, of a mile and a half, till he came to a wet place where the horse if he had passed must have left a track. There being none he turned and walked back to the place where he had lost him, and still could discover no trace of the animal. He was now reduced to extremity—at a distance from a house, his horse in all likelihood lost in the woods, and darkness was coming on. He used to relate his thoughts at the moment. He had left home rather against the wishes of the Session, and he began to think that Providence was frowning upon his undertaking; but then he concluded that it was occasioned by his old enemy, that Satan was playing him this trick to hinder him. In his extremity, all other means failing, he resorted to prayer. Kneeling down he besought his heavenly Father to relieve him from his difficulty. When he opened his eyes at the conclusion of his prayer the horse was in sight.

Shortly after, he had a remarkable preservation of his life. It having grown very dark he had to allow the animal to take his own course. In a little he saw a glimmering appearance at one side of him, which he could not understand, but he allowed his horse to keep on his way. In a short time he reached a house; but what was his surprise to discover afterward that the horse had walked along steadily on the top of a mill-dam, where a false step on one side would have plunged him into the water, or on the other, have given a most dangerous if not fatal fall!

When he reached the Kennebeckasis he met with an incident somewhat remarkable. To the perils of various kinds to which he had been subjected during his ministerial life, there were now to be added “perils of robbers.” There resided an Irishman here, but by Mr. Mitchell he had been dissuaded from staying there, but recommended to go some miles farther on to the house of a Scotchman. It had got so late, however, that he felt it necessary to stay at the house of the former. He was put to sleep in a kind of out-building, attached to the main one. He lay down, and fell asleep, but he could scarcely have been

long asleep when something causing him to start up, to his surprise he found a man in the room with him. The latter by way of apology said that he was afraid that he ( the Doctor) would be afraid to be alone. “I am not alone, my Master is with me.” The man went out, but the Doctor did not sleep much for the rest of the night. "When it was day, he mounted his horse and rode off. As he came to the house of the Scotchman he met the latter at his gate. After exchanging salutations and making himself known, the latter enquired, “Where were you - last night?” “At-,” replied the Doctor, naming the Irishman. “Well, the straps of your saddle-bags are cut, and it is a mercy it was not your throat.” It was, no doubt, the intention of the man to have robbed his saddle-bags, and he had commenced cutting into them, when he was interrupted by the Doctor’s starting from his sleep. The mark of his knife was seen upon the heels of the Doctor’s boot, which was stowed in the saddle-bags. Probably he had been seized with some sudden fear, and did not return to complete his work.

After leaving the Ivennebeckasis, he had to go a long distance through the woods, where the road was a mere path, and it at length got so dark that he could see nothing indicative of a road, but an opening in the woods between the tops of the trees. Coming upon a house he staid to enquire the way. The man of the house was from home, and his wife was not very willing to admit him. He used to relate with great zest the colloquy that ensued, something to the following effect:

Woman. “Who are you?”

Doctor. “I am James MacGregor, a minister from Pictou.”

Woman. “Are you a Methodist?”

Doctor. “No.”

Woman. “Are you Church of England ”

Doctor. “No.”

Woman. "Then you must be a New Light?”

Doctor. “No, I am not a New Light, either."

Woman. “Then what in all the world are you, for I do not know any more?”

Doctor. “I am a Presbyterian.”

Woman. “Well, I never saw a Presbyterian minister before, but my mother used to tell me that they were the very best in the world. But what do you hold to?”

Doctor. "I do not understand what you mean.”

Woman. “Do you hold to conversion?”

Doctor. “Don’t they all hold to conversion?”

Woman. “Now, the Methodists and New Lights hold to it, but the Church of England hold against it.”

Having thus got all her enquiries satisfactorily answered, she treated him very kindly, giving him all necessary directions regarding his way, and inviting him to lodge with her on his return.

The part of his narrative preserved, commences with his journeying on the following day.

“ . . . . when I came in sight of a beautiful lake, like one of the Highland lakes which I had seen at home. Like them, it was partly skirted with beautiful woods, and partly with pasture and corn-fields. This pretty lake was merely an expansion of the River St. John, but the river was quite out of view. I lodged all night with a farmer who lived in this charming retreat; he was a Presbyterian, but had no minister, and few of his persuasion near him. This kind man invited me to stay a night with him on my return; and on parting, directed me that, after three miles of a low thick wood, I would come in sight of the river, which would guide me all the rest of the way.

“I soon got through this road, and then I saw a beautiful sweep of the noble Biver St. John, and large tracts of clear land. I soon came forward to a fence, which directly crossed the road, and I saw a rich crop of hay within the fence. I was surprised, for I noticed no other road; but I concluded that my admiration of the majesty of the river had prevented me from noticing where the road had struck off. Accordingly I turned to the right, along the side of the fence, and rode along a considerable way without seeing any appearance of a road.

At last I met a man, of whom I enquired. He told me I had left the road behind me, and was leaving it farther and farther every step. I asked him if that was it that was stopped by a fence. He replied that it was. I asked him how they came to build a fence across the road. He said it was to save them the trouble of a fence on each side of the road. But how are travellers pleased to have the road stopped"? The travellers by land are not many, for most of the travelling is by water. There are boats often between St. John and Fredericton/ When we reached the road he took down the fence-poles, and when I crossed them put them up again, and bade me farewell. I could easily trace the road through hay-ground till I passed it. I had now an excellent road along the side of the St. John’s River, skirted with small bushes and tall trees, till the end of my journey. Every farmer had his house on the road side farthest from the river, with a broad and fertile intervale behind.

“Riding along, I came to a man carrying two pails of water from the river, of whom I asked, how far it was to Squire Rurpe’s? (to whom I had been directed). He answered, ‘A few miles' and asked if I was a minister. I said I was. He asked if I was from Pictou. I said, ‘Yes' He said, ‘You must be the minister that we sent for' I said, ‘They did send for me/ ‘ Well' said he, ‘we sent for you by the desire of Mr. S-, and he has since run off with another man’s wife.'

‘Mr. S-' said I, ‘has done a very evil thing, but his misconduct cannot prevent the grace of God from doing good to you and me/ ‘I do not tell you of him in the way of reflection, but purely of information'.

“After riding nearly another hour along this beautiful level I reached Squire Burpe’s house, the end of my journey, for which it became me to be especially thankful. I was received and entertained kindly by the squire and his whole family, all the time I continued there. I directed him to spread word that I had conic. He told me he had done so. He informed me they were a colony from New England, and that, of course, they were Congregationalists in their religious profession. I told him I had long wished to see one of their congregations, and hoped that their congregation would be a fair sample of a New England Church. He said, ‘I am afraid that we are degenerated.' ‘I have heard much of the piety and sufferings of the New Englanders, and I will count myself paid for my troublesome journey, in seeing a fair sample of their religion.’ ‘ And I am as anxious to hear a Presbyterian, for I have read of the persecutions they have suffered. The doctrines of grace and salvation are the same everywhere, and in all generations, though every one has his own way of handling them.’

“I preached two Sabbaths to them in a respectable place of worship, and to Methodists and Baptists. They heard with apparent attention and satisfaction. Many of them stayed and conversed a good while after public worship was over. On returning to Mr. Burpe’s I saw a woman, who said she came from Perthshire many years ago, and had never heard a Presbyterian sermon since she came, till that day. She hoped I would be so good as preach her a sermon or two at her house on a weekday. I said I certainly would be very happy to do so. T\re agreed on the day, and she promised to send a man and a horse for me. At Squire Burpe’s we employed the time in religious conversation, partly on the sermons, and partly on other topics.

‘‘On Monday I visited some of the neighbouring families, and the river, a delightful and grand object. Though it was very low, not reaching half-way up its banks, yet to me it appeared extremely large and grand. I was told that in the time of the spring freshets it overflows all its banks, and covers that whole intervale, two miles broad, in some places two or three feet deep. During that time every house and barn is an island; the potatoes, and other things that may be injured by water, must be carried up to the garret. Every house has a canoe for sailing into the barn or byre, or neighbour’s house. The fence-poles on the lowest grounds are collected into heaps and laid in a safe place. But sometimes the freshet rises higher than expectation, and carries off the fences that were thought free of danger. Then the farmers are seen in their canoes, and their servants up to their breasts, going after their fcnce-poles; and sometimes they lose them after all.

“I was informed that the use of the beautiful row of trees along the river-side was to prevent the ice from spreading over the intervale and destroying houses, cattle, &e.3 When the spring melts the snow everywhere, the streams and little brooks break their ice and carry it before them to larger brooks and smaller rivers which carry it forward with accumulating force. The resistless fury of a thousand streams, and the ice carried with them, drive before them the ice of the great river itself, with reiterated and irresistible crashes. This iee is chiefly carried down the main stream ; but some of it would break out here and there with incredible fury: but the trees serve as a barrier against it.

“Next day the man came for me to go where I had promised to preach. When we reached the house, the man and his wife came out to welcome me in. We soon inquired whence each other came. He told me he came from Clocky Mill, near Gask. I was astonished, remembering instantly that when I was a young lad at Kinkell, at the grammar school, I heard much talk of the miller of Clocky Mill going to America. I told them this, and at once we became great friends. We admired the Providence that orders all our lots. I began to think that God had other designs in sending me here than preaching to the Congregationalists. I preached to two or three families with uncommon life and earnestness, as my meeting with this family was unexpected and providential.

“Next morning I took a view of his farm. It was large, and in good order. The land seemed good all around the lake, and almost wholly unsettled. A beautiful river flowed for three or four miles from it, with scarcely any fall, into the St. John, so that, the tide of the St. John reached tlie upper end of the lake. After breakfast I returned to Mr. Burpe’s, reflecting on the wonderful disposals of Divine Providence in ordering and changing the lots of men in this world. Next day I crossed the river, to see one or two families who had invited me, and one who had promised to take a jaunt up the river with me. I was informed of a number of the New England settlers, who, being discontented with the fine intervale, on account of the trouble and danger of its freshets, had moved twenty miles up the river, and settled there on land high and dry, though not so rich.4 I was requested to visit them, and I was desirous to go. I saw this gentleman, who was willing to set off with me next Monday. I found him a pious and agreeable companion.

“On Monday we went, and reached the place that night. I preached on a week-day and on the Sabbath, and visited and conversed on other days, pressing them to live by faith on the Son of God, and obey by faith. They were destitute of public ordinances, and were plainly the poorer for it. The family in which I was were remarkably regular. There were five boys and five girls of them, from marriageable age down to infancy: and I do not remember to have seen an angry look or to have heard a cross word among them during the time I was there. I admired the regularity of the family. The cause was this: the father was ailing, of a slow consumption, so that he could not work, and he directed his whole endeavours to instructing bis children in temporal and spiritual matters. And, to all appearance, God was with him.

“Nest Monday we came down the river to the Nashwaak opposite to Fredericton. We went up the Nashwaak for the Highland settlement. On our way we saw a Baptist church, where my guide proposed to stop two days, and give them a sermon or two. I could not refuse. The congregation was small, but respectable. When I reached the Highlanders, I found they were the remains of a Highland regiment which the British government had settled there at the conclusion of the revolutionary war in America. I found they had been miserably abused in their settlement. The officers got. large lots of the best land; the men got lots all length and no breadth. The consequence was, that one-half of the men had to leave their lands and shift for themselves somewhere else. The rest took possession of their lots, some of them for something and some of them for nothing, and thus made a shift to live. Their dispersion disabled them from maintaining a minister of the gospel, and left them as stray sheep in the wilderness. A few of them had turned Baptists and Methodists ; but the best and the worst of them had continued Presbyterians, but could do little to maintain the gospel. I preached to them, and gave the best direction I could to live a life of faith upon Christ, the Saviour of sinners. Next day I stopped at Fredericton, but had no opportunity of preaching. The day after I returned to my old quarters, where I stayed and preached the Sabbath following.

“On Monday I set off on my return home, and that night slept at the house at the lake, where I was treated so kindly before. In passing the few miles of wood from the river to this house, it was so dark that I had to trust the horse more than myself. In the middle of the wood he turned suddenly to the left hand. I struck him to turn him back, but immediately he turned again. I struck him again, but still he turned to his own way. I was then visited with a sudden fear that he might be right, and that I was putting him wrong, and so I let him take his own way, and he soon brought me to the house. As soon as he was stabled, and I began to chat with the good man, he told me I was wrong, and the horse right, so that if I had not yielded we must have been out all night. In this house I met with every Christian attention, and left them in the morning with mutual feelings of love and kindness.

“Next night I reached the Indy’s house who showed me the way going, and who invited me to lodge with her on my return. Her husband was at home, and welcomed me cordially. We employed our time chiefly in religious conversation, giving and receiving mutual instruction. Of books, they had only a Bible and a hymn-book, with both of which they seemed pretty well acquainted. We concluded with family worship and retired for>>the night. The house was all kitchen, and my bed was on the floor. The soil was sandy and the fleas numerous. I could get no rest or sleep, with their constant biting and crawling. As soon as I found all the rest were asleep, I went and shook them away as clean as possible, and then returned unseen to my bed. I was soon as bad as before, but made no complaint, and remained as content as I could, and rose with the rest. We spent this morning in religious conversation, and after breakfast and family worship we prepared to go to the place where I was to preach. They came to hear the first Presbyterian minister that had come to the place. I preached as plainly and faithfully as I could on these words, ‘ Look unto mo, and be ye saved.’ I conversed but little about the sermon after it was over, as I needed to be on my way home. One of the Highlanders who were at sermon, took me along with him, and lodged me with much Christian feeling. Next day he rode nine or ten miles along with me—that is, three miles past the house where the strap of my saddle-bags was cut—where we parted most affectionately. I soon reached my kind friend, Mr. Scott’s, who prevailed on me to stay all night with him. He entertained me by reading curious poetical compositions of his own. I endeavoured to make my conversation pleasant and profitable to him. Having stayed all night, I set forward in the morning. I soon reached the place where my horse before walked so steadily on side of the dyke. He never offered to try it again. He saw the path leading round the dam, and took it at once. When we came back to the road, I alighted, to have a better view of his foot-steps along the dam side. I could not distinguish them. I travelled till I came to "Westmoreland, where I lodged with a Baptist. He requested me to preach in their meeting-house. I did so, and reached home the second day.

“On getting home I heard there was a vessel at the beaches and a minister on board. Next morning I took a boat and went to see; and there I saw Mr. (now Dr.) MacCulloch. By-and-by his family and baggage were brought ashore. Mr. MacCulloch was intended for Prince Edward Island; but Dawson 5 saw among his baggage a pair of globes. This occasioned his being called to Pictou, where he still remains/’

The Rev. Daniel MacCurdy passed over the scene of his labours, and has informed me that though this was the only visit he paid to that part of the country, his memory is still savoury over a considerable extent of country. The following incidents were related to me by him. On one occasion he was asked if he could tell his experience, this being with a certain class of religionists the sum and substance of piety. He replied, "I have not much to tell about my experience, but I can tell you my faith.” On one occasion having stopped to get his horse shod, the blacksmith told him that his wife was a pious woman, and invited him into the house, to talk with her. In a little they were engaged in religious conversation. “But do you hold to election?” said the woman. “Oh no, election holds me,” was the reply. The same saying is attributed to Rowland Hill, and perhaps the Doctor may have got it in that way.

The following incident of this visit I have had from a reliable source. When visiting the Highlanders up the Nashwaak, the people collected about Ł7 for him. He received the money, but hearing of a poor widow who had lost her only cow, he gave it to her to buy another.

It may be mentioned here, that the Presbytery made various efforts to supply the people whom he visited on this occasion, but from the scarcity of preachers they could do but little for them. The result was therefore that they fell in with other denominations.

We shall here give the principal part of one of his letters to the ltev. Samuel Gilfillan, published in the Christian Magazine, as it not only gives a more particular description of this visit, but also a view of the state of matters in general within the more immediate sphere of his labours.

Pictou, Oct. 31s7, 1805.

Dear Sir :—I am unwilling' thatour correspondence should cense (as it has for a time), though I were to get 110 other benefit from it, but better and readier information concerning my relations and my native country, than I can otherwise obtain. The greater part of those I was acquainted with are gone, and were I to return I would see chiefly a new people and a new place. But the principal features of the country remain unchanged, and some of my relations and acquaintances are still alive, on which account I wish to hear of the one and of the other. I suspect that I have a tenderer attachment to that country than if I were there; and that fancy paints the scenes gayer than the life. Once I thought that few earthly pleasures could be equal to see a young country rising by rapid improvement from nothing into importance, which I have seen and do see literally come to pass. This pleasure might perhaps be equal to its picture in the fancy, were not experience to come in with painful feelings of difficulties and disadvantages incident to a new country. Such is the rapidity of improvements in Pictou, that by and by we shall not well know whether to call it an old or a new country. But while we are advancing towards more of the advantages of the former, we are leaving behind us those of the latter in proportion; so that it is not easy to judge, which is best, the state before us or the state behind us. Indeed I believe, that the wisdom of Providence hath balanced the sweets and the bitters of all countries, so that the difference between the best and the worst is not great. I knew Pictou when it possessed scarcely any of the advantages of evil society, but then it had no thieves or villains, no lawsuits, no taxes; we were all brothers, almost all things were common. Now we have three ministers, and we cannot all keep down open wickedness. Some years ago land could be had for 'nothing, now it must be bought; but while it could he had for nothing, it was a nuisance, and our ery was for people to occupy if, and now when it must be bought, it is of value; and a piece of land that would a few years ago be sold for one hundred pounds, may now be sold for two hundred without any alteration in its real value. All is vanity.

If we had more ministers, our church would flourish much more than it does. Prince Edward Island is still unprovided for. Several of our congregations will in a few years need to be divided into two. Merigomisli, near Pictou, will take a minister as soon as he conics. This summer I made a tour of a considerable part of the Province of New Brunswick. I went about three hundred miles from home. I saw many settlements in a very destitute situation. In general they were so thinly peopled, that they could not support the gospel in their present lukewarmness. I saw no place so populous as Pictou. The River St. John, with its various branches, makes up the principal part of the Province of New Brunswick. The river is settled for more than two hundred miles up. I saw four or five of its branches; some are settled twenty, some thirty, some forty miles. This settling, however, consists only of one row of inhabitants on each side of the river, pretty elose where the land is good, pretty far apart where it is bad. Scarcely anywhere is there a second row behind. When I reached my journey’s end, were I to set down one foot of the compasses where I was, and extend the other two hundred miles, and describe a circle, I fear it would not include two real gospel ministers. There are a few Church of England ministers on the river, (with whom I had not an opportunity of personal acquaintance,) but I was informed that the people left them, when they became concerned about their souls. The chief part of the people are New Lights, whose principles arc a mixture of Calvinism, Antinoniianism, and enthusiasm. They are, however, the best materials which the place affords for the formation of a church. The rest of the people are Wesley’s Methodists, who are rather on the decline. On the other hand the New Lights are increasing, and I suppose rather improving in their principles, and they have now changed their denomination from New Lights to Baptists. They baptize not infants, for their teachers are mostly laymen. They have lately fallen in with a Baptist minister in the metropolis of this Province, who got some of them ordained. This circumstance may beget a lasting attachment to the Baptists. When I went among them, I found that many of them never saw or heard a Presbyterian minister. They heard of them and thought them all good. They heard me with apparent eagerness and pleasure. Had we a few ministers in that Province I suppose they might unite with us. Great allowance should be made for them as they never heard the pure gospel. I saw four places in that Province where hope may be entertained of Presbyterian congregations. The first of them is the place that called me thither. They consist of between twelve and twenty men, pretty substantial both as men and Christians. They have a kirk, a manse, and a glebe. Most of them are from New England and were Congregationalists; but there the Congregationalists and Presbyterians frequently kept communion together. They would accept a Presbyterian minister, if he were not very rigid. This is an opening not to be neglected. It is near the centre of the Province. The other three places are settlements where are a few Presbyterians for a foundation, but they are all weaker than the first place. I believe there would soon be a demand for a number of ministers in that Province if they had once one. I heard of a corner of the Province, where there were more Presbyterians than any place I had seen, but I could not go to them. 1 passed through several other settlements where I had not time to make any stay.—Christian Mag., vol. x.

Turning to home labours, we may record a curious incident which befell him this autumn. We shall give it as it appears in his Memorabilia, omitting the name of the party concerned.

“In 1805, Nov. 10, just as I was going to begin public worship, stood up in the meeting house, and spoke to this effect, ‘James, I ask you wherefore you railed at me in the sermon last Sabbath ? Why did you not bring me before the Session? Am I not a gentleman? Did not I support the gospel from the beginning ? I have something to say to you. You was guilty of adultery in the first house you lodged in. You are accused of fornication in the next house you lodged in/ Donald MacKay interrupted him, saying that he was profaning the Sabbath. Then--stamped with his foot,

wrinkled his face, clenched his fist, and having reached out his arm, shook it in the most threatening manner, and said something which I do not recollect. N. B. There was no railing in the sermon referred to, and the other accusations were false.”

On the matter being brought under the notice of the Presbytery, they laid it upon the Doctor as a duty to prosecute the individual in the civil court, although his own disposition would have led him to have passed it over. On steps being taken to prosecute the individual, good Mr. Brown interposed his offices as mediator, and brought the man to the following acknowledgement, which terminated the affair.

“Be it remembered that on the 10th day of November last (the Lord’s day) I--of the East River of Pictou,

County of Halifax, and Province of Nova Scotia, did, very improperly and rashly, being in a great rage, groundlessly charge the Rev. James MacGregor, at and of Pictou aforesaid, with adultery and fornication, by publicly saying that in the first house he had resided in after coming to this place, he had been guilty of the former, and in the second of the latter. I now publicly acknowledge my fault, and declare my sorrow for having thus improperly expressed myself, believing in my heart that these charges are without foundation. I therefore entreat the Almighty to forgive this one of my greatest sins. I also beg Mr. MacGregor’s pardon—trusting that I may be in future guided by a more Christian spirit. Witness my hand at Pictou, this 21st day of August, 1806.

Ed. Mortimer, Witness,

John Brown, “

It is worthy of mention that though this unfortunate individual continued to show hostility to Doctor MacGregor, his family are to this day decent members of his congregation.

During the summer of 1806 the Doctor performed another laborious missionary journey in Prince Edward Island, of part of which the following fragment of his narrative presents a sketch.

“1806, July 1. Went to Prince Edward Island. The inhabitants were still increasing, and my visits needed to more and more new settlements, as well as to the old ones.

“On the 2nd, being Tuesday, I landed at Three Rivers. On Friday I preached three sermons on Eph. ii. 3-5, and went to Murray Harbour. On Saturday, the 5th, I preached two sermons, and came to William Graham’s, seven miles distant, and preached one discourse, and returned to Three Rivers. On Sabbath, the 6th, I preached three times at Three Rivers. On Monday, the 7th, I went to Bay Fortune, and on Tuesday, the 8th, preached two sermons there. On Wednesday, the 9th, went to St. Peter’s, and preached there two sermons on Thursday, and two on Friday. On Saturday, the 12th, I went to Cove Head and preached. On Sabbath, the 13th, I preached three sermons, and three more on the Tuesday following, from Rom. v. 1—12, and Eph. ii. 10. On Wednesday, I preached at the house of Mr. Simpson, New Loudon,* a very pious and intelligent man from Moray, on Ezek. xxxvi. 31. On Thursday, I preached at Mr. Cosens’6 two discourses on Gal. ii. 30. On Friday, preached at Malpeque (Princetown) one sermon, and 00 Sabbath, preached three sermons on Matt. xxv. and Gal. ii. 20. On the Thursday following, preached two discourses on Psalm xev. 7, and heard Mr. Pidgeon preach. On Saturday, preached two sermons. On Sabbath, the 27th, preached the action sermon on Phil. ii. 8, fenced the tables, and served four, and preached a Gaelic sermon. Also heard Mr. Pidgeon serve a table and preach. On Monday, I preached twice on Heb. ii. 10-12, and Isa. vi. 6, 7, and heard Mr. Pidgeon preach. After sermon went to Bedeque.”

This mission lasted for six weeks; of his employment during four of which we have an account above. It will be seen that he preached thirty-seven times and delivered five addresses in twenty-five days, besides travelling over a great portion of the Island. Nor were his sermons short. They were not like some modern efforts twenty minutes’ essays of amiable sentimentalism, read in a manner that would not excite the nerves of the speaker. They were of good length. But rarely the people heard the voice of the preacher of righteousness, and the pious listened with deep delight for an hour to the message of truth. They were too, like Elihu, “full of matter.” Every one of them contained some important doctrine, clearly stated, and thoroughly discussed; and they were delivered with a power and earnestness, which, while fitted to lodge the truth in the mind of the hearer so far as human power could do it, were most trying to his physical system but especially to his nervous organization. It will be seen, however, that on other occasions he did not preach as much as on this occasion, but still he was not idle, being constantly engaged, when not travelling or sleeping, in ministering the word from house to house. The other two weeks were spent in similar labours at Bedeque, Lot 16, &c.

The following incident which we have received from a source which we deem reliable, probably took place on the occasion of dispensing the sacrament at Princetown as described above. During the time of preaching, either on Thursday or Saturday, there suddenly arose a fearful storm of wind. So violent was it that the people in church were afraid that the building would be unroofed. He stopped and engaged in prayer to Him who “rides upon the whirlwind,” to “stay his rough wind.” In a few minutes the storm abated. It was discovered afterward that there were several boats crossing at the time from the other side of Richmond Ray. When they set out there were no indications of danger, but the storm arose so suddenly and so violently, that those on board feared that they would have been swamped, but when they were in the greatest extremity the storm abated as suddenly as it arose.

The following additional information regarding his visit on this occasion to George Town and Murray Harbour, has been furnished by the Rev. Neil MacKay. It was in the former place that he landed from Pictou, having come over in a large boat which had been built for the Right Rev. Doctor MacEachran, Roman Catholic Bishop of Prince Edward Island at the time. By this time a number of families had arrived from Perthshire, and to these he preached in Gaelic. At one of the public services he was shamefully abused by a drunken man, who called him “a black mouthed Seceder,” and a great many illnatured things; but the Doctor took no notice whatever of him. He baptized a child for the wife of this very man at the same diet of worship. At one service he baptized a child without announcing the name, because the parent in applying to him asked to give the child a name.

It was on this occasion he first visited Murray Harbour. There were at that time only three actual settlers besides the hands connected with a fishing establishment set up by Mr. Cambridge the year previous. Early in that spring (1806) a number of families immigrated from Guernsey, and were at that time living in Mr. Cambridge’s store, upon a point in the harbour still commonly known as the “ Old Store Point,” where the harbour beacon now stands. These were all the inhabitants at that time. His preaching took place at the house of Mr. James Irving, a Dumfriesshire Presbyterian. The immigrants from Guernsey were generally Episcopalians, considerably tinged with Arminianisin, through the teaching of John Weslev. The Doctor’s ministrations were very acceptable to them. They subsequently took land in the place and were the ancestors of a large portion of the present population. It is believed that his attention to them at this early stage of the settlement was the means which led to the adherence of many of them and their descendants still to Presbyterianism.

It may be mentioned, that after this date the population of Murray Harbour increased rapidly, as Mr. Cambridge in that year built a large establishment of mills and commenced a trade in lumber, which gave employment to a number of persons, who ultimately took up land in the neighbourhood, and immigrants poured in from various quarters. The Doctor visited them on several occasions, but exact particulars of his visit we have not been able to gather. It is sufficient to say that his visits were the means of cherishing them as a congregation, till they were able to obtain a minister of their own.

This season he had the privilege of welcoming one who should permanently be stationed on the Island, viz., the Rev. Peter Gordon, another who had been induced to devote himself to the work of the ministry in this country through his published letter. Mr. Gordon had been a working weaver, but hearing Doctor MacGregor’s printed letter read from the pulpit of the congregation to which he belonged, he was so impressed with the destitute condition of the colonists, that he resolved to devote himself to study, with a view to the holy ministry, and with a determination on his licensure to come to Doctor MacGregor’s assistance. He pursued his object amid many difficulties, and probably undermined his constitution by the severity of his application. But upon his licensure, he immediately offered his services for Nova Scotia, and being accepted, he arrived here in the course of the summer. He was a man of warm feelings, and on first seeing Doctor MacGregor, he rushed into his arms saying, “Oh, father you have brought me to this country.”

After supplying Halifax and other places in Nova Scotia for a few weeks, he was sent over to Prince Edward Island for the winter. The Presbytery were particularly anxious about that part of the church, in consequence of their being so long without a minister, and being so frequently disappointed. In the year 1799, the Rev. Francis Pringle had been appointed to that quarter, but coming out by the way of New York, the Presbytery there detained him. In the year 1803, Doctor MacCulloch arrived in Pictou for the same destination, but it being too late for him to get a passage across he remained in Pictou all winter, and was settled there in the following spring, persons arriving in Pictou from Prince Edward Island to take him across, on the very day of his induction. Mr. Gordon was therefore appointed to the Island for the winter, and was soon after settled at St. Peter’s. This relieved the Presbytery, in a great measure, of the charge which they had had of that portion of the church.


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