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Memoir of the Rev James MacGregor D.D.
Chapter XIX. - Union and Disunion, 1815 - 1818


“Behold how good and how pleasant a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”—Psal. cxxxiii. 1.

“Mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such, serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple.”—Rom. xvi. 17, IS.

The year 1815 was marked by two events of importance to him. The first was the arrival of two fellow-labourers, one of whom, the Rev. William Patrick, was settled in Merigomish, which had hitherto received occasional supply of preaching from him. The second was a mission of several weeks to some settlements in New Brunswick, on the very borders of the United States. He thus describes these events in a letter to the Rev. Samuel Gilfillan:

‘‘This season we have had an accession of one minister and one preacher. Mr. Patrick came by Miramiehi, three or four hundred miles north-west from Pictou. It was once under our inspection; but they left us, because we could do nothing for them. They got a Presbyterian minister, who is now dead. At present they have a Baptist preacher, though they hold infant Baptism almost necessary to salvation. Seeing Mr. Patrick, they have put themselves under our protection again. They will need two ministers, and will be a kind of centre for the sending of the gospel northward and southward for some distance. Mr. Patrick got a call from Merigomish very soon after his arrival in Pictou; he is now admitted. He is about sixteen miles eastward from my house, in a place where no minister ever was. I hope he will be a profit and a comfort to me;—before, I had no neighbour eastward. Mr. Patrick gets Ł150 of stipend; but our currency is one-tenth less than sterling, which reduces it fifteen pounds, and deficiencies of payment may reduce it ten pounds more, for here the payment is not so good as at home. The people are to make him a pressent of ŁI00 or Ł150, to help to build him a house and get him a piece of land. He will have his trials; for the people are little acquainted with the gospel, though in our neighbourhood. But there is a certain pleasure in ministering the gospel to a wild and uncultivated people, as their corrupt nature appears more in its native hue, and the fruits of a minister’s labours are more easily discerned.

Mr. Crow is appointed to supply Mr. Dick’s congregation during the winter. This congregation is now to be divided into two, as it is too extensive for one man ; it will be sufficiently so for two, for a piece is to be added to each end. We will need another minister immediately for the other part of that congregation, otherwise it will be extremely difficult for us to dispose of Mr. Crow.

I was last summer a voyage and journey of 400 miles upon a missionary excursion to Passamaquoddv, on the west border of New Brunswick Province. 1 was called by about forty families of Highlanders, who went there twelve years ago, and have had no public ordinances which they could understand. I was away six Sabbaths,—two on the way, one going and one coming, and two with them. 1 dispensed both sacraments to them with great pleasure. You would wonder to see how regular they are. They meet every Sabbath for reading and praying in public; they meet every second Monday for prayer and religious conference. A clergyman of the Church of England, about sixty miles distant from them, and whom few of them understand, baptizes their children. They are 300 miles from any Presbyterian minister good or bad. During the other two weeks I preached in a number of places along the sides of the Bay. Excepting at Scoodic and St. Andrews, where there arc Church of England clergymen, and which are small sea-ports, 1 had but small audiences, the country having been settled since the peace of 1783. Here I met with an old man, who had been baptized by Ebenezer Erskine! The Highland settlement, with the Presbyterians and others about Scoodic, think they could muster JCI00 currency annually for a minister, and that they could gradually increase it, till it should be enough. A man who could live a single life for some years might do with that sum. Another minister might make out bye-and-bye, in another part of the Bay.

From the time of the induction of Mr. Patrick, his home labours were confined to the East River. But in the same year, two churches were built at the Upper Settlement, one on the East Branch and the other on the West. So that he still had three places of preaching, and from the increase of population, the demands upon his time and labour were as clamant as ever.

Of his missionary tour in New Brunswick, the following is his own account:

“1815. I was at different times petitioned and importuned to visit and aid, as I could, a settlement of Highlanders, near Scoodic River, on the very borders of the United States. I took my horse to Mr. Creelman's on the Shubenacadie, about fifty miles, and there I left him till I should return. There 1 took a passage aboard one of the vessels that early plaster of Paris to the United States. She was bound to Eastport in Passamaquoddy Bay. The captain engaged to land me at Eastport, for he meant to call there. His vessel was heavy laden, and we had a good deal of high winds right ahead. Every wave overflowed, and often she seemed as if she could never recover herself. We had every incitement to prayer times without number. It pleased the Supreme Ruler at last to rebuke the wind, and to give us a beautiful slender breeze. We came on Saturday afternoon to anchor beside a small settlement on the New Brunswick side, the inhabitants of which were chiefly builders of small vessels. I was kindly invited to lodge at the first house we came to. I told the landlord I would be happy to preach on the following day, if they had no minister. He told me they had none, and he would warn them all, and he was sure they would all gladly come. They came almost all, and heard with apparent attention and concern. I endeavoured to lead them to the knowledge of themselves and of Christ the Saviour.- I committed them to God, and the word of his grace, and left them much affected.

“We set sail by day-light on Monday morning. As we sailed along, we wondered at the barrenness of the shore, for scarcely was anything to be seen but roeks. When we came opposite to St. Johns, I could not see it distinctly, we were so far to sea. Though we were several leagues from land, yet when we came to the river, its channel formed a striking contrast to the ocean ; a large stream of apparently fresh water keeping its course quite distinct from the sea-green on both its sides. We had a beautiful breeze all the way to Eastport, (so called as being the easternmost place in the United States.) I got a passage immediately, in a boat going to St. Andrew’s, sixteen miles distant. There I was kindly entertained and lodged by Mr. Pagan, uncle to the Pagans in Pictou. Next day I hired a boat to Scoodic, sixteen miles. I landed; and looking for a place to diue at, I chanced to sec one of the Highlanders that sent for me. I introduced myself to him, and he told me he had a horse to carry me. We set off with little delay. Word of my arrival soon readied all of them, and most of them came next forenoon to see me. Having come so far to see them, I told them I would do my best for their instruction and direction; and they must do their best to receive my instructions, and the blessing of God along with them. They said that no people needed instruction more than they; and they hoped that God had given them some sense of their need, and would give them more of it. They were very eager to receive instruction, and I wished to gratify them. I preached often, and talked often to them, in great and small companies. In every house

I directed them to faith in Christ, and holiness of life, and to morning and evening worship in the family and closet. After being two weeks among them, I left them for eight days, and spent that time with another settlement of the same people, ten or twelve miles distant. As soon as the Sabbath was over, I returned and preached, according to an agreement made before I left them. At the conclusion, I intimated publicly that as they had several times expressed a desire to have the sacrament of the supper dispensed to them, I would do so nest Lord’s day. I informed them that I would converse with intending communicants, and help to prepare them every day before next Sabbath, except during the time of public worship on Thursday and Saturday. I informed them, also, that none could be admitted without a certificate from Mr. Morrison. This Mr. Morrison was a very pious man, and very attentive to collect them on the Sabbaths, and read to them, and pray for them.

“The week was spent in preparing, as well as we could, for receiving the sacrament. A considerable portion of time was spent in secret prayer and self-examination. On Sabbath the sacrament was dispensed, and received with a great deal of sobbing and tears, and, I hope, with no little faith and love. The people here who came from Scotland knew the Gaelic best, but the young generation born here knew the English better; so I had to preach in both languages, to accommodate both. The old people, born in Lord Reay’s country, Sutherlandshire, endeavoured to maintain the piety which they saw at home; but many of the young forgot the Gaelic, and had all their knowledge by the English.

“On Monday I preached in Gaelic and English, and bade them farewell. A number of them came to me after sermon, and told me they could not bid me farewell till they heard me preach another sermon; and their plan was, not to detain me there, but to go along with me to Scoodic, and get me the English church to preach in, and that after sermon we would part affectionately. I could not refuse my agreement to this.

“Next morning we set off. There were between twenty and and thirty horses, all but mine carrying double. We readily got the church, and all the Highlanders got in; a number of the town’s people got in too. I had to explain that the first sermon must be in Gaelic, and the second in English. Some of the English people stayed in all the time of the Gaelic. I preached to the Highlanders on 2 Cor. xiii. 11, and dismissed the congregation; and preached in English on Gal. vi. 14. Two young men, who had been hearing me, requested to go along with me eight or ten miles, and that I should preach to them.”

The narrative abruptly terminates here. From his own memoranda we learn that he preached also at St. Andrew’s, returning; and that be also preached at Digdegnash. This is a long settlement stretching along the river of that name. The people were originally Highlanders. He preached twice on the same day in different parts of the settlement.

He returned home by way of St. John. We have not heard of his preaching there, but we have heard of efforts, while there, though unsuccessful, for the good of an unfortunate man, named Mael, whom he had known in Pictou. The man had shot another who had become bail for his appearance at court, on the hitter going in company with the sheriff, to make him a prisoner. Mael. was taken up and tried, but through some legal defects in the proceedings, was detained for some time in jail, till a general jail delivery which occurred at the time gave him his liberty. During his imprisonment he seemed affected by his situation, and every Sabbath sent a request for the prayers of the church. But on obtaining his freedom, all his concern passed away. On meeting the Doctor in St. Johns, he treated him very kindly, but on the latter endeavouring to awaken him to serious reflection, he found him quite hardened. He talked very earnestly with him for some time, but to no purpose. The man afterwards killed another in a passion, and was executed, we believe summarily.

On his way returning home he preached at Shubenacadie, we believe spending a Sabbath there.

We must now turn to an important event in the history of the church here, in whieh he was deeply interested, and in which he bore a prominent part, viz., the union of the Presbyteries in the Province into one body. We have seen that lie had refused to unite with the other Presbyterian ministers already labouring in the colony. This he did, we have no doubt, partly from the strength of the party feelings which he had brought with him from Scotland, but partly from conscientious objections to the Constitution of the Presbytery, and certain things in the conduct of its members. As we have seen considerable irritation had been produced by the controversy which followed.

But the principal parties concerned had passed away some years before,3 and any feelings that had been excited had subsided, and though there was no union, nor, from the strict views then entertained on the subject, any commnnion, yet the ministers of the two Presbyteries lived on the most friendly terms. It is but justice to add, that neither party attempted to introduce among their people the peculiarities that divided Presbyterians in Scotland. The direction of the Antiburgher Synod to Doctor MacGregor, that he was sent not to make Seeeders, but Christians, was faithfully followed by him. It is remarkable how little the fathers of our church did, in the way of teaching their people the differences between the several Presbyterian bodies in the mother country. There is in consequence, now, we might almost say, a discreditable ignorance among them, in reference to questions whieh have agitated the church there. As to any party feeling that may have remained among the ministers, a longer residence in the country enlarged the sphere of their vision, and showed them the folly of maintaining a separation, on questions of merely local interest, and which had no connection whatever with the state of the church here. The circumstances in which they were placed —the fewness of their number—the felt need of counsel and co-operation—as well as their distance from the scene of controversy and the exciting causes of division, tended to draw them more closely together.

The members of the Presbyteries had formerly met to consult on measures of common interest, and to some extent had co-operated in promoting the Redeemer’s kingdom. But now it was felt that an endeavour should be made to form a union without the sacrifice of principle on either side. One measure that is said to have had an important influence in bringing it about, was the Academy which was at this time projected. The greatness of the undertaking, and yet the pressing ea 11 for such an institution, in consequence of the deficient supply of ministers from abroad, impressed upon the minds of any who might have hitherto held back, the necessity of combined effort for its establishment and maintenance. We have no particular account of the negotiations for union. The following extract of a letter from Doctor MacGregor to Doctor Keir, seems to describe the first steps taken toward the object:

“The principal occurrence that has happened among us since I saw you, is the ordination of Mr. John Cassel, and his settlement at Windsor and Newport. He comes from Fife, studied at St. Andrews, and was licensed by our Presbytery here. He had a call from Merigomish, and Shubenacadic meant to call him, but came behind. His salary is Ł200, and he preaches day about at Windsor and Newport. I do not remember the exact distance between the two places of worship, but I think it is not above six miles. This congregation is an extension of the bounds of our church. We should pray often and earnestly for its prosperity, as it may be a means of extending the kingdom of Christ into the western part of the Province.

“We are here contemplating an union of all the Orthodox Presbyterian clergy in the Province, as the best plan for extending and perpetuating the church here, and especially a gospel ministry. The orthodox clergy, beside our own body, are at present, Graham, Waddell, Dripps, Robson, Mmiroe, and Forsyth. Waddell, Robson, and Forsyth, met with us at Windsor, at Cassel’s ordination, and we had a conversation on the subject. Little was done but to appoint a Committee to draw up articles of agreement, and to desire all the ministers to write to the Committee what help they could. I think that the Committee arc Mr. Ross, Mr. Waddell, and Mr. MacCulloch.”

We have no documents describing the progress of the negotiations, but it is universally understood that Doctor MacGregor was one of the warmest advocates of the measure. It might be supposed by some, from the manner in which he refused on his first arrival to unite with the same brethren, that he was deficient in liberality of sentiment. But this would be to confound close views of communion with a want of Catholicity of spirit. It is quite possible to be an advocate of the former, and yet have the largest benevolence toward those from whom we may separate. This to a considerable extent he illustrated from the outset. We think, however, that he increased in this spirit as he advanced in years; at all events, by nothing was lie more distinguished in his later years, than by his freedom from any thing like narrow-minded sectarian bigotry. Accordingly he entered heart and soul into the measures for accomplishing the union, and the late Doctor Keir informed us, that its success was chiefly owing to the zeal as well as Christian meekness of him, and the Rev. Hugh Graham, of the other Presbytery, a man of kindred spirit.

As the result of negotiations it was agreed to form a union on the basis of their common Presbyterianism, leaving the questions upon which Presbyterians in Scotland differed, as matters of mutual forbearance. Differences of opinion undoubtedly existed on minor points. These were not overlooked, they were freely and fully discussed, but “after much consultation and prayer,” it was believed, that these differences were not such as to hinder their union, more especially as in this country they neither had, nor were likely to have any practical importance. All the preliminaries were arranged in the year 1815, when the arrival of brethren from Scotland, with their minds still heated by the controversies there, frustrated the measure for a time. This failure discouraged for a moment the friends of union, but the scruples of these brethren were at length removed, and a union embracing all the Presbyterian clergy and congregations in the Province, with one exception, was finally consummated in the year 1817. In regard to this exception, it is said in one of the documents of the time, “the terms of the constitution of that congregation forbade its union with any other body of Christians whatever. Its pastor, however, expressed and retained good will to the United Church, and continued in habits of Christian intercourse and friendship with many of its ministers and members.”

The first meeting of the Synod of the united body took place at Truro, on the 3rd of July, 1817. By the unanimous voice of his brethren he was chosen moderator, and when he stood up to open the proceedings with prayer, his hands trembled as if palsied, and his emotion was so deep, that he was for a time scarcely able to proceed, but quickly recovering himself he poured forth his feelings in a prayer, the fervency of which, after the lapse of more than forty years, still lingers in the memory of those who heard it, To all the brethren, but especially to Doctor MacGregor and those who survived of the early missionaries, this meeting was a deeply interesting and affecting event. They had long been few and divided, and labouring amid many privations. Now they were united and comparatively strong, and they saw the fruits of their labours in flourishing congregations gathered in the wilderness. Before them, too, were the most encouraging prospects. The fields around were white unto harvest, the Academical Institution, for which a charter had been granted the previous year, held out to them the promise of a supply of faithful labourers to reap them. “Then was our mouth filled with laughter and our tongue with singing, then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things.”

The union thus happily formed was productive of the best effects, not only in Nova Scotia, but also in Scotland. The intelligence of its formation was one of the means which led to the adoption of measures for bringing about a union between the Burghers and Antiburghers there, which was successfully accomplished three years later, when these two bodies coalesced under the name of the United Secession Church. At home the Synod immediately addressed itself to the great work of extending the gospel and sound Presbyterian principles. The principal business at this meeting was the appointment of Doctors MacGregor and MacCulloch, Rev. Duncan Ross, and Mr. John MacLean, Ruling Elder, as a committee to bring in a report on u ways and means for promoting religion,” to be given in at a meeting of Synod in October following.

The Synod accordingly met at the time appointed. Doctor MacGregor preached the opening sermon from Neb. ii. 20. “The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build.” The report of the Committee, we may remark, however, was the production of Doctor MacCulIoch, was adopted, and ordered to be published. It is a most valuable document, and contains a great variety of suggestions for the promotion of religion in the church, securing its permanence and enlarging its bounds. These suggestions were approved, and measures adopted for carrying them out. Among these perhaps the most important was the taking subscriptions on behalf of the Seminary of Education at Pictou. Of this meeting Doctor MacGregor thus writes to Doctor Keir in November of that year:

“The Synod met on the day appointed, and it was a very agreeable and harmonious meeting. Little business was done except the approbation of a long overture, prepared by Doctor MacCulloch, of ways and means to be used for confirming and enlarging the church. Among these means arc, discourses by ministers at Presbyteries, subject to the criticism of the brethren; some improvements in ministerial visitation, and examination of the young generation ; the sending of ministers two and two, to preach the gospel gratis, to places destitute of it, at least for some time, their expenses to be paid out of the Synod fund; the founding of a college in Pictou; and the getting a printing press for the cheaper circulation of religious truth and intelligence, the money for buying it to be raised by voluntary contribution. N. B. If you gather a little for it on the Island, the press will probably be fixed in Pictou, which will be more convenient for you for getting religious intelligence, than if it be in any other place. Penny-a-week societies are recommended for different purposes, one of which is the printing press. These societies arc an easy and powerful engine for spreading the gospel. You should set up one or more of them, and they will collect money for some good end. But as the overture is to be published, I need not be more particular, for you will get some copies of it.”

We may remark here, that during the remainder of his life, he felt a very lively interest in all the proceedings of Synod, and took a prominent part in its business. He was present at every meeting of Synod, except the one just previous to bis death. On that occasion feeling himself unfit to take the active part in its business which he had formerly done, he was not in any hurry going down to Pictou to attend. The meeting proved a very short one, and on going down to meet the brethren he found that they had just adjourned. But previous to this his name will be found on almost every important committee of Synod. From his being, from the formation of Synod, one of the oldest members, and especially from his abundant labours and apostolic character, he was regarded generally with deep veneration. In the transaction of business he was marked by the spirit of love and peace, but especially by an enthusiasm in support of every measure for the promulgation of the gospel, and of the Academy as the means of its perpetuation.

At the time of the union, the Synod consisted of nineteen ministers, besides the Rev. James Thomson, who had not been inducted. Three more ministers arrived that summer, the Rev. John Liddell, who was settled at Amherst, the Rev. Andrew Kerr, who was settled at Economy, and the Rev. John MacKinlay, who, after teaching in the Pictou Academy for some, time, succeeded Doctor MacCulloch in the charge of the congregation of Pictou town. Of the latter Doctor MacGregor says in a letter to Doctor Keir:

“Mr. MacKinlay is arrived at last, a great acquisition, I believe, to our church. He seems to be an excellent man, of vigorous mind and hardy body, a good scholar, a fine preacher and a good Christian. Newport is to be disjoined from Windsor, and we Pictonians have destined him for Newport. That part of the church seems to need such a man, and he seems to suit their need. We need also to have a learned man in the neighbourhood of the college, to support the credit of the Presbytorians. But Providence may not confirm our decrees. He is sent to Manchester, the two next. Sabbaths, and the next two, to the Gut of Canso, if lie can find his way to it, then two to St. Mary’s, if no call more urgent shall prevent him. If you think that he could be a benefit to the Island during winter, I suppose you could get him over. I request you to write to me your mind on this point, that I may represent it to the Presbytery at their next meeting. He is very willing to endure hardships.”

The prospects of the united body were for a time most favourable. The Academy had gone into successful operation, and several ministers arrived from Scotland, within the two or three years following. At the time of the union, the Synod was divided into three Presbyteries, Halifax, Truro, and Pictou, and soon after another was formed in Prince Edward Island, and another in New Brunswick. But the fair prospects before the Church were soon blighted by causes to which we must now advert.

We have seen that it was the design of the founders of our church to unite Presbyterians of different names in one body, and that for this purpose a basis was adopted in which all could cordially unite, and that at first the measure was successful. With a single exception, all the ministers of the Church of Scotland in the Province went into the union. The plan was also cordially approved by some of the best ministers of that body in the mother country. About that time Doctor MacGregor was in friendly correspondence with several of its ministers in the Highlands, particularly Doctor MacDonald, of Perintosh, Mr. Macintosh, of Tain, Mr. John Kennedy, of Killearnan, and Mr. Stewart, of Dingwall. It is well known, that these men were the pillars of evangelical truth in the North of Scotland. In the course of correspondence, Doctor MacGregor had laid before them in full the basis of union, and the plans of the church. The following extract of a letter from Mr. Macintosh will show how cordially they were approved by these men.

“The details relative to the state of religion and irreligion in your part of the world are truly affecting. You have much need of daily supplies of spiritual wisdom and understanding, and I doubt not but your God in covenant gives you grace corresponding to your need. Opposition in the path of duty you may expect to meet with, but yon will overcome through Him that loveth you. When you and I think that the stripling David killed Goliath in single combat, and that infallibility hath promised that worm Jacob shall thrash the mountains and beat them small, we ought to be courageous, when most sensible of our own weakness and of the power of our enemies. Indeed it has often been a source of encouragement to myself, that ‘God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, &e.’ he hath endowed yon with gifts and graces, suited to the important station, to which he has called yon — but it is only in the strength, of the grace that is in Christ Jesus, that you can honourably proceed in the path of duty and prosper.

“It rejoiced my heart to learn that you have some worthy brethren in that country, who unite with you in forwarding the best of causes. Their counsel and co-operation will refresh and invigorate your soul. Oh, may you all be of one heart and one way! You have many adversaries; but that will be expected by all who know the history of the church of God in past ages. 1 have had some very intemperate letters from men who do not approve of your plans and principles. You may believe that I made no reply to such communications. The writers do not seem to be candid and open to conviction,—and I had not leisure, health, or inclination to engage in controversy. Your statement of facts has fully satisfied my mind, respecting the real cause of all the opposition which you and your serious friends have met with. I am grieved to learn that your plan of union has failed. Accounts of the disputes among you, subsequent to the date of your letter, were truly vexatious to me. I admire the Catholic and Christian spirit displayed in the attempt to unite evangelical ministers and serious Christians, without making any sacrifice of principle. The plan promised to be productive of the happiest effects, and I hope it will be adopted at some future period.”

The correspondence, of which the above is a specimen, continued several years. The most of the letters have perished, but those familiar with them describe the correspondence as having been as interesting in its nature as it was Christian in its spirit. They freely unfolded to each other their plans for advancing the common cause, they described their trials and sympathized with each other under them; but they particularly rejoiced to tell of what God had done, and was still doing, in their respective spheres. It has been mentioned to us, that they resolved to fix upon an hour, when both he and they should engage in prayer, for the success of the gospel. Eight o’clock on Saturday evening was the time agreed upon. The good men forgot to make allowance for the difference of time. I>ut, no matter. Could there have been a more delightful exhibition of the spirit of union, than this one proceeding, or a more impressive evidence of the real union subsisting between the genuine followers of the Lamb, though separated by broad oceans, or what seemed far more difficult to pass, the earth-built walls of sectarian separation.

At that time, as we have mentioned, Pictou was rapidly filling up with Highland immigrants. Those after their arrival were under the ministry of Doctor MacGregor and his associates, who contented themselves with preaching the gospel to them, without pressing upon them any of the peculiarities of the secession. The secession was little known in the Highlands, except by unfavourable report, and those who came from that quarter were not only attached to the Church of Scotland, but many had a blind prejudice, and an ignorant bigotry regarding the ministers of any other body. To accommodate them, it was resolved to make an effort to obtain for them ministers from the Establishment. Besides more distant settlements requiring pastors, one was needed between the sphere of Mr. Ross’s labours on the "West River, and Doctor MacGregor’s on the East. Accordingly, it was resolved that an effort be made to obtain a minister to be settled there, and though the old settlers and their descendants preferred the secession, they were willing to receive one whom Doctor MacGregor might recommend. And as the majority, embracing the back settlements, preferred the Church of Scotland, Doctor MacGregor was appointed to correspond with the ministers already mentioned to secure, if possible, for that and other places, ministers of that body, such as they might recommend.

These ministers entered cordially into these views, and used their best exertions to carry them out. More than once they had their attention directed to individuals preparing for the ministry, whom they thought suitable, but before they were ready to be sent, circumstances occurred either to prevent their coining, or to prevent these ministers from recommending them. And, at length they were reluctantly obliged to acknowledge themselves unable to meet the wishes of their brethren in this country. This will be seen by an extract from the letter of Sir. Macintosh, from which we have already quoted :

“But, it is time for me to tell you that Mr. Stewart and I have not succeeded in obtaining a preacher whom we could recommend to you. Far from being indifferent to the great objects of your letters, or insensible of our own obligations to do every thing in our power for accomplishing that object, we had serious consultations among ourselves, and with several of our brethren,—and wrote to the South of Scotland, enquiring if a person possessed of the qualifications you describe, could be found who would accept of your offer,—but I am sorry to tell you, that none has occurred as yet, that we could send to that part of the Lord’s vineyard. Those that we would think best qualified would not leave their situations in this country. Indeed we have few preachers of any description in this part of the country. But I do not wish to expose the nakedness of the land. Mr. Stewart and I have advised with the most intelligent and zealous ministers in the North of Scotland,—but did not hear of any that would suit your purpose, and was willing to go to America. There is a Mr.-, a student of divinity, who offered himself, and expected to be licensed with the view of going to that country, but we declined to recommend him, until we were better satisfied as to his steadiness and views of church government. He is recommendcd to us as a serious young man, possessed of respectable talents, and wc hope that he is so. But we know that he has been reeling some years ago, and we would think him very ill-suited to your part of the country, unless he be steel to the back. * * I understand that you have got a Gaelic preacher into some part of that country in course of last summer or harvest. But it is quite unnecessary for me to say anything about him. I hope that your intended Academy may prosper.”

To show how this spirit prevailed among his brethren, we shall quote part of a letter from the Rev. John Kennedy of Killearnan:

“It is a pity that the living members of the mystical body should be separated by little external differences, while they arc found holding the head. I readily admit the truth and force of what you wrote of many, who were here members of the Church of Scotland, as ignorantly holding by her in name when they go over the water, and so foolishly in the extreme forfeit to themselves the inestimable privilege of having the gospel preached in other connections. I am surprised how any, who really know the truth as it is in Christ, could ever think of living separately from the spiritual members of your connection. Is it not the same Christ that all gospel ministers preach? Is it not the same spirit that applies to all the redemption purchased by Christ, and that carries on in all converted sinners the work of internal sanctification? Is it not the same hope, to which all quickened sinners are begotten by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? Is it not from the same inexhaustible store, that all those commissioned by Christ to preach the gospel, have their provision, and when it pleased him to place the treasure in earthen vessels, did he not reserve the excellency of the power for himself? I regret that spiritual believers should look upon themselves as of Paul or of Apollos. I trust that things continue flourishing with you. I trust that your College is iu a prosperous way, and that it will prove a thriving nursery for the church of Nova Scotia. The church in Nova Scotia finds a daily place in my prayers.”

Well had it been for the interests of vital godliness in this Province if the spirit of these men had animated the other ministers of the Church of Scotland. That unhappy schism from which Presbyterianism in this Province has scarcely yet recovered would have been averted. Put from these letters it will be seen, that while there was so much that promised well for the extension of the common cause, elements of a very different nature were at work, which were soon to issue in a most painful and unnatural strife. Of this, so far as it affected Doctor MacGregor, we must now give an account, though we should be happy could the whole, with a due regard to historic truth, be buried in oblivion. We shall give a calm narrative of events, stating the facts as impartially as we are able, and with as much tenderness to the feelings of surviving relatives of persons whose conduct may be impugned, as truth will allow; and we shall as much as possible employ the language of others. The following is from Doctor MacCulloch’s letters to Doctor Burns:

“At the time that Doctor MacGregor was eagerly pressing forward in his career of benevolence, his congregation and several others around him, were visited with an inundation of Highlanders, under the spiritual guidance of some of those pests of the Highlands, who contrive to earn a subsistence, not by honest industry, but by travelling from house to house, and retailing their trash, as the devout saws of this good minister, and that pious old woman. Finding their ghostly instructions neither prized nor productive in Pictou, they contrived to infuse into their followers a spirit of dissatisfaction with Doctor MacGregor and other clergymen around him. These complained that the ministers of Pictou neither preached the gospel, nor would prosecute the witches, by whom some of them were grievously tormented; and what was a greater stumbling-block still, they found that in Pictou those who wish the gospel must support its ministers. As the safest and cheapest course, therefore, they withdrew from the public ordinances of religion; atone time, edifying each other in their folly, and at another, receiving the ministrations of any strolling vagabond, who chanced to visit them; till from a belief that a minister from the Church of Scotland would be paid by the king, they obtained from the isle of Mull, your correspondent, the Rev. Donald Fraser, to preach to them the true gospel, and give the witches their due.”

It may be stated however, that the witches gave most trouble in Mr. Ross’s congregation. When he refused his assistance to put a stop to their doings, two of his church members actually went down to the Gulf, to secure the aid of the Roman Catholic priest, for the purpose. Mr. Ross, at length, preached a sermon on the subject, which gave such offence that a number never went to hear him again.

On the East River the division principally originated with a man named Holmes. He was one of those men who make great pretensions to superior sanctity, but who, from the circumstance of their religion chiefly manifesting itself in making loud and long prayers, are regarded by some as men of the deepest piety, and by others as unquestionable hypocrites. He had arrived, a few years previous to this, in poverty, and had been most kindly treated by Doctor MacGregor and his people. The Doctor permitted him to act as a Catechist on the East River, but would not provide him with pay. His labours in this capacity were not generally valued; and on several occasions his expositions of Scripture, and statements of doctrine, were disputed by men, who were as well informed on such subjects as himself. During his visits round, he soon began to give out that they had not the gospel in Pictou, and to endeavour to produce discontentment among the people with their minister.

Soon after he left for the United States, to see a brother there—Doctor MacGregor even collecting money, to help to pay his expenses. After two years he returned, complaining, that during his absence he had only heard two ministers who preached the gospel, “and they were Seceders.” On his return he for a time resumed attendance upon Doctor

MacGregor’s ministrations, but very soon began to excite dissatisfaction in the minds of those, whom be could influence. Some of those who joined him had previously expressed themselves highly pleased with Doctor MacGregor's preaching. Their great fear, they said, in coming to Nova Scotia was that they would not hear the gospel, but they were rejoiced to find that it was as purely preached here as in Scotland. But now through Holmes’ representations, they were persuaded that the gospel was not preached at all in Pictou. A ease of discipline occurring about this time rendered him still more dissatisfied with the church here. The party thus formed began holding meetings of their own 011 Sabbath after the Gaelic service, though many of them understood English well enough to have attended service in that language. After this they sent to Scotland a man named MacStephen, to get a minister for them, but the vessel in which he sailed never was heard of.

We shall now quote the words of the late Alexander Grant, originally published in a Provincial newspaper in the year 1840:

“The Doctor preached a sermon about this time, at the suggestion of the Session—upon the 13th verse of the 13th chapter of Hebrews. The sermon was not the occasion of dissension, but dissension was the occasion of the sermon. A number of illiterate men from the Highlands of Scotland—men who while at home separated themselves from the communion of the church, having become wise in their own eyes, and determined to refuse instruction, began to disturb this congregation by asserting that the Sceeders were not Presbyterians at all. Those captious and bigotted individuals faulted the Doctor very much too, for his reproving them and others for their foolish notions respecting witchcraft. The Doc tor, having been informed of these matters by the members of Session, resolved, at their suggestion, to preach a discourse, illustrative of the scriptural constitution of the Secession Church. This he did from the text already mentioned. This discourse did not contain a single sentiment calculated to offend any reasonable man. He stated that all who entered the church contrary to the regulations established by Christ, climbed over the wall, and consequently were thieves and robbers—that the Secession ministers and elders came in by the door—that they were chosen by the people and ordained by the Presbytery, in conformity with the practice of the apostles and primitive Christians. It was at this time, that one of these fault finders exclaimed from the outside of the church, ‘Christ is the door.’ To this the Doctor at the time paid no attention, but proceeded with his wonted calmness in the illustration of his subject. ‘Some individuals among you,’ says he, ‘ affirm that we are not Presbyterians—that we have no Presbytery. I can assure you that we have a Presbytery, and such a Presbytery, as cannot be found within the four posts of the Church of Scotland. We have a Presbytery in which there is neither a minister nor elder, that did not come in by the door. They have been chosen to their offices by the voice of the people, and ordained in obedience to the authority of the Head of the Church. In the Church of Scotland there is not a Presbytery in which there are not to be found some members that did not come in by the door. Ministers, instead of being chosen by the congregation, are often presented by the patron, and the congregations are compelled to submit to the patron’s choice, let the qualifications of the presentee be what they may.’

“On the Monday after this sermon was announced, there was a congregational meeting, at the West Branch, at which C. M‘L. was present; under the influence of a very bad feeling, this man stated that Doctor MacGregor in his sermon yesterday declared that there were, between the four posts of the Church of Scotland, but thieves and robbers. I at once contradicted the man, by telling him that the Doctor never declared such a tiling; but that he said there was not a Presbytery of the Church of Scotland which did not contain some members that did not come in by the door, that is by the will of the patron, without the consent of the congregation. I told him at the same time he would have to account for what he said. There were men present whom I called to bear witness. I then gave him up to the Session. After some time he appeared, and admitted that he had spoken in the above mentioned manner. The Doctor being present, denied having used such an expression. He said that though Christ was before him, though heaven was on the one side, and hell on the other, and that though his avoiding the one and gaining the other depended on the truth of that statement, he would deny his ever having made it— that he had as great respect for ministers of the Church of Scotland as for any ministers. C. M‘L. still persisted in saying, that he did use the language. The Doctor then said, that he would refer the case to the Presbytery. After some time the Presbytery met. C. M‘L. appeared and enquired of the Presbytery how they were going to try the case. Was it by witnesses, or how was it to be tried ? He still continued to affirm (that the Doctor had said) that there were but thieves and robbers in the Church of Scotland. The Rev. Doctor replied, that lie took great liberty of speech with the Church of Rome, that such liberty as that he never took—meaning that he did not consider the Church of Rome itself so destitute of true Christians as to contain nothing but thieves and robbers. It was then enquired whether M‘L., was a member of the congregation or not. He was asked himself if he was a member of the congregation—if lie had received church privileges; but he gave no answer. The members of Session then stated that he had received church privileges, and was actually a member of the congregation of East River. He was again asked by the Presbytery if he was a member of the church, but made no reply. Mr. John Douglass, elder, then stated that he was apprehensive M‘L. did not understand the Presbytery. The nature of the case was then explained in the Gaelic language as clearly as possible by Mr. Douglass, who told him that it was a serious thing for a man of his years and standing to be put out of the church. But the only answer he gave was, that if he was in the church they could not put him out, and if he was out of the church they could not put him in. Having in this matter refused to hear the church, sentence of excommunication was passed upon him,—not merely for his misrepresenting the language of the sermon, but for his obstinacy in refusing to hear the church—for his wilful stubbornness in refusing to answer the Presbytery, whose authority he had acknowledged at a former period. There were present at the same meeting many who had heard the discourse at which offence was taken by M‘L., but not a man could be found to confirm his language. He was then considered to have misrepresented the sermon, and to have stated what was false.”

In the summer of 1816, there arrived a man named Fletcher or Fraser, who gave himself out as a minister of the Church of Scotland. His character may appear from the following extract of a letter of the Rev. Samuel Gilfillan:

“I am truly sorry for the confusions in your congregation. I hope by this time He who stilleth the waves of the sea has also stilled the tumults of the people. You may tell them that Alexander Fraser, Fletcher, who went among them as a preacher of the gospel of truth, is an impudent liar. He never was licensed by the Presbytery of Dumblane. I enquired at Mr. Stirling, the parish minister, and he never knew nor heard of such a person. It may still serve some good purpose to state the fact, and may-36 „ tend to undeceive a serious people. These facts have more force on sonic minds than the dearest reasonings. Mr. MacNab supposes him to be the same that some time ago sailed from Saltcoats, and in order that he might pass for a surgeon to the vessel, stole a diploma from a surgeon in the town, and having erased the gentleman’s name, inserted his own. But the trick was discovered before they set sail, and he had to seek another ship to transport him and his impudence across the Atlantic.”

The supposition of Mr. McNab is undoubtedly correct, for when afterward charged with having acted as described, he did not deny the fact, but attempted to explain it by saying, that as the law required vessels carrying more than fifty passengers to have a surgeon on board, lie had been requested to pass himself off as one, and for the purpose had borrowed a diploma, in which he had inserted his own name in place of the rightful proprietor. But the erasure was detected, and he had to find a passage in another way. His change of name he explained iu this way, “About eighteen months previous to his departure from Scotland, he borrowed nearly Ł200 from an intimate acquaintance, and when he was about coming away, he felt a delicacy in speaking about it to his friend, from a consciousness of being unable to pay the money, and when be came to Saltcoats, the port from which he sailed, being near the residence of his friend, this delicacy and the fear of discovery led him to assume the name of Fraser."

Such was his own version of the matter. But it was of little consequence to Holmes and his party what he had done. He called himself Church of Scotland, and any enquiries as to his previous character, or his authority to preach the gospel, would have been deemed entirely irrelevant. He was immediately taken by the hand by them and by others who had always been known as enemies of the gospel, particularly William MacKay, on the East River, and a man in town named John C-, who is described by all that I have ever heard speak of him, as the most awful blasphemer they had ever heard, hence known usually as wicked Johnny, or Johnny the swearer. Fletcher first preached at Wiliam MacKay’s, and then in different places around. He is described as having a very engaging manner with him, so that not merely the faction already described, but the majority of the people on the Upper Settlement, even including some of Doctor MacGregor’s warmest friends, joined in giving him a call. Of course his previous character was not known, and it must be said for them, that what they did was done in their simplicity. In their innocence they never imagined the possibility of a man assuming to be a minister, who had not the right to do so, and hastily taken with his pleasing address, they were betrayed into the steps they took, without considering how their conduct would appear toward him, who had endured so many privations in preaching the gospel to them.

We need not say, that it grieved the heart of the Doctor not a little to find himself thus forsaken by those, for whose spiritual welfare he had endured so much. He resolved to preach to them on his conduct to them as their minister, and theirs to him. He accordingly delivered a plain yet most affecting sermon, on 2 Tim. i. 15, “This thou knowest that all they of Asia have turned against me, of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” The following is an outline of the discourse:

“To hold fast the form of sound words—to keep that good thing committed to us, is mueh to our credit and comfort, whether we be ministers or private Christians. Unstable persons are ready to make shipwreck of faith. The love of the world, of the honour that cometh from man, the fear of disgrace and trouble, and many other causes contribute to this shipwreck. The seed by the way side, on stony ground, and among thorns, brought no fruit to perfection. So the Christians of Asia forsook Paul, when a trial happened to him. But Paul lived and died a faithful minister of Christ. Such defection from faithful ministers is not uncommon, as might be illustrated from Scripture and Church History.

“1. Moses the man of God was faithful in all his house. From him Israel revolted and appointed a captain. ‘ As for this man Moses we know not what is become of him.’ Ex. xxxii. 8. ‘ They are turned aside quickly out of the way, &c.’

“2. Samuel was so faithful, that not a sin of his is mentioned. Yet when lie was old, they forsook God and him. Because his sons were defective in character, they must have a king like all the nations. ‘Hearken unto them, for, &e.’ 1 Sam. viii. 7, 8.

“3. David was a man according to God’s own heart. Yet the great body of the people forsook him, and clave to Absalom, till he and a great number of them perished in their rebellion; and immediately after this revolt was quelled, another was begun after Sheba the son of Bichri.

“4. After Solomon’s death, when the worship of God was established in beautiful order, ten of the twelve tribes went after Jeroboam, who set up the calves in Bethel and Dan, and made Israel to sin.

“5. Jeremiah was a faithful prophet. He laboured for forty years, to show them their sins and turn them to God, but in vain, for they grew worse and worse. A thousand times he declared God’s promises and threatenings, but because lie touched their darling sins and their false prophets, they could not bear him. ‘ Come, let us devise devices against Jeremiah, let us smite him witli the tongue, &e.’ They put him in the stocks, in prison, in the dungeon, and carried him to Egypt.

“6. Christ was faithful and free of sin, yet many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him. John vi. G6, G7. ‘ Thou art a Samaritan.’ ‘ He hath a devil and is mad, why hear ye him?’ ‘Now wc know that thou hast a devil.’ ‘He casteth out devils by Beelzebub.’ A little before his death, Luke xix. 42, his very disciples forsook him.

“7. Paul was faithful. He fought the good fight; yet, 1. All they that were in Asia turned from him. There were many professors in Asia, but they all turned their backs upon Paul, when a little storm arose. 2. Some remarkable persons, Demas, Phvgellus, and Hermogenes. 3. The Galatians (ch. i. 6.) They received him as an angel of God. * They would have plucked out their own eyes, and given them to him;’ but he became their enemy by telling them the truth. Ch. iv. 14-16.

“You have called another minister, while I was yours. You could not lawfully take any minister good or bad, till you were separated from me. He was brought here by the enemies of the gospel, with a view to overturn it, though he turned out a condemner of them. You have but a slender hold of him, but for that you cast me off—cast me off.

“1. Was it for drawing you from the gospel when you were cleaving to it ? then repent not; but if I preached the same doctrine with Christ and Paul, and you forsake me, then you forsook Christ.

“2. Was it for my bad example, walking in any one point contrary to the gospel? then repent not.

“3. Did I covet any man’s silver, or gold, or apparel? Whose ox or ass have I taken?”

He also gave intimation, probably on the same day, that at the next day of preaching at the Upper Settlement, he would have something particular to say to them, and requested as many to be present as could make it convenient. On this occasion, which was at the West Branch, he delivered an address, which he had written down in Gaelic. He stated as his reason for doing so, that some were ready to affix to his words meanings of their own, and then to circulate these as the words used by bira. lie •would therefore read what he intended to say, so that if any tiling false or any perversion of his words would be reported, it would more easily be discovered. Of this address we have obtained a translation, and long as it is, we cannot find it in our heart, either to abridge it, or to stow it away in the appendix. We therefore give it entire :

You know that this congregation and I have been long united, {lit. married together,) as minister and people. There are some of you that have not been long in its communion; but, there are others that were born to me as spiritual children. All that they know about Christ and his gospel they learned it from the ordinances of Christ, (as administered) here; and there are many of them who, I hope, will be a crown of rejoicing to me in the presence of Christ. This knowledge of God was not obtained without great labour, both to me and to such of you as knew Pictou in times gone by. When my labours here began, little advantage of a worldly nature was there to bind me to the place. There was an abundance of labour and fatigue, and many an inconvenience—much enmity against the gospel, and much obloquy, without the prospect of mueh reward, exeept the favour of God, and the testimony of my own conscience, that I was in the way of my duty. The friends of the gospel had not much to give, except love; nevertheless, I dare say that the conscience of every man that was in Pietou at that time will say that the deficiency of the. stipend never hindered the ministration of the gospel; that it did not prevent me from travelling a great deal, and enduring much hardship in your midst, in order that your souls might be benefitted. At that time none of you doubted that the gospel was preached to you. There was indisputable evidence concerning the truth that was preached in your midst, (by its effects.) “By their fruits ye shall know them,” said Christ. The fruit was to be seen as a clear evidence. Many of you, and many more that are now in glory turned to the living God, under my ministry,—you loved the ordinances, and you often travelled far in order to enjoy them; and your behaviour manifested an example of godliness that adorned the gospel. But, alas! Pictou was better when it was poor than when it is rich. When, through the blessing of God our labours had prospered,— many of us became unthankful and haughty. The love of the gospel began to slacken, and to wither by degrees. About that time, strangers came in amongst us, and on their finding the church in this state, some of them attempted to persuade you that you possessed not the gospel, and that I did not preach it. It is no wonder that there should be such men as these among you. In the days of the apostles, the peace of the church was broken by men who thought they were wise enough to be teachers. But the Scripture says, respecting them, that they were so ignorant that they did not “understand either what they said or what they affirmed.” But it is no small wonder that there should be a man among you who were so long under the gospel, and who made a public profession in the church that yon did believe, now when one of these strangers tells you that the gospel has not been preached here, that a man of you would be willing to lay aside his profession, and allege that he docs not know the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel, and that you would believe that stranger in preference to the minister that laboured many a year in order to teach you the truth.

This is not the way that godly men are willing to part with their faith. When Paul preached to the Bereans, they followed the ancient faith until they proved his teaching by the Scriptures. And doubtless, if any of you had been doubtful about the truth of my teaching, instead of giving ear to men, who might be ignorant of the truth themselves, you ought to have compared the doctrines taught with the word of God, and receive them or reject them, according as they agreed or disagreed with that.

If I have not been preaching the gospel to you, it would appear that you are in ignorance and in danger of destruction, and it would be a good thing for any neighbour to make known to you your danger. But brethren, before you believe them in a matter so important, you ought to follow Christ’s rule, “ By their fruits ye shall know them.” Let me assist you a little in looking at the fruit. Before believing any man that will say to you that I never preached the gospel to you, you ought to be well assured that he himself knows what is the gospel. The man that knows the gospel will be settled in his opinion respecting the truth, and stedfast in his profession. He will not call one thing the gospel to-day, and another thing to-morrow. Wherever lie may find the truth he will receive it, without saying that the doctrine is gospel, or error, according as he likes, or dislikes the preacher. It is not difficult for you to judge, that this has happened to some of those who are making you dissatisfied with my doctrine. I will name only one of them:—When Holmes came here, he professed that he did not come to America for the sake of the world, but for the sake of the gospel that was dead in Scotland. He found the gospel here for a season. But in the course of time his mind began to be dissatisfied on ascertaining that it was not the gospel. He went away then, and travelled, according to his own account, a great part of the states of America, seeking rest and finding none. Providence sent him back, and he found the gospel here the second time; but in a short time he discovered that he was in error, and that there is no gospel at all here. Now, brethren, are such counsellors as these the men that are most competent to teach you what is the gospel, and where it is preached? I am not the least ashamed of the doctrine that I have been preaching among you, for I know that it is the gospel of Christ, and I believe that some of you have experienced that it is “the power of God unto salvation.” I have taught you that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” I have made known unto you that he saves them freely by his grace. I have often preached in your hearing, that the work and the fruit of this grace is to prepare your souls for a holy deportment for the discharge of duty in this life, and the enjoyment of everlasting happiness in the life to come: and that you ought all to follow this gospel until the great day of account. Whoever shall refuse this doctrine, or me for preaching it, the day of the Lord Jesus will be a bitter day to him. You will have but little joy in your counsellors when Christ shall come “to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all them that believe.”

Again I would say to you, before you believe any man that sets you against the gospel that I preached to you, you ought to observe most sharply if their own behaviour bears witness that they really know the gospel. They that know the gospel will manifest something of its nature and spirit in their conduct; and the scripture saith, that that is love and peace. If such people as these have any reason to complain of the state of the church or of the doctrine of a minister, it is with the spirit of love and peace, and by the use of scriptural means that they will endeavour to remedy these things. Love will not lead a man to lie, defame, undermine, or do any injury to the church or to the work of a minister. There arc some of you that know they are doing all those things. And who does not know that they are doing their best against the church, and destroying the effect of the ordinances of Christ among you? When they went among you from house to house, were they not stirring up strife and contention, and making you dissatisfied with the ordinances in which some of you obtained your salvation? Is this the behaviour that is according to the gospel?

This class would wish to be considered as real friends to the gospel; and to show that they are in earnest, they have made one or two efforts to obtain a minister for themselves. This would be useful for you, and I would be for it were it done from pure motives to promote real godliness. Yon need the undivided labours of a minister, and it would be a joyful thing to me to see a faithful servant of the Lord labouring among you. Should he come from the Church of Scotland or any other church, I would assist him, and rejoice in his success. If the name of our Lord Jesus Christ would be glorified in the salvation of sinners, I would be indifferent who were the instruments. But what I wish you to consider is this, what means did they employ to obtain the gospel for themselves? It is very clear that they would look on any man,—any godly man as an enemy, who would shew himself to be a friend to the church of Christ in Pictou. And on the other hand, any man that had been an enemy to the church and the ordinances in this place, even should he be wholly unfit for any Christian communion, though he should be altogether unholy, and a public enemy to all godliness, they received into their friendship and communion, and they agreed together to overturn that church and these ordinances, in which some of you have enjoyed the presence and the blessing of Christ. God could not be reconciled to this, and it is no wonder if his providence disconcerted their plans. They sent a man to Scotland for the gospel. But, before he reached, God called him to judgment, and to give an account of the gospel he left in Pictou; and you, brethren, in a very short time, shall follow him to the judgment-seat of Christ, to declare in the presence of the God of justice and of holiness, what doctrine you believed or did not believe in this place.

I would suppose that a providence so remarkable would lead them to solemn reflections and close searching of the heart, “What, if the blood of that man shall be required at my hands! I fear that my way is not right in hie sight of God.” But it did not. It docs not appear that it ever occurred to then), that God had a controversy with them. As soon as a man under the name of a preacher came, they received him without making any inquiry: whether lie came out of his own accord, or whether a church court sent him to them’, and whether he did or did not bear a good character where ho was,—two things that are especially necessary, in order to a person possessing proper authority to preach the gospel.

“Try the spirits whether they arc of God.” Men that have a sincere love for the gospel will inquire diligently concerning the character and conduct of a preacher as well as his doctrine, before receiving him. That preacher went away, and I am going to say nothing about him. But it is my duty to call upon you to take notice of the manner of that party that were so eager to retain him, in order that they might have the gospel. It is not seldom that they are in the habit of speaking about the marks of the children of God. This is a mark that the mouth of Christ gave us of his people, by which they and you can be tested,—“A stranger will they not follow, hut they will flee from him, for they know not the voice of a stranger.” Here is another mark that Jeremiah gave, about the children of disobedience,—“I have loved strangers, and after them I will go.” Unless mercy prevent, the class of people to whom I have referred will ultimately conic to shame and disgrace. They are on the highway to destruction.

This congregation has need of being sifted and tried, and God may employ these men as means to bring his church into trouble, that she may be proved and purified ; but let them think of the end of the case, lest they may have as much bitterness as they ever had of satisfaction in their un-dutiful behaviour. When the Lord’s great day of account will seize them, they will have but little consolation in remembering that they despised the ordinances of God, and that they endeavoured to injure others. When God shall arise to judge this case, my prayer is that he may have mercy on their souls.

Now brethren, I will address briefly those of you who arc members of the church, and have followed their advice. First think of the command of God, about giving obedience to the rulers of the church: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit, yourselves. For they watch for your souls as they that must give account.” When you received church privileges, you promised this obedience in the presence of God, angels, and men. You bound yourselves to the church as members of the body; you promised by your profession to walk according to the laws and regulations of the house of Christ, to bear witness on his side in the world. You promised obedience in the Lord to me as your minister, and to the session in this congregation. Docs your conscience then in the presence of God, say that you have been walking according to this profession? Some of yon are blameless in this matter. Notwithstanding all the disturbances that have been among you, these have understood that they have the gospel already, and they have preserved themselves from evil counsellors.

To them I will say that their connection with me is as it was. We have been long together in the peace of this gospel, and it will ever be a pleasure to me to aid in promoting the life and salvation of their souls. To the rest I have something else to say. When 1 undertook the charge of this congregation I promised in the presence of God and the church to feed the flock of Christ, to teach you the gospel, to tell you your sins and your duty without fear, as your state might require. I promised this as 1 would have to answer to Christ at his glorious coming, and in his kingdom. This was, doubtless, a binding obligation upon me. But, brethren, you put yourselves under obligations equally stringent. When you joined yourselves to the church by a public profession, yon promised me obedience in the Lord. I call upon you therefore, in the presence of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the presence of the church, to declare why you have rejected me, and along with me, the ordinances you promised to support? Why did you forsake the obedience promised me, in the work of the Lord? Why did you set up yourselves so soon as leaders for yourselves, breaking your covenant with God in the church. It seems you imagine that your agreement with me is only like a sort of bargain, which you may break whenever you please. But that is not the manner in which godly men will regard their agreement. If you had cause to complain against me, the court of Christ was open to afford you redress: but there is no power on earth, that can undo the agreement between us, but the power that first united us.

By calling another to labour among you, you rejected me as your minister ; and now I am about to adopt towards you the way that the word of God directs me. I might preach the gospel to you, and compel you to support it. But I know Christ better than that, and it was never yours that I sought, but you. Christ is able to provide for me. He has done it long honourably, and he will do it as long as he has work for me. Though you have cast me off, neither Christ nor the church has done so. I know many a place that will receive me gladly, and that will gladly receive the glorious gospel of the Son of God, that I preached to you and that you are' refusing. I am about to do with you as the apostles did when men who considered themselves very zealous for the truth opposed them. When the Jews saw multitudes attending on the preaching of this gospel, they were filled with envy, and spoke against these things which were spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, “ It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing that you put it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” The first time the Presbytery meets, I purpose to solicit them to dissolve the connection between you and me, and give me work in another place. It is a painful providence to me to be rejected by you, after labouring so long among you. But though cast down T arn not in despair. I have an abundance of joy. I have seen much of the goodness of God, and lie will not forsake me. I have the esteem and love of godly men, fur and near. I doubt not, but my Master will say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I have news to tell, such as few ministers have:—I came to this country alone, without a friend or acquaintance but Go ; and now I can look around me and sec the church extending East and West, North and South. Especially, I am surrounded by more than twenty ministers,—all living in Christian fellowship, and all preaching the same gospel,—the gospel of salvation to lost sinners. I sec joy in every surrounding place, arising from the success of this gospel, except this poor ignorant quarter, to which the gospel is not the gospel. I have grown gray in the work of Christ, and though he is shewing me hard things, nevertheless I would not exchange with the one that has the greatest riches or hope among yon.

It is you that are to he pitied. And truly you have much need of the pity and prayers of God, by men. And for your own sake I would pray, that it may not be long till you change your opinion concerning your behaviour at this time. It seems you do not think it any harm to reject my ministry; but let me tell yon this, when I came, it was in the name of the Lord I came; and you received me in his name. My calling and my authority arc as they were; and Christ says, “He that despiseth you despiseth me.” You do not suppose that you are despising Christ. But did you not acknowledge me as his minister? Have you not experienced his presence in the ordinances? And now it is your wish to have these ordinances driven away from your midst. Do not think that you arc honouring Christ, when you are breaking down his house. What glory shall be left to you, when you shall have put away from you the ordinances of his salvation? “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!” Some of you complain that you are getting no good of the. ordinances that are administered here. This is doubtless true. But who is to blame? Did you come to them with an humble mind, to sit at the feet of Christ as persons that needed instruction? If you tell the truth you will say that you came to despise. You did not come to learn the way of salvation and your duty; but you came as the Pharisees came to Christ, to wrest his words, and to be a source of contention, and disgrace to his gospel. And God has been dealing with you accordingly. For, instead of making his glory known to you, he let yon go away defaming: for “he will fill the hungry with good things, but the rich he will send empty away.” This was the way in which the haughty Jews despised Christ himself; and they saw rio beauty in him; nevertheless he preached the gospel,—the very gospel that I have preached to you; and that has been and shall be, in early age, “the power of God.”

I am now going to leave you: and, in the name of the Lord I would wain y^u of the danger to which you arc exposed. You have obtained but little comfort since the day in which you began to quarrel with the ordinances of God. And the farther you proceed in that course the more certainly will you find to your cost, that there is neither peace nor joy to be found therein. You have troubled (lie church, and you have provoked God. Yon have driven away from your children the gospel, that would make them wise unto salvation. You have taught them to despise. Beware, lest they return into your bosom a bitter retribution. You arc bringing-darkness on them; and where will be your delight, when they “stumble on the dark mountains?”

Do not think that I am leaving you in anger. It is my duty. It w^is your eternal welfare that 1 always sought. And, though you have dealt undutifully with me, that is what I shall still seek. When Christ was “reviled, he reviled not again.” When they crucified him, he said, “Father, forgive them.”—This is my prayer for you.

In a short time we shall both end our journey in this world. Perhaps we shall never again meet on earth in the way of public worship. But there is one day before us in which we must look one another in the face. We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ. I will stand there as your minister. I will bring with me and present in the presence of Christ the gospel that I preached in your midst. And yon must answer him how you treated this gospel and me. “The day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night.” Therefore, “ be ye also ready,”—ready to declare in the presence of the living God how you have derided, some especially his doctrine and his church, and offended the minds and broken the peace of weak believers, and taken the off-scouring of the world for friends and companions, in order that you and they might destroy those ordinances that you atone time acknowledged to be the ordinances of Christ, and the means of your salvation. Prepare to meet with me on the great day, at the judgment-seat of the glorious God. There it shall be fully declared what the gospel is, and who preached it, and who believed it, when the Lord Jesus Christ shall be “revealed from heaven in flaming fire,” taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.

To you who have manifested friendship to the gospel I would say, it is my opinion, that the church will by no means east you off; or any other one that may see his error. It is my duty to exemplify corresponding love in return ; and I doubt not but the courts of the house of God will look to you, to preserve you in the enjoyment of every privilege that Providence may deem expedient. The Presbytery is to meet at the West River next Wednesday week. I purpose to give up this half of the congregation then, and your circumstances will be looked to if you desire it. But between this and that time it will become you to bring your own case and that of your families before the Lord, and to ask that aid and direction, that he has promised to his people. And may the Lord “lead you to the love of God, and the patience of Jesus Christ,”—may lie “ bless you and keep you.”

The above address loses much of its power by translation. Those who can read it iu the original have assured me that it was scarcely possible for a Highlander to hear it unmoved. It was delivered, as we may suppose, under deep emotion. The tears coursed down his cheeks, and his tremulous voice indicated the depth of feeling, which only by a struggle he was enabled so far to overcome as to be able to proceed. The whole congregation were deeply affected. Many cried like children, and the whole place was a Bochim, or place of weeping. They were overcome, not merely by the sight of their aged pastor thus treated, but by a sense of their own ingratitude in the manner in which they had acted toward him.

Nor did their feelings evaporate in tears. They proceeded to action. A meeting was immediately held, and a paper drawn up, expressive of their deep sorrow for the manner in which they had treated him. This was subscribed by the large majority of the followers of Fletcher, who had been for a length of time resident on the East River. Holmes and his party, with those who had but recently arrived, and were filled with prejudice against the Secession ministers, still held aloof. Commissioners were appointed to present this acknowledgment to the Presbytery, and to urge the continuance of the Doctor’s services among them. Their efforts were successful, and he continued to labour among them as usual, until some years later, when by an amicable arrangement, the people in that quarter were set apart as a separate congregation.

In the meantime Fletcher had left, making an excuse for not remaining here that there were so many places in Canada, entirely destitute of the gospel. When in Halifax on his way, it is said that he was in such a state of intoxication, at the boarding house in which he stayed, that means had to be adopted to keep liquor from him, and he otherwise acted badly. On his arrival in Canada he so far imposed on a Presbytery there, that they licensed him, but his character having followed him from Scotland, and indeed becoming exposed there, be was deprived of his license, and his later years were spent in wretchedness.

In the following year (1817), the llev. Donald A. Fraser arrived at the solicitation of the malcontents on the East River. "We wish to say as little to his discredit as possible, but it is undeniable that he was under a cloud previous to his leaving the old country. He was immediately engaged for a year, and they now congratulated themselves that they at last had the gospel, but they soon became dissatisfied with him. Mr. F. afterward gave evidence of decided talent, but at this time he was regarded by all parties as a very poor preacher; and though in later times his conduct was more consistent with the ministerial character, yet at this time it gave offence to serious people. It was therefore determined to get quit of him. The following incident may show the ignorance and bigotry of some of the party. One of them having expressed this view to a member of Doctor MacGregor’s congregation, it was said in reply, “Perhaps that will not be so easy for you to do, you have come under an engagement with him, and you cannot get out of it.” “Oh,” said the other, “we have what will put him away—what if sent home would put him from preaching altogether.” “What is that?” “Just that he went into the same pulpit with a Seceder.”

Mr. H’s. next idea was to send to Rossshire for a minister. A man named Fraser was accordingly despatched for that purpose. He went to the leading ministers belonging to the Church of Scotland in the North, whom we have already mentioned, as in friendly correspondence with Dr. MacGregor, but they all refused to receive his report, that they had not the gospel in Pictou. They told him that Doctor MacGregor and his associates preached the gospel better than any man that they could get to send out here. On one occasion, when Fraser was making some statements to Mr. Macintosh, of Tain, against Doctor MacGregor, Mr. M. quietly went and brought out a letter, saying that he had some writings of a good man, that he wished to read to him. After reading portions of the letter, he asked Fraser what he thought of the writer. He replied, “He must be a good man.” “Well,” said Mr. M., “that is Doctor MacGregor’s writing.” Mr. H. and his party being disappointed in this quarter were obliged to content themselves with Mr. F.

In the meantime similar proceedings had taken place in the settlements around. Parties were formed, but almost entirely among the later emigrants, in favour of the Church of Scotland. Many joined who were not actuated by the same factious disposition as their leaders, but from the confessedly inadequate supply of Gaelic preaching that the ministers of our church could afford them, and especially from their natural feelings of preference for the Church of Scotland, and the prejudice in the Highlands against ministers of the Secession.

Still, however, Mr. Fraser continued on friendly terms with Doctor MacGregor. He visited freely at his house,—he attended an examination of the Pictou Academy, and professed himself highly gratified with the progress that the students had made, and frequently spoke in the highest terms of Doctor MacCulloch’s efforts. There was even a talk of his uniting with the Presbytery here, but there was a difficulty in reference to his certificate, although the circumstances in which he had left the old country were not generally known here. But the party who adhered to him would not bear any friendliness of this kind. The first Sacrament he held, which was at MacLennan’s Mountain, he wished to have the Doctor to assist him, but they would not listen to the proposal.

This continued till the arrival of another minister of the Church of Scotland, when he entirely broke off all association with the Doctor. Others followed and the breach was complete. Of more than one of those who came after Mr. F.. justice requires us to say, that while they might have been fitted for a place in some of those Presbyteries in Scotland, in which Moderation prevailed, and in which the most liberal devotion to the service of Bacchus formed no disqualification for the ministry, yet their conduct was such, that, in the minds of those who held the strict views of the ministerial character prevalent in the Secession, union with them was impossible. The party, who were opposed to Doctor MacGregor, now rejoiced that they had the pure gospel, and entertained the most extravagant expectations, of what was to be the result of the establishment of the Church of Scotland in their midst. “The Seceder ministers would soon not be allowed to preach at all, but would be glad to get into such situations as schoolmasters, &c.” They were even promised that they would get all their taxes back; and we have been credibly informed, some of them were silly enough to refuse to pay till they were obliged to do so with expenses.

To Doctor MacGregor this breach was perhaps the most painful event of his life. He has often shed tears over it. On one occasion entering Robert Marshall’s, he was told some of what the others were saying about him. He burst into tears, but in a little, he quoted a passage of Scripture, saying, “That’s my comfort,” and dried his tears.

But in no part of his life did he manifest more strikingly his Christian meekness. Never did he speak bitterly of the party opposed to him. He continued to visit them in a friendly manner, and to show them every kindness; but they could not bear him. One man, who, before the efforts of Holmes, had said, that if he were hungry, or thirsty, or weary, when he heard Doctor MacGregor, he was so no more, joined the party. The Doctor visited him afterward. He was at work in his potato field. "When the Doctor came, he scarcely raised his head and never stopped in his work. The Doctor spoke to him, but could scarcely get civility from him. The Doctor then went to his house and prayed with his family.

He laboured hard to have a reconciliation with Holmes, but the latter was inexorable. Nothing could exceed his bitterness against the Doctor. On one occasion the latter and Mr. Fraser came to the church to preach on the same day. On the Doctor rising, Holmes was heard tramping down the stairs, as if he were escaping from a burning theatre, and on other occasions acted in a similar manner; yet the Doctor could speak no ill of him. He wrote a poem addressed to him, in -which he speaks of him in the most friendly manner; and when Holmes died, all the remark he made was, “Well, well, Holmes and I could not agree here, but if I get to heaven, we will have no quarrels there.”

During these years he was also engaged in missionary labours, but an account of them we must reserve for our next chapter.


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