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Memoir of the Rev James MacGregor D.D.
Chapter XXI. - Later Public Labours - 1818 - 1826


“Moreover I will endeavour that ye maybe able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” 2 Pet. i. 15.

Before proceeding to what we design as the main subject of our present chapter, viz., to give an account of some of his later efforts on behalf of the general interests of the church, we shall insert a letter from him to a friend of his wife’s in Scotland, which gives some account of the state of the church at that time, and also shows some of the difficulties which the fathers of our church had to encounter in building up congregations :

East River of Pictou, Nov. 2Gth, 1822.

Dear Sir :—I would have written to you long ago the news of onr part of the world, but I have always such a throng- of work upon my hands, that I am always far behind. Through the good providence of God our family is in good health, at present, as they generally are. Betsey and Jessy Gordon, the two girls, which I got along with Mrs. Gordon, are now grown tall and handsome, almost to the size of women. There is nothing unpromising in their conduct or character, but the reverse. As they are but young, it would perhaps be rash to say any thing more favourable. I have three children by the second marriage (besides six by the first), all to appearance nice good children. We had a fourth child who lived only two or three days. We have no reason to complain, for though our properly is not great, we have enough to eat and to wear, and we enjoy more happiness than falls to the generality of our fellow creatures. God has made our lines to fall in pleasant places.

I suppose that you know that a union took place here between the Burghers and Antiburghers before the union at home. Before the union neither party had any subordinate standards, but the Westminster Confession of Faith. The same continues to be the case since the union. This will not likely please you, but if yon were here a while it would. You would see such a mixture of people here from different nations, as throws the state of the church back as fur as the days of John Knox. The way in which congregations are formed is somewhat as follows: Providence brings into one neighbourhood, say a dozen of families from the low country of Scotland, two dozen from the Highlands, a dozen from Ireland, a dozen from the United States, a dozen from Canada, a dozen born in the Province, with a few more from England, Wales, Denmark, Germany, &c. Here arc different denominations, and different opinions, all uniting to get and maintain a minister, for no one party is able to maintain one. They lived some time, perhaps long, without one, and many of them without a Bible or any religious book. Most of these heads of families are desirous of a minister, for though each is so good as to be able to make a shift without one, yet he is concerned to see his neighbour so bad, and the rising generation so destitute. Every one knows that he cannot get a minister of his own sort, therefore, rather than want, every one agrees to take a good minister of any kind. When the minister comes to them, you may easily see that his church must be a very infant one. Every one thinks he denies himself a great deal as to his peculiar tenets, and thinks himself justified in so doing rather than want the gospel altogether ; yet the minister finds every one retaining his professions and prejudices in less or more all their days, insomuch that he must deny himself as much as any of them, in order to be able to stay among them. Though some congregations are more unmixed, yet many are just as I have described.

There is no one country that hath poured so many settlers into Nova Scotia as the North Highlands; and they arc in general ignorant, unable to read or write, and very destitute of public spirit. On these accounts they have been a considerable drawback upon our church. Some of them are mixed in every congregation in the eastern end of the Province, and in a few places there are congregations almost wholly made up of them. When I came to this Province, there were only four Presbyterian minis, in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (then called St. John’s), and Cape Breton. Now there are thirty. Five and twenty of them belong to our church, forming one Synod, and four Presbyteries. Of these twenty-five, one is in Cape Breton, four in Prince Edward Island, making a Presbytery, two in New Brunswick, and the rest in Nova Scotia. And because so many belong to us the designation of the church is, The Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia. The other five call themselves of the Church of Scotland, four of them are in this Province and the rest in New Brunswick. If you ask why these are not in our church, since we are simple Presbyterians, I answer, some of them are Arminians, and others of them find it inconvenient.

We cannot boast of great success in the gospel. There are divisions and offences amongst us as in other places, but still we do not labour in vain. It has been ti great loss to ns that the General Associate Synod could not, or did not, send to us Gaelic ministers. On this account Highlanders here applied to the Church of Scotland and got ministers, some of whom are not sound, and others too complaisant.

All Pictou was my congregation when I came here thirty-six years ago, now it contains five congregations belonging to our church; and one belonging to the Church of Scotland, merely because we could not get them a Gaelic minister. And I fear there will soon be another for the same reason. God can bring good out of evil, and docs it. Had it not been for the difficulty of getting ministers, we would not have thought so soon of providing ministers for ourselves. We have now gotten a college established in Pictou, where we can educate ministers for the church here, and the young men born and taught here will suit the country better than those who come from Scotland. It is but a small college, having as yet hut two professors, but they are able and excellent men, fit for their profession, able to give high degrees of learning to the students, and though the college be little, we hope it will grow great, and it has been already so expensive, that it is a wonder we have made it out at all. But God was with us, and stirred up the Government and others to help us above our expectation. We have built a house which cost about fifteen hundred pounds, and we have furnished it with a considerable library, and philosophical apparatus. For some years past we have gotten four hundred pounds from the Government for its support, and we expect that it will be continued annually. We will need every year new books, and new articles to the apparatus, more than we can provide, but the same God who has helped, we hope will still help.

The Church of England is the Established Church, but it is not established here as it is at home, for none arc obliged to pay to it but its own people. There is no religion established in North America, as the churches are established in Scotland and England. None is compelled to support any religion except the one that pleases him, and in many places not even that.

In this Province and through almost all North America there are considerable numbers of Wesleyan Methodists—zealous Arminians, and Baptists—zealous Calvinists. Also considerable numbers of Papists; in Canada, by far the majority, for the majority of the people are of French deseent. There are in Canada five or six Presbyterian ministers, but there is little communication between us and Canada, and we know little what they are doing. We know in general that religion is there in a very low state.

We know better about the United States, for they have many religious newspapers, some of which we take. The number of religious people there are not many compared with the number of the population at large, but they have a great deal of zeal and activity. They [have] thirteen hundred Presbyterian congregations, but they have [also many] Baptists, and Methodists, und all of them zealous to spread their [principles.] The Associate Reformed Synod have lately joined the Presbyterian [Church.]

Their Bible Societies arc endeavouring to supply the whole of North and South America with Bibles. Their Missionary Societies have a great deal of employment. 1st. They semi Missionaries to [the new] settlements. It is said that it would require seven thousand ministers [tosupply] the vacancies within their hounds. But many places [arc small.]* 2nd. They send Missionaries to the heathen Indians [farthest] in the woods, both to civilize and gospelize them. The United States Government have lately become far more friendly to the Indians than they were formerly. They give a good deal of money to teach them reading, &c. They have missionaries in the Sandwich Islands, about twenty degrees to the north and west of Otaheite, where Providence wonderfully opened the door to them, for when they landed they found the idols burnt, and the priest among the foremost to take them by the hand. They have missionaries at Jerusalem, in the East Indies, the Burman Empire, &c. They have many other Societies for which I have not room.

Mrs. MacGregor joins in kindest respects to you and Christy, and other relations. She can never forget your kindness to her father.

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

James MacGregor.

The present seems a suitable opportunity of remarking that in this year (1822), the Senatus Academicus of the University of Glasgow unanimously resolved to confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity, for though we have been hitherto speaking of him as the Doctor, it has only been by anticipation, that we could apply the title to him. This act was honourable to all concerned. Considering the standing of the institution, the rareness with which such honours are sent across the Atlantic from the other side, and the circumstance of its coming unsolicited and unexpected on his part; it could not but be pleasing to his mind, as it was creditable to the institution, that his character, attainments and labours, should be recognized in this manner.

His domestic and congregational history at this period presents nothing requiring particular remark. But it was a time of great activity on his part, on behalf of the general interests of the church. We therefore go back a little to give some account of the principal efforts of this kind. First and chief among the objects which excited his zeal was the Pictou Academy. The origin of this institution has been already referred to, and his letters already given manifest his interest in its prosperity. We shall give another extract of the same kind. Writing to Doctor Keir on the 13th March, 1818, he says,

“At present, I have no news but that the Prince Regent has approved of the Act for founding an Academy or College at Pictou. This is a measure which I hope will set our church upon its feet. I hope we shall have ministers of our own raising, from age to age. Oh, what a subject for prayer and praise! The House of Assembly is now sitting, and Mr. MacCulIoch is in Halifax trying to get money for it. In my next, I hope to tell you of his success. But should we be disappointed this year, we must persevere, till we be heard for our importunity. I trust the Lord will provide, though we may be put to our shifts. Pray continually for the establishment and enlargement of this Seminary. It is the most convenient to your Island that can be, not to be in it. Solicit donations for it from all sorts of persons, especially rich bachelors, let them leave something handsome in their wills for it.”

The institution had now gone into successful operation. But it was doomed to encounter a formidable opposition, to struggle long against fearful odds, and at length to sink in the billows of political contention. It scarcely belongs to our subject to give the history of these struggles. We shall, however, without entering upon details, indicate the source of the opposition, and the nature of the contests which for some time agitated the public mind of Nova Scotia.

At that time the only other institution in the Province, for the teaching of the higher branches of learning, was Kings’ College at Windsor, which was under the control of the Church of England. One of the statutes by which it was governed ran as follows, “ No member of the University shall frequent the Romish mass, or the meeting-houses of Presbyterians, Baptists, or Methodists, or the Conventicles, or places of worship, of any other dissenter from the Church of England, or where divine service shall not be performed according to the liturgy of the Church of England, or shall be present at any seditious or rebellious meeting.” And by another By-Law, degrees were confined to those •who would previously subscribe “the thirty-nine articles” of the Church of England.

From the very commencement of the Pictou Institution, the bishop lent all his influence for its destruction, because, as he said, “on its rise or decline depends the depression or advancement of the College at Windsor.” It must be remembered in addition, that not only was the Church of England recognized by law as the Established Church, but wielded almost uncontrolled influence in the Government. The old Council of XII was virtually the ruling power of the country. It sat with closed doors, and possessed both executive and legislative functions, being not only the upper House of the Legislature, but also the advisers of the Governor. Of this body the bishop was a member, and in its measures took an active part, while the large majority of the other members belonged to the same body. While liberal minded members of the Church of England supported the Pictou Academy, yet the majority of the council combined to maintain the monopoly of education which the Church of England had long enjoyed.

Had the fathers of our church, in founding and maintaining the Pictou Academy, placed it in immediate connection with the church, and not looked to the government at all, it would undoubtedly have been feeble for some time, but they would have avoided all the irritating controversies in which they were plunged for years, and the Institution would have gradually acquired strength. But the friends of the Institution looked to the legislature for a charter, and for money to support it. The House of Assembly were always ready to yield to their claims. Grants were given, from year jto year, and for several years in succession they passed a bill granting a permanent endowment, but this was as often thrown out in the Council; they at length also negatived the annual vote, which had been given for several years. On one occasion when a permanent bill was sent up, they sent down several amendments, or rather a bill of a different character, excluding Dr. MacCulloch, principal, from the trust, removing all the Trustees, and authorizing the Governor to appoint others in their room, and reducing the institution to the level of a grammar school. This was of course rejected in the house.

But the most discreditable opposition came from the ministers of the Church of Scotland in the County of Pictou, and their adherents. The latter, as we have seen, were embittered against the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia and its ministers; and their ministers soon went beyond them in virulence. Against the academy their chief efforts were directed, for they justly regarded it as one of the most efficient instruments for building up the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, and its success as proportionally injurious to their own party. They therefore opposed it with a bitterness which posterity will not credit.

The history of the controversy which followed does not properly belong to this memoir. To Doctor MacCulIoch belongs the honour of being the chief instrument in maintaining the usefulness, nay, the existence of the Institution for years. It would be impossible in our space, even were it within our sphere, to do justice to his efforts on its behalf. His arduous labours in teaching,—his contending with the old Council,—his numerous appeals through the press,—his voyages across the Atlantic,—his success in rousing the zeal of the Church in Scotland, we must pass over, but it is due to the subject of our memoir, that we indicate the special part which he bore in these struggles.

As we have already seen, he took a deep interest in the institution from its origin. He contributed always liberally to its support, his first subscription being £50—$200; he was a Trustee from its commencement, and took an active part in-all the measures for its welfare. His was that enthusiastic nature that could not engage in a measure in which he was interested with half his heart; and during the later years of his life his whole soul seemed occupied by it. Wherever he went, it seemed uppermost in his thoughts, and daily in his prayers at the family altar, whatever subject might be omitted, it would be strange if the academy did not find a place. "1 am not ashamed" he says, “to acknowledge that a day seldom passes, in which I do not commend it in my prayers to God for his protection and favour; and I am confident that he will answer my prayers. I am so confident of it, that though I were to see it dead, I would not despair of its prosperity, for I would believe that it would rise again from the dead.”

And as to the opposition to it, though he never manifested any bitterness personally against the men engaged in it, yet he regarded it as something shocking. “It is cruel and unnatural" he says, “for any one who knows the benefit of learning to oppose it. How unnatural would it be for me to wish that country, where I expect my offspring to continue to the end of time, deprived of the means of a good education, and either to consign them to ignorance and wretchedness, or compel them to go to another part of the world for their education ! Something far off from natural affection and benevolence, must be the spring of such conduct. To compare small things with great,. ii is like eating the forbidden fruit. It must deprive all future generations of all the good the institution may produce, and entail upon them all the evils from which it is calculated to relieve them.” He did not scruple to utter the prayer, “Lord confound them,” speaking of course of their plans and measures. And more than once, he made one of those statements, which, viewed in the light of subsequent events, has led many to regard him as having something of a gift of prophecy. He said that the time might come when there would not be a minister of the Church of Scotland in the County. His reason for this opinion was that they were opposing the means of training ministers in this country, so that they could not have them from that source, while they could not expect a continued supply from Scotland. His view was nearly realized. When the disruption came, of eight ministers in the Presbytery of Pictou, one joined the Free Church, and six went to Scotland to occupy the vacant watch-towers there, leaving only a single minister of the body in this part of the Province, and from that time till the present hour they have been only partially supplied with preaching.

The two addresses which we have given among his remains, are sufficient to indicate his deep interest in the Institution. And his zeal was one principal means of rousing the energies of the church on its behalf. The church at large did not second him in his efforts, but the congregations in the County of Pictou, particularly those in the centre which had enjoyed more fully and regularly his ministry, put forth exertions, which, considering their circumstances at the time, have not been surpassed, and we think not equalled by any efforts of the church here since. These efforts were in a large measure the result of his appeals. Such was the veneration in which he was held, that his recommendation was sufficient to elicit their liberality, and many of them believed that the success of the Institution was more dependent on his prayers, than on Doctor MacCulloch’s literary attainments or abundant labours. The late Rev. D. A. Fraser said to a member of my congregation, “You are always talking of Doctor MacGregor, but Doctor MacCulIoch is doing more with that Academy for your church than ever Doctor MacGregor did." “Oh, yes,” was the reply, “but wasn’t it Doctor MacGregor’s prayers that brought Doctor MacCulIoch there?”

While from this time to the close of his life the Academy absorbed more of his attention than any one object, yet so far from neglecting other Christian Institutions, he was foremost in this part of the world, in founding and maintaining them. The Bible Society still retained its place in his affections, and principally through his exertions something was remitted almost every year, and a number of copies of the Scriptures circulated. But the Committee had not met for some years, and subscriptions had fallen away so much, that he considered the Society extinct. The following is a draft of a letter written to the Secretary of the parent Society on the 6th July, 1823:

“I received your letter of the 11th of March, and some time after the three cases of books, to which it refers, containing one hundred French Bibles, and five hundred and seventy-three French Testaments, and also fifty English Bibles, and one hundred English Testaments. I had some time before received Mr. Bruidrum’s letter giving notice of the Committee’s resolution to send these books.

“I have also to acknowledge the receipt of a letter from Mr. Tarn, of May 7th, 1823, with two eases of books, containing fifty Gaelic Bibles, two hundred Gaelic Testaments, twenty French Bibles, and twenty-seven French Testaments.

“I have written to acknowledge the receipt of another letter of July 31st, 1822, from E. F. Ronnaberg, and two cases containing fifty Gaelic Bibles, one hundred Gaelic Testaments, eighty English Bibles, and thirty-seven English Testaments.

“The sole reason why 1 did not sooner acknowledge the receipt of these two last mentioned letters with their cases, is that I could send no money to the Committee. The Bible Society here is really dead, but I cannot bear the thoughts of publicly announcing its death as Mr. Dawson and I have some hope that we may yet get it revived. I am ashamed and grieved that we do so little for the Bible Society, or rather that we are such a burden upon it. It is true that there is scarcely any money with us, so that the most willing can do but little. And we have two other objects of great importance to vital religion, which occasion a neglect of the Bible Society, at least for a time: one is an Academy for providing preachers of the gospel for this and the neighbouring Provinces, and the other is a Domestic Missionary Society, for supporting preachers, and supplying weak, scattered, and destitute settlements, with the preaching of the gospel. A Sabbath-school Society is also beginning among us, and we cannot get people to see the propriety of dividing their little mites among four objects. Meantime I beg leave to express to you, my admiration of the exertions of the Bible Society, and of the grace and mercy bestowed upon it by the great Author of the Scriptures. Though some of these auxiliaries may fail as we do, I am confident the promise says to it, ‘ The Lord will increase you more and more, you and your children.’

“A part of the first two eases before mentioned is yet on hand, also the greater part of the second two, and the whole of the three cases last received. It is extremely difficult to know how to dispose of the Gaelic Bibles. I am loth to give away the Society’s property for nothing, and as loth to have the Bibles and Testaments lying on hand, not doing good. None have been sold for their full prices. Part of them have been given away gratis. I have sold a number of them upon credit more than a year ago, to persons whom I knew and believed to be conscientious people, and not altogether poor, and as yet I have not received a farthing of the price of them, so difficult it is to get money.”

The Secretary wrote in reply. “The apparently gloomy prospect respecting the dissemination of the Holy Scriptures around you, which you so much lament, was deeply felt by every member of the Committee; but amidst all, they think that the new Institutions springing up amongst you, ‘an Academy to provide gospel ministers, a Domestic Missionary Society, and Sunday-schools' will ere long create some demand for the stock you hold.” He then proceeds to state some particulars of the Society’s efforts in translating and circulating the Scriptures.

This letter was the means of reorganizing the Society upon the footing on which it has ever since continued, and accordingly in his next letter, remitting £50 sterling, he says, “In my last I wrote to you that our Society was dead, but your cheering answer to my desponding letter, was the means of reviving it, and I trust it will live.

The Domestic Missionary Society was formed in consequence of the success of the Pictou Academy. Several students were either ready to be licensed or already on the field. It was formed on the idea then prevalent, of conducting the Christian enterprises of the day, not by the church itself but by societies. Its primary rule was, "The Society shall be denominated the Domestic Missionary Society for the Diffusion of Evangelical Doctrine and Presbyterian principles in Nova Scotia, and the adjacent Provinces; and its design shall be, to provide instruction for those who are destitute of the ordinances of religion, to organize them, and to assist them in obtaining ministers, either from the Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia, or from any denominations of Presbyterians in Scotland.” This general basis was adopted in the hope, that the Presbyterian ministers from the Established Church might co-operate in the promotion of its objects.

In this Institution Doctor MacGregor took a deep interest. The following is a copy of a letter from him to Doctor Keir on the subject:

East River of Pictou, May 11th, 1824.

Rev. Dear Sir :—With this I send you one hundred and fifty-six copies of a plan of a Domestic Missionary Society, which you are to dispose of to the best of your judgment; suppose three dozen to yourself, three to Mr. MacGregor, and three to Mr. Douglass, two to Mr. Hyde, one to Mr. Evans, and one to Mr. MacLennan. You will, however, know best yourself bow to dispose of them. We do not expect any co-operation or aid from the ministers of the Church of Scotland here. But I have a notion that Mr. MacLennan is more evangelical and sociable than those here, but I may be mistaken.

Our Presbytery have now nine students of divinity upon trials for license, and I hope that seven of them will soon be licensed. Between New Brunswick and Cape Breton, there is plenty of work for them as missionaries, but little, and in many eases, no wages. It therefore becomes the duty of our church to help them on. A Missionary Society should be formed’ in every congregation, and every member of the congregation should be a member of the Society. Then we could give some help to the missionaries and for the spread of the gospel. You and your brethren are to put these papers into the hands of such persons, as you and they think will be most zealous and active in promoting the design. You can fold llu-m up as letters, and address each of them to one or more individuals. There is blank space left for adding arguments of your own if you think proper.

There is a prospect that one of these young men shall be called to the Upper Settlement of this river, and that I shall have only one place of preaching in my old age. Should God prosper this prospect, it will be great ground of gratitude. Mrs. MacGregor joins in best respects to Mrs. K. and family, Mr. MacGregor, and Mr. Douglass and their families, and all other friends and acquaintances.

I remain, Rev. Sir, Yours sincerely,

James MacGregor.

P. S. There is as much need of fervent prayer as ever.

In carrying out the objects of this Institution, he endeavoured to form local societies in the different congregations, anxiliary to the parent Institution. The following is a copy of a circular sent to different persons for the purpose:

Pictou, 15th December, 1823.

Sirs :—In requesting your attention to the religious state of the Presbyterians of these Provinces, I trust that you will allow the importance of the subject to plead my excuse. Though there are a considerable number of clergymen employed among them, many are still destitute of the means of instruction; and I feel an anxiety, that these, as well as others, should enjoy advantages so necessary to their present and eternal welfare. From an earnest desire, therefore, to promote their religious improvement, I have drawn up the following scheme of a society for this purpose, which I beg leave (o submit to you, as friends of the gospel and of Presbyterian principles. I feel satisfied that the design itself will receive your approbation ; and as it must be important to the execution of the measure, to concentrate upon it, as extensively as possible, the energy of the Presbyterian population, I would respectfully solicit your countenance and aid. He who has supplied us with the bounties of his Providence, and the ordinances of his grace, requires, as a proof of our gratitude to himself, that we impart our enjoyments to the destitute. And of all beneficial, that which diffuses the knowledge of the gospel is the most blessed and permanent in its fruits.

I have the honour to be, Your most obedient servant,

James MacGregor.

Principally by his zeal such congregational societies, and also ladies’ penny-a-week societies were formed, which continued for a while, and raised liberal contributions for missionary purposes; but it does appear as if he were ahead of his time, and as if the church here were not prepared for carrying out, efficiently and systematically, those schemes of Christian enterprise, in which she has since engaged so zealously. The ministers in the county of Pictou were almost the only members of Synod, who entered, with heart and mind, into this and the other measures then projected for the extension and perpetuation of the church; and the congregations there almost the only part of the church, that showed any great liberality on their behalf.

About the same time the Pictou Sabbath-school Society was formed. He preached the first sermon before it on the 24th Sept., 1823; of which the following is his outline :

Prov. xxii. 6. “ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The world is in continual progress. One generation passeth away and another cometh. A generation neither comes nor goes at once, but by degrees. Every moment some arc coming and some are going. But whither do they go? To appear before their Judge, to enjoy the favour or suffer the indignation of God for ever, according as their works have been. It is, therefore, of great importance to train the young generation in the way wherein they should go. Some of them are daily leaving the world prepared or unprepared. Some are leaving the schools and entering the stations of men, where they train others well or ill as they are trained themselves.

We shall [consider] I. What is the way. II. The training, and III. The promise.

I. The way. There is only one way of salvation and of duty for young and old. “ I am the way, &c.” There is such a way as requires all the wisdom of the wise and good to keep within it, and such a way as children can walk in. “The wayfaring men though fools shall not err therein.” A child must receive Christ Jesus the Lord and walk in him, otherwise he is out of the way in which he should go. His life must be a life of faith upon the Son of God, who loved him, otherwise he does not walk in the way in which he should go. He must have a life of holy obedience, a life of obedience in love. lie must grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, according to his capacity and opportunity.

Therefore a child must be diligent to gain acquaintance with the truth —to know Christ as God and man, in his threefold office of prophet, priest, and king; his obedience, sufferings, and death, to be for sinners, to free them from hell and purchase heaven for them; the new birth, his [entering upon] the way wherein a child should go. If one is not born again he cannot see the kingdom of God; the love of Christ [inviting] to the way wherein a child should go. He encourages the love of children, by saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” and by saying, “Have ye never read, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, &e.” He took a little child and set him in the midst, saying, “Whoso receiveth one such little child, &e.,” and “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, &c.” Matt, xviii. 2, 5, G.

But in order to know Christ as a precious Saviour, children must know their sins, their guilt and follies; and to know their sin it is necessary that they know the law which forbids sin, and they must believe the Bible account of the entrance of sin into the world.

II. The training. A child knows no other way until he is taught, but God has made him capable of being taught very young, as we may see by his receiving teaching in temporal things; and he hath provided them parents, friends, and teachers, capable of training them. And an honourable and important charge lie hath committed to them. “Take this child and nurse it for me.” In training, their minds must be informed and directed.

1. They must be informed of the truths mentioned before, according to their capacity, and in as plain terms as possible. They must be fed with milk not with strong meat. Timothy. His mother taught him to know the Scriptures from his childhood. Those who train must mark if they understand, and when they do not, endeavour to make it plainer. Teach them first easy things.

2. They must be directed and showed how to do their duty. Christ taught his disciples to sec, to feel, &c. Hos. xi. 1-4. The way must be strewed with roses. Difficulties and prejudices removed; with a strict adherence to truth; their questions must be answered with discretion.

[1.] By conversation, Deut. vi. 6. “Thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children and talk, &e.” Religion should be the talk of the parents, that they can say, “ We cannot but speak the things which we see and hear.” This is too seldom done. The children would mind it like other things, if it were commonly talked of.

[2.] By teaching them to read and understand the word of God, by giving them questions, psalms, &,c., to learn and understand, and to teach them to find Christ in their questions and psalms, since he is really in them.

[3.] By example.—Children are apter to feel example than precept.

III. This is a kind and good promise by the God of love and truth, to induce trainers to train diligently, and children to be trained.

1. This promise is always actually fulfilled when it can be fairly pleaded. It has often been visibly accomplished in the preservation of the children of godly parents, from forsaking the way of duty. The greater part of them will keep the way, (in which they were trained,) but God often exceeds his promise by taking untrained sinners under his gracious charge.

2. It would always be visibly accomplished if there were no fault in the training of parents especially, which prevents the accomplishment of the promise. Good people train their children with great satisfaction till they think them out of danger, and then they slack their hand, and the children find the world too strong for them.”

This Society was for several years very successful, and did a large amount of good throughout the County of Pictou and adjoining districts. It employed agents in establishing schools where they did not exist, and in visiting those that did exist; it imported the improved lesson-books, and library-books, published by the British and American Sabbath-school Unions, as well as by private publishers; raised funds whieh were employed in supplying these books to the poorer settlements. In this way the Society was the means of introducing Sabbath-school instruction in many quarters, and of improving the character of the teaching given in their instructions throughout the country.

It was customary to have an annual sermon preached on its behalf in Pictou. That for 1826 was preached by him, of which the following notice appeared in the Acadian Recorder, for October 21st of that year:

On the evening of Sabbath the 1st inst., there was preached in the Provincial Presbyterian Church, by the Rev. Doctor MacGregor, the annual sermon on behalf of the Pictou Sabbath-school Society. The passage selected as a text was Prov. viii. 17. “I love them that love me, and they that seek me early shall find inc.” The discourse was highly appropriate, and obviously excited very great interest. This was marked in the countenances of old and young. The earnestness and eloquence of the venerable gentleman seemed to arise in no small degree from the quality of a great portion of the audience, entering upon human life fraught with painful adl dangerous vicissitudes. To guard them against these was the design of his instructions; and with the same view lie particularly recommended the Sabbath-school system. lie stated that for the space of forty years he had preached the gospel in the district of Pictou, that although he had reason to conclude, that his ministrations had been the means of spiritual benefit to some, that others, though enjoying the same opportunities, had turned out “miscreants and nuisances in society.” His conclusion was, that had Sabbath-schools, during all this period, been in existence, and judiciously managed, the amount of Christian morality in the scenes where he had laboured, might have been much greater. The nature of the means employed, as also the extensive experience of past 3'cars, indicate the correctness of his sentiment. The society in Pictou is gradually gathering strength. This, the annual reports sufficiently show.

The following extract of a letter, dated Pictou, February 13th, 1827, will show the prosperous state of the society at this time:

“This day the annual meeting of the Pictou Sabbath-school Society was held in the old Presbyterian Church. The report gave a very flattering account of the state of the schools in operation, under the direction of this institution. The number of schools in connection with it is 77, of pupils attending 2335, and of teachers, 198, of whom 19 are females. During the course of last year, the increase of schools is 20; of scholars, 628; and of instructors, 73. "Within the same period, books have been imported to the amount of £104, 10s 6d, sterling, and the volumes circulated, by donation and sale, are G950. There are besides libraries attached to many of the schools belonging to the Society.

As long as he lived he took a deep interest in the proceedings of the Society, and took an active part in the promotion of its objects. The Society sank a few years after his death, but not until its work was accomplished, by Sabbath-school instruction having been established as part of the regular congregational machinery throughout the adjoining districts.

In carrying on these Christian enterprises, some even of his brethren in the ministry took but little interest, and he employed tongue and pen in exciting them to greater exertions of the kind. The following letter of this kind was written to the Rev. Robert Douglass, not indeed because he was remiss in the work, but merely with the view of enlisting him in these undertakings, he having but recently arrived in the country, and been newly settled in the congregation of Onslow :

 Rev. and Dear Sir :—I am sure that if your zeal is not more lively than mine, it is both a sin and shame to you, for you are in your prime and 1 am far past it. It is true, your missionary excursions have been but short, but still they might give you a specimen of the deplorable state of the country at large, for want of the means of instruction. I have seen the principal places in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Cape Breton, and I know that they are in a most pitiable condition. In all New Brunswick there are only two Presbyterian ministers, the same in Prince Edward Island, and none at all in Cape Breton. Six Sabbaths and some week-day sermons I believe is all the Calvinistic gospel that ever Cape Breton enjoyed. There are many settlements in it that never heard a sermon. There is the same in New Brunswick, at least a Calvinistie sermon, and I fear the same may be said of several settlements in this Province. Sheffield, after waiting (as they say) twelve years for a minister from the church of Nova Scotia, has petitioned the London Missionary Society.

When God shall ask us, why did you leave all these in your neighbour, hood so long without exerting yourselves to obtain ministers for them?—I know no better answer we can make than Cain’s,—“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cape Breton requires two ministers immediately,—Prince Edward Island, three besides Nicol; New Brunswick, four or five; and this Province four or five. Though these fifteen were had within a year, other fifteen would be needed in the course of four or five years, for there are many settlements now weak, that will by that time be able to receive ministers. Indeed the whole country is fast filling up with sinners, but we seem to be fast asleep, and taking no notice of their growth, nor making any commensurate provision for them. Mr. Sprott, and a poor twenty pounds to help out a Gaelic minister, is all the provision we have made, which at best is very inadequate to the demand. You may think that several of these places I allude to are not able to maintain ministers just now, and I grant it, but the blame is wholly ours, who neglected them; for had we duly nursed them I believe we might have fifteen congregations in our church, which we have not this day. At the rate that we are going on, we will not supply half of the demand for Presbyterian ministers through this country. And what must be the consequences? “It must be that enlargement, and deliverance will arise to them from another place, and we shall be confounded.” Sheffield, and with it the most of New Brunswick, bids far to to be lost by our past negligence, and the very thought of it should cover us with confusion, and arouse us to make vigorous efforts for saving the other congregations.

If you ask, what shall I do? the answer to that question is the main design of this letter. I say then, stir up yourself,—your neighbour ministers, and your congregation to earnest prayer and generous contribution for the spiritual good of their destitute neighbours. Take pains to inform yourself and them of the depravation of the country at large, and that its remedy is to be expected from them, or from nobody. Inform them of the amazing exertions of the European Christians, in behalf of their neighbourhood and the world. Inform them of the similar exertions of their brethren in the United States, in behalf of all sorts, especially the Indians, Negroes, Roman Catholics, and the back settlements; besides the missionaries to Jerusalem and the East. Say to them, let us go and do likewise. Now be not angry, neither tell me that I may drive my Highlanders so, but your congregation is not to be so driven;  for you may depend upon it, that it is by information similar to the above, that the spirit of God hath kindled and spread the flame of zeal so wonderfully and beautifully throughout Christendom. Let me tell you that the same flame will spread through Nova Scotia, and through Onslow; but of Onslow I am not certain whether they will be content to rank in the rear, or be emulous of setting the honourable example before their neighbours. Much depends upon Mr. Douglass; if he do his part, the people will do theirs, better than he thinks. If Mr. Douglass thinks they will pay his stipend worse by contributing to the spread of the gospel abroad, he is mistaken, for one duty will not hinder, but further another. Inform your congregation that ten or fifteen ministers are needed in the church here without delay, and that the Synod funds are utterly inadequate to obtain them. Inform them that the growing demand for ministers cannot be answered from home, and of course that they must help to support an Academy for raising them here. Inform them that we need a printing press, to circulate among us and among our neighbours the wonderful works of God, and that it will be their profit, as well as their duty, to contribute their mite to obtain it. Organize male and female penny-a-week Societies without delay, if you have not done it already. Endeavour to make them emulate one another, and other congregations with a holy zeal. Let the money be devoted to whatever religious use the majority of the society thinks best, but endeavour if possible to get the first of the money appropriated for obtaining at least two copies of the Boston Recorder, for circulating- religious knowledge through the congregation. It is a weekly paper, containing the religious news of almost all parts of the world, and especially of the United States; and will, I hope, much increase the number of subscribers. It is published by Nathaniel Willis, Rogers’ Buildings, Congress Street, Boston. It costs thirteen shillings and one penny half-penny, if paid in advance, that is, within the first month, and three dollars if paid at six months, and I suppose the same if paid at the year’s end.

I foresee an objection to these societies in the scarcity of money, but this objection exists every where, and so it need not be an obstacle with you more than elsewhere. Money, or produce which can be turned into money, will be gotten for the most necessary purposes, and for this, if it be thought a necessary purpose. There are societies in - and the United States, where some give sheep, others lambs, others pasturage, and others take them to market, &c. Many a shift will be contrived by zealous souls. Our church could raise five hundred pounds annually without being distressed at the end of the year, more than if they raised not one. Twenty congregations of one hundred members paying each a dollar, would make five hundred pounds. With that sum we might do much good:— get the printing press, help to support the academy, and pay the passage of a number of preachers; but, unless we try we can do nothing. “Stir up the gift that is in thee.”

I am, Rev. Dear Sir, Yours,

James MacGregor.

In the United States there are many societies for giving education for the ministry to poor, pious young men, who cannot educate themselves, and they find it very profitable to the ministry. Could not your congregation find such a one and educate him?

As the Synod has committed the printing press to me, 1 mean by-and-by to apply to your societies for aid to obtain it. You will therefore be good enough to give me the names of the presidents of your societies.

In the year 1824 he was chosen a second time Moderator of Synod, and at the opening of its session in the following year, he preached the sermon which appears among his remains, on Psal. cxxii. 6. “They shall prosper that love thee." This is the only sermon of his that we have fully written out. Those who recollect his preaching, will at once recognize it, as exhibiting his style and mode of thought. It is a sermon which in fact pictures himself. It would be scarcely possible to point out any where a sermon in which the author's own character was more clearly delineated. Love to Zion was his great characteristic, and he enjoyed through life a large measure both of spiritual prosperity, and we may even say of temporal. Yet in another point of view, partly from the occasion and the subject, the sermon is not considered as a fair specimen of his usual style of preaching, particularly in lacking the fervent appeals both to saints and sinners, which were so frequent on ordinary occasions.

In the year 1824 be was also permitted to have the expectation expressed in his letter to Doctor Keir realized of having another minister on the East River. The Upper Settlement, including the East and West Branches, was disjoined with his full concurrence, and the Rev. Angus MacGillivray ordained as the first minister there. The two churches in that quarter bad been built previous to the division, and when that took place, the claim of the adherents of the Church of Scotland to the use of them half the time had been conceded for the sake of peace. When the ordination of Mr. MacGillivray was appointed to take place in one of them, some of the Highlanders, in their ignorance, imagined that this implied some mysterious union between him and the building, which would endanger the rights of the Church of Scotland. They therefore employed a lawyer to interpose to prevent such a result. The latter was foolish enough to write a letter to Doctor MacGregor on their behalf, with a view to arrest the proceedings of the Presbytery. It is well known that the branch of the Secession, to which he belonged, took very high ground against all interference of the civil power with the church. His old Antiburgher feeling seems to have been roused by the attorney’s conduct, which he regarded as both uncalled for and absurd, and it would appear as if he had determined to follow Solomon’s advice, (Prov. xxvi. 5,) and give him such an answer as his impertinence deserved. On the evening previous to the ordination, the brethren were assembled at his house, when he mentioned that he had received such a letter. “And I suppose" said Doctor MacCulloch, “that you sent him one of your soft, slippery answers.” “If you choose I will read to you what I have written,” was his reply. “Let us hear it then.” He accordingly read a copy of his reply something to the following effect, “Sir, I have received a letter from you, but it is so badly written that I am unable to read it. But what I have been able to decipher contains so little sense, that I would decidedly advise you, for the future, to mind your own business and leave the affairs of the church alone.”—“That’s enough,” said Doctor MacCulloch.

Nothing more was heard of legal proceedings, but during the ordination services one man stood up and proclaimed aloud, “I protest in the name of the Church of Scotland against your marrying that man to this church.” Doctor MacGregor said mildly, “Oh, we do not marry him to the walls of the church, it is to the people.” The man called upon his friends to follow him, and left the church followed by two or three others.

This settlement gave him great pleasure, not only as relieving him of a portion of his labours, but also on account of the people in that quarter, whose numbers had so increased, that they required a separate minister. On parting with them he preached a tender and affectionate farewell discourse. lie reviewed his labours among them, and contrasted the results upon them in this world and the next. Some who had sat under his ministry had profited by it, and he bad no doubt were now in glory; while others, pursuing a different course, he had as little doubt were now in the place of misery. In this solemn manner he pressed upon them attention to the gospel of God’s Son, as hereafter to be proclaimed to them by another. He also gave them a number of advices as to their duty toward their new minister, and urged them to liberality in his support, and for the extension of the gospel, calling upon them to mark the fact, that while those, who had been zealous in the support of the church were now the most thriving in their worldly circumstances, those who had from the first disregarded this duty were now worth nothing.


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