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less honest and ingenuous than himself, rather than by any wild or wayward tendencies of his own. And if I have adverted to the subject at all, my only object is to establish this single point, that James Nisbet, in the most trying circumstances, and in spite of influences almost irresistible, was enabled, by the grace of God, to preserve his integrity, and, in his own sphere of duty, to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. And his valour in this respect is all the more remarkable, because the conflict into which it led him with the noblest and most estimable of men, had well nigh broken his heart.
Make sure of truth,
And truth will make thee sure;
But like the heavens endure.
God's thoughts—not man's—
Be these thy heritage;
Untouch'd by time or age.
God's words—not man's
Be these thy gems and gold ;
Still radiant as of old.
With God alone
Is truth, and joy, and light:
'Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to
dwell together in unity.'—Ps. CXXXIII. I.
HILE under the ministry of the Rev. Ed
ward Irving, Mr. Nisbet took the liveliest interest in everything connected with the
wellbeing of the congregation; and both by his munificent liberalities, and his unwearied labours, as a member of the Building Committee, he contributed in no small degree to the erection of the church, which, along with the site, cost about £21,000.
After Mr. Irving had imbibed the opinions which led to the adoption of measures which terminated in his deposition, James Nisbet, and the other members of session, who remained steady to their principles, had a much more difficult work to accomplish than that which was connected with the mere erection of the building. The congregation was reduced to a
small number. The church was encumbered with a heavy load of debt. The weekly prayer-meetings were but thinly attended. And out of the few who had adhered to their principles for a while, there were some who were ready to fall from their sted. fastness, and to go away.
In these circumstances, the difficulties were almost insuperable; not only in effecting arrangements for the upholding of divine ordinances, and securing the permanent services of another pastor, duly qualified for so important a charge ; but in strengthening the hands, and encouraging the hearts of the little flock who, separated from the minister whom they so greatly loved, were left to worship, with sore hearts and sad recollections, in the edifice which had lost its principal charm, and which, in spite of many strong temptations, they felt themselves unwilling to abandon.
But they continued stedfast in faith, and never ceased, amid all their discouragements and their difficulties, to ask counsel and help at the hand of the Lord; and though at times they were reduced to great straits, yet, in answer to their many prayers, they obtained the grace which put fresh courage into their hearts, and constrained them to go forward. And in process of time, after many trying vicissitudes, and under the ministry of Dr. James Hamilton, the church was at length brought into a higher state of efficiency than it ever enjoyed at any former period in its history.
When the church was thus relieved from its difficulties, and brought into a state of high prosperity, Mr. Nisbet felt much aggrieved by some contemplated arrangements, having reference to alterations in the mode of dispensing the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the introduction of hymns into the service of the sanctuary, and other matters to which it is not necessary specially to refer. From his energy of character, and from long habit, he was more accustomed to lead other men, than to be led himself ; and therefore, any attempt to alter, or to set aside arrangements which he had himself devised, and which he deemed to be conducive to the order and wellbeing of the church, was almost sure to meet, on his part, with a strenuous and determined resistance.
I am far from saying that, on this occasion, he did not attach to matters of mere form, involving no vital or fundamental principle, a greater importance than they were really entitled to receive. On the contrary, I cannot help thinking that, in this respect, he went very much to the extreme; and the policy which he was led to adopt, in withdrawing from the meetings of the kirk-session, and even abstaining from the ordinance of communion, while it was the source of regret to dear friends who loved and esteemed him, could scarcely fail to detract, in no small degree, from his own peace of mind, and his personal comfort.
No doubt, he was fully warranted, according to