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'God shall be with you, and bring you again into the land
of your fathers.'—GEN. XLVIII. 21.
IN 1808, his health was somewhat impaired
by incessant labour, and having intimated his purpose of spending a few
weeks in Scotland, he received a letter from his father, which shows very clearly that his views in regard to religious matters were of the old Moderate stamp, and very different from his son's.
He says : 'We are very glad of seeing our beloved son again ; and, James, I desire you will make yourself
; free and easy among all your acquaintance. I am very happy to think you have got so much of the fear of God about you ; but, you know, if you began to speak much about religious matters, they will be saying it is an outward show, so the less you meddle with
these matters the better for
You know, if the people you are connected with are in error, they have other people to correct them, without your troubling yourself with them. I am told by a gentleman that you are a teacher of the Sunday schools, and he would not think much to hear you preach in the streets of London, which I would be very sorry for, as you never got education for that purpose. I hope you are not following the principles of the Methodists, as, you know, we had plenty of them in Kelso, and some very worthy people followed them. Concerning the meetings you attend, God Almighty never desired man to spend all his time in godliness. He designs such as you or me to labour and work for our bread while on earth. To such as ministers He gives the divine law to lay down to us, and it is their duty so to do. I am very happy to hear that you are going on in the good way; but too much for some young people turns their mind, and cuts off their days, while they might have been useful members of society. I shall say no more upon
this head. I beg you will take the earliest opportunity of coming and seeing your
father and mother, while, God be thanked, we are both able and willing to take care of you.'
In a religious point of view, his visit to his native place was not very satisfactory. He says in his journal : Had a long conversation about the sermon
we had heard, our London friends, and their employment ; upon the whole, a poor Sabbath, very unlike our dear Sabbaths in London. Oh! how little do we in London consider the advantages we enjoy in having faithful ministers to dispense the word and ordinances amongst us! Lord, enable us to improve by what we hear, and let our privileges never rise to condemn us, from our want of attention to the means. My friends are surprised at my cheerfulness, having heard such sad accounts of the bad effects of Methodism upon me. Am sadly deficient in speaking to them about the great salvation ; but have, at least, convinced them, that I retain my reasoning powers, and enjoy a happiness of which they have no conception. I have lost much in coming here ;-no prayer-meetings, no Thursday-night sermons, no companions with whom I would wish to be on intimate friendship, and no Sabbath schools. With the loss of these, which is most of all, I have lost Mr. Nichol.'
'Pray that Jerusalem may have
Peace and felicity;
Have still prosperity.
Therefore I wish that peace may still
Within thy walls remain,
Now for my friends and brethren’s sakes,
Peace be in thee, I'll say ;
I'll seek thy good alway.'
"The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles
of the righteous.'—PSALM CXVIII. 15.
ROM Kelso he went to Stirling to visit the
Russels. There he was quite in his element; and the records which he wrote,
while dwelling under their roof, are equally valuable, as throwing light on his own religious character, and giving an interesting insight into the habits of a most godly and devoted family.
• Friday, 3d June 1808.—Left Edinburgh on the mail coach for Stirling, where, after a pleasant view of this rich and fertile country, I arrived safely about three o'clock, and was received with great kindness by the Rev. John Russel, his valuable wife, and his no less valuable son, now assistant to the Rev. Mr. Sheriff, at St. Ninians. After dinner, walked round the castle with my young friend; returned to tea,