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they had declared they wished to use no other method but that of petitioning, to obtain a reform in the representation.
You will not be surprised that I was nettled with this observation, when I had the fullest assurance which one man can have of another man's mind, that such of them as I am acquainted with, never dreamed of any other means of obtaining their wishes. I answered him to this purpose; and told him, at the same time, that I favoured their cause, and that my views were not changed in the least degree, although I thought meetings for that purpose would at this time be very unseasonable.
Something was said of the French, which I disapprored, and I believe yourself would have done so. I certainly have no temptation or wish to be their advocate ; but I believe they are not worse than the devil, and yet the prince of angels durst not bring a railing accusation against him.
The arms lately found about Edinburgh and other places were another subject of conversation; and I was urged to give my opinion about that affair, although, I believe, little was then known about it. All that I would say was, that if they were made for the purposes then spoken of, the persons deserved to be hanged. I could not give an unqualified opinion on a subject, concerning which I had very little information, and part of that little information almost incredible.
I myself had introduced the subject of Lord Howe's engagement, that I might be informed by my companion whether any news had come to Selkirk concerning the event of it. I was on my way from Kelso, where it was only known that the feets had been in action. At Jedburgh, on my return, I had heard that only one or two ships on each side were engaged.
But I beg pardon for this tedious recital, and omit other things that passed. I am fully persuaded that you will not easily believe me to be so very wicked, and so weak, as wilfully and knowingly to contradict in private companies what I say in public, before many hundreds of people.
A man who was to say and unsay the same things in private companies, must in a few months make himself contemptible; but a minister who, in private companies, contradicts what he said in the public assembly, must make himself despicable and detestable in six weeks. What is said in public sermons or prayers, is in effect said in every company where the speaker will ordinarily be. His words, if they were not heard, were probably heard of, by all his companions, and they are understood to have been spoken in the name of the Most High God, or to have been addressed to him in these solemn services in which the minister was engaged. He who can have the audacity to approach the throne of God, and pray for the king and the peace of the country, whilst he endeavours at other times to disturb the government, will be considered by the most ignorant person in the company as a man in whom there is no faith, and of whom no hold can be taken, but by binding him, or by banging him.
I am obliged to your candour for suggesting to me the propriety of addressing you in my own vindication. I have never hitherto put myself to any trouble to undeceive those who have been tempted to
NO. II, VOL. III.
question my behaviour, although I have more than once heard of things said in my name, that were very remote from truth; but I paid no regard to them, because I was persuaded that they would make no impression, or a very short-lived one, upon any person whose good opinion I wished to cultivate. I had read a story, when I was a boy, in an old author called Valerius Maximus, which I have never forgotten, and which I considered as a rule for my conduct. Plato, hearing that one of his friends had aspersed his character, replied, I will endeavour to live so as that nobody shall believe him.
There is no part of my character about which I am less solicitous than my reputation for integrity. I am pretty certain, from my own consciousness, joined with the testimony of my father concerning my years of childhood, that since I could use my tongue, I have never polluted it with a wilful lie.
I know Mr Plummer will not allow me to be stabbed in the dark ; and I trust in God, who preserveth the faithful, and plenteously rewardeth the proud doers. I believe that he will suffer no evil to befal me, without turning it to my advantage.--I am, madam, with due respect, your humble servant,
GEORGE LAWSON. P.S.—I was at no loss to know the conversation alluded to in your message.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE UNITED SECESSION MAGAZINE. SIR,— The foregoing letter has been seen by some brethren occasionally, who have expressed an opinion that it is worth printing. If you. think so, you can insert it, if you please, in the Magazine.
The gentleman with whom the conversation took place afterwards became one of my father's highest admirers and warmest friends; and till his own death, at a recent period, he showed the greatest respect and friendship for all my father's family. When my brother Andrew died, he said he was the best man he had ever known, except his father. He told me that he considered my father's decease as partaking more of a translation than of death.
If you think fit to insert the letter, and to give any prefatory note, I should prefer that you do it in your own words, rather than in mine. The allusion to Lord Howe's victory (June 1, 1794, I think), shows the time to which it refers. The letter itself has no date. Many still remember what times of suspicion, jealousy, &c. then existed, men were made offenders even for less than words.
I am not aware that my father ever re-wrote a letter or a discourse; but his hand-writing was so peculiar, that when he addressed persons not familiar with it, some member of the family often transcribed the letters in a more legible hand. Thus some of the originals are still among us. I am, sir, yours respectfully,
G. LAWSON, Selkirk, December 24, 1845.
P.S.—Mrs Plummer's message to my father was, I believe, a friendly hint, that he would need to be very cautious in his conversation on political topics, lest he should bring himself into trouble. It was founded on some report which had been made to Mr Sheriff Plummer concerning the conversation alluded to. Mr Plummer was Sir Walter Scott's immediate predecessor in the shrievalty of this county.
NOTICES OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
DISCOURSES by the late ALEXANDER | His vast stores of information were
DUNCAN, D.D., Minister of the Gospel, acquired with care, treasured with orderly Mid Calder; and Professor of Pastoral skill, and applied with dexterity and Theology to the United Secession Church. power. The immense knowledge he With a MEMOIR of his LIFE. Edited had obtained was ever disposed in his by his Sons.
mind with the precision and compactness Edinburgh : William Oliphant & Sons, 1845.
of a body of reserve on the day of battle.
| Dr Duncan enjoyed an excellent “Our fathers where are they? and the education, and he profited by it. He prophets do they live for ever ?” But a was thoroughly drilled in all the ordinary few months ago, we had the melancholy elements of youthful training. His jusatisfaction of presenting to our readers venile discipline was to him of incalcua notice of the works of one deceased lable value, for it laid the foundation of professor of our church, and now we are all his future attainments. It taught summoned to the discharge of a similar him the strength, and developed the duty. Death spares none; neither pastor tendency of his mental powers, imbued nor people are “suffered to continue by him with the desire and the faculty of reason of it.” “No one liveth to him- mastering every subject he studied, no self:” the results of his life survive him. matter what time or toil it demanded, These results assume many forms, of It strengthened his innate preference for which the world is often ignorant. In- solid acquisition over shining accomplishstruction and example exercise a plastic ment. He seems to have been an apt energy over many minds which remain scholar in the various departments of unconscious of their influence. No one his education. His genius especially lay can discharge the duties of a chris-in method and perseverance. Desire of tian pastor with ability and faithfulness, excellence brought him the coveted gift. who does not leave behind him many His scholarship was good. Latin he had indelible proofs of his labours and prayers. faithfully acquired, so as to enjoy the The monuments of his success are also classics. Scholastic Latinity was familiar everlasting trophies of the grace of God. to him as his mother-tongue. The sight Eternity places its own seal on the fruits of a boy of thirteen years of age reading of his ministry. But it is only given to and relishing Wollebius is certainly a a few of the servants of Christ to instruct rare phenomenon. “ Throughout his his church by posthumous publications. whole life, also," says his biographer, All have not enjoyed the same mental“ a false quantity in Latin grated on his endowments, or been blessed with the ear, and was more offensive to him than same early training; all have not inured any kind of mistake in the pronunciation themselves to the same habits of patient of English words. Nor is it unworthy of thought and calm and industrious re- notice, that in his last ministrations in search. Spheres of pastoral labour differ the pulpit, during his temporary recovery very much, often very painfully, in the from the first attack of paralysis, when facilities which they afford for prolonged he sometimes hesitated from inability at and successful study. It would therefore the moment to recollect appropriate have been better, in many instances, had terms to express the idea he wished to posthumous volumes still slumbered in convey, the Latin words readily recurred manuscript, for they lessen the fame of to his mind, and it required some effort the deceased, and are of little benefit to to avoid the use of them.” survivors.
His parents were both persons of deep These assertions cannot, however, be piety, and his religious culture was not made concerning the volume before us. neglected. They took great pains with Its author was not only a man of varied him, and by the divine blessing infused gifts, but one who had improved his ta- their own spirit into his young heart. lents with persevering exercise, and who His religion kept pace with his classical through life enjoyed the requisite leisure and philosophical improvement. He at for engaging in courses of extended read- length gave himself to the Lord, with ing, and in all the other methods of train the formality of a solemn covenant; and ing and preparation, which a cultivated not a few traits of his christian experience mind knows how to use and appreciate. are preserved in a Latin diary found by his family among his papers after his / was with him originally any tendency to decease. Thus the early cultivation that stiffness of thought, and laboured both of his intellect and heart, fitted him evenness of style, by which the Dutch for the duties of his subsequent life. systeni-writers are distinguished, it was
Those habits of study, which he had ac- increased and cherished by his early prequired in youth, which had been strength-dilections, not for Witsius and Turretine ened as he passed through the curriculum only, but for Marke, Stapfer, and Maeof the University and Divinity Hall, stricht, yea for Hornbeek and Voetius. with more than the usual honour of Many of his recurring allusions and literary and theological pupils, never modes of expression seem to have had forsook him even when engaged in the their origin in the Cocceian divinity, which labours of an active and laborious pro- gave important religious truths a peculiar fession. Throughout his long ministry covenant aspect, and laid great stress on of forty-five years, his study was his the Noachic, Sinaitie, and Davidic cofavourite resort. His mind was never venants, &e. indolent, never rested on its previous One marked feature of Dr Duncan's attainment. “ As an illustration of his mind was his love of system, his morbid industry, it may be noticed that in a faculty of classification. Arrangement journal containing a record, generally was quite a passion with him. Every very brief, though occasionally consider- truth was viewed in its reference to some ably extended, of ministerial labours, scheme, of which it formed a part. The domesticoccurrences, books perused, and genus or species of a bird or flower was gubjects of study, he mentions, as topics more regarded than its song or colour. of special investigation in addition to his Ideas, when presented to his mind, no preparations for the pulpit, during the matter how unexpectedly, at once crysmonth of January 1814, The first promise, tallized themselves and graduallyassumed the brazen serpent, the idea of sitting in some method and order. His whole heavenly places, the times of the Gen- knowledge shaped itself off into connected tiles, the agente salata ; and during the departments. It was laid ap and labelled month of February the same year, as in the drawers of a bureau. His letters Elohim, circumcision, Angel-Redeemer, to some afflicted friends contain precious high priest's entrance into the most holy statements ; yet the doctrines alluded to, place, suspension of the sun, Shiloh. though they are briefly described, have The writings left by him are, accordingly, an air of system about them. As one both numerous and diversified. But of the happiest of his generalizations, we comparatively few of them are in such subjoin the following:“Evening cona state of preparation as would warrant versation with and on the their publication. They are the materials radical principle on which all revelation of a building, all ready to be put together; proceeds, That the happiness of rational but the construction of the edifice has beings depends on certain conditions not taken place. He delighted to in- which are immutable and cannot be disvestigate a subject, to collect information pensed with. All the forms of error respecting it, and to arrange the infor- impinge on this principle, and may be mation he had acquired according to his reduced to three, futa af code. The first own views of the relation which the denies the principle, and holds that God, different parts of it bore to one another; / without regard to any condition, or at and the results of his reading and reflec- least, dispensing with those that our tion upon it were generally committed to fallen state requires, will make us happy writing as materials to be used when he -Deism, and all forms of confidence in needed them.”
mercy, irrespective of justice, whether The mind of Dr Duncan never lost its styled general or uncovenanted mercy. early bias. The reading of Wollebius The second admits the principle, but was a complete proof that the boy is maintains our ability to perform the father to the man. The Dutch divinity conditions, in whole, or in part, or to became his favourite study, and left its perform some subordinate conditionsimpress both on his mind and style. If Legalism in all its forms; rejecting the it did him good, it also did him harm. righteousness of God, and depending on Though in his modes of thinking he our own, in the hope that defects may became so far assimilated to these authors be either excused, or considered as comof Holland, yet he preserved no little pensated for; or adding our own rightefreedom for himself, by his love of in-lousness to the righteousness of God, faith terpretation, his constant exegetical use as a virtue, or works as the basis of a of the Scriptures themselves. If there second justification ; or depending on
certain qualifications to commend us to into a very ample province. “ About a the righteousness of God. The third year after his election he published a syperverts the principle, holding that if the nopsis of the course of lectures he was requisite conditions be performed by a preparing, designed for the benefit of substitute, we are released from the obli- those who attended his class. The plan gations of the law, or nothing we do will evolved in it is very comprehensive. be regarded as sin-Antinomianism in Under the first division, which was inall its forms. These three fallacies were tended to be a guide to them in discoycombated by the Apostles, and thus pro-ering the mind of the Spirit in the sacred vision made in their writings for the Scriptures, he proposes to state and illusrefutation of all heresies.”
trate, by numerous examples, the general The studies of Dr Duncan were wholly rules which the expositor ought never to biblical; the pursuit of other branches of overlook; and to furnish a view of the knowledge was only a pastime, subordi- great subject of revelation, the purpose nate to the main business of his life. and plan of salvation, and of the deHis information ranged over all the velopment of it, commencing with its sciences, yet his mind connected all with primary announcement in what is comreligion. The biography prefixed to the monly called the first promise, and tracing sermons in the volume, contains some the progress of disclosure down to its very interesting accounts of his opinions completion under the christian dispensaon Phrenology and Geology. No kind tion. The second division, which relates of intellectual pursuit alarmed him, to the ministerial exhibition of the truth, though it was everywhere spoken embraces the warrants and method of against, and no amount of labour deterred lecturing, or of expounding the Scriphim from intermeddling with it, and put-tures, the warrants and method of preachting himself in possession of its principal ing, and missionary labours. And the elements. It is evident therefore that third presents for consideration the other the master of these varied acquirements ordinances of religion, public prayer, must have proved himself a workman psalmody, the sacraments, the governthat needeth not to be ashamed. His pul- ment and order of the church, and the pit ministrations were varied, profound, superintendence of its members, with inevangelical, and impressive. His people terspersed counsels as to ministerial were “ fed with strong meat." His views duties, character and deportment. To of divine truth were just and extensive. this was to be added a summary of eccleHe had the tongue of the learned, and siastical history, designed not so much so was qualified to speak “ a word in to embrace a narrative of events, as to season” to him that was weary. His direct to the best mode of prosecuting peculiar notions of many texts were al- this branch of study, and to indicate the ways ingenious, if not correct. He de- subjects which demand the special conlighted in ingenious subtleties and recon sideration of the student. The lectures dite allusions. His exegesis was occa- subsequently prepared by him, comprised sionally characterised as much by inven- the greater number of the topics mention as discovery. Some of his opinions tioned in this synopsis, though some of too on various sections of scripture them were, of necessity, touched upon savoured a little of the mystical. But with great brevity. They also, especially as our notions both of the nature of those pertaining to the first division, prophecy, and of its interpretation are contained many critical disquisitions on very different from his, we enter not into important or difficult passages of Scripthe examination of any of his theories ture, intended to show how the principles on this difficult subject. To the last his stated by him were to be applied to the preparations for the pulpit were carefully elucidation of the sacred record; and conducted, and consecrated by prayer. these disquisitions were regarded by the The specimens given in the publication students generally as not the least interbefore us prove him to have been a shrewd esting and instructive portion of his preand skilful lecturer, and able lecturing is lections.” He laboured zealously for the the crown of the Scottish Pulpit. advancement of his pupils, and his pub
His elevation to the chair of Pas- lished synopsis show the extensive pretoral Theology devolved on him a large paration he had made for their training. amount of additional labour; but in Ingenuity characterised all his prelecthis he delighted. The activity of his tions. We heard with great pleasure his mind was incessant, and he was not only first course, which was principally hermea rapid but a deep thinker. His field of neutical, and often thought that of these duty as a professor was stretched by him lectures which discussed the dark sayings