Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

William and Louisa Anderson
Part I - Early Days in Scotland, 1812-1839 - Chapter 6


Ford — Chestcrhill - Blackdub —Reading— Preparation for Communion—Admission to the Church—Sabbath School Teaching

The necessity which had kept me from the house of God during the first portion of my residence at Fala Mains, and the bashfulness which had kept me from it during the latter period of my stay there, had cost me many a sad hour, and, according to my resolution, I at once recommenced the churchgoing habit. Bless the Lord, O my soul, that He put it into my heart to do so! When I began once more in the end of 1831 and beginning of 1832 to "seek the Lord" in another way than that attempted at Clayhouses, I found little difficulty in overcoming the attempts of the Wicked One to lure me into the whirlpool of atheism; but it required a considerable struggle to regain belief that he whom men are called on to believe in for salvation is "God over all—blessed for ever." If I remember rightly, I first fell in with an account of the Unitarian views in a book which I read from Fala Library, which professed to give an account of "All Religions." I had also read a tract which I fell in with in the house of my friend John Symington, which seemed to me, at the time, to demonstrate the essential inferiority of the Son to the Father.

Shortly after my return to Ford I obtained employment from Messrs. M'Donald & M'Kenzie, road contractors. My first occupation in their service was to assist in the levelling down of an old quarry, called Haughilin, on the old road between Pathhead and Oxenfoord Castle. I commenced work there on December 6. While toiling at the old quarry, I had the happiness of being associated with a kind old friend, Mr. George Steven, long an elder in Ford Church. I was much profited by my intercourse with him. I stated to him many (if not all) of my religious difficulties, and particularly the difficulty I felt in believing the Son and the Holy Spirit to be Divine Persons equal with God the Father. He did what he could to clear up my difficulties, and, among other things, he recommended as likely to be useful to me a perusal of Scott's Essays, [Essays on the Most Important Subjects in Religion and The Force of Truth, an autobiography in three parts, detailing his state of mind and conscience before and after conversion, by Rev. Thos. Scott, author of a Commentary on the Bible.] which are generally bound together with his Force of Truth. I immediately subscribed to Pathhead Library, and read the book. It greatly benefited me. I carefully read and studied the whole of the Essays. A year or two afterwards my good friend bought for me a copy of the book, which I have now before me. [The book remained a favourite with Mr. Anderson to the end, and was frequently re-read. Henry Martyn's opinion of the Essays may be worth quoting: "Began Scott's Essays, and was surprised indeed at the originality and vigour of the sentiments and language."] Essays VI. (The Deity of Jesus Christ) and VII. (The Doctrine of Christ's Deity shown to be essential to Christianity, and some Objections to the Doctrine briefly answered) set my mind completely at rest in regard to the Divinity of Jesus; indeed, they led me to wonder that I had ever doubted on the subject. Essay XIII. (The Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit; with some Thoughts on the Doctrine of the Sacred Trinity) was also of much service to me. While studying theology in Jamaica, I was delighted with the light thrown on this all-important subject in Dick's Lectures on Theology, Nos. xxx.-xxxii. (The Divinity of Christ), vol. ii., [Lectures on Theology, by the late Rev. J. Dick, D.D., Professor of Theology to the United Secession Church. 4 vols. Edinburgh: W. Oliphant & Son (1st ed.), 1834.] and Hill's Lectures in Divinity, book iii. vol. i. (4th edition).

A Temperance Society had been formed at Ford on the 21st of October. I signed the pledge on the 28th of December. I have never wondered more at anything I have ever seen than I did at the coldness, and even antipathy, with which the Christian part of the people of Scotland at first treated the Temperance reformation. I was completely puzzled by it.

My mind was intensely occupied with religious matters at the commencement and during the early part of 1832. I felt that the salvation of the soul was the one thing needful, and I laboured hard to work out a righteousness of my own. At the approach of the spring Communion I had many anxious thoughts about offering myself as a candidate for Communion with the Church at Ford, and to qualify myself for examination I committed to memory the Summary of Principles of the United Secession Church; but I deferred application, fearing I was not yet good enough.

"Wednesday, Feb. 1.—Was deputed by my fellow-workmen to go to Edinburgh yesterday, to receive sure information concerning assistance to be rendered by Government to emigrants for Australia. Went accordingly, and reported my procedure to-day. My neighbours thanked me for the information I was able to communicate to them, but none seemed disposed to start for Australia as yet."—Journal.

On the 20th of March 1832, Messrs. M'Donald & M'Kenzie took me from the quarry to drive two of their carts at the Cut at Fordell. By this arrangement I had to leave Ford and take up my residence with Mr. M'Kenzie at Chesterhill. I did not at first relish the change ; but the remembrances of the fifteen months I spent in that village are very pleasant. Here I used to try my hand frequently at rhyme—poetry I cannot call it. [In a MS. collection of verses I find the following were written al the period referred to: "Lines on reading Pollok's Course of Time" dated Sabbath, Sept. 25th; "The March of Reform," a stirring ballad of sixteen stanzas, "written," says Mr. Anderson, "on the corn-box in the stable beside the horses of my employer, on Oct. 12, 1832, shortly after the passing of the First Reform Bill (of my day). The village politicians (Chesterhill) thought this a grand poem ! ! " Other verses are: "The Foet's Night," and "The Day of Doom."]

My removal from Haughilin deprived me of sweet intercourse with my friend G. Steven, but it brought me into acquaintance with another excellent man, also an elder in Ford Church, Mr. Wm. Miller. His wife was one of the excellent of the earth. I had much profitable intercourse with the worthy pair.

While here I had also some pleasant hours with Wm. Kinghorn, forester to Sir J. H. Dalrymple (afterwards eighth Earl of Stair). He had a good deal of poetry in him, and he tried hard to get me to believe that I also possessed some poetic genius. Mr. K. was keeper of Cranston Parish Library, from which I read a number of small books, and, in particular, Dr. John Brown's On Religion and the Means of its Attainment, and a Memoir of Pliny Fisk (an American missionary). The reading of these volumes has often been of service to me since.

Under date of Sabbath, June 10th, 1832, I find the following entry in my Journal:—

"I have been for some time thinking of essaying to join myself to the Church, and to sit down at the Lord's table on the third Sabbath of next month. I would therefore examine myself whether I be in the faith. I remember that the Rev. Mr. Law, when he 'fenced the tables' in the tent last year, proposed the four questions: '1. What is thy knowledge? 2. What is thy profession? 3. What are thy principles? 4. What is thy practice? ' Enable me to answer each of these questions as in Thy sight, O Thou Searcher of hearts!"

About the end of this year I read from Pathhead Library, Johnson's Lives of the Poets, in 4 vols.; The Remains of H. K. White, second perusal; and The Course of Time, third perusal. In the beginning of 1833 I read Scott's Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, and M'Gavin's Protestant. In Jan. 1833 I began to read The United Secession Magazine. I have now in possession all the volumes of the U.S. and its successor the UP. for twenty-one years, from 1833 to 1853 inclusive.

At Whitsunday 1833 I removed along with Mr. M'Kenzie and his family from Chesterhill to a place called Blackdub. As usual, I disliked the change very much at first, and as usual, too, I soon became reconciled to my new abode.

Notwithstanding the purpose referred to in my quotation from my Journal of June 10th, 1832, namely, of offering myself as a candidate for Church fellowship, the middle of 1833 found me still a non-professor. I had read much, heard much, thought much, prayed much, striven hard to conquer sin, laboured hard to become religious, but, alas! I felt I was becoming worse and worse. Sometimes, too, when I could have wished to converse with the excellent servant of Christ whose ministry I attended, my excessive bashfulness always overcame me. I do not think that I had as yet come to the Saviour. I had laboured with all my might for a year and a half for the attainment of that peace which comes only by believing. I felt that one duty remained neglected while I disobeyed—most certainly I never disregarded—the Saviour's command, "This do in remembrance of Me."

Some of the exercises of my mind at this important and critical period of my history may be brought into view by a few quotations from my Journal:—

"Am I a Christian? I cannot tell; but one thing I can say, I am not what I once was. Once I was an avowed—I do not think I was ever a real—enemy to religious ordinances; for a considerable period I scarcely ever entered the house of God, and when I did go I was not ashamed to profess that I went simply to hear the orator—not the preacher; I was for a time rather addicted to swearing; my Sabbaths were spent in reading newspapers, studying politics, idle speculations, indolence, or composing doggerel rhymes on trifles; for a time prayer was a burden, and sometimes never thought of. ... I believe I have been considered a quiet, good neighbour, an honest, diligent, and faithful servant; but probably self-interest and pride have been the foundation of my relative virtues. But I trust I can say that old things have passed away. For eighteen months I have not been absent for a single Sabbath from the sanctuary; and though far from spending the Sabbath's sacred hours as I ought and wish to spend them, yet I can say in truth that I call the blessed day' a delight; I long for its return, not that I may have leisure to read and write on politics, but that I may go with joy to the house of prayer, and that I may withdraw myself from the world to meditate on things unseen and eternal. I fear an oath, and desire to keep myself in all things free from sin. I sigh for the spirit of prayer, and earnestly wish for an outpouring from on high of the spirit of grace and supplication. But oh ! notwithstanding favourable appearances, I forget not that there may be reformation of life where there is no renovation of heart,— another heart, and not a new heart.

"Sabbath, July 7.—'This do in remembrance of Me.' On this day fortnight the congregation with which I usually worship is, in obedience to Christ's dying commandment, to observe the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. I have frequently had serious, yea, most anxious thoughts of essaying to join myself to the Church. I have sometimes expressed my desires to elders and others, but when the hour has arrived in which I should have gone to converse with the worthy servant of Christ who ministers to us in the Lord, my fortitude has failed me; and from one cause and another I have not yet gone to offer myself as a candidate for Church fellowship.

"The question has sometimes occurred to me, Should I join the United Secession Church? After thinking a good deal of different creeds and forms adopted by the different sects into which the Church militant is so unhappily divided, I cannot avoid the conclusion that all those denominations worthy of being styled 'Evangelical' are built on the true—on the one foundation; that their differences are only about the circumstantials of rule or rite, that in the great essentials 'they are all one!"

On Sabbath, July 14th—the Sabbath immediately preceding that of the Communion—the Rev. Mr. Elliot gave the final opportunity for that occasion for young people wishing to join the Church to converse with him. My heart was touched when he invited those who wished to honour the Lord Jesus by showing forth His dying love to embrace the opportunity. He appointed five o'clock as the hour of waiting upon him. After earnest prayer for guidance from above, I went at five o'clock, with palpitating heart, to Mr. E.'s residence. I had, in 1832, got as far as the garden gate on the same errand, but had turned back. I verily believe I would have slipped off again had not Mrs. Elliot accidentally, or providentially, come to the door as I was hesitating about knocking. My retreat was thus cut off. I had a most pleasant and profitable conversation with my beloved pastor. The only thing I regretted in regard to the interview was its shortness. But this was compensated for by Mr. E. intimating to me that he would be glad if I would call on him during the ensuing week, as he had some books which he thought I would like to read.

I here make another quotation from my Journal:—

"Saturday evening, July 20.—This afternoon I was solemnly admitted by Rev. Mr. Elliot as a member of the visible Church of Christ. I have therefore publicly renounced the service of the devil, the world, and the flesh—avowed the Lord to be my God—and engaged in the strength of divine grace to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of my God and Saviour, Jesus Christ."

On the Sabbath, July 21st, I sat down for the first time at the Lord's table. A painful sense of unworthiness depressed me all the day. I neglected to look to Him in whom alone we are complete. The occasion was deeply interesting to me. I shall not record the texts which were preached from on the Saturday, the Sabbath, and the Monday. It would be out of place to give an outline of the discourses here. Some of them I have in later life, and in so far as I could make them my own, repeatedly preached to others, both in Jamaica and in Old Calabar.

I have notes and outlines of many of the sermons which I heard in Scotland between 1831 and 1839, but of none of them did I ever remember or write so much as that of Mr. Law on 2 Cor. xii. 2. That discourse was subsequently published in the United Secession Magazine.

During the year spent at Blackdub I was as busy with my pen as I had been at Chesterhill. I either did not know that there was such a book as a Concordance to the Bible, or I feared that it would be long ere I would be able to purchase one. It must have been one of these considerations— I rather think the former—that led me to commence a concordance for myself. On this new work I spent some precious Sabbath hours at Blackdub. I soon discovered, however, that many years would be requisite to finish it, so I gave it up, resolved to do all I could to put my Bible into my head.

In compliance with Mr. Elliot's kind invitation, I called on him during the week after the Communion, and received from him a loan of Rev. C. S. Stewart's Visit to the South Seas in 1829-30. This was the commencement of a series of visits on my part, and lending of books on his, which continued till I left Scotland in 1839.

While at Fala Mains I had often prayed with tears that God would make me a Christian and a minister. My desire to attain to the high office of the ministry burned in me with great intensity at Blackdub. I remember that one Sabbath while there I wrote a very earnest prayer to God on the subject, accompanied with a solemn dedication of myself to God in the gospel of His Son. This paper I, with an aching heart, destroyed some years afterwards, when all hope that I would be what I now am was taken away.

In October of that year (1833), my master, Mr. M'Kenzie, kindly offered to board me gratuitously during the ensuing winter and spring, if I would attend any of the neighbouring schools.

["Oct. 19.—Engaged to stay other six months with Mr. M'Kenzie. He kindly offers to support me at school for a time; but I cannot think of being his debtor, much as I daily feel my want of education.

"Oct. 21.—Mr. C. Stewart wishes me to go to America with him in the spring; but I can hardly engage to do so. My aunt and my sister wish me to remain at home."—Journal.]

He properly suggested that I should consult Mr. Elliot on the subject. Here seemed to be presented to me the very thing after which my whole soul had been yearning for years, but several considerations prevented me from taking advantage of the benevolent offer. There was the old distressing bashfulness, which I struggled in vain to overcome. I go and tell Mr. Elliot that I wished to be a preacher! I believe it would have cost me a less effort to cut off my right hand. Then, had I gone to school I did not see how I would be able to assist my poor old aunt in a pecuniary manner. Then further, I had serious doubts respecting the piety of the offerer. Had any minister or elder in the Church made me such an offer I would have at once embraced it, provided that the offerer himself would have laid the matter before my pastor—would have seen that mv aunt was cared for—and that I would be permitted to repay whatever it might have been necessary to advance on my account. I abhorred the idea of being a burden— or even a dependent—on Mr. M'Kenzie or anyone else.

A few extracts from the Journal follow:—

Jan. 27, 1834.—Heard Mr. Elliot preach and moderate in a call in the U.S. Church, Fala, this afternoon. The call was in favour of Rev. John Cooper from India.

Tuesday, Jan. 28.— Heard George Thompson, Esq., deliver a most eloquent lecture on Slavery in the United States this evening in Mr. King's Church, Dalkeith.

Saturday, Feb. 1.—Owing to wet weather, we have been all nearly idle since the 9th ult. Again the first day of spring. If winter be over, it has been very mild.

On Sabbath, March 30th, Ford Sabbath school was resumed, after a long vacation. I rejoiced in the prospect of its recommencement, for I was as willing to become a Sabbath scholar now as ever I had been. I had some expectation that the pastor would form an advanced class which I might be able to join without any appearance of singularity. Instead of being enrolled as a scholar, I was constituted a teacher, and a class of boys was committed to my care. [In his Journal of that date he wrote: "I feel deeply my inadequacy to the task of communicating to them the instructions they require. . . . Lord, enable me to perform the duties incumbent on me as a Sabbath-school teacher in a proper manner, with a single eye to Thy glory and the good of souls. Do Thou instruct me, that I may be able to instruct my young charge, and through eternity may their profiting and mine from our present connection appear! "]

In reviewing the past, I am decidedly of opinion that, had I not been enlisted at or about that time as a Sabbath-school teacher, I would never have been either where or what I am now. It was in the Sabbath school that I was impelled by a sense of duty to overcome my natural bashfulness so far as to conduct devotional services in a public manner. This I felt for a considerable time to be a hard trial. I used for a considerable time to write and commit to memory every prayer I offered in school ; but, notwithstanding this, I have felt much greater quaking of both heart and knees in commencing or concluding the exercises of Ford Sabbath school than I have ever felt in any public service—save, perhaps, once or twice—since I began to preach the gospel.

I can even now call to mind the boyish countenances of some who were members of my class—in particular, those of Messrs. Ralph, John, and Andrew Elliot; my (now) brethren in the mission field, George Hall, and William Dickson.... I spent many a happy hour with them.

On the 2nd of April this year the Rev. John Cooper was inducted to the pastoral charge of the congregation at Fala. I used to feel much interested in his statements about Hindostan, and was both delighted and benefited by his occasional ministrations at Ford. Several of his discourses made a deep impression on my mind, especially those on Heb. v. 4-6; 1 Pet. iv. 18; Rom. viii. 33, 34; and Heb. xii. 23—"the spirits of just men made perfect."

Having been recommended to Messrs. John Gray & Sons in Dalkeith by Mrs. Elliot, and having entered into engagement with them in the month of April, I left Blackdub on "the Auld Term day"—May 26th — and entered their service on the 27th.


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus