APPENDIX III.
TESTIMONY OF A FRIEND.

LONDON minister, Rev. Thomas Alexander, Chelsea, writes in the Sabbath School Magazine (Edinburgh), 1860. Speaking of his own conversion, he says "But how came Saul to be among the prophets? It was on this wise. When I came home to my native village, I found that a great change had passed on all around. I say literally all, for the effects of a real revival tell very widely. At that time the Rev. W. C. Burns had been preaching in and around Dundee. The Rev. R. M. M'Cheyne had but just returned from his visit to Palestine. He was in the prime of his strength, and manly beauty of body and of soul. And when I returned, I found nothing but wonders everywhere. A wave of the spiritual life had passed over our village, and it left vitality and greenness all around. We were six good miles from Dundee, I said; but that did not hinder a great many (twenty to thirty) from going there every Sabbath. Out of my father's house, all who could go, went. All this, of course, I saw. I knew things as they were, and 'now look at them as they are.' I can hardly make my reader understand how far down I had come; how ignorant I had grown; and how incapable a judge I was of everything like spiritual religion. I had forgotten all the lore of former years; or, if not forgotten, I had at least ceased to be capable of putting it to any good use. There is one word which would sum it all up, and much other misery beside: shall I, Deed I, write it down? Here it is drunkenness. That is the word. That is the sum of all that is vile and abominable. If the reader will think of that word, and know well what evil it can do to both soul and body, and every faculty of mind and heart, he will be able to think how incapable a judge of real revival I was. But still there were some things which even I could not fail to see and appreciate. One of these things shall be here told.

"I had been urged to go to hear 'this M'Cheyne,' whose preaching had wrought such wonders, and went. The worship generally, in Scotland, consists of a forenoon and afternoon "diet," as it is called. There is also usually about an hour's interval between "the diets." It was a cold winter's day. The heaven was all one continuous thick, deep, dark cloud. Snowflakes, large, white, and thick, slowly fell; now slow and deliberate, anon thick and fast—then a lull, and then on again. It was such a clay as that. The forenoon "diet "is over, and I am lounging about in the churchyard till the afternoon service begins. Standing at the gate, leaning on the stone pillar, with his shoulder resting quietly on it, a short black pipe in his mouth, and with the blandest smile on his honest face for earth and heaven, snow and cold, was a man whom I had known in other days. As a boy I had known him; and lie was the only man for whom I had a fear; but of hirer I had a thorough terror —I, and all the little boys of the village. He was a fierce, drunken, brutal savage; one of the sort that do actually kick and bite in their explosions of wrath. I had known him well. His features were, each of them, as familiar to me as were my own in the glass. There was no mistaking the man. That was he leaning there, with that sweet smile, and enjoying that pipe with so manifest an unction. I can never forget the effect of reading a chapter out of that living epistle; how every word I read there, in that man's quiet look, went to my heart. It was as if you had stood beside Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus, and heard the Lord Jesus speak to him from heaven. There it was — it is no shadow — the man stands looking curiously at you now; but that is he. 'Are you___?' The man quietly nodded. 'Yes, but I'm not the___ you once knew.' No, I could see that. Grace had changed the very face of the man. It had taken away his fierce look, and made him a man. So he told me his story: how he came here to curse, and remained to pray; and how he walked every Sabbath about seven miles to this church, and never thought the road long. I inquired, on my return home, what character the man now bore in his neighbourhood, and found that it was all that could be desired; his wife, in particular, though not herself converted, was nevertheless full of his praises now. Nothing so impressed me as that.

"About Mr. M'Cheyne himself I have often been asked many questions. Those who have read the Memoir—and what Christian man, what Sunday—school teacher has not?—want to know if it is not coloured a little; was he really all that he is there said to have been. I answer, His biographer is incapable of colouring; lie is not a mere article-writer, a bookmaker; he speaks, writes, works under the eye of the great God. There is no colouring there: colour would have spoilt the portrait. You may try to colour a rose if you like, but see whether you can improve it . The colours of that godly man's life were those of the Holy Ghost; that was a glorious piece of his workmanship. All that his biographer has done, is simply to transfer (in a most imperfect way, as lie would be the foremost to confess) to canvas the lines of his likeness.

"That church of St. Peter's was one of my Sunday schools shall I tell the reader a little about it? I was a scholar there, and was taught the truth as it is in Jesus. Before, I had been taught something about the truth as it is out of Jesus, and apart from Jesus; here Jesus was taught as the way, and the truth, and the life. My impressions of my first Sabbath there are very vivid; they are all as fresh as if they had been made but yesterday. I remember the aspect of that dull, snowy day— my wet, smoking clothes my first sitting down in the middle of a congregation three parts gathered—my first looks around me—the unpleasant sensations gathering strength gradually, that I had never been in such a place before; a feeling like that of Jacob—how dreadful is this place! this is the house of God, and I am a stranger in it; this is the gate of heaven, and I am on the outside of it. How well, too, I remember the solemn, staid looks of the people—the bustle to get in, and yet all quiet and decorous —the gradual filling up of every nook, and corner, and passage—the children on the pulpit stairs, and clustering like bees all-round the pulpit; and then I remember the minister working his way through all that dense crowd, till he got fairly into the pulpit at last; and his giving out the psalm, and the few terse, beautiful remarks he made upon it, in a voice, at first, far from taking. And oh, how vividly I seem to be able to call up the singing of that first psalm, with the grave, sweet melody of so many living souls—the great swelling voice of the hearts' united praise blending into one sweet song It well prepared me for the prayer that followed. That was the first time I ever had heard prayer. Never before did I understand what prayer meant. Now I understood it. He never told us what prayer was; he never needed. Behold, he prayeth; that is prayer. Few that ever heard, ever forgot his first two words—'Holy Father.' Was it oratory? No. Was it very eloquent? No. Was it very beautiful? No. What then was it? Nothing whatever, but simply the truth. He was a man so completely imbued with the, truth, that it came out when he spoke. This is a great truth—that God is; that God is holy. How many thousand different standards you may attach to that word 'holy.'




"The man of whom I speak seemed to have got up to the full height of it, and to have entered into the secret places of the holiness of God. And then, 'Holy Father!' that word Father, what a world of meaning is in it! God is that man's Father. You can see and feel, by the way he utters the word, that that man is a son of God; and I! what am I? What a beautiful face it was, as it shone again in the certainty of peace with God! How reverently, yet how lovingly, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, 'Holy Father.' You seemed as if now you could understand better what Christ was, and how He spoke And all through, what petitions! How rich, full, scriptural. Every phrase was a Bible phrase, every word a Bible word; the whole prayer seemed to be a new chapter of the Bible; or one which somehow you had not read. But, indeed, the prayer and the Bible were dictated by the same Spirit working after each sort in His own mysterious way. Of the sermon, even of the text, I have no remembrance whatever. All that is a blank in my mind and memory. It was the prayer that followed after the sermon that seemed again to have made an impression so deep as to be lasting. And no wonder. It was surpassingly beautiful; it approached the sublime of childlike simplicity and holy fervour of earnestness. He spoke of the day, of God's having opened out His treasures of snow, and sent them down upon the earth; and, perhaps, some poor wandering sheep, despite of the inclemency of the weather, had wandered in from the country. Would God send him away as he came? Had God no message of love, no word of kindness for him even yet? Wilt Thou send him empty away? And then the words that followed went, as the very sword of the Lord, right home to my very heart, 'That be far from Thee, Lord; Thy ways are not our ways, O Lord God.' And then, in a voice of most melting tenderness, whose tones still tremble in my heart, he went on to talk to the Lord Jesus; he reminded Him how, when He was on the earth, and the people came far to hear Him, He had compassion on the multitude, and would not send them hungry home, lest they should faint by the way.

And how He was the same Jesus still; and had still the same tender pity, the same fullness of compassion. And so, ever the conclusion of his earnest pleading was, Bread, Lord, bread for these starving ones. My first thoughts were, that someone had warned him of my coming. But I soon knew that it was not so He was only drawing a bow at a venture, though he drew it with vast force and a heavenly skill. I can tell that one of his arrows found a crevice in the proof armour of one sinner who went home stricken and wounded. But it was all a mystery to me. I knew literally nothing; and, what was worse, I knew not that I was ignorant, and stood in need of all things. A man in our parish who used to go to St. Peter's with us knew all the truth, and knew it well. I greatly fear that was all; but I knew that he was not ignorant. He and I were talking of sin and salvation one day, shortly after this, and he soon found out my utter ignorance. So he said to me,—I can quote his very words at this distance of time, such an impression did they make upon me,—' Though God were to come down here in person, and speak to you as a man speaketh to his brother; and were He to say to you, "I will take you straight up to heaven at once, if only you will tell Me how I can be gracious to a sinner—what is the method of mercy I have revealed in my Word? "' Though,' says he, 'God were to make you this offer, and you could win heaven by telling it, you never could get there, for you do not know.' That staggered me, I confess. Then he tried to tell me; worked hard to make me understand it. But you cannot put the way of salvation into an ignorant sinner's mind in a moment. My experience is, that there are multitudes and multitudes more who are just as ignorant as I was, and yet have had what passes for a Christian education. At all events, I know this well, that I had had a better education than falls to the lot of many; and that for many weeks I was in utter darkness regarding the very first principles of the faith. Many have no better idea than I then had; we were to do the best we could to believe, and work, and pray; and whatever was lacking, Christ's righteousness made good. There was enough there to supply all deficiencies, and God was very merciful.

"That was my confession of faith, and that after I had ceased to follow sin openly. But that ignorance was effectually dispelled. Mr. M'Cheyne preached one afternoon on the text, He hath magnified the law, and made it honourable.' Then he made me see that God's holiness required a perfect obedience. And how it got it in that of the Lord Jesus, God in our nature. He showed how our sins were laid on Jesus; how God made them His own; how He reeled and staggered under the mighty load, and how in dying He bore them all away. But he showed also, by the way, God did not spare Him when He stood under the weight of these imputed sins; how He turned not aside for all His groans, and outcries, and tears; and then he asked, If God spared not His own Son under the sin of another,. how shall lie spare thee under the weight and burden of thine own sin? And I felt that the argument was unanswerable; there was no escape; and in a voice which I seem to hear still, lie said, 'If they do these things in a green tree, what shall be clone in the dry?' That arrow also stuck fast; it was well barbed, and by no effort could it be pulled out. I felt shut up as in a vice; and there was no way of escape, but by fleeing to Him who said, 'Him that cometh to 'Me, I will in no wise cast out.'

"I have been often asked, What do you think was the secret of this man's power? I answer, It ought to be no secret at all, It was simply, 'I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.' God was the secret of his strength. Holiness was the secret of his strength. Prayer was the secret of his strength. I remember a powerful close to one of his sermons. I never saw such an effect produced before or since, and I have heard all the greatest pulpit and other orators of our day. The people bowed down like a bulrush in the blast, lifted up their voice, and wept aloud. He was telling them that God was clear of the blood of their souls; that Christ was; that the Spirit was. And then lie added that he also was on God's side, and that lie too was clear of their blood. He called God to witness on his soul that he lied not, that he had preached to them in season, out of season; and that he had prayed for them; that, taking one hour with another, he had prayed for them every hour of all the twenty-four since ever lie had been their minister; for, though lie had slept through many consecutive hours by night, lie never wakened but he prayed for them, and often through many hours of the day; so their blood be upon their own head: if ye perish, ye perish. That which made these words so effective was their perfect truthfulness. You could see strong men, hard and stern, melt as wax before the fire; their breast swell and heave as if it would burst; the whole place was a Bochim, a place of weepers!"
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