Page images

grace, he did not, until nearly the close of his apprenticeship, appear to have been made the subject of any very deep or powerful conviction of sin; and, consequently, up to that time, he had not "fled for refuge to lay hold upon the" sinner's only "hope." But now, under the discoveries which were made to him of the evil of his heart, and the convictions with which he was impressed respecting the necessity of his obtaining the grace of pardon and regeneration, he became seriously affected; and believing that a formal and practical communion with the church of Christ would greatly assist him in fleeing from the wrath to come, and in working out his salvation, he became a member of the Methodist society. It was not, however, until some considerable time after these convictions first began to operate that he obtained the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins. From causes which are not distinctly known, but which it is easy to imagine, the gracious feelings which had been excited in his mind were, in the course of a few months, so far weakened that he seemed to have relapsed into his former state of spiritual coldness and indifference. But, happily, these feelings were again revived, and laid such hold upon him that they allowed him no rest in spirit until he had obtained a clear and satisfactory sense of the divine forgiveness. The following circumstance was often mentioned by him, as having served, in an eminent degree, to excite and encourage him. During his residence in Aberdeen, to which place he went at the close of his apprenticeship, for the purpose of attending the lectures at the college, he was in the habit of meeting a number of young persons early on sabbath mornings, with the view of communicating to them religious instruction, and of uniting with them in social prayer; an engagement

which appears to have proved a great blessing to himself, at the same time that it promoted the spiritual profit of those with whom he was thus accustomed to asso ciate. On one of these occasions, a member of his little flock having obtained, while he was praying for him, a sense of pardon, he became so convinced of the importance, and so persuaded of the possibility, of obtaining the same blessing for himself, that he began, from that time, to seek it with an importunity and diligence to which he had previously been a stranger; and soon after, while on his passage by sea to London, he obtained a clear assurance that his sins were blotted out; and felt that, "being justified by faith," he had "peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Having thus been made experimentally a partaker of "the heavenly gift," he was the better prepared to exhort others to "taste and see that the Lord is gracious." He had already, in compliance with the earnest solicitation of his friends, spoken a few times in public, to the satisfaction and edification of those who heard him. He had not, however, yet been permitted to preach, but had merely been employed as an occasional exhorter. This restriction was very properly imposed upon him by his venerable father; who, though now fully persuaded that his son would afterward be employed, partially at least, in the work of the ministry, was anxious that, ere he entered on that work, he should receive that baptism of the Spirit which was needful to qualify him for it, and should himself enjoy the salvation which it would be his business to proclaim to others. Confining himself, therefore, within the limits which had been prescribed to him, he did not, for some time after his arrival in London, venture to do more than deliver occasionally a short exhortation. But having

received the wished-for blessing, and being strongly urged to preach, he then consented, after much hesitation, to make a trial. This was so satisfactory to those who heard him, that he afterward, during his stay in London, preached several times; and, on his return to Scotland, was admitted as a local preacher in the Glasgow circuit, and was appointed, about the same time, to the office of a class-leader.

In the mean time he continued to pursue, with unabated assiduity, the studies connected with the profession for which he was at first intended; and having completed the usual course of attendance at the lectures in Aberdeen, London, and Glasgow, he was admitted at the university of the latter place to the degree of Doctor of Medicine; and immediately commenced practice in that city as a physician. What might have been his success in the profession, had it been the will of God that he should persevere in it, it is useless to conjecture; but during the short time that he remained in Glasgow, after his commencement, his prospects were very fair and promising. In an entry which appears in his diary, under the date of July 26th, 1817, he says, "My temporal wants have been abundantly supplied; and I have been pretty well employed in my business." With those who were acquainted with him, there can be little doubt but that the gracefulness of his address, and the general excellence of his character, to say nothing of his skill in medicine, would have made his way, as a physician, plain and prosperous before him. But although his prospects of temporal comfort, connected with a remembrance of the great expense which had been bestowed on his professional education, presented very powerful reasons to induce him to continue in the course he had begun; yet he was far from

being satisfied to do so, as he found it impossible to divest himself of the conviction, that God was now calling him to a different employment. He was already very regularly and frequently employed as a local preacher; but the service of the sanctuary was laid upon his conscience, as one to which he ought to be entirely devoted. After having made it, therefore, a subject of much meditation and prayer, he became a candidate for admission into the Methodist connection as an itinerant preacher; and having been proposed and examined in the usual form, obtained the unanimous recommendation of the Glasgow quarterly and district meetings; and, at the ensuing conference (1817) was taken out into the work. At that conference it had been agreed, or understood, that, on account of the pecuniary difficulties which at that time embarrassed the connection, no additional preachers should be employed in the home work; but in his case, out of respect to his aged father's long standing in the ministry, and in consideration of his own excellent character and promising talents, an exception was permitted; and he was accordingly appointed with his father to Dunbar and Haddington.

His entrance on this circuit is thus noted in his diary:

"August 24.-I have now arrived at Haddington, where I must labour for a season. The parting with my friends in Glasgow, and the congregation, when I preached my last discourse to them on, Who is sufficient for these things?' I shall not soon forget. Blessed be God for the comfort I enjoyed while among them."

He then adds, in allusion to some exquisitely painful circumstances, which were eminently honourable to his religious character, but which cannot now be related, "I think the bitterness of death is past. Ah! fond

seducing world, hast thou not still some power over me? I have done with thee. I feel like one who has just taken the vows which can never be recalled."

In this circuit, and especially in the town of Haddington, his public ministry excited a very unusual degree of interest, as will appear from the following testimony by the Rev. Joseph E. Beaumont, who succeeded him in that circuit; and who had, therefore, ample opportunity of gaining information on the subject:—

[ocr errors]

Perhaps," says Mr. Beaumont, "no minister in Haddington, of any denomination, in modern times, ever excited so much general interest as Dr. M'Allum ; except that very eminent and holy man, the Rev. John Brown, author of many valuable works in divinity; by which, though 'dead, he yet speaketh,' to the edification of thousands. Dr. M'Allum's ministry was attended by persons belonging to many of the first families in the neighbourhood; and was listened to, weekly, by several distinguished members of the Established Church, and of the dissenting congregations in the town; whose attendance, in the majority of instances, was, nevertheless, limited to the sabbath evening and Monday services; at which time the sanctuaries of their own communities were generally closed. For whatever scruples, conscientious or otherwise, were entertained as to the propriety of Presbyterians listening to any other ministry than that of their own order, they were in many instances superseded by the powerful attractions of the doctor's ministry and character; and persons thus situated generally agreed to wink at each other's deviation from ancient sentiment and usage, in the instance of so eminent a preacher. On Monday evenings it was his custom to lecture on the historical parts of the Old Testament, especially on its characters.

« PreviousContinue »