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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 39 far as to profess infidelity, but I was a more inconsistent character. I said I believed a book to be a revelation from God, while I treated it with the greatest neglect, living in direct opposition to all its precepts, and seldom taking the trouble to look into it, or, if I did, it was to perform a task-a kind of atonement for my sins. I went on in this course till, while the Melville Castle was detained at the Motherbank by contrary winds, and having abundance of leisure time for reflection, I began to think I would pay a little more attention to this book. The more I read it, the more worthy it appeared of God ; and, after examining the evidences with which Christianity is supported, I became fully persuaded of its truth,” Instead of being careless and indifferent about religion, he now came to see its great importance; and he determined to be content with his own and his wife’s fortune, and to quit the pursuit of superfluous wealth. After he adopted this resolution, it appeared difficult to accomplish the necessary arrangements for resigning the command before the sailing of the East India fleet. The fleet, which had already been long delayed by contrary winds, was however detained for several weeks longer, and a gentleman was in the meantime found, properly qualified by his service, and also able to advance the money which was in those days necessary to purchase the transfer of so lucrative an appointment. Nothing was further from Mr. Haldane’s purpose at this time than to become a preacher. It was his intention to purchase an estate, and lead the quiet life of a count,ry gentleman. But, while residing in Edinburgh, he became acquainted with the late excellent Mr. Black, minister of Lady Yester’s, and Dr. Buchanan, of the Canongate Church, and others, through whom he was introduced to several pious men actively engaged in schemes of usefulness. His enterprising mind gradually became interested in their plans ; and he was further stimulated to engage in preaching by the visit of the celebrated Mr. Simeon, of King’s College, Cambridge, whom he accompanied in a tour from Edinburgh through a considerable part of the Highlands of Perthshire. Shortly afterwards, his brother, Mr. Robert Haldane, determined to sell his estates, and to devote his life and property to the diffusion of the gospel in India. With this view, having sold to the late Sir Robert Abercroinby his beautiful and romantic estate of Airthrey, he applied to the East India Company for permission to go to Bengal with three clergymen, the Rev. Mr. Innes,’ then of Stirling, the Rev. Dr. Bogue, of Gosport, and Mr. Greville Ewing, then assistant minister at Lady Glenorchy’s Church, Edinburgh. Mr. Haldane was to have defrayed all the charges of this mission, and was also bound to pay to each of his associates the sum of S3000, and their passage home, in case they chose to return. This benevolent design was frustrated by the refusal of the East India Company to grant their sanction to a plan, the magnitude of which excited their alarm ; and both Mr. Haldane and his brother therefore resolved to devote themselves to the preaching of the gospel at home. Late pastor of the Baptist denomination, Edinburgh.
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40 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Mr. James Haldane preached his first sermon in May 1797, in the village of Gilmerton, near Edinburgh, then a very neglected spot, and, as now, inhabited by colliers. Mr. Haldane subsequently attracted great attention, and frequently has been known to address, in the open air on the Calton Hill of Edinburgh, a congregation of not less than ten thousand persons, attracted by the novelty of a layman and Captain being the preacher. In the summer of 1797, Mr. Haldane made a very extended tour, in company with his friends Mr. Aikman,’ congregational minister, Edinburgh, and Mr. Rait, minister of Alnwick, through the northern counties of Scotland and the Orkney Isles. This tour, partly from the novelty of lay-preaching, and partly Xr. John Aikman, whose death occurred on the 6th February 1834, was born at Bomwstonnne98 in 1770. When quite a youth, he went out to Jamaica, where his uncle-to whose business and effects he succeeded-had previously been established in a prosperous commercial concern. While in Jamaica he had resolved upon establishing a circulating library ; and coming home with the view of making a selection, happened to observe in a catalogue of books the title of “ Cardiphonia, or Utterance of the Heart,” which he supposed to be a novel ; and, having purchased it, sat down to its perusaL To this accidental acquaintance with Mr. Newton’s work he ascribed the awakening of those strong religious feelings which so decidedly inflnenced his future course. He went out again to Jamaica ; but, no longer relishing society there, and conceiving the mode in which business was conducted-all days of the week being alike-to be entirely irreconcilable with Christian principles, he made arrangements with his partner, and returned home, resolving to devote his life to the cause of the gospel. He entered on his studies at the College of Edinburgh ; and, after attending the Divinity Hall for a season or two, began to preach in 1797, by delivering, like Mr. Haldane, his first sermon at the village of Gilmerton. As already mentioned, he was subsequently engaged, along with Mr. Haldane, in various itinerating tours through Scotland, in the course of which his visits were more than once extended north to Caithness and Shetland. Although the “Patoral Admonition ” of the General Assembly had been levelled against itinerant preaching, he has been often heard to declare that he was in numerous instances treated with great kindness and respect by clergymen of the Establishment, and has frequently had the doors of the parish church thrown open to him. At the Circus he continue4 to share with Mr. Haldane in the duties of the pulpit till 1801, when he built, at his own expense, the Congregational Chapel in Argyle Square (now removed). Here, as a preacher of the gospel, he discharged his duties faithfully to a large and respectable body, with few interruptions, his itinerating tours having become less frequent, owing in a great measure to the state of his health, which at no period had ever been robust. While the French prisoners of war were confined in the Castle of Edinburgh, and at Greenlaw Barracks, near Penicuik, he preached to them regularly in their own language-in the speaking of which he had acquired considerable fluency duriug his stay in the West Indies. On their liberation, a deputation of the prisoners publicly thanked him for his kind and unremitting attention to their spiritual interestu. He also received complimentary letters, in name of the Government, from the Secretary of State. In doing good, Mr. Aikman was never weary. His charity was unbounded, and so readily extended, that the artful and the knavish frequently took advantage of his generosity. Aa an instance, on the death of an old woman, who had for many years chiefly existed by his beneficence, upwards of 2300 in cash, belonging to her, was found concealed in the bottom of a clock-case ! Mr. Cleghorn, the co-pastor of the Chapel, was appointed in 1813. Although very much debilitated, Mr. Aikman preached for the last time within three weeks of his death. His remains were interred in the Chapel under the deacons’ seat ; on which occasion an address ww delivered by Mr. Haldane. His funeral sermon was preached by Mr, Ewing from Glasgow, who, in the course of an interesting panegyric on the deceased, took occasion to state his belief that, dnring the whole course of his ministry, Mr. Aikman had never pocketed one farthing by his labours. Besides a good many charitiea, he left the chapel clear of incumbranaes to the members, with these among other stipulations, that one-fourth of the seats should be free to the poor, and service performed three times each Sabbath. The death of Mrs. Aikman occurred in May 1837, Mr. William Lindsay Alexander, A.M., was appointed his successor in the ChapeL
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