« PreviousContinue »
of suitably profiting by the professional instructions he received in it at the University of Glasgow, which he entered about the year 1768, was satisfactorily evidenced by the very creditable acquirements he subsequently made, not in that language only, but in Greek and Hebrew, to the latter of which in particular it may be almost said that he was through life enthusiastically attached. After pursuing his literary, philosophical, and theological course for ten years at Glasgow, he finished it by spending a session at the University of Edinburgh; and then, returning to Glasgow, went through the usual steps, before the Presbytery, for being licensed as a preacher of the Gospel, which he accordingly was on the first Wednesday of August 1780.
The New Church or Chapel, (now St. John's Church,) South Leith, having become vacant by the translation of Mr Burnside, its first minister, to Ďumfries, and Dr Buchanan, (late of the Canongate) after being elected, having declined coming to it in consequence of receiving a call to one of the charges in Stirling, Mr Colquhoun was chosen in his place, and having accepted of the call, was, on the 22d March 1781, ordained to the pastoral charge of the congregation. And here he continued to labour with all diligence and faithfulness so long as his health and strength remained; teaching and preaching "none other things than those which Moses and the prophets did say should come, viz. that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead; and should show light unto the people and to the Gentiles." No novice in the Christian life, his matured spiritual experience, and thoroughly furnished mind in regard equally to doctrinal and practical, including casuistical divinity, well fitted him for instructing and edifying his people
both in public and private, and soon acquired for him no ordinary degree of reverent affection from them, as well as of general esteem and popularity among the most serious classes of professing Christians, not only in Leith, but in Edinburgh. Nor was this for a very considerable period a mere temporary and transient fame. On the contrary, it long continued; and not a few are still alive who can recollect, from its being the case with themselves, that there was scarcely a quarter of the city from which one or another did not statedly resort to the New Church, Leith, every Christian sabbath, foul day or fair, to listen to the truly scriptural lectures and sermons which its admired pastor was accustomed to address to all who sat under his ministry. Neither is it yet forgotten, how many devout members of other congregations also were wont, during that period, to frequent his ministrations at the times when the Lord's-Supper was dispensed there,-often acknowledging, as well as feeling, that a peculiar blessing had descended on his labours, by the influence of which they were at once refreshed and strengthened for travelling onward in their Christian course. It is true, that several circumstances afterwards occurred, and especially the controversy about Church government, towards the close of last century, which tended very considerably to affect the number of his stated hearers; and this could not but likewise affect his ministerial usefulness as well as comfort. Whether he was always as prudent, as he was certainly conscientious, in his endeavours to secure the attachment of his people to the Presbyterian order of Church discipline and worship, may perhaps be doubted; but of this we believe, even those from whose separation from the Establishment, after having almost idolatrously revered, and often spoken of him as
having been their spiritual father in Christ, he suffered most, were as firmly convinced as those who still continued under his ministry, that it was no principle but that of conscience, and a sense of the duty which he conceived he owed, not merely to the Church in which he himself was a minister, but to the interests of truth and godliness throughout the country in general, that led him to take the part which he did from the pulpit, and in private conversation, during that unhappy strife and animosity among Christians,-aggravated in many cases by difference of political sentiment also,-which at the time so sadly alienated them from each other; but which, in the progress of events, under the good Providence of God, has now, and for many years past, happily given place to greater mutual forbearance and charity. It is pleasing to add, that towards the latter part of his life, the friendly intercourse between him and a number of his formerly most esteemed Christian acquaintance, which the circumstances just alluded to had long and completely suspended, was in several instances most agreeably renewed; and that in but few, if any of them, was there wanting the restored feeling of affectionate regard for one to whom, in other days, they had looked up as their best instructor and counsellor in all that concerned their well-being for time and eternity.
As regards the civil constitution of the country, Dr Colquhoun considered it to be far superior to that of any other nation upon earth; and one of the most perfect that human nature could frame: and the constitution of the Church of Scotland he was fully convinced to be eminently scriptural, and better fitted than any other to promote the interests of religion among the people at large. At the same time, he was by no means blind to the corruption and abuses
which had crept into the practical administration of both, but earnestly desired and longed for their removal. The sins of the nation, and the defections of the Church, he deeply mourned over; and the system of lay-patronage as connected with the latter he specially deplored, not merely as evil and unchristian in itself, but the fruitful source at once of error in doctrine and laxity of discipline; yet he often expressed his thankfulness that it formed no part of the constitution, but, on the contrary, was opposed to its very first principles, and trusted that in due time it would be done away with, and that for ever. One of the great national sins he conceived to be the countenance and encouragement given to Popery. The progress, accordingly, that it appeared to be making throughout the land grieved him exceedingly; it being his decided opinion, like that of many other good men, and even learned students of prophecy, that the Lord would yet permit its abominations to spread over the countries of Protestantism. On this account, he fervently deprecated the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill, fearing that if it should be passed, though he might not, as he did not, live to see it, it would be the forerunner of judgments on the nation. But although he entertained such a melancholy foreboding, and frequently prayed in public that the danger might still be averted, he comforted himself with the firm belief, that that reign of the man of sin would be but short, because it is thus written in the word of truth, "Him shall the Lord consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming."
His views of the great and peculiar doctrines of Christianity are so clearly and fully developed in the various treatises which were published under his own superintendence,-and with which those to be found
in the present volume of Sermons, which, though posthumous in their time of publication, were left by himself in a state of complete readiness for the press, are in all respects accordant,-that it is almost unnecessary to do more than state the above fact. Suffice it therefore only farther to say, that they were systematically evangelical, founded on Scripture, and consonant to the admirable standards of our national Church, partaking to a very great extent of those particular qualities, in cast of thought, mode of evolvement, turns of expression, and plan of illustration, by which the writings of Boston, and the same class of divines, are marked, and withal, like theirs, at once experimental and practical. In all his discourses, his chief aim was to exalt the Saviour, by setting forth the richies of his free and distinguishing grace, and lay the sinner low in the dust, by showing him his utter helplessness and guilt. The love of Christ glowing in his own breast, out of the abundance of his heart he warmly commended the same love to sinful men. The very name of the Saviour, indeed, was precious to him, and he seldom mentioned it without prefixing some epithet, indicating the deep sense of gratitude with which it filled him; often speaking of him as "the infinitely amiable" and "lovely Redeemer," and "the compassionate Saviour of sinners ;" and when referring to his righteousness, styling it, "His infinitely meritorious, his immaculate, matchless, consummate, histranscendently glorious, or divinely excellent righteousness." He was also particularly earnest in pressing on sinners the necessity of complying with the offers and invitations of the Gospel, and of accepting immediately Christ as their Saviour, without money and without price. He dwelt much on the peculiar sin and danger of hypocrisy, warning his hearers against it as one of the most prevailing sins of the