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THE LATE DR. JAMES HAMILTON.
He was, therefore, a man greatly beloved. He submitted himself to the doctrine of God our Saviour, meekly wore it as an ornament, and very attractively adorned it.
He was born at Loanend, Paisley, on the 27th November, 1814. His home, however, was the parish manse of Strathblane, the residence of his father, Dr. William Hamilton. The day of his birth was one of darkness, perplexity, and distress to both parents : the life of mother and child being almost despaired of. But the father prayed to God, and said, "Here I give her, and myself, and the infant up to Thee. Do with us what seemeth good in Thy sight. Only make us Thine own; Thine in time, and Thine throughout eternity: It was like Abraham offering up his Isaac, and God delivered back the offering alive into the father's hands.
Again, about eight months afterwards, the sacrifice was demanded, and rendered, and restored. The child was on the point of death, and the best medical skill had given up the case as hopeless. Beside the bed the parents then deliberately and devoutly kneeled. It was their ambition, not that their firstborn should be spared, but that God's name should be glorified. Again and again the father cried, “ Glorify Thy name. God took the freewill offering, and again returned 'it. Not many minutes had passed before the child showed decided symptoms of recovery. And James Hamilton was spared to show forth God's glory with such light and sweetness as few men have done.
Blessed with godly parents, he grew up under the best influences; not, however, to violate these, as so many sons have done, but to reproduce them more strongly and richly on those who first gave them to him; and especially on his mother, who lived many years in the enjoyment of the sweet ripe fruits of his ministry. There would be fewer strayed sheep in families if relatives would pray for one another as the parents of James Hamilton did.
While yet a child, he showed that passion for books and learning which distinguished him all through life. He could not read the large folio, but he would hug it affectionately, and sleep with it in his bosom. Before he could write, he scribbled mimic sermons, and read them to rapt audiences of juveniles. His father's library afforded him abundance of books. The big, old, grim, dusty volumes he liked best; and the literary society of the manse, like living books, of whom also he liked the oldest best, both gratified and increased his desire for knowledge.
With all his getting, however, he did not neglect that “understanding ” which Solomon recommends as the main object of human
acquirement. Very early he showed that religion was his chief concern. Every Saturday evening, in the manse, a prayer-meeting was held, composed chiefly of working men from the neighbouring printworks and bleachfields. Their main object was to ask a blessing on the services of the coming Sabbath ; and among these God-fearing men the minister's boy regularly took his place, and took his turn also in leading their devotions. It was an evidence that he had learned something, in one way or other, from the oldest and best Book of all.
On the 3rd of November, 1828, not yet fourteen, he left home for the university of Glasgow. Already he was an earnest, devout student, maturely consecrating all his ten talents to the Redeemer's service, and self-dedicated to the work of a Christian teacher as naturally and joyfully as young birds take to the wing.
About three years after this he experienced a great awakening and revival in his soul. His conversion seems to have been gradual from his earliest years; like the change which the cold earth undergoes on the approach of spring. And it was not less decided because it began very early, and grew with his growth. But at the time referred to he had an illness, and felt as if his end were near, and this greatly increased his anxiety to make his calling and election sure. He cried, “Oh for an interest in the Redeemer's righteousness! Could I assure myself of possessing that, death would be welcome. No efforts of my own can save me from my sins, for the longer I live I sink the deeper in the mire. Unless a stronger arm come to my deliverance I must perish; but such a deliverance is to be had in the Lord Jesus.” He was soon reassured of this, and henceforth, with renewed health, lived a Christian life distinguished alike for its cheerful confidence, its meekness, its humility, and its manifold great works of usefulness.
As a student, James Hamilton was eminently successful, and reaped many honours. He had splendid abilities, and withal a gentle, lamb-like disposition ; so that whilst he commanded the respect and admiration of all by his talents, he also engaged their affections by “ the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit.” He felt it the highest honour, however, to be Christ's. prayer to God should be, Lord, make me a Christian philosopher, or none at all. Withhold this world's learning from me if the price of it is to be my interest in the Saviour. What time I can command, I mean now to devote to the perusal of such books as are best fitted to prepare me for the crossing the dark waters." This resolution he carried out; and in the lives and works of such men as Baxter, Boston, and Rutherford, he found what his soul desired. He not only read the lives of such, but reproduced them in writings of his own. He showed early a talent for composition. It was devoted, like all else, to Christ's service. And from his fluent pen, while yet a student, came many delightful sketches of the worthies from whose devout Christian spirit he had received new life into his own.
His first work as a preacher was carried on in Rose Street, Edinburgh, a mission district under the auspices of St. George's congregation. Here, among the street porters and hostlers and their children, he laboured with great zeal for three months, when he was appointed assistant minister in the parish of Abernyte. From this, after about two years of fruitful seed-sowing, he was translated to Roxburgh Church, Edinburgh, and five months thereafter to Regent Square Church, London, where the burden of his life-work was done. He was not long in the world's metropolis till he stood forth as one of its most prominent “ burning and shining" lights. Few hearts burned with love as his did; and you could scarce find another with mental endowments so peculiarly fitted to show it forth and kindle it in others.
The name of Dr. James Hamilton became a Christian household word throughout the land ; and by his many soul-satisfying books, it was greatly loved and honoured in America and other distant parts of the world. The learned and cultivated flocked to hear him preach; for in him they found learning made more attractive by piety, and refinement made more agreeable by the simplicity and gentleness of Jesus. Eminent as a preacher, he was still more so as a writer; and from the field of almost every science he brought materials to illustrate and adorn everything he wrote.
Great as a writer, he was greatest of all as a Christian. Here it is that you, reader, may stand on the same eminence with him, however low you be in regard to gifts and acquirements of an intellectual kind. He humbled himself as a little child. Might not you do the same ? He aimed at the glory of Christ in everything he did. Might you not stand side by side with him there also ? By the grace of God he loved Christ supremely, and served Him unweariedly,—by grace, his very presence was a declaration of peace, and his face a gospel sermon wherever he went,-grace supplied him with Christlike meekness gentleness, patience, longsuffering. And God says to you, reader, “My grace is sufficient for thee." Christian ! here is one feature of the greatness of the man : “While seated at His table my heart was drawn out after Jesus, and melted at the contemplation of His sufferings. I felt an inexpressible delight in again surrendering myself to Him and His service, and was willing to do or be anything for His sake.”
The amount of work he did for the pulpit and for the press was remarkable. He was always busy. Not a moment he would lose, for Christ's sake. He was always preparing some volume for publication and planning others. His pen must have traversed miles across the paper in a year. Yet he did not weary, nor fail to delight both his hearers and his readers. When midnight did not see his work done, the small hours of the morning saw him rise from bed, and prosecute the unfinished task. Very early one wintry morning, we are told, his young wife, when she could not
prevail on him to rest, and saw his weak frame breaking down from overwork, laid herself down on the rug at his feet and wept. She loved Christ's service none the less because she could not see, without tears, her devoted husband spent in it so soon.
About June, 1867, his over-wrought brain began seriously to give way. He lingered on, better and worse, till the 24th of November, when, clasping his hands on his breast and saying, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” he passed away, like a sweet dream, from his friends on earth.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR CHRIST?
EOPLE think that their time and property are their own. What saying is more frequent than, “I have a right to do what I will with my own”?
I remember on one occasion that I was beside the dying bed of a military man, who had held an impor
tant command in successful Indian wars. I asked him if he were afraid to die. He at once said, “I am not.” I then said, “Why ?” He said, “I have never done any harm.” I replied, “If you were going to be tried by a court-martial, as an Officer and a gentleman, I suppose you would expect an honourable acquittal ?” The dying old man lifted himself up, and with an energy which his illness seemed to render impossible, exclaimed
-“That I should.” “But," I answered, "you are not going to a court-martial ; you are going to Christ: and when Christ asks you, 'What have you done for Me?' what will you say?” Never shall I forget the change in his countenance, or the earnestness with which he gazed on me, as with agonized feelings he answered
Nothing! I have never done anything for Christ!” I then spoke to him a few words, and before I left him, showed him the common but awful mistake of our habitually living in the sense of our relations one with another, and forgetting our relation to CHRIST and to GOD; hence the awful error of supposing that doing no harm, or even doing good to those around, will serve as a substitute for living to God and not to men. What have you done for Christ? is the great question.
After some days, I called again on the old man, and said, “Well, Sir, what do you think now?” He replied, " Ah ! I am a poor sinner.” I pointed him to the Saviour of sinners; and not long afterward, he departed this life, I would fain hope, as a repentant sinner, to be with the Lord. What an awful end would have been the false peace in which I found him ! and yet it is the peace of of multitudes, only to be undeceived in hell.
Reader, which peace is yours? Your first work is to believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ—to take Him as your Saviour. Then you will have a hope that never can be confounded, and will have the Spirit of God dwelling within you, enabling you to live to the glory of Him who loved you and gave Himself for you.
He that lives to himself, lives a continual sacrilege. He is daily a robber of God ! Were we admitted into heaven in that state of mind, heaven itself would become a scene of selfishness, and the Lord of heaven would be unsought and unserved.
The Lord is the “Light of the world.” The unprofitable servant turned away from Him. He turned to darkness; and when the Lord comes, he is left to his awful choice-outer darkness !” Reader, how is it with you? Are you living to yourself, or to God? -Dr. Baylee.
S I look back on my father's life, I cannot remember, in all the retrospect, a single act of self-seeking on his part. I cannot remember ever to have heard him decry or severely criticise a brother in the ministry. I cannot remember to have heard him rehearse his own doings with eulogy, or praise, or conscious pride. His life was as simple as a child's; and it was as
straight-forward, and as honest, and as spiritually wellmeaning as I can conceive a life to be. And now I can analyse and see
what I could not in my childhood—that it had a powerful influence on my mind. I cannot express what I owe to my
father's silent example, and what a power it has been against doubt, as confirming and intensifying my consciousness of the reality of true and spiritual religion.
“The example of my father and mother is an everlasting bulwark to me against infidelity, so that if my reason were assaulted, if I could not meet the arguments that were raised against religion, I should still have, as it were in transfiguration, the memory of my parents, who were an embodiment of piety; and that would hold me, if other things gave way, so that I needed anything to hold me. The vision has clung to me just as, after the Master was transfigured on the Mount, the vision of that scene clung to the men who witnessed it, although their senses seemed to show that they had been mistaken, and though facts seemed to rise against them. The bewitchment of that wonderful occurrence remained with them, and they clung to Christ when there were no external corroborating evidences of his existence. Blessed are they who have had a vision of transfiguration in childhood, and who can never get away from a belief in the reality of true religion."H. W. Beecher.