Paterson Of Hebron "The Hakim" Missionary Life In The Mountain Of Judah.
By W.Ewing,M.C.,D.D.
with foreword by The Very Rev.Adam Philip D.D.
(ex-Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland)

Extract from Chapter One

Chapter 1 - Parentage And Childhood

Towards the close of the eighteenth century a handloom weaver named Paterson plied his craft in the village of Kilmany, Fife. There in 1790 his son Alexander was born. While of tender years,the boy became "herd laddie" on a neighbouring farm. His schooling was limited to a few months in winter seasons. Presently he joined his father at the loom, and proved an excellent craftsman.

His mind, however, rose above the shuttle. He loved reading,and cultivated the "pen and ink memory". Time spent in an adjoining stackyard with books and diary he made good on returning to the loom by "working like a horse" for hours. In 1811 a dangerous illness roused him to grave spiritual concern. Just then, hard by in the Manse of Kilmany, Thomas Chalmers was passing through the experience which transformed the brillant exponent of science and ethics, with all the learning and the splendour of his genius, into a powerful and persuasive preacher of the gospel: a change pregnant with mighty issues for the cause of evangelical religion in Scotland. Between these two men, in many things so far apart, there sprang up a friendship which only death could sever.

Chalmers' affection for Paterson and his friend Robert Edie, his two first converts, was like that of Paul for Timothy. For reasons of health, Alexander Paterson turned to farm work. Like Carey, however, his business was to "extend the kingdom of Christ": he did farm work "to pay expenses". He held week-night meetings for ploughman, and classes for children before and after church on Sundays. His homely eloquence was very winsome, and not a few thanked God for the grace his message brought. While working in the parish of Dairsie, Paterson married Elizabeth Horn, some time maid to Mrs. Coutts of Dairsie. She proved an admirable helpmate, not his inferior in intelligence, with devotion to the evangel equal to his own. With her in later days Chalmers loved to discuss public affairs. Her views on Catholic Emancipation, e.g., differed from his, but he found them well worthy of consideration. An incident related by his biographer illustrates Chalmers' comradeship with his humble friends.

After eight years ministry in Glasglow, to which he had been translated in 1815, he was appointed to the Chair of Moral Philosophy in St. Andrews University. On his way thither he visited Dairsie moor. "Saunders", as he familiarly called Paterson, and Robert Edie walked with him to a neighbouring village, speaking their minds freely as to his removal. "I don't think", said Saunders, "that you should give up preaching for teaching". "Let me ask you a question, Saunders", said the Doctor. "Does the man who salts the pig, or the man who makes the salt that will salt many pigs,do the greater service?" Saunders: "The man who makes the salt, to be sure". Chalmers: "Well, I've been all this time salting the pig: now I'm going to make the salt". Saunders: "Then the sooner you are in the salt pans the better".

In 1827, Chalmers moved to Edinburgh, where he opened mission work among the humble folk, crowded into the filthy closes of the "Old Town". Lady Grace Douglas provided the salary for a Missionary. Chalmers at once thought of Saunders who, distrusting his own fitness, accepted the post with reluctance. If Saunders had his doubts, Chalmers had none. He was greatly delighted. Some thought Saunders should attend certain classes to complete his intellectual equipment. "No, no," said Chalmers, "it will never do to put a sclatch o' English upon Sandy Paterson: there's an earnestness about him and a natural eloquence that will carry him through anywhere: let him take hiw own way - no fear of Sandy".

In the long years that followed, the Doctor's confidence was gloriously vindicated. The death of Chalmers in 1847 was to Saunders an irreparable loss. Saddened by the death of his life-long friend Robert Edie, on August 15th, 1851, he writes, "We were always of one heart and mind. We set out for heaven together, but he has got the crown before me. I was always behind. I was a dull scholar: he was faithful, but I loitered by the way". He was not so very far behind. Weakened by an attack of cholera earlier in the year, he fell a victim to infection when visiting a case of malignant typhus, and passed away on December 29, 1851.

Alexander Paterson was survived by his wife, one daughter, and two sons, Alexander and David Horn. The latter became the father of "Paterson Of Hebron". (End)

(Extract courtesy of Nora Smith of Ontario, who faithfully typed every word from the very old copy of this book that she did not dare to scan)

Home | Biography | Literature | Letters | Interests | Links | Quotes | Photo-Wallet