New Biography and Picture

Thomas Guthrie2

This picture and the abbreviated biography below were sent to me by a great-grandson of Thomas, who saw the website. The biography is by W.Garden Blaikie and his copy is signed by David Guthrie, who wrote the Autobiography.


AUTHOR OF "Personal Life of David Livingstone;" "Better Days for Working People," &c.; WITH FIFTEEN PORTRAITS. THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY, 56, PATERNOSTER ROW, AND 65, ST PAUL’S CHURCHYARD


The name of Guthrie, like that of Argyll, is a name consecrated in the martyr-history of Scotland. In the same week in which the Marquis of Argyll was beheaded (May and June, 1661), James Guthrie, an eminent minister of the Church of Scotland in Stirling, was hanged. He met his death with singular composure, commending Christ with all his heart to the people, and appropriating the Nunc dimittis in his closing prayer.
According to the barbarous custom of the times, his head, severed from his body, was fastened to the gate of the Nether Bow, in Edinburgh, where it remained a long time; and a story was current, that on one occasion, as the King’s Commissioner was passing through the gate, some drops of blood from the martyr’s head fell upon the carriage, which could by no means be wiped out. He is the "great Guthrie" of the Martyrs’ Monument in the Greyfriars’ Churchyard of Edinburgh; and both before and after Thomas Guthrie was minister of the Greyfriars’ Church, he often referred with a glow of triumph to the martyr, who, if not his ancestor, was of the same stock with himself.
There was another Guthrie in these martyr times in the ministry of the Church of Scotland(William Guthrie, minister of Fenwick, in Ayrshire, but a native of Forfarshire, where his family owned a small landed estate, Pitforthy, near Brechin. He was the author of "The Trial of a Saving Interest in Christ," and other books that were long extremely popular among the devout people of Scotland. He was probably the greatest preacher of the day, so popular, indeed, that people used to build dwelling- houses on his glebe, that they might enjoy the benefit of his ministry. His devotion to the Christian ministry was shown by his giving up the estate of Pitforthy to a younger brother, that he might give his whole time and strength to his pastoral work. There seemed to be no branch of that work in which he did not excel. It was believed that more souls were converted under his ministry than under any other, and the very face of the parish underwent a marvellous change. With all these spiritual attributes he was a man of extraordinary humour, who would often set the table in a roar; he was fond of fishing and fowling, and would sometimes, in sportsman’s dress, accost some of the wilder people of the parish, and get a promise from them to come to the church, where, it turned out, to their amazement, their sportsman friend was the minister. William Guthrie, like his namesake Thomas, had that power which belongs to men of genius, of passing at a bound from the comic to the tragic, from the airy realms of humour to the solemn region of the Divine presence. On one occasion when a number of ministers were assembled, Mr. Guthrie, after keeping them during the afternoon in the highest glee, was asked to offer the customary evening prayer. He did so with so much solemnity and earnestness, that his friend, James Durham (author of many excellent religious works) thus accosted him: "Oh, William, if I had laughed so much as you have done to-night, it would have taken me eight-and-forty hours to get such a spirit of prayer." William Guthrie was expelled form his charge on the restoration of Charles II., and died soon after (1685) at the early age of forty-five.
The Guthrie of the nineteenth century was so like this Guthrie of the seventeenth, that one is strongly tempted to believe that he must have been his descendant. Anyhow, the spirit of the older Guthrie survived in Forfarshire, and was reproduced very remarkably in the subject of the present sketch. The best traditions of the Covenanting period were preserved, not merely as traditions, but as the fruits and tokens of a living earnest godliness. His mother was a woman of rare godliness and earnestness. "It would be impossible," say Dr. Guthrie’s sons, in their Biography, "to exaggerate the influence of his mother on her son’s future career. He never spoke of her but with the profoundest reverence; and to her payers, her piety, and her precepts, he undoubtedly owed more than to any other human influence. To use the quaint expression employed by an old retainer in the family, when speaking of his earliest days, ‘he drank in the Gospel with his mother’s milk.’ " Of like tenor were his own words in a speech to the General Assembly: "With my mother’s milk I drank in an abhorrence of patronage; and it was at her knees that I first learned to pray; that I learned to form a reverence for the Bible as the inspired Word of God; that I learned to hold the sanctity of the Sabbath; that I learned the peculiarities of the Scottish religion; that I learned my regard for the principles of civil and religious liberty, which have made me ever hate oppression and resist the oppressor."
Dr. Guthrie was born at Brechin, in Forfarshire, on the 12th of July, 1803. His early years were spent in his native town, where his father was a merchant, and afterwards provost of the burgh. Not much is known of the history of his inner life. It is not supposed that his conversion was of the marked or vivid type, but rather such as he once described as the experience of many, if not the most. "Unconscious of the change when it began, they know not when or how it happened. And thus, with many, the dawn of grace resembles, in more respects than one, the dawn of day. It is with the spiritual dawn of many–with the breaking of their eternal day–with their first emotions of desire and of alarm, as with that faint and feeble streak which brightened and widened and spread, till it blazed into a brilliant sky."
Dr. Guthrie’s family were members of the Established Church of Scotland, and from an early period his mind was set on being a minister. At Edinburgh he underwent the usual preparation; and after completing the long curriculum of study, he was licensed to preach in 1825. He had a high idea of the office: he said it was one which the angels might covet; this exalted opinion being closely connected with what he ever held to be the chief object of the ministry: "to beseech men in Christ’s stead to be reconciled to God." His views were evangelical to the backbone, and they were adopted and maintained to the end, first, as being Scriptural; then, as being confirmed by his own experience; and still further, as being in harmony with the experience of the godly everywhere.
For five years no door opened for him, and he employed a considerable part of the time in his father’s banking office. Nor did he regret some necessity, for the knowledge of business and of human character which he thus acquired was found by him to be a most useful help even if the work of the ministry. At length, in 1830, he obtained a presentation to church in Arbirlot, near Arbroath. This parish, as described by himself, "hung on a slope that gently declined to the sandy slopes of the German Ocean. There was wood enough to ornament the landscape, but not to intercept the fresh breezes, that, curling and cresting the waves, blew landward from the sea, or swept down seaward from heights loaded with the fragrance of mown hay, or blooming beanfields, or moors golden with the flowers of the gorse." It was a purely agricultural parish, with a population of about one thousand, so well educated that but one grown-up person could not read; so regular in religious duty that but one person did not attend church; and so free from intemperance that one public-house depended chiefly for its customers on the neighbouring town.
"The moral aspects were much in harmony with the physical, of a scene where the fields yielded abundant harvests, and the air, loaded with the fragrant perfume of flowers, sung to the song of larks and woodland birds, and long lines of breakers gleamed and boomed upon the shore, and ships with white sails flecked the blue ocean, and the Bell Rock Tower stood on its rise, to shoot cheerful beams athwart the gloom of night: a type of that Church which, our guide to he desired haven, is founded on a Rock, and fearless of the rage of storms." Though there appeared to be little call for earnest work in such a parish, where the previous incumbent was a good and able preacher, there were many things connected with the rise of the evangelical spirit to which a young minister was called to give his energies. There were Sabbath schools, and Bible Classes, and libraries to be organised and prosecuted, and to these Mr. Guthrie gave earnest attention. The temporal as well as the spiritual interests of his people engaged his attentiontion, for from the first he bore in mind that godliness has promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come.
His incumbency at Arbirlot, however, was signalized chiefly by a growing conviction of the importance of cultivating the art of effective preaching. Observing the tendency of some of the people to drowsiness, he resolved that, whatever else he might do, he would compel them to attend. For this purpose he taught himself to look them right in the face, and go through them, as it were, with his eyes. Watching to see what parts of his sermons were most interesting to them, he found it was the illustrations, and he determined to cultivate that department with the utmost care. How thorough a master he became in it, all who ever heard him preach in after years can readily testify. But it was his Edinburgh ministry that drew out the man to the utmost, and specially called into activity those powers of evangelical philanthropy which became so conspicuous. In Edinburgh, he was two things–a great preacher, and a great philanthropist.
Translated in 1837 to the charge of Old Greyfriars, he found in the church a highly respectable congregation, while the parish to which it nominally belonged was in the lowest condition of neglect and degradation. The younger evangelical ministers of the time were in full sympathy with the views of Dr. Chalmers on the value of a well-wrought parochial system–views which Chalmers had been for years urging, and likewise carrying out with all the enthusiasm of his nature. For many a long year, while the spirit of Robertson and Blair was in the ascendant, the parishes as such had been sadly neglected, and a population had been suffered to grow up in them entirely abandoned, and the very profession of religion had become unknown.
Dr. Guthrie entered most cordially into the views of Dr. Chalmers, and set himself whit a noble alacrity and zeal to reform his parish. But it was not an easy task. The Cowgate of Edinburgh was a very different sphere from the well-aired, sunny fields of Arbirlot. In a paper in the "Sunday Magazine" he tells how one gloomy day, in the fall of the year, he stood on the South Bridge, looking down on the foul crowded closes that stretch like ribs down into the Cowgate. "The streets were a puddle; the heavy air, loaded with smoke, was thick and murky; right below lay the marrow street of dingy tenements, whose toppling chimneys and patched and battered roofs were apt emblems of the fortunes of most of its tenants. Of these, some were lying over the sills of windows, innocent of glass, or stuffed with old hats and dirty rags; others, coarse-looking women, with squalid children in their arms or at their feet, stood in groups at the close mouths; here with empty laughter, chaffing any passing acquaintance; there screaming each other down in a drunken brawl, or standing sullen and silent, with hunger and ill-usage in their saddened looks. A brewer’s cart, threatening to crush beneath its ponderous wheels the ragged urchins who had no other playground, thundered over the causeway, drowning the quavering voice of one whose drooping head and scanty dress were ill in harmony with song, but not drowning the shrill pipe of an Irish girl who thumped the back of an unlucky donkey, and cried her herrings at three a penny. So looked the parish I had come to cultivate; and while contrasting the scene below with the pleasant recollections of the parish I had just left–its singing larks, daisied pastures, hedges of hoary thorn, fragrant beanfields and smiling gardens; decent peasants, stalwart lads and blooming lasses, and the grand blue sea rolling its lines of snowy breakers on the shore–my rather sad and sombre ruminations were suddenly checked. A hand was laid on my shoulder. I turned round to find Dr. Chalmers at my elbow . . . . Contemplating the scene for a little in silence, all at once, with his brad Luther-like face glowing with enthusiasm, he waved his arm to exclaim: ‘A beautiful field, sir; a very fine field of operation.’ "
In this "very fine field" Mr. Guthrie set nobly and very assiduously to work, and for several years his labours in these dingy closes were unceasing. The earnestness of his work in the Cowgate was the more remarkable that the Greyfriars Church soon became crowded with admiring hearers, comprising many of the élite of the New Town of Edinburgh. But his heart lay with the poor. To elevate them form their degradation was constantly his aim; and as Greyfriars was a collegiate charge, and his services in its pulpit were needed but once a day, he opened the old and venerable Magdalene Chapel in the Cowgate–the place of worship of the French Embassy, and the place of meeting, it is said, of the first Protestant General Assembly. Here he preached to the very poorest of the poor.
By-and-by, an additional parish church was erected, and by its constitution the area was allocated free to he parishioners, while the ladies and gentlemen of the New Town were placed in the galleries, in pews for which a seated-rent was exacted. It was a fine moral testimony to the value of the souls of the poor, conceived in the spirit of St. James, giving the good place to the poor man, and bidding the gold-ringed gentry get away to the remoter corners.
But the experiment was short-lived. Hardly had Mr. Guthrie taken possession of St. John’s Church, when the shadow of the impending Disruption of the Scottish Church began to fall. In the controversy that preceded that event he took a most lively interest, and a most active and decided part. His sympathy for the people and his regard for their souls roused his opposition to the high-handed patronage which was trying to inflict unacceptable ministers to resisting congregations. Not less was he distressed at the attempt of the civil courts to interfere, as he believed, with the freedom of the Church, and to prevent them from giving effect in civil matters to what he believed to be her Master’s will. In fact, no man was more conspicuous or hearty than Dr. Guthrie in standing up for the rights of the people and the freedom of the Church. He felt himself called to do so, not merely as representing the Guthries and other Covenanters of the olden times, but as a minister of Jesus Christ, the true and only Head of the Church, and as a patriotic Scotchman, the foe of all arbitrary power, and especially of the efforts of worldly men to overbear the honest convictions and the spiritual instincts of the Christian people.
In 1843, he was one of the most enthusiastic leaders of the Free Church exodus, gave up his church stipend, and gathered his congregation into the Methodist Chapel, worshipping there at such hours as could be arranged.
In platform work, on behalf of the Free Church, his singularly rich vein of humour and power of popular eloquence made him a most effective advocate. Two years later, he set himself to traverse Scotland, hold meetings everywhere, and collect a sum of £100,000, as the foundation of a manse fund to build houses for the ousted ministers. The sum actually raised was £116,000; but this great service to the Church was performed at the sacrifice of that robust health which he had hitherto enjoyed. The heart was affected under the strain and pressure of such constant effort, and he never again recovered that rude health which he had previously made him sit so easy under all his toils and burdens.
Meanwhile, the fame of Dr. Guthrie in the pulpit was rising higher and higher. Never deviating from his original purpose to make the way of salvation by grace his leading theme in the pulpit, Dr. Guthrie was able to invest that, and all related topics, with a wonderful freshness and interest, more specially by the faculty of illustration which he cultivated so copiously and so successfully. "In listening to him," says his colleague, the late Dr. Hanna, "scenes and images passed in almost unbroken succession before the eye, always apposite, often singularly picturesque and graphic, frequently most tenderly pathetic. But it was neither their number nor their variety that explained the fact that they were all, and so universally, effective. It was the common character they possessed of being perfectly plain and simple, drawn form quarters with which all were familiar; few of them from books, none of them from ‘the depths of inner consciousness’, supplied by ingenious mental analysis; almost all of them taken from the sights of Nature or incidents of human life; the sea, the storm, the shipwreck, the beacon light, the lifeboat, the family wrapped in sleep; the midnight conflagration, the child at the window above, a parent’s arms held up from below, and the child told to leap and to trust.
There was much of true poetry in the series of images so presented; but it was poetry of a kind that needed no interpreter, required no effort either to under-- stand or appreciate, which appealed directly to the eye and heart of our common humanity, of which all kinds and classes of people, and that almost equally, saw the beauty and felt the power." Not less remarkably was Dr. Guthrie rising as a platform speaker. He was acknowledged to be one of the greatest humorists of the country. The restraints under which he placed his humour in the pulpit, never allowing even the faintest ripple to play on the faces of the people, while speaking as dying to dying men, was balanced by a very free and hearty indulgence of it on the platform. This faculty made him likewise very charming in society. "With heart and hand open as day to every sentiment and deed of kindness, he went abroad among his fellowmen, and open, hearty and joyous was the greeting that everywhere he got. His bright smile, his cheery laugh, his varied information, his store of anecdotes, his readiness and felicity of phrase, his broad and genial human kindness, his conversational gifts made him a great and general favourite in society, as welcome in the salons of the noble as in the dwellings of the poor."
It was impossible for a man of such warm human sympathy–a sympathy which belonged to his very nature, but had been greatly purified and intensified by his Christianity–to have such an intimate acquaintance with the sunken population of Edinburgh, and not to be intensely interested in all feasible projects for their amelioration. "It had been long apparent to him," says Dr. Hanna, "that the one great opprobrium which lay upon the Christianity of our country was the degraded and debased condition of such large masses of our city population; the ignorance, the drunkenness, the debauchery, the crime , the godlessness, simmering and seething, boiling up and running over, within those half-lighted, half-heated, defiled and uncleansed dwellings in which thousands upon thousands of our fellow-creatures are living and dying within arms’ reach, but comparatively uncared for."
Dr. Guthrie believed that the only thorough instrument of elevating them was the Gospel, when proclaimed in devout earnestness and made effectual by the power of the Holy Spirit. But many things came between theses poor people and the Gospel, and many things needed to be changed , to give them a fair opportunity of profiting by it. In Dr. Guthrie’s case, as in that of so many others, the special line into which he was led to direct his philanthropy was determined by providential indications. The care of neglected children took a strong hold of his heart.
A circumstance occurred so early as 1848 that quickened his interest in this class. On a visit to Anstruther, the birthplace of Thomas Chalmers, he happened to see a pictures representing a cobbler’s room; the cobbler was there, spectacles on nose, an old shoe between his knees; the massive forehead and firm mouth indicated great determination of character; while from beneath his bushy eyebrows benevolence gleamed out on a group of poor children, some sitting, some standing, all busy at their lessons around him. It was the picture of John Pounds, cobbler, Portsmouth; and for the first time Dr. Guthrie learned how the good man had taken pity on the ragged children for whom no man cared; how he had gone forth to lure them in, sometimes with a potato, to his shop; and how, "looking for no fame, no recompense from man, he, single-handed, while earning his daily bread by the sweat of his face, had, ere he died, rescued from ruin and saved for society no fewer than five hundred children! " "I confess," he says, "that I felt humbled. I felt ashamed of myself. I well remembered saying to my companion, in the enthusiasm of the moment– and in my cooler and calmer hours I have seen no reason for unsaying it–‘That man in an honour to humanity.’ "
But the Disruption came, and for a time Dr. Guthrie’s energies were absorbed with other work. Still the old yearning remained to do something in the line of John Pounds. I would occasionally ooze out in scenes by the way. One day, strolling with a friend about Arthur’s Seat, they come to St. Anthony’s Well, and sit down "to have a talk with the ragged boys who pursue their calling there. Their tinnies were ready with a draught of the clear cold water, in hope of a halfpenny. We thought it would be a kindness to them, and not out of character in us, to tell them of the living water that springeth up to life eternal, and of Him who sat on the stone of Jacob’s Well, and who stood in the Temple and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.’ "
The idea of a Ragged School was in Dr. Guthrie’s head, so he asked the boys, Would you go to school if, besides your learning, you were to get breakfast, dinner and supper there? "It would have done any man’s heart good to have seen the flash of joy that broke from the eyes of one of them, the flush of pleasure on his cheek, as, hearing of three sure meals a day, the boy leapt to his feet: the boy exclaimed: ‘Ay, will I, sir, and bring the haill land too;’ and then, afraid I might withdraw what seemed to him so large and munificent an offer, he exclaimed, ‘I’ll come for but my dinner, sir.’ "
Dr. Guthrie’s first idea was to have his Ragged School in the large schoolroom below St. John’s Free Church. His office bearers, however, alarmed at the additional money responsibility, discouraged the undertaking. It was a vexation and disappointment to Dr. Guthrie at the time, but a gain to the cause and a gain to the public; for it led him to lay the foundation of his undertaking on a broader basis, and it led to the preparation and publication of his "Plea for Ragged Schools," –the first brochure he ever published, and a noble monument alike to his genius and his Christian philanthropy. A standard was unfurled under which many good men who had parted company in their Church connection were encouraged to meet; a great platform of Christian co-operation was brought into prominence, and the ecclesiastical atmosphere was manifestly sweetened.
On Dr. Guthrie himself the effect was great. Henceforward, whilst quite loyal to his own Church, he became more catholic–the common property, as it were, of the whole evangelical community. Dr. Guthrie says he published his "Plea" with fear and trembling; but the printer’s ink was hardly dry when letters of thanks and laudation began to pour in upon him, along with many substantial tokens of the interest which he had excited. A letter from the prince of Scotch reviewers, Lord Jeffrey, was particularly pleasing. "I have long considered you and Dr. Chalmers," said the great critic, "as the two great benefactors of your age and country, and admired and envied you beyond all your contemporaries, though far less for your extraordinary genius and eloquence than for the noble uses to which you have devoted these gifts, and the good you have done by the use of them. In all these respects, this last effort of yours is perhaps the most remarkable and important; and among the many thousands hearts that have swelled and melted over these awakening pages, I think I may say that none has been more deeply touched than my own."
The Ragged School of Edinburg proved a great success. But there was one stormy passage in its history. From the first it had been proclaimed that the education to be given was to include instruction in the Gospel, and the whole "Plea" was based on the principle that no power short of the power and love of God, as there revealed and applied, could suffice to reclaim these miserable outcasts. This proved a rock of offence to some. They thought that the children ought all to be brought up in the religion of their parents. Dr. Guthrie maintained that, when he and others came to be in loco parentis to the children, they were bound to instruct them as they would instruct their own families. A great battle ensued. The arena was the Music Hall, and Dr. Guthrie delivered one of his noblest and most thrilling orations in support of his position. "A ship has stranded on a stormy shore. I strip, and plunging headlong into the billows, buffet them with this strong arm till I reach the wreck. From the rigging where he hangs, I seize and save a boy; I bear him to the shore, and through the crowd who watched my rising and falling head, and blessed me with their prayers, I take him home. What happens, now? Forth steps a Roman Catholic priest, and, forsooth, because yon ship contains its Irish emigrants, claims the child–the half-drowned boy that clings to his preserver’s side; he would spoil me of my orphan, and rear him up in what I deem dangerous errors. I have two answers to this demand. My first is, I saved the boy; the hand that plucked him from the wreck is the hand that shall lead him in the way to heaven. My second is, to point him to the wreck, and to the roaring sea. I bid him strip and plunge like me, and save those that still perish there."
Dr. Guthrie was completely successful in this appeal. He carried the whole meeting with him, and those whom he opposed just did as he bid them: they reared a school of their own, and arranged the religious teaching in their own way. The success of his Ragged School, and of the whole movement, was one of the great joys of Dr. Guthrie’s life, and one of the things that contributed to make his heart so radiant and happy. Everything about such movements charmed him. To read the statistics of the jail, and find how much juvenile commitments had dwindled; to survey the streets, and observe how comparatively free they were of young beggars and wandering gamins; to follow the history of some boy or girl to Canada or Australia, and learn how well they were doing; to get letters from them, quaint and queer, but full of gratitude and sound principle; to hear the story of a death-bed, of the "bairn’s hymns" the little sufferer sang, and the hope in Jesus that brightened the departing spirit; to receive calls from well-to-do people, and have cheques for fifty or a hundred pounds placed in his hands; to get letters from maid-servants, or from soldiers or sailors, enclosing the Money Order equal to a month’s pay, or a half- year’s wage, for the maintenance of a destitute child, –such occurrences were like streams from Lebanon, like cold waters to thirsty soul.
The Ragged School was intended a "very fine field of operation," –it was "a thing of beauty and a joy for ever." But the cause of Ragged Schools was not the only form of social improvement that engaged the interest of Dr. Guthrie. Among other good works, Temperance reform occupied a conspicuous place. In this great movement, now so popular, he was one of the pioneers, and in those days it needed no little moral courage to be a total abstainer. He used to tell a story of an Irish car-driver that first drew his thoughts seriously in this direction. About the year 1840, this man was driving him and some friends from Omagh to Cookstown on a cold day of pouring rain. About halfway, they reached a small inn, and rushing in, the travellers ordered hot water and whisky. Considering that the driver was in as great need as they, they offered him a share of their tipple, but he would not taste it. "Why?" Dr. Guthrie asked. "Please your riv’erence, I am teetotaler, and I won’t taste a drop of it." "Well," said Dr. Guthrie, "that stuck in my throat, and it went to my heart. Here was a humble, uneducated, uncultivated Roman Catholic carman, and I said, ‘If that man can deny himself this indulgence, why should not I, a Christian minister?’ . . .
That circumstance, along with the scenes in which I was called to labour daily for years, made me a teetotaler." In 1850 , some Edinburgh ministers resolved to fire off a series of tracts or pamphlets in order to rouse attention to the dreadful intemperance of the time; and Dr. Guthrie led off with "A Plea for Drunkards and against Drunkennes."
Another contribution to social reform consisted of a series of sermons, published in 1857, in a volume entitled, "The City: its Sins and Sorrows," in which intemperance had a prominent place, and none of his publications excited more interest or was more widely useful. For the Scottish Temperance League he wrote two New Years’ tracts: "A Word in Season" (1859), and "The Contrast" (1860), which were circulated to the number of 450,00. He was a great supporter of national education, going before many of his brethren in his desire that, instead of churches, the State should take that cause in hand, and carry it out with the thorough-- ness and efficiency of which it alone was capable.
It was somewhat late in life before Dr. Guthrie appeared as the author of a book. We have room here only to state that the "Gospel in Ezekiel," dedicated to his colleague, Dr. Hanna, appeared in 1855, followed, in 1858, by "Christ, and the In- heritance of the Saints," dedicated to his friend Lord Panmure, afterwards Earl of Dalhousie. The list of his publications embraces nearly twenty volumes. In 1864, he was obliged, through increasing weakness, to retire from the duties of his pastoral charge. Between that time and his death in 1873, he was editor of the "Sunday Magazine", and a constant contributor to its pages. The more burdensome duties of editing, however, were devolved on other shoulders. His papers in the "Sunday Magazine", like everything he said and did, were thoroughly based on evangelical doctrine, but had more of the human and catholic elements than many writings of the same class. Many of his papers were gathered into volumes and published separately.
Of Dr. Guthrie in private, those who, like the present writer, were honoured with his friendship and had much intercourse with him, cannot speak too highly. The high-toned Christian always was seen, the delightful companion, and the faithful friend. His friendship was very remarkable. His genuine interest in those whom he loved, and in all their concerns; the pains he took to advance their interests; the care he showed not to hurt their feelings; his forbearance, his generosity, his warmth and tenderness, must always live in the remembrance of those that were much about him. His wife and life-long companion was the daughter of the Rev. James Burns, long one of the ministers of his native town of Brechin. A family of ten children grew to manhood and womanhood under their nurture; and it has seldom happened that any family has furnished so many members animated by the father’s spirit, and treading honourably in his steps.
His last days were spent at St. Leonards, whither he had gone in search of strength. The week between the 16th and 24th of Frebruary was one of great suffering and great struggle. It was a fight between a strong frame and a powerful disease. On his death-bed, the expressions of affection for his family and friends, and of his hope and trust in the Saviour, were exceedingly touching and beatiful. A little grandchild of four years coming into the room, hi insisted on having her in his arms, and kissed "the bonnie lamb." He was often soothed by psalm and hymn singing, and of none was he more fond than children’s hymns. "Give me a bairn’s hymn," he would say to his children; and when the sang "Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me," or "There is a happy land," his spirit was refreshed. He often thanked God that he had not left his preparation to a dying hour, and spoke of the unutterable folly of those who do so. To those absent he sent loving messages, bidding one of them "stand for Jesus in all circumstances." The peace and confidence of his death-bed completed and crowned that testimony to the saving power of Jesus, which, in his words and works alike, had been borne during his life.
At length, early in the morning of Monday, the 24th of February, 1873, the long-desired haven was reached. At twenty minutes past two the breathing ceased. He entered the "house not made with hands." The funeral in Edinburgh-in the classic ground of the Grange Cemetery, where the ashes repose of Chalmers, Hugh Miller, and many more of his friends–amid a concourse of some thirty thousand spectators, was a marvellous testimony of public regard and affection.

Home | Links | Sermons | Literature | Biography | Photos