Auto-Biography by "Anon"


THOMAS GUTHRIE, the subject of the following brief Memoir, was born in the town of Brechin, Forfarshire, on the 12th day of July, 1803. At one time, Brechin was the site of an Episcopal see, and the county town of Forfar. It seems, however, to have made comparatively little progress during the first years of the present century, as the population, which was 5466 in 1801, had only increased to 6508 in 1831, and to 7933 at the last census. Brechin is beautifully situated on the left bank of the Esk, at a distance of eight miles from the point where that river joins tbe sea at Montrose. In the Esk there is abundance of fine trout, the existence and accessibility of which doubtless kindled and stimulated young Guthrie's love of piscatorial pursuits, a love which did not desert him in his maturer years. At one time Brechin was completely walled around and until very recently some relics of the gates were still seen. Perhaps the most noteworthy ancient edifice in the town is the Cathedral Church of St Ninan's supposed have been founded by David I., and a portion of which forms the parish church where the Guthrie family usually worshipped. It is a stately Gothic fabric, 166 feet long, and 61 broad, the roof being supported by two rows of pillars and arches. The eastern end was sadly devastated at the Reformation, but the building, in fact, appears never to have been completed.
"The present parish church occupies the west end of the Cathedral. At the north-west corner is a square tower, with a handsome spire 128 feet high. At the south-west corner is one of those round towers, probably of Pictish origin, of which this and another at Abernethy are all the specimens that remain in Scotland. The tower of Brechin is a circular column of great beauty and elegance, 80 feet high, with a kind of spire or roof rising 23 feet more, making the whole height 103 feet, while the diameter over the wall at the base is only 16 feet." The entrance to this tower is about 6 feet from the ground, and on the stones forming it are rudely carved several grim figures well fitted to excite the imagination of youth and the interest of the antiquary. The tower itself seems to have suffered little injury from the lapse of years, but it is off the plumb-line, and vibrates in a high wind. In the immediate locality of Brechin there are many places of interest, not the least important being Brechin Castle, the seat of Lord Panmure, which is built on a perpendicular rock, overhanging the south Esk, half a mile south of the town. To this noble edifice and its grounds young Guthrie had easy access, owing to the intimacy existing between his family and Lord Panmure.
It is worthy of note that Maitland, author of the Histories of London and Edinburgh; Dr Gillies, the historian of Greece; Dr Tytler, the translator of Callimachus; and his brother James Tytler, who had so large a share in compiling the "Encyclopedia Britannica and other standard works, were all natives of the parish of Brecliin. But there are others, bearing the name of the subject of our Memoir, who have shed upon the old burgh the lustre of their varied achievements. There was William Guthrie, a political, historical, and miscellaneous writer, who was born in Brechin, where his father was Episcopal minister in 1708.
More than a century previous we find mention of another William Guthrie, born near Brechin in 1620. This was the author of the "Christian's Great Interest." He appears from "The Scots Worthies," where he has not unworthily found a place to have been distinguished for his sincere piety and his consistent adherence to nonconforming principles. And now we come to James Guthrie, "the noblest Roman of them all." He was the son of the Laird of Guthrie, and commenced his ministerial career in Lauder, frpm which place he was translated to Stirling in 1649. It is related of this fearless, consistent, and truly godly man, that when he came to Edinburgh to sign the "Solemn League and Covenant," the first person he met on entering the West Bow was the public executioner. This singular circumstance he could not help regarding as a premonition that he would one day suffer by the hands of this functionary, on account of the document that he had that day come to subscribe. His foreboding was realised, and none of the Covenanters met death with more firmness, or with greater serenity of mind. With each and all of these distinguished men, Thomas Guthrie claimed a relationship more or less remote. They were all cadets of. the Guthries of Guthrie, one of the oldest families in Forfarsbire. He was early acquainted with the their lives, and especially with that of James the covenanting hero, who had "resisted unto blood, against sin." Thus Brechin and its immediate neighbourhood, with its Pietish tower and curious sculptures, its ancient battlefields and Danish camp, its flowing stream and wooded heights, and its illustrious roll of men renowned in literary and ecclesiastical story, furnished much well fitted to excite intellectual activity, feed the youthful imagination, develop the latent love of natural beauty, fill the soul with noble resolve for highest service in the cause of humanity and God, and so be the becoming birthplace of Thomas Guthrie.
The father of Thomas Guthrie was a banker, and one of the leading merchants in Brechin. For a number of years he occupied the prominent position of chief magistrate, and in that capacity acquired an amount of respect and. popularity that stood his family in good stead. But in a town containing little more than 5000 inhabitants there was not much scope for mercantile enterprise, nor much hope of amassing wealth. To maintain appearances, and provide for the requirements of his numerous family, the elder Guthrie, like many others in rural districts, added to the other ramifications of his business that of a grocer.
Probably at one period of his career Thomas was twitted about this fact. At all events, it was a circumstance to which he not unfrequently referred, and always, be it said, with manly and proper feeling. Speaking at an early closing meeting in Edinburgh, he said: "Shopkeepers are one of the most important classes of the community. With few exceptions, the houses in Edinburgh stand upon shops; and if the foundation go to pieces, where will the superstructures be? Did not Napoleon Bonaparte call us a nation of shopkeepers, and did not this nation of shopkeepers lick Napoleon Bonaparte and all Europe to boot? I say, then, up with the shopkeepers! Close your shops in good time, and let us be a right race of shopkeepers, morally, physically, intellectually and physically, and religiously. Although the brains of our shopkeepers are not yet what they should be, and what they will be, I will say for them that they make the best, very best, the most virtuous, honest, and religious part of the community. They are not what you may call a learned people, but they are very clever, very sharp; and I will say for Edinburgh, that one or two of our most sagacious men are shopkeepers, whose intelligence I will stake any day you like against 'the tottle of the whole' of the advocates and all other men in the city. I say, let no man despise shopkeepers. They are the backbone of our country, and if the backbone is not right, depend upon it, the whole body is wrong. With regard to the grocers, I have a special interest in them. My father was a grocer, a merchant engaged in various branches of business. He had a shop all his days; and do you think I am ashamed of that? I. thank God I had such a father, a man who maintained a high character in the community, and, I repeat, God forbid that I should be ashamed of such a man! More than that, I have two sons in the trade. I might have sent these sons to India, or used any influence I had to get. them into Government offices. Some of my genteel friends held up their hands in astonishment that I should have made my sons grocers. But I ll tell you why I made them grocers, and did not send them to India. I wanted my sons to stand upon their own feet independently of any man's patronage; and if any man wants a good advice from me as - to how he would dispose of his sons, I recommend him to do the same. I felt that if I asked favours for my own family, I should soon be required to ask favours for other people; and if I once began, I saw I would soon become a perfect Solicitor-General. I felt that by doing so I would soon lose any influence I possessed with great men, whose acquaintance I never sought, though they sought mine; and that, in so far as I could make a good use of that influence, I was bound to use it for the religious, educational, and benevolent interests of the people. I have reserved my influence for those; and so far as asking favours for myself or others of my family, these hands are clean."
Thomas Guthrie's mother was in all respects a most superior woman. Both by natural endowments and by education, she was far a-head of the average lady of her time. She was a "managing" woman, and inculcated economy; she was a prudent woman, and kept her own counsel; and, above all, she was a good Christian and an inflexible Seceder. Her influence with her fami]y accompanied and flowed from this one fact more than any other. Her strong love for Secession was the result of still stronger religious convictions. She was no stern bigot either; but practised and enforced toleration where it was not incompatible with orthodoxy and religious freedom. At that time of day the Seceders were a comparatively humble and obscure body. The Church of Scotland was dominant and all powerful But the acorn planted by the Erskines was slowly yet surely assuming the proportions of the deep. rooted and wide-spreading oak. Mrs Guthrie was a woman who thought for herself and taught her family to do likewise. She was a staunch and unflinching frietid of non-intrusion and anti-patronage. She held strong views as to the necessity of reforming the Established Church, which she regarded as an Augean stable requiring the services of some ecclesiastical Hercules. The example of a strong-minded mother is all-potent in a family, especially when that sometimes equivocal attribute is accompanied, as it was in this case, with perfect Christian consistency. Gnthrie was early taught to cherish a warm feeling towards the Seceders, and this continued to be a distinguishing trait of his character all through life. Speaking on behalf of the proposed union of the churches, he says: -
"My regard for the Seceders, if I may be allowed to allude to personal matters, is not a causeless prejudice. It is founded on a better knowledge of the seceders than perhaps many in this house have. One of my parents - a sainted mother, and how she would have rejoiced to see this day ! - was a Seceder, and other two members of my family felt themselves constrained, by the thrusting in of an unpopular minister into the collegiate charge of Brechin, to leave the parish church; and in consequence of the accommodation in the parish church being deficient when we were young, we were all Seceders. We were sent to the Secession Church. Until I came to the college, I was in the regular habit of sitting in the Burgher Church; and, until I became a preacher, I generally worshipped, on the Sabbath evening, in the Burgher Church of Brechin. I do not think I lost anything by that. With my mother's milk I drank in an abhorrence of patronage; and it was at her knees, sir, 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 hate oppression, and, whether it be a pope, or a prelate, or a patron, or an ecclesiastical demagogue, resist the oppressor. I have seen them outside in, and inside out; know more of that body than a very large number of those here, and the sound of Seceder, sir, sounds like. music in my ear, and is dear to my heart. I did not say they were perfect. - I do not know anybody perfect except our friend - indicating Dr Gibson, who has to confess nothing at all! With their anti-Burghers and Burghers distinction, their Lifters and anti-Lifters, and with their aversion in the olden time - though they have changed wonderfully of late, and let no man ever say that he will not change - with their aversion to paraphrases and hymns, to gowns and bands, to crosses on the outside of the church, or any ornament whatever within, there is no denying it, my friends were a little narrow. There are worse things, however, in the world than being narrow. The way of life is narrow. It is said that my friends, the Seceders, were narrow- minded and gnarled. They were gnarled. They were a gnarled oak, sound to the core, solid in the grain, and the very timber, before all others, out of which men like to build ships in which to fight battles, or ride out the storm-.
"I knew the old Seceders well. Perhaps we may find that there is not so much difference between them and us as there used to be. This may be, not because the old Seceders have come down to us, but because we have risen up to them. They have now no exclusive right to the honour of having their name made a reproach because of their piety. I remember the day when it was so - the time when the man who would not sware or debauch himself, who maintained family worship, would talk to another about his soul, and rebuke his fault, was sneered at as a Seceder. Dr Burns of Kilsyth used to tell how, when travelling in a stage coach north of Aberdeen, he encountered a farmer, who, it turned out, was on the way to see his minister about baptism. Dr Burns seized the opportunity of putting a good word into the man's ear; speaking to him about the importance of the ordinance. Whereupon the other looked at him astonished, and said, ‘Ye'll be a Seceder man? and when Dr Burns repudiated the connexion, telling him that he was mistaken, and that so far from being a Seceder, he was a minister of the Established Church, the man more astonished still exclaimed, ‘If ye'r no a Seceder, then ye ll be frae the south, adding, ‘We dinna trouble oursels much about these things here; the fact is, if the lairds are guid to us, we dinna fash oursels about the ministers'.
" I will give an example from my own experience. I was returning from the General Assembly to my own parish of Arbirlot, when, between Dundee and that place, a man mounted the coach who was pretty drunk- he had no sooner seated himself than he began swearing at a shocking rate; and while I was thinking how I could close the blasphemer's mouth, and whether such an attempt might not be like casting pearls before swine, his neighbour on the other side turned round, and - solemnly and affectionately rebuked him; whereupon, with eyes rolling in his head, and speech thick in his mouth, and a fiendish sneer lurking in his cheeks, he looked round, and said, ‘Ye'll doubtless be a Seceder'. In this case the drunken man uttered a truth - the gentleman was a Secession minister. I tell you, my friends, who are sitting with us in this house, that the day has gone by for such remarks, and that Seceders, as I am happy to think, have no longer the exclusive right to be reproached for godliness. This should make a union all the more hearty and practicable. The Seceders have not sunk, but we have risen. The descendants of those good old Seceders, so far as I know, have not forfeited their title to be considered worthy of their ancestry."
But there were other directions in which the superior mind and intelligence of Mrs Guthrie made themselves manifest. She was an ardent politician. At the time of which we write, Brechin joined with Aberdeen, Arbroath, Montrose, and Bervie, in sending a member to Parliament, and we have heard from one who knows the circumstances well, that Mrs Guthrie's influence had a great deal to do in controlling the election. Mr Joseph Hume was her favourite candidate; she approved and admired his economics; she sounded his praises far and wide, and at the election, which was marked by an unprecedented excitement, she fought his battle so well, that, as far as Brechin was concerned, his opponent (a Mr Mitchell) was nowhere. The mutual sympathies of Lord Panmure and Mrs Guthrie in favour of the great political economist led to a somewhat close intimacy between the two families, and this friendship was helpful in various ways to the subject of our Memoir.
We have given these extracts and dwelt thus long and minutely upon the religious tendencies and political sympathies of Mrs Guthrie, because it was doubtless largely due to her teaching and example that Dr Guthrie exhibited in after life, as the most distinguishing feature of his character. a "charity as boundless as the sea," and a love for humanity as deep
FROM what has been already said, it will be inferred that Mrs Guthrie early took the education of her children in hand. She did not, indeed, seek to teach them "little Latin and less Greek," nor did she attempt to assist them over the Pons Asinorum, but she carefully laid the foundations for the superstructure that was to follow. Thomas, in common with his brothers, was sent to the local academy, which, it is not very complimentary to say, ~was the principal seminary in the town. The "local habitation" of this educational institution had long been
"To hastening ills a prey",

and the tuition imparted was not of the highest standard. Merit must be paid for, and the master of Brechin academy was not well paid. Appointed by the magistrates, he had a salary of £8-17s. 9d. a-year; and a free house. Besides this, however, he had an allowance from Government in the rents of certain houses attached to the "Maison Dieu." Since Guthrie was a scholar; the position of the schoolmaster has been greatly changed for the better, and Brechin is no exception to the rule. School-houses have also been built according to a much higher standard of taste and comfort. An elegant Gothic building, erected by Lord Panmure in 1838, for the accommodation of the Burgh schools, now occupies the site of the wretched-looking edifice in which Guthrie began his acquaintanceship with "schools and sçhoolmasters."
What progress the boy Guthrie made in his studies whilst attending the Grammar School does not specially appear. His great natural powers, and his fair literary attainments in subsequent years, would lead to the conclusion that his position in the class was at least more than respectable. His estimate of teachers in general, and of one in particular, will appear from the following extracts
"As to the laudation about schoolmasters, it is really worth reading. Dr Muir looked on these gentlemen as scholars, and as most exemplary individuals, and as animated by the feelings of honourable men and gentlemen. Now, I say that is quite true of many of them. I have the greatest respect for country schoolmasters ; but it is a notorious fact, that, in consequence of the Established Church having no power of putting out unfit and inefficient schoolmasters, many of them are inefficient. I have known the most daidling bodies in the world in these schools. I once knew a daft creature in a parish school wearing - a beard as long as that [measuring nearly a yard], and I knew a case of one who was a parish schoolmaster for thirty years, the very greatest drunkard in his own parish, or in half-a- dozen round about him, and he died a parish schoolmaster.
"To show the estimate the people had of the schoolmasters of the olden time, I will tell you of a remarkable man in my own native parish, Mr Linton, teacher of the Grammar School. An honest man came to him one day with a ‘halflin', a long empty chap, who had taken it into his head that he would have some little learning. The father said, ‘Oh, Mr Linton, you see my laddie's fond o lear. I m thinkin o making a scholar o him. ‘Oh, said Mr Linton, looking at him, and not seeing any sign that there was much in him ‘what are you to make of him?' ‘You see, Mr Linton, rejoined the father - and it showed how sound the old Scotchman was - if he gets grace, we ll mak a minister o him. ‘Oh, but, says Mr Linton, ‘if he does not get grace, what will you make of him then? "\Veel, in that case, said the parent, ‘if he disna get grace, we ll just mak a dominie o him. "
When he had reached his twelfth year, Guthrie was sent to study at the University of Edinburgh. It was the practice of the time to send boys at this early age to commence their university education - a practice which, in after years, he frequently characterised as extremely foolish. At such a tender age it could scarcely be expected that he would take any very high position in the various classes, nor does it appear that he ever greatly distinguished himself as a student. Having attended the required preparatory classes, he entered the Divinity Hall, then in a very inefficient state. We are not fully aware of the motives which actuated him in making choice of the ministry as his profession. His mother's influence, his early and abiding love for evangelical doctrine, and a laudable ambition to be and do something in the world, may have been the more powerful incentives to the course adopted. His parents, too, might cherish the hope that, through Lord Panmure's influence, their son would rise to a high place in the church; and that this, taken in conjunction with the oratorical tendencies that he had early displayed, would secure for him a high measure of usefulness and popularity. That he chose the ministry of the Church of Scotland in preference to that of the Secession need not be matter of surprise, even keeping in view the strong Secession tendencies of his mother. His family on his father's side had been identified for generations with the Established Church, and still continued adherence to its principles. Its whole creed he could readily and conscientiously subscribe, and if there was grievous and wide-spread defection both in doctrine and in practice, there was so much the more need that faithful ministers might be raised up to vindicate the power of a holy life, and contend for the "faith once delivered to the saints."
In his university studies Guthrie was assisted by Dr Ritchie, Professor of Divinity; Dr Brunton, Professor of Hebrew; and Dr Meiklejohn, Professor of Church History. In one of these at least he was privileged to see an example of kindliness, toleration, and sympathy with progress, - for Dr Ritchie, formerly minister of St Andrew's Church, Glasgow, was the first minister in the Church of Scotland who recommended the use of organs. Dr Guthrie had for his fellow-students some of the great men with whom he was subsequently associated in the "Ten Years Conflict," and in the formation and building up of the Free Church; but it does not appear that as a student of divinity he gave much indication of the great powers afterwards made so manifest both on the platform and in the pulpit. After going through the usual curriculum, he returned home, and was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Brechin.

NEWLY licensed preachers do not always find it easy to obtain a speedy and acceptable settlement. Some of the most distinguished ministers in the church have had to wait for years ere their talents were recognised by patrons and congregations, and a suitable sphere of labour and usefulness assigned them. It was so in the case of Dr Guthrie. Indeed, if the truth must be told, at this period of his career he was far from being popular as a preacher. He had not acquired the knack of making friends, either in or out of the pulpit. Some of the local critics who heard his trial discourses, gave judgment upon them in terms far from complimentary. One kind friend called him a "bullerin blockhead," and whatever the phrase might mean, neither the preacher nor his friends had any difficulty in understanding that it did not imply, on the part of the critic, an excess of admiration. From the outset of his pulpit career he gave full play to his lungs and voice, and his aim was always directed to speaking the truth without fear, favour, or affectation. His sermons were not really dull, nor could they be objected to on orthodox grounds but still there was something about them which prevented them from catching the popular ear.
Failing to procure an immediate settlement, but having the prospect of being presented to a parish by Lord Panmure, Guthrie determined to proceed to France with view to increasing his knowledge of medicine, in the study of which he took a deep interest. Accordingly, he spent the winter of 1826-7 in Paris attending medical classes, and getting such insight into medical matters as the hospitals of that city could so well furnish. His medical studies would seem to have been of a somewhat desultory and amateur character, and did not indicate any intention of changing his profession, but only of qualifying himself more fully for the performance of its duties. In this respect, his attention to medicine was eminently useful, and subsequently gave him great power for good when labouring among the poor in the parish of St. John's, Edinburgh.
When he went to Paris he took with him an introduction to Baron Guil. Dupuytren, then considered the first surgeon in Europe. Proving himself an apt and enthusiastic pupil, the Baron took a special interest in his studies, and treated him with much friendly familiarity. The Baron was of short stature, and his Scottish student was over six feet in height. On one occasion, when going his rounds in one of the hospitals, the Baron stopped at the couch of a patient, whose leg had been recently amputated, and turning to Guthrie, said, "Take care of your legs; there's a man who would never have had his limb amputated but for its inordinate length; it was always in his way." Both master and pupil enjoyed the joke; Guthrie, probably, the more that he was considered a "strapping" fellow, and, despite his stature, by no means unhandsome. Several countrymen, who afterwards rose to the highest distinction in the medical profession, sat at this time, like Guthrie, at the feet of this Gamaliel in medicine; and with some of these he formed friendships that were as permanent as they were intimate and, valuable.
That his medical studies should occasionally give a tinge to his word pictures was only to be expected; and one or two of the exquisite touches in the following extract are probably due to this source. Speaking of the street Arabs, be says : -
" And they are clever fellows, some of these boys. They are, as we say, real clever. There are some excellent specimens among them. For example, I remember walking along the street we call Hanover Street, when an old lady was going toddling along on her old limbs, with a huge umbrella in her hand. A little urchin came up who had no cap on his head, but plenty of brains within; no shoes on his feet, but a great deal of understanding for all that. Very well, I saw him fix upon that venerable old lady to be operated upon, and my friend beside me, Dr Bell, never, I venture to say, performed an operation with half the dexerity with which that boy skinned that old lady. He went up and appealed to her for charity. She gave him a grunt. He went up again. She gave him a poke. He saw there was no chance of getting at her through her philanthropy, and he thought to get at her purse through her selfishness, so he pulled up his sleeve to his elbow - his yellow, skinny elbow - and running up, he cried out to her, displaying the limb, and exhibiting his rags and woeful face, ‘Jist oot o the Infirmary wi the typhus fever, mam.' I never saw such an electrical effect. The old lady put her hand to the very bottom of her pocket, and taking out a shilling, thrust it into his hand and ran away."
In 1828 Dr Guthrie returned to Brechin. Not obtaining a settled charge, he entered the bank of which his father was I manager, and whilst on the Sabbath he occasionally exercised his gifts as a probationer, during the week he applied himself with great assiduity to the business of banking. In this way he acquired a knowledge of human nature and monetary transactions, to which he owed much of his sagacity in the ordinary affairs of life by which he was afterwards eminently characterised. Addressing a meeting in Dundee, he alludes, in his own way, to this period of his history -
"I do not intend to give you any learned disquisition on commerce. The truth is, that is rather out of my line, and I wont meddle with it in that way; not that I am altogether ignorant of commerce either. I don't want any of you to understand that. I was a banker for two years; and Mr David Milne, formerly of the Union Bank, said when I left that profession (for if nobody will praise me, I. must praise myself), that if I preached as well as I banked, I would get on remarkably well; so you see I am not so ignorant of these things as one of my brethren with whom I was sitting one day. He took up a newspaper and began reading, when he came upon ‘Sound' intelligence, which you Dundee people all know means the ships that pass through the Sound. ‘Why, says he, ‘what do they mean by "Sound?" Is it intelligence that may be relied on?
"Neither am I so ignorant of agricultural affairs. At least I have been in the habit of testing the agricultural knowledge of my brethren in the church by asking them how many teeth a cow has in her front upper jaw; and they don't know a bit about it; they don't know that a cow has no teeth in her front upper jaw at all. Some of them guessed half-a-dozen, and some of them a whole dozen. They were all as ignorant as an old friend of mine in the city of Brechin; who wished to have a first-rate cow. He accordingly gave £12 or £15 for a handsome one, thinking that she was in the flush of her milk and the beauty of her youth. But a wag went up to him afterwards, and said to him, ‘Dear me, look, Mr Smith, she hasna a tooth in her upper jaw. You have been fairly taken in. Instead of buying a young milk cow, she is a venerable grandmother! "

THE ministerial charge of Arbirlot becoming vacant by the sudden death of the incumbent, Mr Watson, the presentation was given to Mr Guthrie by the Crown, through the influence of Lord Panmnre, the only heritor in the parish. The settlement took place in 1830, and, on the whole, was as agreeable to the Congregation as to the presentee himself. Once in harness, the Dr did not allow the grass to grow beneath his feet, but began his life's work in good earnest.
Arbirlot is a small parish in the county and on the sea coast of Forfarshire. It was a purely rural parish, and during his ministry had this remarkable peculiarity, that - there was only one person, a kind of freethinker, who did not attend the parish church. The population at the time of Dr Guthrie's settlement was exactly 1000, and altogether agricultural. The whole parish is the property of Lord Panmure. The stipend paid to the parish minister in Dr Guthrie's time was £184 4s. 5d., with the addition of a manse, a garden, and a glebe of four acres. Some years after settlement a new parish church was built, having accomodation for 639 worshippers. There was no dissent in the parish, no opposition, no controversy; and with no special requirements of any kind to stimulate the young minister's efforts, he might have settled down into a quiet-going country parson, whose memory would have perished with himself, but for the exciting and eventful times upon which he fell, and his noble determination to consecrate his whole powers to the service of God and humanity.
The turning point of Dr Guthrie's career as a preacher was reached during his ministry at Arbirlot. It happened in this wise. He found that the agricultural class (of which his congregation was almost entirely made up) was not easily awakened or impressed by the ordinary pulpit ministrations. He had thundered in their ears the terrors of Mount Sinai; he had sounded the Gospel trumpet with a blast loud enough to rouse the dead; he had implored, threatened, and almost scolded them: but nothing seemed permanently to arrest their attention - they went to sleep under his most fervent and heart-stirring appeals. One Sabbath, however, he happened to introduce an interesting anecdote; and he observed that its effect was electric - even the most somnolent of his congregation woke up and listened with attention while he proceeded to "point the moral." The service over, he informed his wife that he had discovered the way to keep his congregation awake; and from that time forward he missed no opportunity of illustrating his discourse either with an appropriate story, or an equally effective and apropos effort of the imagination. He had another way of finding out what was most adapted to his audience. It was his habit to go over his sermons with a class of young people; and from their answers he easily gathered what parts of his sermons they understood and felt, and what parts, on the other hand, they had little interest in. By all these lessons he sagaciously profited in his after preparations.
His ministry roused the people of Arbirlot out of the profound sleep in which they had been permitted to indulge and was accompanied by a measure of spiritual blessing. His fame began to spread, and was considerably increased by a public lecture which he delivered at Arbroath in opposition to Voluntaryism. The attention of the metrepolis was turned upon him; and the late Alexander M. Dunlop went to Arbirlot to hear him preach, and carried back to Edinburgh the report of his great powers in the pulpit.
It is worthy of mention that during his ministry at Arbirlot, Dr Guthrie was prostrated by a very, serious attack of fever. For many days his life hang in the balance; and night after night his friends watched him with hardly a shadow of hope that he would see the morning. Had he not had a frame of great vigour he would not have survived the attack; but through God's mercy his life was preserved for the valuable and important services which it was his great privilege to render both to the church and to the world.
Besides the faithful discharge of his ordinary parochial duties, Dr Guthrie, while at Arbirlot, gave himself, as occasion offered, to the general work of the church. It was at this time that Dr Chalmers set on foot his great scheme of Church Extension. In that enterprise Dr Guthrie took a warm interest, and both by sympathy and personal effort much to promote its success. He looked upon DrChalmers' idea of planting 200 new churches in the most destitute localities of the land as a grand conception, and this, in all probability, was the first application of that magnetism which afterwards drew him so closely to the first moderator of the Free Church.
While at Arbirlot, Dr Guthrie had scope and verge enough for cultivating his love of angling, and from the waters of the Elliot which runs through the parish, and which had long been noted for trout of a peculiar relish, he landed many a fine basketful. Fault-finders are a numerous class, Guthrie was not without his detractors. He was charged with cruelty to animals, and the malignant accusation was founded on his predilection for the sport which Isaac Walton has made classic. The accusation was scarcely worth heeding, but after a lecture by Mr Gamgee on cruelty to animals, the Dr referred to it in the following terms
"In my view, the man or the woman who inflicts cruelty either upon their children, or the brute creatures, sins against the light of reason as well as against the law of God. Hogarth, the great portrait painter, painted some pictures representing the progress of cruelty. He began with a boy torturing cats, and ended by showing him at the gallows for murder. I warn parents against allowing their children to kill flies, or to inflict needless pain on any creature. It is quite consistent with my profession that I should come forward to take a part in such a meeting as this, but some of my friends, who remember a picture in the Exhibition, in which I am represented as fishing in a boat, may be inclined to ask whether I practise what I preach. Now, I believe I have derived health both in body and mind from angling; but if I really thought I was inflicting cruelty on fishes by so doing, I would not have engaged in that amusement. But one day, when I was fishing along with my son, I caught a trout of which I happened to make a post-mortem examination, and in its belly I found a rusty hook and a piece of gut, which must have remained there for weeks or months. It is quite clear that the fish could not have felt any pain from that hook, otherwise it would not have seized so readily on mine. In fact, the trout was evidently in the most comfortable circumstances in the world. People think that when a fish is taken out of the water, and when they see it walloping its tail about, that it is suffering great pain: but the fact is, that after the fish is dead, the tail wallops for a good while."
Very shortly after his settlement at Arbirlot, Dr Guthrie married Ann Burns, daughter of the Rev. James Burns, minister of Brechin For this young lady he had long cherished a sincere attachment, and only delayed the consummation of their union until he was settled in a regular ministerial charge. Mrs Guthrie belongs to a family that has supplied both the Established and the Free Churches with some of their most eminent ministers. She was a niece of Dr Burns of Corstorphine, who had several brothers no less popular ministers than himself; and she was also related to the late Professor Islay Burns, of the Glasgow Free Church College. This may perhaps be the most fitting opportunity to put on record the fact that, throughout his whole married. life, Dr Guthrie enjoyed an exceptional degree of conjugal felicity. All his plans and efforts were heartily supported by his amiable wife, from whom also he received needed encouragement in times of doubt, difficulty, and danger.
"She was - but words are wanting to say what;
Say what a Chriastian should be - she was that."

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