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to render our Magazine more than it has yet become in our hands, a Miscellany of suitable reading for the household Sabbath circle.
We have no intention to advertise ourselves by large promises for the future. We shall only state that we are from time to time adding to the number of well-qualified contributors to our pages; that we have every reason to reckon upon yet more extended support; and that we trust, with the lessons of experience, our own facilities will increase for sustaining the interest of the Magazine, and directing it to the most useful ends.
UNITED SECESSION MAGAZINE,
FOR JANUARY, 1844.
JIEMOIR OF THE REV. ADAM GIB.
In looking back over the rise and progress of the Secession Church, it is interesting to trace the history of those distinguished men of foriner times who were connected with her origin, and who were raised up by God to guide her counsels, to assert and defend her principles, and to carry forward the testimony for the truth of God which she had lifted up. It has often been remarked, as illustrative of the principle on which the government of the affairs of this world is conducted, that extraordinary times have usually called forth extraordinary men, and that when God, accordingly, has had any great purpose to accomplish, either in regard to his church or the world, he lias never failed to provide, at the proper season, the instruments best suited to carry his designs into effect. Never, perhaps, was this remark more fully verified than in the case of the first fathers and founders of the Secession Church. Contemplated now in the light of its historical results, the secession of our forefathers from the national church was no ordinary event; and it is not too much to affirm, that the men who were raised up and employed by God to bring about this event, although they themselves might not foresee at the time all the important consequences to which it would lead, were, in their day, all things considered, men of no ordinary stamp. Whether we look at the trying circumstances in which they were placed, the delicate yet decided part which they were called to act, or the holy courage and intrepidity which, when the hour of action arrived, they displayed, they challenge from us alike our respect and veneration. At the time when they lived, now upwards of an hundred years ago, secession from the church established by law was a thing in this country altogether untried and unknown. Such a step, no matter wbat the reasons might be which might appear to justify it, promised only to bring along with it unmeasured reproach and obloquy, and, on every side, to call down on the heads of those by whom it should be adopted, unmitigated scorn and contempt. Public opinion, enlightened and guided by the spirit of religious freedom, was not then, as now, a protection from the effects of ignorance and prejudice, and a safeguard against the tyrannical exercise of ecclesiastical power. Unchecked by the influence of any antagonist principle, rallying around it
NO, I. VOL. I.
the piety and the intelligence of the nation, the established system which prevailed, existed everywhere in full and unbroken force, maintaining its hold at once on the prejudices and the affections of the people, and bidding seeming defiance to any attempts that might be made to effect a change in the order of things. In these circumstances, what had the first seceders to expect, as the result of their movement, but certain ruin to themselves and sure defeat to their cause? Yet, in the midst of all difficulties—in the face of all dangers at the risk of all the consequences, in the loss of name, and infiuence, and property, by which they were threatened,—without the patronage of worldly rankwithout the promise or the prospect (so far as man was concerned) of worldly support--without even the encouragement and mutually sustaining sympathy which numbers give to a cause—did the “Four Brethren," who were honoured of God to found the Church of the Secession, stand forth at the call of duty, and, casting themselves on the grace and protection of their Redeemer, commit themselves to a separation from the church of their fatliers-protesting against her corruptions, asserting her people's liberties, and lifting up their testimony on behalf of the truth of God! In regard to this testimony, it is enough now to remark that, since the days of our fathers, it has in these lands been very fully ratified, the great majority of the professing people of God in this nation having at length been brought, in the good providence of God, “who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working,” in one form or another, to “display it as a banner because of the truth."
Among those connected with the early history of the Secession Church, the subject of the present memoir occupied a very distinguished place. Although not himself one of the fathers of the secession, he was, at an early period, their active coadjutor in all the proceedings in which they engaged, and in carrying out the religious movement which they had begun. Possessed of a mind of great power, and talents for business of a high order, and being distinguished by a bold and intrepid spirit, which fitted him on all occasions for acting with decision, few men in his day, within the sphere in which he moved, and the department of public duties in which he engaged, exerted a greater control over passing events, or left a more distinct impress of individual character on the times in which he lived. Considering the interesting period over which his public life extended, viz., the first half century during which the secession existed, and the prominent part which he took in all the lead. ing affairs of the Secession Church, a few notices of his life and character may not be uninteresting.
Adam Gib was born at Castletown, in the parish of Muckhart, on the 7th of April 1714. He was the ninth son of Mr John Gib, in whose hands the family property of Castletown at this time was held. Mr Gib, being in comparatively easy circumstances, gave to his children a good education. Adam discovering, at an early period, promising abilities, it was the wish of his father that he should study for the medical profession. Having acquired, accordingly, the usual elementary branches of knowledge, he was sent, when about seventeen years of age, to attend the University of Edinburgh, being placed under the care of his uncle, the brother of his father, who was a surgeon in that city. Here he made great progress in his studies, more especially in mathematics, under the able tuition of the celebrated M•Laurin, who at this time filled the mathematical chair. It would seem to have been the plan laid down for the regulation of his studies, that he should attend in the first instance to those branches of learning which are embraced in a regular university education, and then follow out, as he afterwards might do with the greater advantage, those particular courses of study which lay in the way of his intended profession. This arrangement, which appeared merely to be a suggestion of human wisdom, forecasting the best means of reaching advantageously the object that was in view, was overruled by God for accomplishing a very different result from that which was contemplated-namely, the preventing of the youthful student from at once devoting his time and embarking his energies in the pursuit of a profession on which—whatever might be the intention of bis friends he was never to enter; while his attention was directed to those branches of study which were of immediate use in the furtherance of his preparation for another work—“the work of the ministry”—to which it was the design of God that he should be appointed. In such matters, how often do we see it to be the case, that “God's ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts." We purpose one thing, while God, by the very purpose which we have formed, accomplishes another !
It was while prosecuting his studies at the university, that young Gib's mind appears, for the first time, to have been brought under serious impressions of religion. The bustle and excitement connected with the engrossing pursuits of college life, are not always the most favourable in their influence for leading the soul to the contemplation of God and the things of eternity. But God had, in this instance, a gracious work to be begun ; and he who was the subject of that work was made to feel the power of divine grace, at a time and in circumstances, when it was not only of importance that religion should engage his attention, but when its influence was most likely to be felt in giving a direction to all his future plans and pursuits in life. Happening incidentally, on a certain occasion, when passing along the streets of Edinburgh, to witness a fellow-creature launched into eternity, who had forfeited his life to the laws of his country, the question was very solemnly forced upon his mind—whether he himself was prepared at that moment for dcath, and for meeting with God at his judgment-seat in the eternal world ; and whether such a subject as that which now engrossed his mind (a mathematical problem) was fitted to prepare
him for so very awful an event ? This question continued from day to day afterwards much to occupy his thoughts, and to lead him to inquire, with all seriousness, “ what he must do to be saved ?" His religious convictions, partaking of the strength and intensity of character which distinguished his naturally keen and sensitive mind, caused bim deep anxiety about the state of his soul, as he felt himself a lost and perishing sinner in the sight of God. He sought retirement from the world, that he might give himself to reading of the scriptures, to meditation upon divine things, and to prayer to God for divine direction. It is believed that it was at this time that he first obtained a knowledge of the truth of God as to the way of salvation, by Jesus Christ God having blessed, for this purpose, the reading of the introductory portion of " Luther's Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians.”
Having completed his studies at the university, and given up all thoughts, in consequence of the change which had taken place in his mind, of following out the medical profession, Mr Gib had now arrived at that crisis of bis history when it became necessary to decide what course he should pursue. His heart, under the influence of the religious emotions which had been awakened within it, inclined him to devote himself to the ministry of the gospel ; but he had still many
anxious thoughts about the state of his mind, and was much troubled, in consequence, with misgivings as to whether he had a call from God to engage in this work. He had still, as a student, a course of theological tuition through which to pass, even on the supposition that he should devote himself to the office of the ministry; and the peculiar juncture of affairs, which at this time existed as to religious matters in Scotland, required that, in the very first step which he should take, he should decide what profession he should make, and to what religious communion or party he should belong. At length, much in opposition to the wishes of his father, and in despite of the remonstrances of his friends, Mr Gib was led to the conclusion, that it was his duty to cast in his lot with the four seceding brethren who, but a short time before, had left the Established Church -having in view the design, should God open up the way before him, of becoming, in due time, a minister of the gospel in connexion with the Secession. The time when this step was taken, the considerations which led to its adoption, and the whole train of circumstances, from first to last, which had the effect of connecting Mr Gib, first, as a member and a student, and afterwards as a minister, with the Secession Churchall contribute in investing this portion of his history with peculiar interest, tending as they do, to point out the overruling providence of God in guiding, step by step, one who was destined to occupy a distinguished place in his Church, “in a way that he knew not;" and to show, at the same time, how that incidents which, at the time of their occurrence, may appear trivial in their character, are often the occasion of giving birth to results, the importance of which cannot be estimated.
The Secession took place in 1733. Mr Gib joined it in 1735, influenced not less by a regard to the character and principles of the men who had unfurled the secession banner, than from a conviction-previously formed and very decided—of the deplorable state of things in the National Church, which he had felt it his duty to make up his mind to abandon. So far back as the winter of 1732, ere any secession had yet occurred, and when the causes leading to it were only in operation, Mr Gib had formed the resolution of leaving the Establishment, principally on account of the disgust which he felt at witnessing the corrupt measures, and tyrannical proceedings, of the Assembly. While a student in Edinburgh, attending the university, he had availed himself of frequent opportunities of being present at the meetings of the Assembly and of the Commission; and had watched, with painful interest, the progress of those defections, and courses of mal-administration, which at length hastened on the crisis of the secession. And these, to an attentive observer, were certainly sufficiently alarming. In 1729 the Assembly dismissed Professor Simpson of Glasgow, with a mere nominal censure, although, by denying some of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, he had been guilty of teaching the