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FOR THE YEAR 1809.
Mr Robert Pringle, the subject of this Memoir, died September 20, 1806, in the 89th year of his age, having been upwards of 41 years an Elder of the Associate Congregation at Newcastle upon Tyne.. He was a native of North Britain ; and was born May 31, 1712, at St. Andrew's, Fifeshire. At what age his acquaintance with the power of religion commenced I cannot say; but various circumstances concur to fix its date at an early period of his life. At the commencement of the Secession, being then 24 years old, he espoused its cause; and in him it experie enced an intelligent, warm, and constant friend. With singular pleasure he often described the delightful seasons of gospel administration in the early period of the Secession. Instead of houses to worship in, the circumstances of the times now and then obliged them to repair to the fields. Here, with patience and delight, they sat, and heard the good tidings of great joy;' and not upfrequently on benches formed by the drifted snow. Often, especially in his later years, did he speak of the days of power which then were felt, of the rich effusions of the Holy Spirit which then were experience), - and the astonishing displays of grace which then were seen.
In the year 1750, he removed with his family to South Shields and was an active instrument in forming a church at Newcastle, a few miles distant. As an elder in that church, he was truly exemplary. Faithful in visiting the sick (a work which many in the office he held do not consider as a branch of their duty) and skilled in the word of life, he knew how to declare the threatenings of the law to the secure, and to administer the consolations of the gospel to the broken - hearted. He possessed a noble mind,-a mind that was scarcely ever moved by man; yet he was far from being stern or morose.. Hir countenance was mild, serene, and engaging. The placid and virtuous disposition which held the empire of his bosom, XVII.
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were strikingly exhibited in the expression of his face; but his firmness of soul fitted him for performing a duty which is equally incumbent on ait believers, but which some only can discharge with success: I mean Christian Reproof. With all the affection of a father, with all the eympathies of one conscious that he biinself was in the body, would he admonish an erring brother. While the season and the severity of the reproof were regulated by prudence and the nature of the offence, he always displayed his concern for the divine lionour, by the earnest desirc he discovered to produce adrquate convictions of the nature and aggra. vation of the crime. He was what every Cbristian ought to be, bekepolent. In him the poor and the distressel, during his days of health, found a constant and generous benefactor : he fed the hangry, he clothed the naked, and pleaded the cause of the fa. therless and the widow; the hearts of such be has often made to sing for joy! The generosity and benevolence of his heart were likewise displayed in his liberal contributions, according to, if not beyond his ability, towards the support of the gospel. This feature in his character became, at three different periods of his life, more deeply markext. To three different places he was, with other pious and generous Christians, actively concerned in introducing the gospel : -- First, To Ceres, soon after the com"Mencement of the Secession; secondly, To St. Andrew's; and, Lastly, 'To Newcastle upon Tyne. Nor did any thing afford him greater plcasure than to hear of the dissemination of evangelical truth. None could give a greater display of attachment to the Jaws of Christ than be did, in the liniformity of deportment he observed, and in she regularity of his attendance on the positive institutions of grace. As the place of his residence was for many years at the distance of eight miles from Newcastle, be travelled sixteen miles every Lord's Day to bear the goepel; nor did every disagreeable state of the weaiher prevent his attendance there. When the winds blew boisterously, and rendered his crossing the river Tyne at Shiells impracticable, he was not deterred; but, by a circuitous route, he would travel on the south side of the river, and cross it at Newcastle. By this route the journey was lengthened several miles. This practice he continued till he was within three days of 70 years of age; at which time he was struck with the palsy, which affected the whole of his left sicie, and so totally incapacitated him for engaging in the laborious employs of life. This severe dispensation he bore with much patience and :ubmission to the divine will; and under it made wonderful advancement in the experimenial knowledge of his Saviour and bis (iod. From the violence and severity of the stroke, he par. tially recovered ; and afterwards removed to Newcastle, that he might the more conveniently enjoy the gospel,--the distance between this and bis former place of residence being now too great for his weakly walk.
In 1790 be was visited with a heavy trial. Upon the 24th of
December his much esteemed partner in life was removed to the unseen world. They bad been connected in the marriage rela. tion more than 49 years; which had been passed in the mutual endearments of unfeigned affection, - passed in the exercise of all the Christian and social virtues which adorn human nature, passed in a manner becoming those who were heirs together of the grace of life. Such was the hold that his disorder had on the mind of Mrs. Pringle, that it very much injured her health : ber constitution was strong, but her feelings were stronger. After his illness, her strength gradually diminished. The infirmities of age approached with rapid step; and, at the above date, put a period to her toils and sorrows, in the 85th year of her age i · About this time his sight began to fail ; and, in about six months afterwards, he was incapable of distinguishing one oba ject from another. This trial also he sustained with becoming fortitude and resignation. It gave, however, a new direction to his conduct and exercises ; an instance of which I cannot forbcar to mention : - After he was deprived of sight, he could not for some time refrain from visiting his old acquaintances. This he found was attended with inconvenience to thuse who conducted him. At length the thought occurred, that the court belonging to the meeting. house was accessible to him. Thither he henceforth often repaired. On the southern side of the chapel, where he enjoyed the genial rays of the meridian sun, he had an excel lent walk, without the danger of wandering from the way. Here he had also an opportunity of conversing with his God. When he thought proper, he withdrew into the meeting-house, a door being opened for his retreat, should a change of weather have rendered it necessary. Many a fervent prayer he here preferred to Heaven. Often have his importunate supplications saluted my ears when I have approached the door, with a view to conduct him home. There the condition of his friends, especially those whose state he suspected was unsafe, excited all the sympa. thies of his soul. Oh, the importunate entreaties he there made for
their salvation! The diffusion of Christianity,the speedy ap· proach of Christ's universal reign, -- the efficacy of the gospel
where already preached, success to the laudable efforts of the Missionary Societies, and an increase of piety in the rising generation, formed the various subjects of his earnest addresses ! the throne of grace. Many were the hours of delightful intimacy which he therc, alone and undisturbed, enjoyed with his Gad!
Upon the 8th of March, 1798, he received a second sbock of the palsy ; and now his whole body was afficted. He was ina capable of assisting himself with food; nor could he walk across the room without support. He looked upon this second stroke as the immediate forerunner of death. His confidence still ree mained firm, as is evident from what he said to his relations who waited upon him : . When I die, you need not grieve on 1!y account, for all will be well; for the Lord is my God!' .