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temptation, but, believing he was formed for some intellectual pursuit, he entered a lawyer's office. At the end of three years he prevailed on his unwilling father to allow him to go to Glasgow University and study for the ministry. He completed his Arts' course in May, 1848. His Natural Philosophy professor was the distinguished scientist who still fills that chair !
Passing through the New College, Mr. Black was licensed a probationer of the Free Church by the Presbytery of Ayr, on the 8th June, 1852. The presbytery pronounced him the most promising student who had yet come before them. At this time he had an extraordinary attack of whooping-cough, which so reduced him that his emaciated appearance on several occasions stood in the way of his promotion. Receiving simultaneously calls to Kilsyth and Linlithgow, he accepted the former, and on the occasion of his ordination, so highly was he esteemed by the people of Cumnock, he was presented by them with a valuable collection of books. The year after the death of Dr. Burns, Mr. Black married a daughter of the family of Mr. John F. Walker, who had been parochial schoolmaster and session clerk. “His life from that date till it ended,” says his accomplished son, "was one of almost uneventful toil, broken in its later stages by the demolition of the old Disruption church and the erection in its place of that graceful Gothic edifice which now crowns the brow of the brae on the south side of the town.” The disease to which Mr. Black succumbed was of a nervous character, and was to be traced to the fact that for many years he never had had a real holiday. The decline was gradual, but the worries inseparable from the election of a colleague precipitated his end, and in the November of 1888, he passed peacefully to his rest.
When Mr. Black first began his ministry, he could not deliver even a prayer-meeting address without first writing it out and committing it to memory. His first extempore performance was at a week-day meeting, when he had to take the place of a minister who failed to appear. He came through the ordeal creditably, and from that time onward, his evening sermons were delivered without being previously written. Mr. Black had an excellent memory, and, after having written out his sermons, he was able to commit them with great facility. He has been succeeded in office by the Rev. William Jeffrey, who, in addition to being a minister of the Free Church, is also a qualified medical practitioner.
WILLIAM C. Burns-Boyhood—“A Maxie"-Edinburgh Life-A
Turning Point-Studies for the Ministry-Oratorical Power-
WILLIAM C. BURNs was the son of Dr. Burns of Kilsyth. He was born in the manse of Dun, ist April, 1815. From the sequestered retirement of Dun, where the wheels of life moved slowly and quietly, he came to Kilsyth with his father when, in 1821, he was inducted minister of the parish. Dun was never a real part of William Burns' life; it lay behind him rather like a happy dreamland or as a golden haze on the verge of his existence. The town of Kilsyth then contained 3000 inhabitants, and the landward 2000. The boy attended the parish school, and soon felt the stimulus of the more active life amid which he had now been cast. Among the sons of the farmers, weavers, and miners, he grew up, if not a tall, still a strong, ruddy lad, with a capability of going his own way and holding his own part. Books were not entirely neglected, but for his natural instincts the Kilsyth hills and Carron water had irresistible attractions. The ambition of his heart was to be a farmer. At this period an uncle took him to Aberdeen, and placed him under Dr. Melvin, the famous classic. The doctor's frown, on the occasion of his having perpetrated a maxie, William never forgot. If he had murdered his father, the teacher could not have looked upon him with greater scorn and indignation mingled with pity!
From the Aberdeen Grammar School he went to the university. In the bursary competition he stood fifth, and at the end of two sessions he entered the office of his uncle, Mr. Alexander Burns, Writer to the Signet, Edinburgh. That the young man, up to this time, had been leading a life of vicious self-indulgence is most highly improbable. Men of the temperament, and occupying the theological standpoint of William Burns, are prone to paint their spiritual condition before conversion in the blackest colours, erroneously imagining that by so doing the grace of God is magnified. That there had, however, been some wanderings in the paths of folly on the part of the young man seems to have been the case. It was, consequently, happy for him that through the interposition of the Holy Spirit he was arrested in these questionable courses before they had blossomed out into irretrievable transgression. He awoke to the consciousness that his heart was spiritually dead, on the occasion of receiving a letter from his sisters, in which they spoke of going as pilgrims to Zion, and leaving him behind them. That he should be parted from Christ gave him not the least concern, but the thought of being separated from his father and mother and sisters touched him to the quick. As he mused one evening over Pike's Early Piety, a holy fire began to burn. In a moment, whilst he gazed on a solemn passage, his inmost soul was pierced as with a dart. God had apprehended him. Retiring to his bedroom, with many tears, he besought God to blot out his transgressions, and to have mercy upon him. His prayers'
were answered, and he felt that the Almighty had visited him with His salvation. So the conversion of the lawyer's clerk was accomplished. That it was a real turning of the heart unto God his after life bears the most ample witness. Thenceforward his path was as the shining light which shines more and more unto the perfect day. From that time his piety burned with an unfluttering flame. When his Peniel wrestling was over, his new name was William Burns, Missionary and Evangelist.
Mr. Burns, determining now to fall in with his father's wishes, abandoned his uncle's office and began the prosecution of his studies for the ministry. Passing through his classes with considerable distinction, he was licensed a preacher of the Gospel by the Presbytery of Glasgow, 27th March, 1839. He preached his first sermon in Kilsyth Church, from the text, “I beseech, you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” As a preacher, Mr. Burns had a voice of great compass and power. He knew the value of this rare qualification, and using it with skill, it was of enormous advantage to him when addressing large crowds. He had little imagination. The treatment of his themes was neither artistic nor poetic. The similitudes were wholly commonplace, and his use of them by no means after a manner calculated to impress the cultivated bearer with the refinement either of his oratorical or literary taste. His judgment, however, was just, and his thinking clear. The audience could never miss his meaning, and his careful divisions enabled them very easily to remember what he had preached. His appeals were direct, forcible, and impassioned. He impressed the listener as one standing