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REV. EBENEZER ERSKINE,
MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL AT STIRLING.
SERMONS AND DISCOURSES,
ON IMPORTANT AND INTERESTING SUBJECTS.
TO WHICH IS ADDED,
AN ENLARGED MEMOIR OF THE Author,
REV. D. FRASER,
MINISTER OF THE UNITED ASSOCIATE SYNOD, KENNOWAY, FIFB.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
PUBLISHED AND FOR SALE BY WM. S. & A. YOUNG,
FOR SALE, ALSO, BY A. TOWAR, JAMES STREET.
REV. EBENEZER ERSKINE.
THE desire of becoming acquainted with the character and history of a writer, to whose pen we are indebted for entertainment or instruction, is almost, universally felt; and, in some instances, the gratification of this natural wish is conducive to very valuable purposes. When we sit down to peruse publications rich in evangelical sentiment and fervid with earnest exhortation, the salutary impressions which such writings tend to produce, are likely, by the divine blessing, to be considerably aided by means of ample and authentic intelligence, previously obtained, of a corresponding spirit and behaviour, on the part of their authors. Who does not know that the charms of truth are never more alluring, and that her power is never more invincible, than when she comes recommended by a man, whose whole conduct, amidst numerous vicissitudes and trials, has afforded convincing evidence, that he belonged to the class of her earnest admirers, and most disinterested votaries? The peculiar circumstances, too, in which a writer has been placed, the singular services that in providence he may have been called to perform, and the bold appearance he may have found himself compelled to make in opposition to existing errors and defections, will so often serve to illustrate and palliate, if not completely to justify, various passages in his writings, which otherwise might appear obscure and unaccountable. For these and similar reasons, many have sincerely regretted, that in all former editions of the works of the Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, the prefixed accounts of his life have been so superficial. The present Memoir, though moderate in its extent, and by no means exhausting all the materials that are now at command, is intended, in a great measure, to supply this defect.
The parentage of Mr. Erskine was highly respectable. His father, the Rev. HENRY ERSKINE of Chirnside, was one of the younger of thirty-three children of Ralph Erskine of Shielfield,
an ancient family in the county of Merse, descended from the noble house of Mar. Interesting accounts of this worthy minister of Christ have been long in the hands of the public. He was born at Dryburgh in the year 1624, educated at the University of Edinburgh, and ordained at Cornhill in Northumberland, probably in the year 1649. After exercising his ministry there with hopeful appearances of success, for more than twelve years, he was ejected in 1662, in common with a numerous host of faithful brethren, for non-conformity to Prelacy. Some arrears of stipend that were owing him at the time of his ejection, were unjustly and cruelly withheld. After a fruitless voyage to London to recover the debt, he took up his abode at the place of his nativity, where he resided quietly for a series of years, preaching the gospel occasionally as opportunities occurred. During this period too, he seems to have prosecuted sacred studies with peculiar ardour. Two of his Manuscripts are still extant; the one of which is dated 1664, and consists chiefly of a number of extracts from various authors on theology and church history. The other is a thick volume 12mo. containing a concise system of divinity, in the Latin tongue, which is entitled, Theologiæ Ostium, and seems to be his own composition. It includes short replies to six hundred and forty-seven Questions on various points, and was finished in the year 1665. But whatever comparative tranquillity he enjoyed for a season, he began about the year 1682, to undergo severe persecution. He was banished from his native country, fined in the sum of 5000 merks, and repeatedly imprisoned in different places. After the passing of the Act of Indemnity, however, he was restored to liberty, and preached for some time at Monilaws, in the parish of Branxton, Northumberland, and afterwards at Whitsom, a village on the north of the Tweed. During his residence at Whitsom, it pleased God to make him the instrument of converting the celebrated Mr. Thomas Boston of Etterick, then a boy about ten years of age. Mr. Boston himself, in his "Soliloquy on the Art of Man-fishing," ascribes his first saving impressions of the truth to sermons which he heard delivered at Newton of Whitsom, by "a preacher, who spared neither his body, his credit, nor reputation, to gain the souls of men."
Shortly after the happy Revolution of 1688, this venerable man accepted a call to the parish of Chirnside, where he continued to discharge his office with exemplary fidelity and much success till he entered the joy of his Lord on the 10th of August, 1696, in the seventy-second year of his age. Amidst all the hardships he suffered for the sake of the gospel, this excellent minister found great cause to adore the goodness of God, not only in cheering him with the consolations of his Spirit, but also in wonderfully providing for the temporal subsistence of himself and family. He met with much kindness both from relations and from stran
* See Wodrow's History of the Church of Scotland, Calamy's Lives of the Ejected Ministers, &c.