Images de page


NATHANIEL MORREN, the author of the following Discourses, was born in Aberdeen on the 3d day of February 1798. He had the misfortune to lose both parents in very early life—his father having died when he was but an infant of eight months; and his mother, when he was a child of only seven years. But, in the house of their maternal grandfather, a kindly home was prepared for Nathaniel and the other members of the orphan family; and under the fostering care of two devoted relatives — unmarried sisters of their mother—they experienced all the attention which even maternal affection could have secured.

At the age of four he was sent to school, and with remarkable facility acquired the first elements of education. In 1806 he entered the grammar-school of Aberdeen, and four years afterwards was enrolled as a student at Marischal College. He graduated in 1814, having by his correct deportment, industry, and talents, secured the marked approbation of his teachers and professors, and already exhibited some promising indications of that eminence which, as a scholar, he was destined afterwards to attain.

At a very early age his love of learning developed itself; indeed, from mere childhood, his studious habits were conspicuous. Though endowed with a cheerful 6 He often,” says

disposition, he had no taste for trifling amusements. His books were his constant companions; and, almost as soon as he could use a pen, he commenced the practice of making extracts of such passages as he deemed peculiarly interesting and instructive. Several little volumes of these, still preserved by his friends, at once indicate the prevailing bias, and attest the remarkable industry of the child.

Meanwhile his religious instruction was not neglected; and “From a child he was taught to know the Holy Scriptures.” Besides the family training of his pious and intelligent aunts, he enjoyed the advantages of attending a Sabbath-school. In its exercises he seems to have taken the deepest interest; and of the benefit which he there received, he cherished a grateful remembrance in after life.

Mrs Morren, to whom the writer is indebted for many of the facts recorded in this brief memoir of her lamented husband,“ spoke of the pleasure he took in the Sabbath-school; and the privileges he there enjoyed may have qualified him for becoming the successful teacher, when he entered himself on that work.”

Mr Morren's literary studies at Marischal College having been completed, an arrangement was entered into, through the recommendation of Professor Glennie, for his entering the establishment of Mr Joseph Lowe,

a gentleman resident in Caen,—who, having devoted himself to literature as a profession, was in the habit of employing several young men as coadjutors in his labours.

To a youth of Mr Morren's inclinations and habits, no species of employment could have been, in anticipation, more congenial than this; and, accordingly, his disappointment was considerable when circumstances rendered it necessary that his departure for the Continent should be, for some time, deferred. In the meantime he accepted the situation of private tutor in a family in the neighbourhood of Fort George, devoting his leisure hours to the diligent study of the French and German languages, in order the better to qualify himself for the duties which he had now in prospect. It is believed that, while occupying this situation, his mind received its first saving impression of divine things. For a time he appears to have been subject to doubts and fears—spiritual darkness seems to have brooded over his soul ;—but ere long his difficulties were overcome, the light of Heaven burst through the gathering clouds, and the shadows of a dismal night were dispersed. The immediate causes of this gracious effect we have not means of ascertaining; but it would seem that his temporary disappointment was, under Divine Providence, the occasion of placing him amidst influences which were destined to become the hallowed instruments of opening his mind to a saving apprehension of the truth.

Mr Morren seems to have become greatly attached to the family who at that time enjoyed his services; and when at length the arrangements for his proceeding to the Continent were completed, he left them with deep regret. His disposition was amiable, his heart affectionate; and as mutual esteem had been the effect of his temporary sojourn with this worthy family, so mutual regret was experienced when the period of separation arrived. Alluding to this circumstance in a letter to his brother, written about this time, he says“Our final parting will be a sore struggle for both

parties. Were I not engaged to Mr Lowe, I know not what consideration would prevail with me to leave this family: we are mutually happy and contented.”

Early in the autumn of 1815 Mr Morren proceeded to the Continent, to commence his literary labours in Caen. His letters at this period are highly interesting—at once indicating the devotional sentiment of the youthful Christian, and the affectionate warmth of the loving relation and friend, and exhibit those habits of observation, and that power of description, which he possessed in no ordinary degree ;--the state of the country at this memorable period having enabled him to enrich, with topics of peculiar interest, a correspondence regularly maintained with his friends at home. His residence on the Continent extended till the autumn of 1818.

Although some of his friends, and particularly the gentleman in whose establishment he was employed, were anxious that he should devote himself to literature as a profession, he seems, during the whole time of his residence in Caen, to have steadily cherished the intention of prosecuting the study of theology with a view to the office of the ministry; and he was consequently peculiarly desirous, had circumstances permitted, to complete his studies at Geneva. “I begin," says he in a letter to his brother, October 1816,-"to think seriously of following out the study of theology, and should prefer doing it, if at all possible, at a foreign university. A course at Geneva is the great object of my ambition."

The desire to prosecute theological studies was not, in his case, with a view merely to qualify him for what he considered an eligible and honourable situation in life. His motives were of a higher kind. His cor

He was a

respondence at this time, as well as his own private memoranda, seems clearly to indicate a mind under the pervading influence of heavenly grace. man of prayer; and with a like-minded companion he was wont to meet regularly for devotional exercises ; nothing affording him more sincere delight, while sojourning in this foreign land, than to know that he and his dear relatives, though far apart, enjoyed the sacred privilege of meeting daily at the footstool of their Father's throne. Writing on the 27th May 1817, to a beloved sister, now long since departed, he thus expresses himself, in language which reveals at once his deep interest in her spiritual welfare and the peace in believing which he had himself attained :- 66 Your letter of 26th March gave me great pleasure. .. Nothing can be more agreeable to a friend than to witness the growth of religion in those who are the objects of his love; and of all the ties that connect us, this is surely the strongest—that we are children of the same Father, partakers of the same spiritual blessings, and jointheirs with the same Redeemer.

Both of us, I trust, now know something of the happiness of those to whom the Lord imputeth not sin. Having been eased of our load of guilt, and its apprehended consequences, and visited by the day-spring from on high, we can now adopt the language of the poet:66 Darkness and doubt are now flying away,

No longer I roam in conjecture forlorn;
Thus breaks on the traveller, faint and astray,

The bright and the balmy effulgence of morn.' The following extracts from a private memorandum, of date 7th April 1816, will be read with some interest, as indicating his views and feelings in the prospect of

« PrécédentContinuer »