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BERWICK UPON TWEED.
The subject of this Memoir, who was in a private station all his life, was much esteemed as a truly religious character by all denominations of Christians who knew him; and to' the last, both in the temper of his mind and tenor of his conduct, honoured the profession which he made. His religion was not merely speculation, nor did it consist in a stated round of external devotion, but it answered to that account given by the apostle :-“ If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. It is a tribute of respect due to his memory to say, That, by his death, Society lost a useful member, and Religion a valuable friend. The greater part of the following sketch, excepting what relates to his last illness, is taken from his own manuseript papers.
Mr. Jaines Nesbitt was born in the town of Berwick upon Tweed, July 16, 1742. His parents were honest and industrious persons. His father was not thought serious till towards the latter part of his life, when he read much in his Bible and other good books, and gave many evidences of a saving change. His mother, Margaret Burn, was a very godly woman. She was nearly related to some of the most respectable families in Berwick, e. g. to the present S, Burn, Esq. who has sometimes filled the office of Mayor, with inuch credit to himself and great approbation from the public; and to the late Dr. Burn, long an eminent physician. 'Mr. Nesbitt's mother died when he was only three years of age; by which event he sustained a great loss indeed. He was bred to the Church of England, his parents having been both of that communion. His first religious impressions he did not remember; but when a boy. at school, he was wont sometiines to pray very fervently for God's grace. When very young, he used to attend all the funerals he ovuld; and would cry when he could not get an op
portunity. - At one tine, in his very early years, he was unhappy in his mind about the resurrection of his body, if laid under a large tomb-stone, and how it could get to heaven. – As he was standing one day by the church-yard gate, he observed an old lame inan shake his crutch, and say, “ O ye meikle stones, ye shall all be broken to pieces in the morning of the resurrection !" This remark, together with these words of our blessed Lord, pronounced by the clergyman reading the Burial-Service, “I am the resurrection and the life; be that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die," greatly relieved his soul.
Mr. Nesbitt was intended for the medical profession ; but so delicate were his feelings, that he could not bear the idea of a surgical operation : so he went, when very young, to an uncle who was a brewer, to take care of his books.
In bis fifieenth year, he left the Church of England, and went to hear the late Rev. Mr. Monteith, a Presbyterian ininister in Berwick, for whom he had a great regard.
* This year," says he in his manuscript papers, “ Mr. Monteith's ministry was greatly blessed to my soul. I then received more humbling views of the depravity of my nature, and the desperate wickedness of my heart, than ever I had before. I wondered that I had not been sealed up long before, under an irreversible sentence of destruction. I also obtained more clear and affecting discoveries of the glory, suitableness, and excellency of the Lord Jesus as a Saviour, and a Saviour for me, than ever. I before experienced. I was then enabled to make his righteousness, blood, and atonement, my only refuge. Blessed, for ever blessed, be thy name, O Father of Mercies, who hast contrived the way to eternal life! All praise be to the Lamb that was slain ; and to that kind Providence which sent the word of salvation to me! O let me 101, for ten thousand worlds, receive the grace of God in vain !".
On the 1st of Septeinber, 1763, he was married to Hannah Stanton, a religiously disposed woman, by whom he had a son, named Samuel, who died a few days after birth; and whose death seems to bave been a very sore trial to him, as he never had another child. On this dispensation he makes the following observations: - “ Ciny God, I lent my little Samuel to thee so long as he should live, and now, January 30, 1765, thou hast been pleased to take him away by death. I trust thou hast taken hiin home to thyself, for thy covenant of promise is firin, sure, and reviving : -“I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed.” Ioow weep for sorrow; - but why should I? From this thy word, I hope my little Sadi is singing the praises of a redeeming God in inuch better company than liis mother's and mine."
March 2, 1765, he remarks, " When I was in deep distress, both of body and mind, I found my Bible open at Ezek. xxxvi. 11,' I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better u.to you that at your beginnings; and ye shall know that I ain the Lord.' It pleased God to shine upon his word, and 10 fill my soul with such an extacy, that I never enjoyed such a night in my life.” That promise supported hi'n powerfully through all the difficulties and trials he afterwards inet with : indeed, the remeinbrance of it ever after gave him pleasure, and raised his spirits in his lowest frames.
Febrnary 19, 1766, “ When walking along the walls of Berwich,' says he, “I accidentally met with Capt. Torial Joss, At this time I was unspeakably harrassed by the temptations of Satan, and borne dowu by an easily besetting sin that had alınost ruined me. Capt. Joss spoke to me, though a stranger. I invited lun to any house ; and that day, the Lord remarkably blessed his conversation for relieving my soul froin its heavy troubles, a d for obtaining victory over the sin that had sadly prevailed against me. That day I shall never forget! Blessed be God for sending thai holy man to me, and for making him an instrument in his hand of my deliverance! Ever after, I fasted on the anniversary of thåt day (so far as my worldly business would permit) and spent the evening of it in solema thanksgiving to God.”
After Mr. Monteith removed from Berwick to Alnwick, Mr. Nesbitt attended the ininistry of the Rev. A. Dickson, whom he highly esteemed, both as a Christian and a minister. He was truly a buning and a shining light in his day. To a clear and accurate display of evangelical truths, he added an enforcement of them singularly earnest. About this time Mr. Nesbitt read, and studied with great attention, The Confession of Faith, Catechisms, and foron of Presbyterian Church Go. vernment. He compared these with the word of God; and expresses, in his MSS. his great satistaction with them, and the spiritual profit which he reaped from a diligent perusal of them. “They were truly,” says he, “ a feast to iny soul! and may the present generation never lose sight of these precious forms of sound words, but tianismit them dowi to pos. terity, to the very end of tine!"
On the 25th of October, 1772, Mr. Nesbitt was ordained an Elder in the Associate Congre ration of Berwick. Oa that occasion he expresses himself this: ** O Lord, I have this day been admitted to an office in thy church! Lord, thou knowest my untitness for it. I look up to thee for every necessary qualification. I implore more grace for the perforinance of the numerous duies incumbent upon me: more wisdom, more prudence, more caution and circumspection in all my ways become ine. May I derive more abundant supplies from the exhaustless fulness of Jesus, and be more active
the service of my God and immortal souls ! Lord, help me, and uphold me with thine everlasting arms !"
In the year 1777, W. Pratt and A. Gregson, Esqrs. being well informed of Mr. Nesbitt's abilities as an accurate and ready accountant, and of his great sobriety and uprightness in the whole of his deportment, engaged him to superintend their extensive brewery in Berwick. In this situation be continued to the end of his days.
Mr. Nesbitt was concerned to live habitually near to God; and he enjoyed much comfortable fellowship with him in secret and family duties; but sacramental solemnities more especially, were to his soul times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Of this he has given many hints in his MSS. I shall only instance the following: October 19th, 1798. This morning,” says he," I rose at four a'clock, to spend two hours in prayer for my minister and the other servants of God in the gospel, and for all the congregation, in view of the Lord's Supper; not forgetting the concerns of my own soul. This has been my manner before communion seasons, ever since I knew the grace of God in truth; and, praise to my God, who has frequently made it a profitable as well as a pleasant exercise ! i have this morning been endeavouring to cry to him for his assisting, sanctifying, and reviving presence to be with ministers and people, and ihat my own soul may be satisfied with the goodness of his house. I trust, I have not cried in vain. He has given ine a word on which to bope ; his Holy Spirit bas spoken it to my heart with power : - " I will make them and the places about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower 10 come down in its season, there shall be showers of blessing *." Lord, thou hast often, ere now, at a communion-table, sealed to me the remission of all my sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the promise of eternal life, enable me again, next Sabbath, to take the cup of salvation, and to call upon thy blessed name.”
Mrs. Hannah Nesbiit, after a long and severe illness, departed this life December 10, 1799. Concerning this providence he has the following remarks: -" The Lord hath taken away, this day, my pious, and peaceable companion, with whom I have lived ibiese thirty-six years. Surely, it becomes me to lay my hand upon my mouth, and to say, “ The will of the Lord be done.” 'What a loud call is this dispensation to me, lo prepare for my last change! As with a voice from Heaven, God is now crying to me, * Let your loins be girded, and your lamp burning, and be in a posture of waiting for your Lord." Alas! for ny unreadiness for dying. My soul, in spite of me, cleaves upto the dust! Almighty God, raise my heart and af
* Ezek. xxxiv. 26.