« PreviousContinue »
A PO EM,
DEDICATED TO THE REVEREND MR. RALPH ERSKINE, BY A LADY
IN NEW ENGLAND, UPON READING HIS GOSPEL SONNETS.
Erskine, thou blessed herald found,
Exalt the Lamb in lovely white and red,
REV. MR. RALPH ERSKINE.
The Rev. Mr. Ralph ERSKINE was honorably descended of very respectable ancestors; his father, the Rev. Mr. Henry ERSKINE, being one of the thirty-three children of Ralph ERSKINE of Shield field, a family of considerable repute and standing in the county of Merse, and originally descended from the ancient house of Mar. Our author and his brother, the Rev. Mr. EBENEZER ERSKINE, late minister of the gospel at Stirling, were two of the children of the said Rev. Mr. HENRY ERSKINE, who was some time minister of the gospel at Cornwall, afterwards at Chirnside ;* a man eminent in his day, and justly distinguished for his piety and firm attachment to Presbyterian principles : for his stedfast adherence to which, he was subjected to many
* Cornwall is in the shire of Northumberland; Chirnside lies about five miles from Berwick upon Tweed, in the Scots side,
considerable hardships in the latter part of the last century, during the persecuting period of Charles II. and James VII.*
The author of the following poems was born at Monilaws, in the county of Northumberland, on Sabbath, the 15th of March, 1685, at three o'clock in the afternoon; and baptized at Chirnside, on the 5th of April of said year, by the Rev. Mr. William Violand.
He gave pretty early proofs of a great genius and fine fancy; and several instances of a pious disposition and a solid way of reflecting on matters. On this account he was, by his parents, early designed for the holy ministry, who resolved to give him a regular and liberal education, in order to qualify him for that important office.
When he had acquired a competent measure of grammar, and other introductory parts of education, he went to the university of Edinburgh, to complete his studies, where he went through the ordinary courses of philosophy and divinity with success, and made a considerable progress in all the different branches of literature; for, he soon became a fine Grecian, and excellent logician, and an accomplished philosopher. But after having acquired such a competent measure of knowledge, in these various branches of erudition, he gave himself
* See the continuation of Calamy's Life of Baxter, p. 681.
to the study of theology, his darling and beloved topic; in which he made great progress, as his productions therein do abundantly evidence.
The ordinary course of philosophical and theological studies being gone through, at the college of Edinburgh, with success, he was, in the providence of God, called forth to appear in a public character; and being well reported of, by all who knew him, for a conversation becoming the Gospel, he was accordingly taken upon trials by the presbytery of Dunfermline: and having finished the usual pieces of trial assigned him, to the entire satisfaction of the presbytery, he was by them licensed to preach, as a probationer, the everlasting Gospel, on the 8th of June, 1709; in which capacity he exercised the talents which the Lord had graciously conferred on him, within the bounds of the said Presbytery, both in vacancies and settled congregations, to the great satisfaction of his hearers, both ministers and people, as his certificate from that presbytery, dated April 4th, 1711, expressly bears. In this station of life he did not long remain : Providence soon opened a door for him; and he got a unanimous call, from the parishioners of Dunfermline, on the first of May, 1711, to exercise his ministerial talents and abilities amongst them; which call was approven of by the presbytery, on the day following, as regularly proceeded in. He went through the usual pieces of trial, for ordination, prescribed by the presby