Page images


Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year Eighteen Hundred and



In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of New York.


ST. CATHARINES, C. W., September 18th, 1860.


My Dear Sir: Understanding that a brief biographical sketch of the esteemed author of the following letters (published under your auspices) was desired by you by way of introduction, and having been requested to undertake this duty, it is with sincere pleasure that I comply. I can honestly say, that during a pastorate stretching over upwards of twelve years, (eight of which were spent in Kingston) I have never met with a more conscientious Christian, or a truer friend-a man of more disinterested benevolence, sterling integrity, and hightoned Christian principle, or one more disposed on the altar of religion and humanity, to present his body a living sacrifice. I can say this with greater confidence, because I do not go the doctor s length in certain departments of the Temperance question, though always cordially appreciating the strength and sincerity of his convictions, the purity of his motives, and the ability, energy and steady consistent perseverance, with which his somewhat unpalatable views have been advocated.

Dr. Mair was born in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland, 7th March, 1798. His father (a man of sound judgment, iron will, sterling worth and noble, independent spirit,) was commander and part owner of vessels trading with North America. His mother (a meek, devout Christian woman) was daughter of Professor John Stewart, of Marischal college, Aberdeen, a most able and acute mathematician, and intimate friend of Dr. Thomas Reid, the celebrated metaphysician, and father of the "Scotch Philosophy." Of the ability and worth of John Stewart, ample evidence is furnished in "Reid s Life" of the renowned Dugald Stewart, and the last edition of his Works and Correspondence, by that prince of mental philosophers, recently deceased, Sir Wm. Hamilton. On the maternal side Dr. Mair is lineally descended from Sir John Stewart, brother to James, 7th Lord High Steward and grandfather to King Robert the IId of Scotland. Sir John commanded a wing of Sir William Wallace's army at the memorable battle of Falkirk, where he fell covered with glory, A.D. 1298. The doctor's academical education was pursued at the time-honored university of which his grandfather had been an ornament. His degree of A. M. was obtained in 1815; that of M. D. at the University of Edinburgh in 1819. He became an Ordinary and Extraordinary Member of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh. He attended the celebrated schools, and walked some of the leading hospitals of London and Paris, perfecting his knowledge of his profession. In the latter city he was a pupil of the distinguished Broussais.

From 1821 till 1852, the long period of thirty-one years, he served as a medical officer in Her Britannic Majesty's army, reaching the rank of staff surgeon, first class. It was in 1847, on my settlement over Chalmers' Presbyterian Church, Kingston, I first became acquainted with Dr. Mair, and I soon discovered in him the living epistle of Christ, known and read of all men. He was then medical officer at that important military post, remaining till 1850,

and returning in '53 for permanent residence, on his retirement from the army. He was the centre of a faithful band of Corneliuses of the Vickar's stamp, to which belonged such men as Capt. Hammond, one of the heroes of the Redan of Crimean, but yet more illustrious Christian, fame. In that most interesting of Christian Biographies, "Hammond's Life," "the good physician" obtains honorable mention, and his contribution is not the least valuable. With all those works of faith and labours of love into which that most manly and Christian soldier threw his whole soul, Dr. Mair had to do. The Bible and tract societies found in him their most efficient practical advocate; of the weekly committee meetings, and the monthly concert for prayer, he was the most regular attender; of the Kingston Sabbath Reformation Society he was the first President, and now fills the office of Secretary. He was ever ready to distribute and willing to communicate. His ear was ever open to the cry of the needy. Professional advice gratis and pecuniary assistance were most ungrudgingly given to multitudes.


During the fatal emigrant fever of 1847 and the cholera of '49, he followed in the footsteps of the Great Physician who went about continually doing good. The chamber of sickness, the house of mourning-at once the lofty and the lowly were cheered by his presence, and comforted and directed by his prayers and counsel. In our Sanitary Board, and our City Mission, he was very promiIn addition to his other good works, already enumerated, he has, during this second term of our intercourse, identified himself specially with the management of the public schools and the "sacramental" phase of the temperance question. As a school trustee he has been most energetic and faithful, though subjected not unfrequently to not a little annoyance. With the temperance cause he connected himself in 1843, when in a precarious state of health, influenced by the advice of a brother physician. In 1850, when going home in the ship, two letters by Judge Marshall, of Nova Scotia, brought the sacra mental wine question under his notice, and since 1852 he has been decided upon it. During the intervening years he has read and written much regarding it, and has been endeavoring to rouse the churches and Christians generally to its consideration. Aside from this subject the doctor has written on others connected with his profession, though from his life having been one of labor and travel, he has not had much time to devote to literary pursuits. We have not seen any of the letters Dr Mair now proposes publishing, but we are certain, from what we know of the man, however much some may call in question his positions, all must admire the honesty and fearlessness with which they are advanced, and the extensive erudition and intimate knowledge of scripture by which their advocacy is marked. Most of the readers of these "Delavan Letters" will be strangers to their author. Let them understand that those who know him best think most of him; and however "peculiar" some may think his views to be, and however fervid, even to fanaticism, others may regard his defence of them, it is the general feeling throughout the entire circle of his acquaintances, that no one has a better right than he to appropriate the eulogium of the patient patriarch-"When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me, because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor, and the cause which I knew not I searched out."

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

The Bible, and the Bible only, ought to be the Temperance of the world. Let us heartily adopt this principle as our motto and watch-word, never to be forgotten or forsaken by us. If it had never been lost sight of since the days of the Apostles, or after being for a period neglected, had been again firmly laid hold of by the churches of Christ, some hundreds of years ago, and vigorously maintained in all succeeding ages, down to the present time, there would have been no need of the Temperance or Teetotal movement, for the plain reason that total abstinence from all intoxicating drinks in man's normal state of health, would have been the uniform law and custom in all well governed Kingdoms and Republics, thoroughly incorporated with their civil and religious institutions, and forming the ground-work of their prosperity and happiness.

A triple chain unites the Temperance of earth with the jurisprudence of Heaven, not one link of which can be severed without deranging the whole.

The sum and substance of the two tables of the moral law is expressive of this three-fold love: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:" this is the first commandment; and the second is like namely, this: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Mark xii, 30, 31.) Temperance built upon this immovable foundation, the law of God, in its three-fold character of love to Him, as the source of piety or goodliness; love to self, flowing from the other, and forming with it the source of self-government or sobriety; and love to man flowing from the two previous loves, and constituting with these the conjoint source of righteousness or justice, form a temple sacred to Jehovah, which is "as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth forever." It is at this point that there is a necessity for the introduction of the Cross of Christ, for "who (amongst the sinful sons of Adam) is sufficient for these things?" But what man could not do has been perfectly accomplished by Him, "who, although He was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, that ye, through His poverty, might be rich; who magnified the law and made it honorable; who, his own self, bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye were healed."

The Temperance of human, erroneously called Christian expediency, is very different. It must necessarily be lame, impotent, fickle, dishonoring to God, and incapable of bearing the burden, and accomplishing the work laid upon it; because it merely recognizes man's duty to his fellows, failing to take into account his paramount duty to God and his prior duty to himself, in which, unitedly, his duty to his neighbor must originate, and by which it must be regulated. In the following words of inspiration, this triune morality (if I may so speak), is beautifully set forth: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us that

« PreviousContinue »