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and unshaken. At the parochial school, he received the elementary principles of educa tion, and failed not to distinguish himself by his docility and application. November 15. 1762, he entered on his academical studies at the university of Edinburgh, and was enabled to prosecute them with rapidity, and without interruption. The circumstances and the influence of his father, prevented him from being doomed, like most of his brethren in early life, to the drudgery of teaching, as the instrument of obtaining present subsistence and future preferment.
At that time, the different chairs in the university were filled, (as they have since been,} by men of eminent talents and learning, and their prelections were attended by youths destined to distinction in all the departments of literature and science. Under such instructors, and associated with such competitors to rouse emulation, it was not likely that a mind such as that of our author, should repose in indolence, or fail to expand and increase its powers. While some are less ambitious to have
something to say than they are to say
while they prefer the meretricious ornaments of style and composition to the firmer substance of doctrine and of truth, his constant aim was to acquire that knowledge which is of avail in the profession to which he pointed, and a facility of compressing his thoughts with energy and clearness. Endued by nature with talents for extemporary speaking, he was wont to exercise and improve them in those societies which our academical youth form for their mutual benefit. The characters of those who were the intimate companions of his private hours, shew his mind and heart to have been under the controul of those religious and moral principles, which were found to be the guides and the consolation of his future days.
During his last session at College, he was unexpectedly called for a season to relinquish the prosecution of his studies. After a short illness, which, at taking leave of him only a few weeks before, there was no reason to anticipate, his venerable father fell asleep in Jesus, December 3, 1798. 3. 1798. Having attended to perform the last tender offices of filial duty;
having joined in the general regret which the event awakened, and administered consolation to the surviving members of his family, he returned to the scat of learning; and at the close of the sessions, he finished the course of study prescribed by the laws of the church. Thereafter he was taken on trials by the presbytery of Annan; and having acquitted himself to their entire atisfaction, was licensed by them to preach the gospel, as a probationer for the holy ministry, October 4. 1769.
Invested now with a public character, he was to give decisive proofs that he was not unworthy of it. To the standards of the Church, he had adhibited his solemn subscription, regarding them not merely as articles of peace, or qualifications for office, but because they were indeed the confession of his own faith. Consonant to these, and to the word of God, on which they are founded, were the earliest as well as the latest discourses which he prepared for the pulpit, Fitted thus to be an acceptable and popular preacher, such doubtless he became. In him
the adage, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country, received nó confirmation. Though his labours were begun where het had almost constantly resided, and where his principles and conduct, if they had been chargeable with unsoundness and corruption, could not fail to be known, wherever he appeared to officiate occasionally, crowded audiences assembled, and were dismissed under deep impressions of satisfaction and gratitude. That popularity which followed him, he neither courted nor despised: His mind was above the influence of that silly passion which is gratified by empty applause; and he was too well informed not to perceive, that a good name, obtained by honourable means, is a powerful instrument of usefulness.
In the rank of a probationer, he was not long to remain. God had prepared a people for him; and, in the course of providence, his introduction among them was secured. The Rev. Thomas Hamilton had long exercised the functions of the ministry in the parish of Holywood; and being now full of years, and
unfit for labour, was solicitous that the charge of his flock should devolve on a faithful assitant and successor. Mr Johnston was made known to him; and was found, upon trial, fully to come up to his expectations, and those of his people. In April 1771, the aged pastor retired to spend the evening of his days in Glasgow, reserving to himself a small portion only of the emoluments of the benefice. With the unanimous consent of the patron, heritors, elders, and congregation, Mr Johnston was, August 22. 1771, ordained to the office of the holy ministry, by the pres bytery of Dumfries, within whose bounds Holywood is situated. This is the only church preferment he ever obtained. Frequently, indeed, he might have been trans-lated to a more lucrative, or to a more conspicuous station. But he found himself at once in his place, among a people whose call he had received and accepted, and whose esteem and attachment were to be commensurate with his own zeal, and fidelity, and diligence.