Parting From Family
My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsel and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been but yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene. His tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain! He grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly said: “God bless you, my son! Your father’s God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!”
Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears we embraced, and parted. I ran off as fast as I could; and, when about to turn a corner in the road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him gazing after me. Waving my hat in adieu, I was round the corner and out of sight in an instant. But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for a time. Rising up cautiously, I climbed the dyke to see if he yet stood where I had left him; and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dyke and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he had gazed eagerly in my direction for a while he got down, set his face towards home, and began to return, his head still uncovered, and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me. I watched through blinding tears, till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonor such a father and mother as He had given me.
The appearance of my father when we parted has often through life risen vividly before my mind, and does so now as if it had been but an hour ago. In my earlier years particularly, when exposed to many temptations, his parting form rose before me as that of a guardian Angel. It is no pharisaism, but deep gratitude, which makes me here testify that the memory of that scene not only helped to keep me pure from the prevailing sins, but also stimulated me in all my studies, that I might not fall short of his hopes, and in all my Christian duties, that I might faithfully follow his shining example. Pages 40-42 Volume I
Changes in Life
Upon being set apart for mission work in the New Hebrides, and leaving his “thriving” ministry as a “City Missionary” Mr. Paton received much discouraging counsel from many of his closest friends and associates. Today, many would see this as “wise counsel” and may have abandoned their life work. However, here is one example of this discouragement and his response.
I cannot honestly say that such offers (a free home) or opposing influences proved a heavy trial to me; they rather tended to confirm my determination that the path of duty was to go abroad. Amongst many who sought to deter me, was one dear Christian gentleman, whose crowning argument always was, – ” The Cannibals! you will be eaten by Cannibals!” At last I replied, “Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in that Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”
The old gentleman, raising his hands in a deprecating attitude, left the room exclaiming, – “After that I have nothing more to say!” My dear Green Street people grieved excessively at the thought of my leaving them, and daily pled with me to remain. Indeed, the opposition was so strong from nearly all, and any of them, many warm Christian friends, that I was sorely tempted to question whether I was carrying out the Divine will, or only some headstrong wish of my own. This caused me much anxiety, and drove me close to God in prayer. Pages 90-91 Volume I
Seeking The Wisdom of Parents and the Duty of a Son
On meeting with so many obstructing influences, I again laid the whole matter before my dear parents, and their reply was to this effect: – “Heretofore we feared to bias you, but now we must tell you why we praise God for the decision to which you have been led. Your father’s heart was set upon being a Minister, but other claims forced him to give it up. When you were given to them, your father and mother laid you upon the alter, their first-born, to be consecrated, if God saw fit, as a Missionary of the Cross; and it has been their constant prayer that you might be prepared, qualified, and led to this very decision; and we pray with all our heart that the Lord may accept your offering, long spare you, and give you many souls from the Heathen World for your hire.” From that moment, every doubt as to my path of duty for ever vanished. I saw the hand of God very visibly, not only preparing me for, but now leading me to, the foreign Mission field.
Well did I know that the sympathy and prayers of my dear parents were warmly with me in all my studies and in all my mission work; but for my education they could, of course, give me no money help. All through, on the contrary, it was my pride and joy to help them, being the eldest in a family of eleven… I gave, and gladly, what could possibly be saved out of my City Mission salary of $40, ultimately advanced to $45, per annum. Self-educated thus, and without the help of one shilling from any other source, readers will easily imagine that I had many a staggering difficulty to overcome in my long curriculum in Arts, Divinity, and Medicine; but God so guided me, and blessed all my little arrangements, that I never incurred one farthing of personal debt. Pages 92-94 Volume I