Craig, William

, a divine of the church of Scotland, was the son of a merchant in Glasgow, where he was horn in February 1709; and in the seminaries of education in that city, he began and prosecuted his studies. At college he distinguished himself by his early taste and uncommon proficiency in classical learning; and received great assistance and encouragement from his kinsman the rev. Mr. Clerk, of Neilston in Renfrewshire. The moral philosophy of the ancients engaged his attention in a particular manner: and the moral writers of Greece and Rome were his favourite authors. By the attentive perusal of their works, and of the moral poets of antiquity, he had committed to his memory a great number of their most striking passages, and used to apply them occasionally, in the company of his select friends, with great ease, judgment, and ingenuity. In this he had an excellent example in the practice of his friend and instructor, the justly-celebrated Dr. Hutcheson, who was elected to the professorship of moral philosophy in the university of Glasgow about the time that Craig had nearly finished his theological and philosophical course. W T ith this amiable and eminent philosopher he was early and intimately connected. | Com-­mencing preacher in 1734, his philosophical monitor embraced every opportunity of hearing him; and with a frankness which shewed the opinion he entertained of the candour and abilities of his disciple, he offered such remarks on his sermons as he thought necessary. He particularly admonished him against a propensity to which young clergymen of ability are very liable, of indulging themselves in abstruse and philosophical disquisition. He advised, because he knew he was able to follow the advice, to preach to and from the heart. He did so. Habitually pious, ardently devout, and deeply interested in the welfare of those who listened to his instruction, he delivered himself with genuine and becoming earnestness. This was the spirit that directed his manner, which was solemn, yet animated; earnest, but correct; and though correct, not formal.

It is not to be supposed that a preacher of such eminence, especially at a time when this mode of preaching was rare, should remain unknown or unnoticed. He soon received a presentation from Mr. Lockhart of Cambusnethan, to be minister of that parish and settled there in the year 1737. About this time great opposition was made by the people of Scotland, and particularly by those of Clydesdale, to the manner of appointing ministers by presentations from lay-patrons, and Mr. Craig encountered considerable opposition. Zealous, however, in the discharge of his duty, and hoping, in the conscious ardour of his endeavours, to reconcile his parishioners to that system of instruction which he thought best suited to their condition, and most consistent with Christianity, he refused a presentation to a church in Airshire, offered him by Mr. Montgomery of Coilsfield; and another offered him by the amiable but unfortunate earl of Kilmarnock. At length he accepted of a presentation to a church in Glasgow, the place of his nativity, where most of his relations resided, where he could have opportunities of conversing with his literary friends, and where the field for doing good was more extensive. He was first appointed minister of the Wyndchurch in that city: and, after the building of St. Andrew’s churrh, one of the most elegant places of public worship in Scotland, he was removed thither. His audience was at no time so numerous, but especially during the last fiveand-twenty years of his life, as those who valued good | composition and liberality of sentiment apprehended that he deserved.

Craig about this time married the daughter of Mr. Anderson, a considerable merchant in Glasgow. She lived with him sixteen years; and by her he had several children; two of whom, namely, William, an eminent lawyer at the Scottish bar, and John, a merchant in Glasgow, survived their father. But the excellent understanding and amiable dispositions of his wife, which rendered his married state happy, contributed, by their painful recollection, to embitter the sufferings of his declining age. She died in 1758 and though he afterwards formed a very happy marriage with the daughter of Gilbert Kennedy, esq. of Auchtifardel, he scarcely ever recovered the shock of his first separation. Several years before he died, his strength and health gradually declined; his spirits were overwhelmed with melancholy; he seemed to have lost the power of enjoying happiness-; no amusement could relieve his depressions; he lamented that he was become useless; and that he felt, not only his body, but the faculties of his soul impaired. His sufferings were heightened by many additional afflictions; particularly by the death of his son Alexander, a very agreeable young man, who had been bred a merchant, but who was strongly inclined to the study of polite literature: and soon after by the death of his second wife, whose affectionate assiduities had been invariably employed in endeavouring to solace and support his infirmities. In this state of feebleness and dejection, notwithstanding the unwearied attention of, his surviving sons, he continued to languish: and, at length, in 1784, in the seventy-fifth year of his age, he was released by an easy death. Great sensibility seems to have given the general and prevailing colour to his character. It rendered his piety devout, his benevolence tender, and his friendship affectionate. In the culture of his understanding it inclined him to those studies that please by their beautiful imagery, or touch the heart with agreeable feelings. He was therefore very early addicted to classical learning; and cherished those views of religion that represent both God and man in a favourable light. Such sentiments and propensities, though not altogether singular at the time that he commenced his studies, were, however, so rare among students of theology, that, speaking figuratively, we may | call them singular. But singularity of disposition or opinion is usually disliked or opposed. The man of fortitude and strong nerves encounters the opposition; and either makes converts, or, by a bold authoritative tone, though he fails to conciliate affection, imposes respect. But the man of extreme sensibility, yielding to his native bias, is afraid of the struggle, declines the contest; and, excepting in the retirements of confidential friendship, not only appears, but really becomes shy and reserved. This disposition is nearly allied to modesty, and even humbleness of mind; yet the appearance of distance it so often assumes, is misrepresented by the undiscerning multitude; and, by a violent misapplication of terms, is misconstrued into pride. Effects almost of an opposite appearance are produced by the same principle, yet tend in their final issue to confirm this mistaken reserve. The man of sensibility, conscious of powers, exerts them; and, conscious of his own candour, expects suitable returns. He is disappointed. The observation of men is otherwise engaged: accidental circumstances, and other causes than such as arise from perversion of mind, carry away their attention from the merit that claims and deserves their notice. Of these the man of shy and retired sensibility is not aware; he becomes still more cautious in his intercourse with mankind; more shy, and more retired. But Craig, under the sacred shade, and in the retirements of intimate and confidential friendship, was unreserved, open, and even ardent. The spirit of real enjoyment, with which in his better days he engaged in familiar and literary conversation with his friends, displayed the most interesting view of his character. Conversations on the merits of elegant authors, both ancient and modern, but, above all, the liberal discussion of moral and religious topics, were the joy of his soul. On these occasions, his eyes, naturally animated, sparkled with additional lustre; his voice, naturally musical, became delightfully mellow; his features brightened, for his heart glowed. These were blessed intervals, anticipations, perhaps, of what he now enjoys. By degrees, this glowing mood became tinged with melancholy: at first it was amiable and interesting; but became at last distressful. The sensibility which gave him such moments of rapture, had not, perhaps, been duly managed; and contributed to or occasioned his sufferings. It had rendered him averse to indiscriminate society, and thus precluded | him from many innocent means of relieving the lassitude, or alleviating the weight of declining age. It quickened his sense of misfortune, and rendered his affliction for the loss of friends too poignant. It overwhelmed him with too much sorrow, if at any time he apprehended that the affection of those in whose love he trusted had suffered change. His sense of deity was strong and lively. Even though the dejection and the despondency of affliction might at times have brought a gloomy cloud between him and the radiance of heaven, the cloud was transient: his religious opinions, founded not merely on feeling, but on conviction, were permanent: and even in the earlier periods of his life he often lamented that men of worth and integrity were not pious; and though they performed many charitable and disinterested actions from very laudable motives, yet that their conduct did not seem to be founded on any principles of religion. It might be friendship, it might be compassion, it might be beneficence; but it wanted those aids, those supports and comforts, which alone could arise from hope and trust in God. It is unnecessary to say of such a character, that he was just, charitable, and temperate. His virtues were those of a Christian, his failings were those incident to the weakness of human nature; and his sufferings were occasioned, or much aggravated by his feelings. 1

1 Biog. Brit, written by professor Richardson.