James McInnes (Clachan, Kintyre)
James McInnes was born at Balnakill Lodge, Kintyre on the 21st February, 1853. From early infancy Jamie was always remarkable for his loving, obedient nature. This caused him to be highly regarded by his parents and endeared him to all who knew him. When about four years of age, he suffered from a painful disease in his thigh which eventually caused his death when he was little more than seven years of age.
Conviction of Sin
In the autumn of 1859 the district of Kintyre, in common with many other parts of Scotland and the world, was visited with a remarkable revival which will prove memorable to many throughout eternity. At that time Jamie’s mother came under serious concern for her soul. So deep were the convictions that for several months she almost literally ‘prayed without ceasing’. From the beginning Jamie watched his mother with intense interest. He felt himself personally concerned. From infancy he had been taught the great truth which so astonished the Jewish ruler: ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’.
As often as spoken to on the subject of religion, he invariably expressed an earnest desire that he might be one of the lost sheep the Good Shepherd would at that time gather into his fold. He was in the habit of saying very frequently, with great solemnity, that the only persons in all the world whom he envied were those who had a saving interest in Christ. He often exclaimed with streaming eyes, ‘Will Christ ever save me? Oh, will Jesus pass me by and save others?’ And when urged to continue in prayer to God who alone could bring him to Christ, he would place his little hand on his chest, praying that the Lord would take all the evil out of his heart without delay that he might love Christ, who had suffered so much to save sinners; and that he might hate all sin, which made Christ suffer unto death. Sometimes he added, ‘What an awful thing sin is! It murdered Christ. I wonder why God did not send me to hell long ago for not loving Him and sinning against Him!’ Jamie continued in this anguish of spirit for several weeks, the awful arrows of the Almighty piercing his soul with the terrors of coming woe and felt wickedness. He often exclaimed, ‘I never knew before what hell is but now I feel it within me. It is awful to bear this even for a moment. O what must it be to be forever in Hell’.
Such was Jamie’s experience of the fearful pit and the miry clay in which he was made to feel himself sinking under the load of his own guilt and depravity, and the awful wrath of a sin-hating and sin-avenging God. But the time of his deliverance was drawing nigh when his feet were set upon the Rock against which the gates of Hell shall never prevail, his goings were established, and a new song was put into his mouth, even praise unto our God. Oh that many might see it, and fear, and trust in the Lord!
The following were the means used by the Holy Ghost for enabling Jamie to receive Christ as ‘all his salvation, and all his desire’. One day, while under awful distress of soul, he heard his mother crying aloud in the dying words of Jesus, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ All at once Jamie exclaimed, with deep solemnity of tone, ‘Oh, Mother, I think the revival is come upon me at last!’ And placing his hand on his beating chest he cried out, ‘I feel so happy now that I could wish to go to be with Christ this very moment’. And having paused a few moments as if deeply pondering how to express himself, he added, ‘Oh Mother, what shall I say or do that I may love Christ? Oh pray for me, that I may get Christ before I leave the world. Oh Mother, how awful if I should meet God bearing the burden of my sins. It were better for me that I had never been born’. Truly, when the Spirit of truth proceedeth from the Father to testify of Christ, He convinces of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment to come. While these things are hid from many of the wise and prudent, ‘he reveals them unto babes’.
Jamie had singular confidence in the efficacy of believing prayer, and he himself seemed habitually to breathe in the spiritual atmosphere of fellowship with God. The power and pathos with which he prayed for others were quite overwhelming and seldom failed to melt the most careless listeners into floods of tears. Nor was his enjoyment of the prayers and fellowship of God’s people less remarkable. He felt quite dissatisfied unless Mr Macleod, the Free Church probationer then officiating in the district, or some other minister or pious person, visited him daily and prayed for him. Jamie longed far more for such visits than he had ever done for his natural food, while on the part of such visitors the enjoyment was quite natural.
The moment any such friends entered the house, if Jamie happened to be in bed as he generally was latterly, being scarcely able to leave it, he would at once creep out of bed and sit beside them, continuing to stare at them with a significant gaze until they bent their knees to pray. On such occasions, when asked, ‘What do you wish to be prayed for today, Jamie?’ he always replied, ‘Oh, pray that I may get Christ, and that I may be made like Him before I die’. Owing to his illness it was with very great difficulty he could bend his knees at all. Indeed, so painful was the sight that his effort was known to have melted strong men to tears and yet Jamie himself never complained.
The burden of his every petition was that he might be made more like Christ, and that he might be enabled to do and suffer His will, so as in all things to please Him, and that he might love Him above everything in the world. Some who had grown old in the service of Satan were constrained to confess that by his prayers to God, his pleadings with men and his holy life, they were almost persuaded to become Christians.
Being unable to read himself, he would desire his mother to read the Scriptures for him, and when she had read a few verses, Jamie would say, ‘Stop now, Mother, and explain to me what you have read, for I wish to understand what God says to me. Oh what would I not give to be able to read the Bible for myself! To me there is no book like the Bible. It tells me about my sins, and also about my Saviour; and then it is all true, for it is the Word of God’. He would then pray that God would teach him to know and do what he had heard read. Young as he was, Jamie was very jealous for the glory of God. One Sabbath evening he got suddenly worse, when his mother, afraid that his end had come, was alarmed and gave strong expression to her deep sorrow. The young sufferer immediately checked her, saying, ‘Oh mother, see you don’t love me too much! Although I love you much, yet I love Christ far more. You must do the same. He alone is worthy of your love’. Having rallied somewhat by next day, and observing his mother caressing the youngest child, he said to her, ‘Oh mother, beware of loving that child more than Christ’.
Jamie was singularly wise and considerate for his years. He often said, ‘How thankful ought I to feel to God for the kindness of my parents, and how grateful to my parents for their unwearied care and attention. Oh what a comfort it is to have such a soft bed to lie on with my sore bones, while my dear Saviour had nowhere to lay His blessed head!’
During his trying illness he manifested wonderful patience, contentment and self-denial. To adduce but a single instance out of many, he often said to his mother when in need of any help, ‘I would wish such a thing; but don’t trouble yourself till you require to rise to do something else’.
On a later occasion his mother and a young female in the neighbourhood watched at his bedside during the night. Having passed a very restless night his strength seemed quite exhausted. Yet, early next morning, he unexpectedly and with a firm voice said to the girl, ‘Give me a bit of bread to strengthen me, and then I wish to speak to you’. Having secretly prayed for a blessing, he swallowed the morsel, and then solemnly called the young woman by name, and said to her, ‘If you wish to come to Christ, you must pray, and read, and hear the Word of God as often as you can, praying to God to enable you to believe the Bible, and you will be sure to find Christ before you die; but your heart is so full of the world that you have no room for Christ. Ask the Lord to come and empty you of all other things and then He will come and dwell in you, and remember, it is the Lord Himself that can empty you’. The girl burst into tears, exclaiming that she had never spent such a night before; that she felt assured that God Himself had spoken to her through that wonderful child, for his words were like fire within her, and that she was convinced that such a message, through such a messenger, must prove either ‘the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death’, to herself and all who heard it. At all events, the impression left on her mind by Jamie’s exhortation remains to this day. The Lord grant that the fruit may be unto holiness and the end everlasting life, both in her case and that of many others.
Having delivered this solemn message to the girl for the benefit of her soul, he then thanked her for her kindness to him, and entreated her, when she went home, to urge her parents, brothers and sisters, and every other fellow-sinner within her reach to seek the Lord without delay; that it was high time for them to begin now before the door of heaven would be shut against them; and to tell them moreover, when the Lord sends the messenger of death for us, that no physician in the world can cure us; and that none but those who love God and hate sin with their whole heart, will be in heaven after death. Astonished beyond measure at the child’s calm Christian intelligence and resignation the girl on taking leave of him said to him, ‘Are you not afraid to die, Jamie?’ He replied, ‘Death is an awful thing but l am willing to leave all at my heavenly Father’s bidding; and then, I am only going home to be with Christ, which is far better’. He then said, ‘Farewell, Mary, and if we should meet no more on earth, may we meet after death in glory’.
Next Sabbath the same person, along with two of her sisters visited him as they returned from church and found him supported in his mother’s arms, evidently sinking very rapidly to the grave. They began to weep aloud. On the noise reaching his ears, he unexpectedly opened his eyes and said with a loud voice, ‘Be wise. Weep not for me, but weep for your own sins. For everyone that will die without Christ will be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth’. All present were quite overwhelmed with the suitableness and awful solemnity of the reproof, and deeply pierced with the arrow of conviction which the Holy Ghost made ‘sharp in the hearts of the King’s enemies’. The three sisters left the dying disciple, to meet no more on this side of Jordan.
Jamie’s love to the people of God was truly marvellous, considering his youth. A young woman in the neighbourhood of Clachan was at that time under very deep conviction of sin and having heard of the Lord’s wondrous dealings with Jamie, like many others, she felt very anxious to see him, and with that in view she set out one evening accompanied by a female acquaintance, well known to Jamie both as an anxious enquirer and an intimate friend. On arriving at the cottage door they ascertained that he was unusually low and that the house was already quite full. In these circumstances they did not deem it prudent to disturb him, so they returned home without seeing him. No future opportunity occurred, and we have heard the disappointed visitor repeatedly say that she regrets it to this day. Jamie, however, having been apprised of the circumstance, sent an earnest message to his friend, with a special request that she should never cease to pray both for herself and him while they lived — a message which appears to have been from the Lord — ‘a word in season that will never fall to the ground’.
Love for the Lord’s People
A godly young man in the neighbourhood (and now we believe, with him in glory), and to whom he was peculiarly attached, had been in the habit of visiting him frequently. These visits were always refreshing to Jamie’s soul. During one of his angel visits he said to Jamie, ‘I wish to ask you one question before I leave — I do not know whether you can answer it’. ‘What is it?’ said Jamie. ‘Can you tell me what can satisfy the soul?’ To his unspeakable surprise and joy, Jamie promptly answered, ‘Nothing but God’. Jamie then said to his mother, ‘Give Hugh some food’. To test him, his mother replied, ‘Why have you so much regard for Hugh Maclean seeing he is no relation of ours?’ ‘Oh mother’, said Jamie, ‘do you not know that I have love in my heart to all whom I believe to have grace? And if I were rich, I would leave something to Hugh’. This was Hugh’s last interview with Jamie on earth. He left him weeping for joy ‘that out of the mouths of babes and sucklings God perfects praise’. About a year afterwards their spirits met in that blessed world for which their Lord had so early prepared them.
An elder of the Free Church, then resident in the village, and who was one of Jamie’s frequent and favourite visitors, came to see him for the last time on the Sabbath preceding his death. Jamie conversed with him about the doctrines and duties of religion more like an aged saint than a young child. His friend having prayed with him, Jamie warmly thanked him for his prayer and for all his kindness towards him during his illness; and after commenting with rare simplicity and sweetness on the suitableness, all-sufficiency, and loveliness of the Saviour, he then said, ‘Alexander, it is no wonder that you and I should love Christ’. ‘No wonder, dear’, said Alexander, ‘but can you tell me why we should love Him?’ Jamie replied, ‘I am sure you know that! He was nailed to the cross for you and for me, and for all who will love Him. There was a crown of thorns put on His head that hurt Him for me. I will love Him forever, for He is worthy of being loved by everyone’. Alexander wept like a child and he has often declared since that in his opinion, considering his extreme youth, Jamie McInnes was one of the most extraordinary instances of the riches of divine grace ever known in this country.
The End Drawing Near
Conscious that his end was near, Jamie said to his mother, ‘I will not be long with you now’. She replied, ‘Are you going to leave me, Jamie?’ He said, ‘Yes, but if you continue to walk in the ways of the Lord, neither looking back, nor wearying in well-doing, persevering more and more to the end, I hope there is no fear of you. You and I will soon meet again and spend eternity together with the Lord’.
Knowing also that his mother was very anxious about the state of his father’s soul, he said to her, by way of comfort and encouragement, ‘Mother, you are greatly concerned for my father but he prays oftener than you know of. If he continues earnest I am sure the Lord will be as good as His word to him, for He says, “Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you”. You must always pray for him and counsel him but that is all you can do’.
The last Sabbath he was on earth, feeling that he was entering ‘the dark valley’ he said to his mother that he was sorry she could not get to church that day. His mother said to him that he never used to keep her at home but as that was likely to be the last Sabbath he would be with her she would on no account leave him. ‘No’, said Jamie, ‘but sit beside me and tell me more about Christ’. His countenance beamed with joy as his mother spoke to him of the wondrous love of Jesus. At length he cried out in great ecstasy, ‘I long to get as near and to be made as like Jesus as those in heaven, and to love and serve Him as perfectly as they do. Oh, help me to learn and sing the new song!’
Pleading with Donald
A neighbour called to see Jamie, who was well known to him from his infancy, as a person who although the head of a family had not even the form of godliness. It being now Jamie’s uniform practice to say something about the salvation of their souls to all who spoke to him, on observing that this acquaintance was present, he at once proceeded in a most faithful manner to address him as follows: ‘Oh Donald is not that a miserable home indeed where there is neither reading of the Word of God nor prayer? Donald, Donald, you have a soul that will live forever either in heaven or in hell! Will you promise me that you will now begin and continue to worship God in your house? And rest assured that you will get Christ before you leave the world, if you now begin earnestly to seek him’. Three times he pressed Donald for a promise that he would worship God daily in his family, adding in the most touching manner, ‘Lest you should forget what I tell you, I will give you a book, which I have here beneath the pillow and when you see the book it will remind you of my request after I am dead and in the grave’. He then handed Donald the book saying, ‘If you don’t set a good example before your children, you may see them on the left hand of Christ at the last day. Oh how awful would that be! Oh Donald if you had Christ as your portion before I leave the world how happy I should feel, and however poor you be while here, if you have a saving interest in Christ, you will be eternally rich’.
The physical effort put forth by Jamie during that soul-melting interview with Donald proved too much for his feeble frame and immediately afterwards he fell into a swoon. But his warm and convincing entreaties were too much even for Donald for he hastened home quite bathed in tears. May the impression not prove like the morning cloud and as the early dew that goeth away; if so, Jamie will be a swift witness against Donald in the day of judgment.
The first use that Jamie made of his speech after rallying from the fainting fit was to express his great love to his mother but still greater love to Christ, saying several times over with great emphasis, ‘My dear mother! Oh, she was a kind mother to me’, and then three times, ‘My dear, dear, dear Christ. Christ loved me first, and I will love him now and forever’.
None like Christ
All his visitors were invited to go near to him, and he spoke to them with rare unction, urgency and sweetness, of the grace, love, beauty, and desirableness of the blessed Saviour, often repeating, ‘There is none like Christ! Oh, will you not all receive and love Him! He would make you so happy, if you would only come to Him. He would pardon all your sins, and Oh, how happy you would then feel. He would also give you new hearts. Then you would hate sin and love God. Oh, would you not like to be with Christ after death? Then seek Him now, and you will be sure to find Him. Remember Christ wishes to save you and to bring you to heaven, so that if you go to hell, it will be your own fault’. He now fell into a second swoon but when all present thought that he was dead, he again unexpectedly rallied, repeating in the strongest and most affectionate terms his love to his dear mother but greater love to Christ.
Several spectators having expressed their sympathy for him in his great sufferings, he instantly checked them, saying that it was as nothing to what he and all others deserved to suffer for their sins against God — nothing to what Christ suffered for the sins of others, and that it was not to be compared to what all who refuse Christ must yet endure in hell. Moreover, that but for his sore leg, he might have remained as careless as anyone then present or in the world, so that instead of repining, both himself and all his well-wishers had cause rather to rejoice and to praise God for his sufferings. How like the spirit of the Apostle when he says, ‘We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’.
The First Shall be Last
Among those who were privileged to be eye and ear witnesses of Jamie’s triumphant entrance into the dark valley and shadow of death, singing with David of old, ‘I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me’, was a young female, well known to him as an inquirer after salvation for a longer period than he had been himself. That girl, as if verifying at that moment in her own experience the Scripture declaration, ‘There are first that shall be last, and there are last that shall be first’, said to him, ‘If you had your choice would you rather live or die?’ Jamie said with great solemnity, ‘I would twenty times rather depart and be with Christ than to be made heir of the whole world for ever. See that you continue earnest in prayer to God that He would create in you a new heart and renew a right spirit within you; that He would make you a new creature in Christ Jesus, zealous of good works; and that He would prepare you for heaven before you die, and I hope you and I will meet in glory’.
The Last Prayer
Then looking round the house he fixed his expressive eyes on all present in succession as if conscious that he would see them no more on earth but that he would see and know them all at the judgment seat of Christ where all must appear to be rewarded according to their works. Jamie now signified that he was beginning to swim in the cold waters of Jordan. And as if seeing the King in His beauty and the land that is far off, he desired his mother to read him some of the promises that they might be his staff to support him safe across to the land of promise. Then he desired all present to engage in prayer that the last enemy might be destroyed; which being done, he prayed himself with such extraordinary unction and earnestness that the whole house was literally ‘a Bochim’. He first prayed for his parents that they should be made willing to part with him and prepared in due time to follow him; then for his brothers and sisters that they might be brought to Christ while young, so as to be ready to die when the Lord’s time comes and that they might all meet as a family in heaven. He then prayed for his native village, for all present, for sinners everywhere, and for all saints — for the progress and prosperity of the present revival, for all engaged in that glorious work mentioning some ministers by name. He prayed for all who were made subjects of it, that they might be as lights in the world and that others seeing their good works might glorify their Father who is in heaven. He prayed for all who oppose the cause of God, that they might be brought to repentance and thus be prevented from fighting against God to their own destruction. He then repeated the Lord’s Prayer with even more than his usual fervour and sweetness of tone. Soon afterwards he began to lose the power of speech and it was with considerable difficulty his words could be understood, yet as if to prove that he was conscious to the end, when he finished he said, ‘Mother, have I spoken properly?’ His mother answered, ‘I hope the Lord has taught you what to speak’, which seemed to satisfy him. His last words were, ‘Sing a psalm’, and while engaged in that heavenly exercise he gradually sank and calmly fell asleep in the arms of Jesus, his ransomed spirit took its flight to join the choir of the redeemed that surrounded the Throne of Glory, there to sing the eternal song that will be ever new, leaving the tabernacle of clay about half-past two in the morning of the 27th March l860.
Bring up Your Children for God
We believe that such bright examples of early piety would be more frequent if, like Jamie’s mother, who travailed in birth again for him until Christ was formed in him, our Christian parents would be persuaded to do likewise. Like David she comforted herself with the thought that while he will return no more to her, to share in her sorrows and sufferings, she will assuredly go to him and be partaker of the joy that is full of glory where sorrow, suffering, and sighing shall for ever flee away and where the pangs of separation shall never be known.
But who can sufficiently estimate the guilt, or anticipate the awful reckoning of those parents who fail to instruct them from infancy upwards both by precept and example ‘to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and that all other things shall be added thereto?’ Every parent, on presenting his child for baptism, virtually takes heaven and earth to record that, in the strength of divine grace, he will faithfully perform his vows, namely, ‘that he will pray with and for his child’, which implies that he will practise secret and social worship; ‘that if God spare him and his child, he will train it up in His fear and admonition’ which involves the proper exercise of Christian discipline both to restrain from evil and to direct towards that which is good. All this and much more is included in the solemn profession made by every parent who assumes baptismal vows — and all this and much more will doubtless be found recorded in the reckoning of the great day.
But, alas! over how many of the houses of hypocritical professors might be heard the thundering voice of a sin-avenging God pronouncing their awful doom, while without a moment’s warning He may answer that awful prayer, and execute upon them that direful sentence, long recorded against them, ‘Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name’, for ‘God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap’.
Oh with what unspeakable horror of soul shall such parents hear their lost children beseeching the Judge of the quick and the dead on the day of judgment to lay the damnation of their souls and bodies at their door! On the other hand, it is quite impossible adequately to conceive of ‘the joy unspeakable and full of glory’ with which godly parents shall then present their grace-born children singing in strains of eternal hallelujah, ‘Lord, here are we, and all the children thou hast graciously given us’, as they shall enter together into the joy of their Lord.
My dear young reader, Jamie McInnes being dead, yet ‘speaketh’ to you. His affecting history teaches you that young people, as well as old, are liable to die. If you die without believing in Christ, you will as surely perish as any soul already in hell. You must be ‘born again’. The Holy Ghost is able to make the youngest of you new creatures in Christ Jesus and to make you useful in the world and happy throughout eternity. My dear young friends, I hope all of you would wish to die as happy as Jamie McInnes died. Then remember that you must first live as holy as he did. Remember that unless you make good use of the great blessings you enjoy, if you die unsaved, Jamie McInnes will rise at the last day to condemn you; for it is written, ‘Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required’.