John Paton’s Spiritual Upbringing

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Mother’s Ancestry

On the other side, my mother, Janet Rogerson, had for parents a father and mother of the Annandale stock. William Rogerson, her father, was one of many brothers, all men of uncommon strength and great force of character, quite worthy of the Border Rievers of an earlier day. Indeed, it was in some such way that he secured his wife, though the dear old lady in after-days was chary about telling the story. She was a girl of good position, the ward of two unscrupulous uncles who had charge of her small estate, near Langholm ; and while attending some boarding school she fell devotedly in love with the tall, fair-haired, gallant young blacksmith, William Rogerson. Her guardians, doubtless very properly, objected to the “connection” ; but our young Lochinvar, with his six or seven stalwart brothers and other trusty “lads,” all mounted, and with some ready tool in case of need, went boldly and claimed his bride, and she, willingly mounting at his side, was borne off in the light of open day, joyously married, and took possession of her “but and ben,” as the mistress of the blacksmith’s abode.

The uncles had it out with him, however, in another way. While he was enjoying his honeymoon, and careless of mere mundane affairs, they managed to dispose of all the property of their ward, and make good their escape with the proceeds to the New World. Having heard a rumour of some such sale, our young blacksmith on horseback just reached the scene in time to see the last article—a Family Bible—put up for auction. This he claimed, or purchased, or seized, in name of the heiress—but that was all that she ever inherited. It was used devoutly by her till her dying day, and was adorned with the record of her own marriage and of the birth of a large and happy family, whom by-and-by God gave to her.

Janet Jardine bowed her neck to the self-chosen yoke, with the light of a supreme affection in her heart, and showed in her gentler ways, her love of books, her fine accomplishments with the needle and her general air of ladyhood, that her lot had once been cast in easier, but not necessarily happier, ways. Her blacksmith lover proved not unworthy of his lady bride, and in her old days found a quiet and modest home, the fruit of years of toil and hopeful thrift, their own little property, in which they rested and waited a happy end. Amongst those who at last wept by her grave stood, amidst many sons and daughters, her son the Rev. James J. Rogerson, clergyman of the Church of England, who, for many years thereafter, and till quite recently, was spared to occupy a distinguished position at ancient Shrewsbury, and has left behind him there an honoured and beloved name.

One thing else, beautiful in its pathos, I must record of that dear old lady. Her son, Walter, had gone forth from her, in prosecution of his calling, had corresponded with her from various counties in England, and then had suddenly disappeared; and no sign came to her, whether he was dead or alive. The mother-heart in her clung to the hope of his return ; every night she prayed for that happy event, and before closing the door, threw it wide open, and peered into the darkness with a cry, “Come hame, my boy Walter, your mither wearies sair;” and every morning, at early break of day, for a period of more than twenty years, she toddled up from her cottage door, at Johnsfield, Lockerbie, to a little round hill, called the “Corbie Dykes,” and, gazing with tear-filled eyes towards the south for the form of her returning boy, prayed the Lord God to keep him safe and restore him to her yet again. Always, as I think upon that scene, my heart finds consolation in reflecting that if not here, then for certain there, such deathless longing love will be rewarded, and, rushing into long-delayed embrace, will exclaim, “Was lost and is found.”

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He that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion.

— Jonathan Edwards

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