search the Scriptures for consolation ; and to whom the faith-
ful preaching of Mr. Brown and Mr. Buchanan had been
blessed as the means of bringing him to the knowledge of
the Gospel, from the proud holds of philosophical infidelity.
To this gentleman, with whom Mr. Buchanan afterwards
maintained an uninterrupted and affectionate intercourse,
he wrote in the month of June as follows.
"I suppose you will have seen all your friends by this
*« time, and settled your plans. I am anxious to know how
<< you find yourself, after a year's residence in England. We
" do as usual in Calcutta. Serious religion appears to in-
" crease. Mr. Check is yet alive, but declining fast. He
DR. BUCHANAN. I93
•< begs his blessing on you, whom he calls a < young man/
*« and wishes you a long Christian life. You are quite for-
<« gotten by the gay world here ; even by those who used to
^t feast with you sometimes. Those who are always asking
<* me about you are the poor people who knew you but half
<( a year.
"... and . . . are labouring at their docks and accounts ;
<* thinking often of England, and sometimes of another
" Since you and Prole left me, I have had no hooka. I do
" not yet find the abstinence of much service ; farther than
" tliat it saves time, now and then. The advantage of the
** hooka was, that I could easily compose myself for composi-
<i tion by its help.
<* The whole settlement is at present in agitation, giving
« Lord W. a public entertainment. The hawk as usual on
<* the steeple looks down in amazement at the bustle. It
<< costs sixty thousand rupees.
*<.... is sick. He has had many attacks. She seeks
*< comfort at church ; and he begins to think, perhaps, that
*< he can obtain it no where else.
"But your interest in all these Calcutta matters will
" weaken every month. That the Gospel is honoured will
" be to you the most welcome and the most interesting news.
" Adieu, my dear Sandys."
The following is an extract from a second letter of Mr.
Buchanan to Major Sandys, dated early in September.
** Your letter from St. Helena I have just received by
" Mrs. Buchanan, who arrived there the day after you had
« sailed. Mary is much improved in health, and greatly
*< matured in spiritual knowledge, strength, and grace ;
<* which is the chief theme of my happiness. Her missing
" you was a keen disappointment at the moment. But she
" soon reflected, that God had ordered it for wise and gra-
" cious purposes, and then she submitted. She opened your
« letters to me which she found at Major Greentree's. These
** letters astonished her beyond measure. She thought that
" you had yet been a man of the world, (for she had not
194 MEMOIRS OF
'* heard that your affliction had been sanctified to you ;)
" but behold she found you to be a child of God ; your un-
*• derstanding illuminated with knowledge, and your heart
*» expanding with love, hope, joy, zeal, and all the charities.
" She lamented that she had no Christian near lier, to whom
♦* she might in pious confidence communicate these happy
«< news. So she disburdened her heart by writing a letter
'< to me.
** I was rejoiced to find by your letters that the Gospel is
" still glorious in your view, and that the world and its vani-
« ties had not obscured the heavenly vision. May this hap-
*< py state be ever yours without alloy or reverse, but such
*< as may be necessary to confirm, and strengthen, and per-
»< feet you in the inner man."
By a letter of the same date as the preceding, Mr. Bu-
chanan communicated to Mr. Elliott an affecting but con-
soling account of the death of his son ; who in consequence
of his distinguished proficiency in oriental learning had
been appointed by Marquis Wellesley secretary to an em-
bassy to Arabia; but who, after having fulfilled with great
ability the duties of his mission, fell a victim to a fever in
that country, and as a mark of peculiar honour was interred
in the garden of the Imam of Senna.
To the same friend Mr. Buchanan again wrote in the
course of the month as follows.
" Your letter by Mrs. Buchanan I received about a month
*< ago ; since which time no ship for Europe has sailed. I
<' thank you for the < Christian Observer.' You wish me to
" furnish some papers for it. Mr. Thornton w rote to me on
<«the same subject: but I answered him that my present avo-
" cations will not permit it. A period of leisure may perhaps
" soon be granted to me. But ti»is is not the only objection to
*« my furnishing you with the life of Mr. Swartz. He left
<' no papers ; and those persons are now removed who could
" give the best information. He also deprecated posthu-
" mous praise ; and was in constant dread of fame. He con-
<< cealed often from Mr. Check (his only friend at one time)
*« his favoured seasons from on high.
DR. BUCHANAN. l^g
*^ Mrs. Buchanan is quite surprised to find so much vital
** religion amongst us. My responsibility in college is
<< greater at present than formerly ,• but the answer of the
<* Court will determine many points : and as far as relates
" to myself, they cannot help determining them to my satis-
** We are carrying on a successful war against the Mali-
*< rattas, fighting against them in three different quarters,
" and obtaining three victories at the same time. The
" Hindoos are happy that Juggernaut, their famous place of
*< worship, has fallen into our hands ; for our imposts will not
** be so great as those of the former possessors of the adjoin-
<•' ing district."
The occasional notices, which have occurred in Mr. Bu-
chanan's letters respecting the pious and excellent Mr.
Obeck, have probably excited a wish in the minds of most
readers to know something of the closing scene of his life, as
well as some farther particulars of his character. In the
month of May, Mr. Buchanan thus wrote to Mr. Grant.
" The departure of the aged Obeck appears to be at hand.
" At least he thinks so ; and bids me impart to you his
<* blessing while his understanding remains. He was car-
<* ried into cliurch last night, (Wednesday's lecture,) but
** was so much revived by the service and view of his bre-
« thren, that he walked out, with assistance. His only food
<« at present is bread dipped in wine.
'« Under this decay of body his mind is more vigorous
♦• than ever. He has within this last year assumed a very
♦< intrepid tone in rebuking sin, and remonstrating with the
*• lukewarm, and in defining a holy life in India. But he has
*' great joy among the true disciples ; and his spiritual com-
♦< forts have of late been abundant."
Towards the end of the month of August following, Mr.
Buchanan thus describes to the same friend the progress of
Mr. Obeck's decline.
« The good Obeck is yet alive : but his loins are girt for
« the heavenly journey. He is confined to his room, and
*< cannot attend church. But the church attends him. He
196 MEMOIRS OF
« listens with delight to the voice of praise in the adjoining
*< building on the Sunday and Thursday evenings.
<* We have arranged all his temporal affairs to his satis-
«< faction. He has given us his text for his funeral sermon;
« in preaching which, I fear my spirits will fail me. It is
*< difficult to speak of the deceased father to tlie surviving
This venerable man was now very fast approaching his end.
Early in September he felt a presentiment that he should
not live to the close of that month ; and accordingly on the
24th, Mr. Buchanan thus announced his death to his re-
spected friend and benefactor.
« The aged Obeck has at last departed. For some weeks
« before, he almost daily expected his dismission. He had
" no spiritual conflict at his last hour; but manifested con-
^< stantly peace, joy, and high assurance. He was sensible
" to the last ; and when he could not speak, he testified his
*' exultation of soul by pressing ardently to his breast his
" fellow saints. He left to you and your family his solemn
^< blessing. I send you a paper containing some notice of his
" Just before Mr. Check's death, I preached his dying
<« sermon in the mission church from these words ; « The
<^ time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good
" fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
« Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteous-
" ness, which the Lord the rigliteous Judge shall give me at
" that day ; and not to me only, but unto all them also who
« love his appearing.'
« Mr. Brown will preach his funeral sermon next Sun-
« day evening."
Of what Mr. Buchanan styles Mr. Obeck's dying sermon
it may not be uninteresting to many readers to insert an ex-
tract ; both as it contains a pleasing and animated sketch of
the life and character of that exemplary Christian, and as it
may afford a specimen of the spirit of Mr. Buchanan's
preaching upon such occasions.
DR. BUCHANAN. I97
** These are the words of the Apostle Paul, in the view of
« his approaching death. They are words which manifest
« the triumph of faith ; and which the spirit of God enabled
<* him to utter ; to be adopted by every faithful Christian in
<< after ages. By these words he sets a seal to his doctrine,
^< that it was trut ; that it was really tlie life of the soul at
" the dissolution of the body : that the assurance of the
<< Christian in the view of death is strong and sensible ; ma-
** nifesting a power denied to others in like circumstances 5
" and anticipating the joys to be revealed in the kingdom of
<* In the records of every age of the church, we read of
" those wlio were enabled to testify their faith and hope in
" the words of the Apostle ; and wherever the Gospel is
«* faithfully declared, and its power is felt, there will be fre-
" quent instances of this triumph in death.
« God hath been graciously pleased to honour this church
" with such an instance at this time ; exemplified in his aged
<< and faithful servant, the venerable John Obeck -, who has
*' for many years been a member of this c(mgregation, and
" is now supposed to be at the point of death.
« This good man has ever been distinguished for his genu-
*< ine piety, for his ardent faith in the Gospel, for his singu-
<•' lar benevolence, and for his unremitted labours of love
<< among the poor and needy. He has been long known in
" this place, as one who was always ' going about doing
<« good ;' exhibiting an affecting and amiable example of that
« < pure religion and undefiled,' taught by the precepts and
*< doctrine of our Saviour.
" But his chief labour was in inculcating the sacred
" truths of the Gospel whenever he had opportunity ; and
«* such opportunities he often enjoyed. Many persons have
" for some years attended his prayers in his own family,
« which was indeed a church in his own house, where they
" enjoyed the inestimable advantage of hearing his spiritual
** instruction, and listening to the counsels of age and cxpe-
198 MEMOIRS OF
" His temperate and pure life has now carried him to his
" seventy-third year. And from his fifteenth year (as I
« think he once mentioned) he has endeavoured to serve
« God. Since that period he has had a sense of religion in
« his heart, and has been enabled to < keep himself unspot-
« ted from the world.'
<< All serious persons who knew him had reason to expect
«that God would honour the death of so faithful a servant;
« and this honour hath been conferred on him in an abundant
« manner. During the last two months of his illness, the
*' praise of his Redeemer has been his constant theme.
" Surrounded daily by his numerous family, his pleasure has
<< been to talk of the things of God, and of the glories of the
<< kingdom to which he is hastening. And his ability lias
<« been as great as his pleasure. For even at this time,
^f when it is doubtful whether he will survive another day,
" and when his bodily frame is in the last stage of debility;
" even now, his understanding is clear and unclouded ; his
« perception of divine truths is undoubtedly stronger than at
« a former period of his illness ; his soul seems to swell with
<« exultation when he recounts the past mercies of God ;
" and his admonitions and exhortations to others have an
<* earnestness and emphasis, united with a force of reason-
" ing and firmness of persuasion, which is no where to be
^« seen but on the death-bed of the Christian ; and wiiich no-
*< thing can inspire but a power from on high.
« It will not be necessary to apologize for exhibiting to
*( you such an instance of the truth and divine power of the
<* Christian religion. It is of great importance that such in-
« stances should be exhibited ; for the knowledge of them is
<« oftentimes blessed in a peculiar manner to the hearers.
« And this excellent man is himself fully sensible of the in-
" expressible goodness of God to him, in enabling him to
*< bear this blessed testimony at his dying hour.
<' He does not speak of manitestations and visions of glory,
<< which have sometimes attended the death of good men;
« but he manifests a calm, rational, and placid spirit,
«< founded on the basis of an immovable faith, yet accompa- #
DR. BUCHANAN. I99
<• nied by such ardour of expression, and by such an assu-
" ranee of hope, as would abash philosophy itself.
« He has none of those doubts which are often found on a
" death-bed. He has not those fears and misgivings of con-
" science which the unstable and careless Christian often
** experiences. He has none of those fearful forebodings
" which harass the soul of the despiser of religion in his last
" hour. He is a stranger to that gloomy despair which oft-
^« en haunts the soul of the man who hath passed through
<^ life the slave of ambition, or the votary of pleasure. No,
« his last moments are the happiest of his life. His ambi-
<* ticm through life has been to obtain < that honour which
" Cometh from God ;' and his pleasure has been, in serving
•< God with his whole heart ; in loving his neighbour as him-
"self; in forgiving his enemies; and in praying for those
<< who persecute and despitefully use the professor of the
« Grospel of Christ.
" Do you inquire on what/ai/A these good works and this
•* holy disposition were founded ? Let me express to you his
" faith, collected cliiefly from his own words.
" * I am a sinner saved by the mercy of God in Christ. By
<* nature I am impure and unholy. Nothing in me, no me-
*' rit of mine could make me the object of God's distinguish-
ii iiig grace. But I believed the word of God, and I was
^•' enabled to offer up my prayers at an early age, that he
*• would open my understanding, and lead me to a know-
" ledge of !iis truth. And his promise was fulfilled to me,
<< (as it is fulfilled to every serious inquirer,) ^ Ask, and it
« shall be given unto you; seek and ye shall find.' By de-
« grees the mysteries of the Gospel were opened to my
*< view. I beheld myself a lost and undone soul lying with
« a multitude in a world of wickedness ; subject to the just
*< wrath of God. But I at the same time heard of the offer
*« made to a perishing world by the Saviour Christ. I be-
" held the wliole world overwhelmed by a flood of sin and
« misery, and the ark of redemption floating on the waters.
<« Every page of the Gospel shewed me that tliere was no
** salvation, hut by the ark Christ; that his atonement on
200 MEMOIRS OF
'< the cross was the only atonement for my past and future
<< sins ; that his gracious Spirit influencing my soul was
" the only preservative from my evil passions and from an
<* ensnaring world ; and that his mediation alone procures
*« our access to God, and warrants an answer to our
« *Thus/ said he, < the perusal of the word of God was
<^ blessed to my soul. I received it in its plain and obvious
«* meaning ; and I have had a constant experience of its
^* truth through my past life. It has been a light to my
^< steps, and a lantern to my paths. Its peculiar doctrines
<< appear now all light and glory to my soul. I know that
"the denunciations of God against the despisers of his Gos-
" pel will be expressly executed ; and I know that his prom-
** ises of glory to the righteous will be fulfilled in a way
" that < eye hath not seen, or ear heard, or hath entered into
« the heart of man to conceive ;' and the anticipation of this
<^ glory is to me unutterable. My prayer at my last moments
" is, that this power of the Gospel may be felt more and
<< more at this place ; that the blessing of God may rest on
*< this church ; that the ministers may labour in the word
« with zeal and faithfulness ; and that the hearers may re-
« ceive the word preached with meekness and affection ;
" that so the testimony of the Gospel may prevail, and the
<' church of Christ may begin to flourish in this dark corner
« of the world.
«< * I leave,' said he, ( my blessing on this ciiurch.
"<As to my numerous family, I leave them with scarcely
<*the means of subsistence ; but I leave them dependant on
" that gracious Providence, which has supported me from
<« youth to age, in a state of apparent poverty and yet pos-
" sessing abundance. I leave my children to God as to a
<< surviving Father, who will care for them as he hath cared
" for me, and will, I trust, bless my instructions to the salva-
"tion of their souls.
" < As to myself, my hope is in heaven. The promises of
" God are in a manner already fulfilled to me. His truth
« and faithfulness arc demonstrated to my soul. By hie
DR. BUCHANAN. 201
^' mercy * I have fought the good fight, I have finished my
*< course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid
<* up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the
« righteous Judge shall give me at tiiat day ; and not to me
*< only, but unto all them also w^ho love his appearing.'
*« Such, my brethren, are the sentiments, the exjjressions,
" and the heavenly hope of tiiis good man. He now lies on
<<his death-bed in the house adjoining this church ,* and en-
*« deavours to join the praises of the congregation with his
*• feeble voice. He could even now confirm every senti-
" ment respecting him which I have uttered ; and he could
** confirm them with an energy and eloquence of which I am
<^ Who is there in this assembly who is not ready to say,
'* *Let me also die the death of the righteous; and let my
*« last end be like his.' "
In the same month in which the preceding sermon \vas
preached, Mr. Buchanan was called to perform a simslar
office on occasion of the death of Mr. Archibald Edmonstone,
of the Board of Trade, who left behind him a noble testi-
mony to his faith in the Gospel. « His last words," says Mr.
Buchanan, in mentioning the event in a letter to a friend,
<* were these. < Blessed be the God and Father of our
*< Lord Jesus Christ, who through his abundant mercy hath
*' begotten me again unto a lively hope, through the resur-
<< rection of his Son Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inhe-
'^ritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.'
<* These w^ords his brother has directed to be engraven on
*' his tomb."
The manner in which Mr. Edmonstone, who then filled
one of the most confidential situations under the Presidency
of Bengal, and is celebrated for his oriental learning, classi-
cal taste, and cultivated understanding, described Mr. Bu-
chanan's funeral sermon on his brother, is too honourable to
him to be omitted. It occurs in a note from Mr. Edmon-
stone to his friend Captain Baillie, professor of the Arabic
language and of Mohammedan law in the college of Fort
William, and is as follows.
202 MEMOIRS OF
*» My clear B.
«< I am returned from liearirig a most affecting and impres-
** sive discourse delivered by Mr. Buchanan with a degree
♦< of feeling that does honour to his heart, on the occurrence
*• of last week. I am anxious that Mr. B, should know how
*< grateful I feel for this high tribute of respect to the mc-
*• mory and virtues of a beloved brother, and I therefore
*< entreat you to express to Mr. B. my sincere gratitude for
** this distinguished mark of his regard for him. Tell him
" that he has afforded to my mind a real consolation, and
*< that I trust I shall ever after be the better for the affecting
<• and forcible manner in which he has held forth to imita-
*♦ tion tlie example of a life of true piety and virtue. Fur-
•• ther I request that you will convey to Mr. B. my earnest
•« wish (if it be not improper) that he will allow me to trans-
*' cribe his discourse, both for the purpose of retaining it for
*• my own use and benefit, and of transmitting a copy of it
•• to those in Europe who will indeed need the consolation
** for such an irreparable loss, which so distinguished a tes-
** timony to the merits of a son and a brother is calculated
" to afford. Never does a clergyman appear more conspicu-
*< ously respectable, than when he combines with the public
»« duties of his calling the offices of humanity and consolation;
*< and never while 1 live will the memory of Mr. B's solemn
" and eloquent discourse on this melancholy occasion, nor
*•' the gratitude and respect for him which it has excited, be
** obliterated from the mind of your ever affectionate
" N. B. Edmonstone.
*- Sunday, 11th September, 1803."
»< To Captain BaillieJ'
It was in the summer of this year that Mr. Buchanan first
thought of proposing certain subjects of prize composition,
connected with the civilization and moral improvement of
India, to the Universities of the United Kingdom. With
this laudable intention he waited on the Governor General,
and having obtained his Lordship's approbation of the plan,
he on the 20th of October despatched letters to the Vice-
DR. BUCHANAN. 203
Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of Oxford
and Cambridge, of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrew's, and
Aberdeen, to the Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and
to the head masters of Eton, Westminster, Winchester,
and the Charter-House Schools, containing the following
proposals. For the best essay in Englisli prose on << the
" best means of extending the blessings of civilization and
**' true religion among the sixty millions, inhabitants of Hin-
" dostan, subject to British authority ;" in each University,
one hundred pounds. For the best English poem on «* the re-
'^ vival of letters in the East," sixty pounds. For the best
Latin ode or poem on ** Collegium Bengalense," twenty-
five pounds ; and the same sum for the best Greek ode on
^' rena-B-of (pSq-'^ The sum of fifty pounds each for the best
Latin and Greek poems was offered to the successful candi-
date at each of the public schools. No less a sum than six-
teen hundred and fifty pounds was thus appropriated by Mr.
Buchanan to this benevolent and patriotic purpose. The
unusual nature and munificent extent of his offers induced
some to suppose, either that they were not made simply at
his own suggestion and responsibility, or that he must have
been actuated by motives of ostentation and vanity. With
respect to the proposals themselves, they undoubtedly ori-
ginated solely with Mr. Buchanan, and were supported
exclusively by his own liberality. He was ever a man of
a large and generous mind, fertile in devising plans of use-
fulness, and prompt in seizing the first opportunity of execu-
ting them. He was anxious to extend in this country the
knowledge of the character and effects of the great collegiate
institution which he had been called to superintend ; and
the recent victories of our armies in the peninsula having
enlarged and confirmed our eastern empire, he was desirous
of awakening and directing the minds of his countrymen at
home to the duty and the opportunity of promoting the
moral and political welfare of our fellow subjects in India.
Publicity and inquiry were therefore his great objects;
publicity, not as to his own character or fame, for this he
knew might have been far more certainly obtained by more
^04 MEMOIRS UF
obvious and less costly means, but as to the great andphilan-