Page images




THE Reverend George Buist, D. D. was born in the year 1770, in Fifeshire, in Scotland. He entered the college of Edinburgh in 1787, where the early indications of superiour genius acquired him the. applause and friendship of some of the first literary characters of the age ; among others, were the celebrated names of Dr. Robertson, the historian, Dr. Hugh Blair, and Professour Dalziel. They regarded him as one of the chief ornaments of the college, and as destined to exalt the reputation of his country.

Being intended for the clerical profession, Mr. Buist pursued the study of theology with unremitted assiduity ; but, being of a liberal and comprehensive mind, he did not confine himself to his profession exclusively. He knew that the sciences and arts are mutual aids to each other, and that an acquaintance with all is the way to perfect a knowledge of


any one particular branch of human learning. In classical learning he was, at an early age, profoundly versed. For Grecian literature he had an especial predilection; and it is a fact well known to many of his friends, that he was an assistant to Professour Dalziel in preparing a part of his Collectanea for the press. With the Hebrew he was familiar, and he was critically skilled in the French and Italian languages. His knowledge embraced all those departments of learning that make up the liberal scholar, and there was no branch of philosophy, criticism, history, or various literature, in which he was not, either profoundly or competently skilled.

In the year 1792, Mr. Buist was admitted an honourary member of the Edinburgh Pbilological Society, and about that time, he published an abridgment of Hunie's History of England, for the use of schools, which was extremely well received, and passed through two editions. He also furnished some important articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica.

While the fame of Mr. Buist was thus extending itself in the literary world, the elders of the Presbyterian church of Charleston, S.C. who had lately been deprived of their pastor,



addressed the Rev. Mr. Hewit, who had formerly been their minister, the Rev. Dr. Robertson, principal of the university of Edinburgh, and the Rev. Dr. Hugh Blair, soliciting their agency

and assistance in procuring a supply for their church.

Mr. Hewit being absent, Doctors Robertson and Blair willingly complied with this request and made choice of Mr. Buist, whom they introduced to the church in a letter of the 8th March, 1793, from which the following is an extract :

“ After much inquiry and several consulta“ tions, we have pitched upon Mr. George “ Buist, preacher of the gospel. We are both

acquainted with him, and know him to be a

good scholar, an instructive preacher, well “ bred, and of a good natural temper. We have “ no doubt but he will prove an acceptable min“ ister to the congregation, as well as an agreeaso ble member of society.”

Mr. Buist arrived in Charleston in June, 1793, and immediately entered upon the duties of his ministry. On the 27th of March in the following year, he was honoured by the college of Edinburgh with the degree of doctor of divinity, being then in the 24th year

of his age.

Dr. Buist exercised his ministerial functions with honour to himself and with satisfaction and delight to bis congregation. The impressive manner of his delivery, and the salutary advice of his discourses, powerfully interested and affected his hearers.

In the year 1805 Dr. Buist was appointed by the trustees of the Charleston college to be principal of that institution. For this situation he was eminently qualified, both on account of his excellent classical learning and his accurate and steady ideas of college discipline. Under him the college attained to a respectability it had never before acquired, and it would, doubtless, have become much more eminent and useful, if the death of the principal had not involved the institution, in common with the country at large, in mournful lamentation,

Dr. Buist departed this life on the 31st of August, 1808, after an illness of a few days, in the midst of his usefulness, and in the prime of his life, being then in the 39th year

of his age.

It may be, truly, said that death has not, for many years, struck a more shining or useful character in Charleston than Dr. Buist.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Amiable and domestick in private life, he was indefatigable in all enterprises of publick utility. No man was more able to rouse the

general feeling in behalf of any scheme for the general good. Industrious, warm and eloquent in his appeals, and measuring the character and the prepossessions of every individual, he touched those whom he wished to influence so forcibly and so happily that he disarmed resentment, quickened indifference, and either gained the hearts and wishes of all, or succeeded in silencing noisy and obtrusive opposition. By the happy application of such active address, united to his prudence and intelligence, Dr. Buist could not fail to render himself useful as a publick-spirited member of society. Those who knew him can well recollect, in how many instances society at large has been benefited by his exertion.

As pastor of a congregation, Dr. Buist was the friend and father of all its members. In their spiritual and temporal concerns he was a willing and able adviser; ever ready to hear the story of affliction and to dispense comfort and aid to all that were troubled and cast down. He was bold and animated in his censure of vice, not regarding the si

« PreviousContinue »