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The Life of Elder Thomas McColl PDF Print E-mail
Written by Thomas McColl   

The Signs of the Times--January 1871


The experience of Elder McColl was written by himself, and the account of his death by his son, Deacon T. D. McColl.

This day I sit down to write a brief history of my travels through time until the present. I was born in the parish of Welford, Argyleshire, Scotland, March 1791.

My parents moved, when I was nine months old, to the parish of Kilberry, where we remained until we immigrated to America. My brother Samuel and I sailed from Greenock on the 17th of July, 1817. My father and step-mother and my sister Esther remained, to collect the proceeds of sale, until 1818. We came to Caledonia, Genessee county, New York State, remained there a year or two, came to Aldborough, and settled there. My father deceased the 22nd of June, 1822. I married Margaret McIntyre the 24th of December. I taught a little school there for some years. I was christened, when a child, by a pious Reformed Presbyterian minister, Thomas Henderson. My father being a member of that church. I was raised and instructed strictly according to the rules of the Westminster Confession of Faith, yet I lived without God and hope, although accounted by my acquaintances moral above many. I associated with much of the folly of youth, according to the custom of the section of country where I lived, for which I was afterward reproved by my pious father. When we came to Aldborough there was no preaching of any value. The country there a solitary wilderness. After a year or so Dugald Campbell; who was a deacon in a Baptist church in Scotland, began to preach in my school-house, but before he began to preach publicly I was under concern of mind in a manner, much cast down on account of my youthful folly. I did not understand myself, only my sins were sent home to my accusing conscience. My distress increasing, I would pray for mercy. That portion of scripture would continually sound: in my mind, “Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” I saw clearly that God would be just in dealing so with me. I may say that I was praying without ceasing.

One morning early while hoeing corn before school time, the Lord, as I believe, spoke to me, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” I said in my own mind, Lord, how can such a vile sinner come unto thee? The 18th. verse of the 1st chapter of Isaiah was applied, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as wool; though they be red like crimson, they shall I be as wool.” My bodily strength grew weak, the hoe fell out of my hand; I walked a distance from the boy that was with me, and praised and prayed prostrate on the ground. I then came to the boy and began to teach him, vainly I my teaching would affect him, which he still remembers.

I lived in that happy frame of mind for some two weeks; I believe, without a vain thought; but O, the temptations I have experienced since those happy days! I was at times visited with the presence of God. One day, in the barn. I thought I embraced the Lord Jesus in my arms, and exclaimed in the words of Paul, in the 85th, 88th and 39th verses of the 8th chapter of Romans, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And many such visitations I had in the days of my youth. When many were converted under the ministry of Elder Campbell, I told them what I had experienced, was received, and baptized in Lake Erie. I began. To exhort sinners, and when Elder Campbell grew old, I was set apart; to the pastoral office. Some of the deacons were preaching in different parts of the scattered church. I experienced many dark days, and much trial unto the present, from some unruly members of the church. I am now old and feeble, and near my journey’s end.


Wallacetown P. O, Ontario, Feb. 26, 1870.

My father, Elder Thomas McColl, after a lingering illness of chronic dyspepsia, departed this life October 17th, 1870, in the 80th year of his age, at his farm residence near Wallacetown. Ontario, Canada.

After his decease, the foregoing autobiography was found among his papers. Since he commenced preaching, his labors were great in supplying the scattered branches of the church, frequently traveling great distances through a wilderness country to meet with brethren in isolated localities; and besides, carrying on the work of his farm, to provide for himself and family. As the country became settled, and facilities increased, he still continued his pastoral labors with unabated zeal, boldly proclaiming the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, and “earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints.” He had many refreshing and encouraging manifestations of divine favor in and with the church, wherein he was made to rejoice. “When the sun’s rays were withheld, he was enabled to trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” The day of adversity was set against the day of prosperity. He had sore trials from disorderly members and false brethren, but the severest of these was when the greater part of one of the branches of the church separated themselves, and followed an impostor who was excluded for preaching Arminian heresy. He wrote them a pastoral letter, signed by himself and two deacons, advising them not to follow or countenance this individual in his error. At one of their meetings, after reading this letter, it was put to a vote whether they would obey the admonition or not. A majority decided to follow that which is most pleasing to the flesh, and “they went out from us, because they were not of us.” He afterwards wrote them several letters about their course, all of which they treated with contempt, which weighed heavily upon his spirit. He would often say that this was the heaviest trial of his life, but like Moses, he endured as him who is invisible. Late years showed that his constitution was overtasked, and he began physically to decline, but the Lord preserved his faculties entire, so that mentally he possessed the clearness and vigor of youth up to the very close of his life. During the severe attacks he frequently had in his last illness, he would be the calmest person in the sick room. A few days before his death, he gave charge concerning the manner of his funeral. He bore his affliction with great patience. I cannot help expressing the thought, that with him “patience had her perfect work.” He conversed but very little on his death-bed on account of his extreme weakness, but he remained firm and steadfast in the faith, “that if his earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, he had a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” He continued perfectly conscious to the last, and gradually sank as it were into a quiet sleep. Thus he passed into his rest, without the movement of a muscle, or a groan, or a sigh. We confidently believe he is now in full fruition of that glorious “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away,” of which he had many earnest foretastes while sojourning here upon his earthly pilgrimage.

Yours in affliction,


Wallacetown Ontario, November 2, 1870

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 October 2008 )
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