I wrote to you from the Land of Egypt, and now from the Land of Promise….
There is a holy beauty about Jerusalem, for you cannot walk a step without remembering the scenes that have passed there, and without looking forward to a time when it will again become the joy of the whole earth. You will be glad to know that I have stood all our great fatigues wonderfully, and even without being the worse of them, but rather the better. I may almost say I feel that God has been answering the continued prayer of those that love me; still I am not yet what I was, though I hope to be. All my companions had the privilege of preaching in Jerusalem…..
I wish I could recount to you all that we have seen with our eyes, so as to make you almost see it all over again. Joy is increased by spreading it to others. Thus Christ’s joy and glory are increased by making us partakers of it. Our life in the wilderness was a singular one. Since the day I wrote you we have never known the luxury of a bed. We spread our mats upon the sand, and God watches over us, when we are under the cover of our frail tent, as much as if we were within brazen gates and bars…
The burning heat of the desert—the long fatiguing journeys, sometimes twelve hours or fourteen in the day upon the camel—the insatiable thirst—and our weakness —were very trying to our faith and to our temper; it proved us, and made us know what was in our heart. Ah! dear friend, wherever we journey, union to Jesus and holiness from his Spirit flowing into us, is our chief and only happiness. Never cease to show your people that to be holy is to be happy ; and that, to bring us to perfect holiness and likeness to God, was the very end for which Christ died.
Early in the year, Robert, who had been working heavily with the churches in Scotland, was sent on a trip to Palestine to observe the land and determine the prospects of starting a mission there. He was told to give special attention to the condition of the Jews. So with two other ministers, Alexander Black and Alexander Keith, he set sail for Palestine. Their account of the land was stirring and, when they returned, they published the account of their journey entitled: Narrative of a Visit to the Holy Land and Mission of Inquiry to the Jews.
The testimony of the men challenged the Scottish Churches to send missionaries to Palestine and Egypt to work with the Jews and start churches among them. But Robert never lived to see the work done. When he returned from the trip, he took up the pastorate at a church and helped rally the churches to support the work of missions. But after only three years, at the age of 29, Robert died during an epidemic of Typhus. He was described as a “man of deep piety and prayer.” He never married but, at the time of death, he was engaged to a wonderful young woman, Jessie Thain. He was an avid author and poet and wrote several works. Even to this day, he is held in high regards by the churches in Scotland.
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