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Whose faith follow: James McCulloch of Dalmellington (1844-1925)

At the advanced age of 80 years, this devoted and esteemed brother in Christ entered into the presence of the Lord, whom e loved and served, on the afternoon of Friday, 6th March, 1925, at Prestwick. He had gone early that forenoon on an errand of mercy to visit an ailing relative, and at the roadside was suddenly called to be with Christ. It had been his expressed desire for many years, that if the Lord’s call came to him it might find him "in harness" engaged in service in the way he had filled up the greater portion of his Christian life. And this, the ardent desire of his heart, was given him.

James McCulloch was converted to God while yet a young man, in his early twenties. He was helped to a fuller assurance and enjoyment of salvation through the words of Miss Mary Paterson, a sister of Robert Paterson, a well-known evangelist of that time, who was conducting meetings in the mining village of Dalmellington. From that time onward, throughout the long period of some sixty years, he lived so as to "adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour" (Tit 2.10) in his home village.

At the time of his conversion Mr McCulloch was in the service of Lady Cathcart, of Berbeth House, and remained there until her death in 1877. Then he began business on his own account as a draper in his native village, in which he continued until the close of his life, esteemed by all who knew him. His banker, with whom he had done business throughout the entire course of his commercial life, and who was present at his burial, bore testimony to his sterling integrity throughout the forty-three years in which he had had dealings with him. There was not a villager in Dalmellington who did not recognise in James McCulloch a "genuine Christian".

When he was born again he was a member of the Established Church, and he used to tell how he went to the then minister of the parish, and told him the story of "how he was saved" and "came to know it". His Bible became to him henceforth the guide and counsellor of every phase of his life. He carried "the Book" and read it constantly, all through the years. From reading the Scriptures alone, he became exercised about being baptised as a Christian, and in "breaking bread" with a few Christian villagers, who gathered on the first day of each week in the humble house of one of their number. He told this to the Parish Church minister, who answered by saying, "James, if you see this to be right, do it", which he did. From that time onward he "continued steadfastly" in the same path. Part of his duty was to accompany his employer, Lady Cathcart, to the church on Sunday mornings, and to see her into her pew. This he continued to do faithfully, then hastened to the cottage where the little company met to "break bread," always leaving in time to see her ladyship back to Berbeth House. She respected him all the more for so doing.

When the Lord gave a memorable season of soulwinning in the village in 1877, he was in the midst of it. Walking along the avenue from and toward Berbeth, he made the woods echo with the voice of praise over those being born of God and confessing Christ as their Saviour. And when the little assembly had, as a result of that season of ingathering, some sixty or more added to its numbers, none rejoiced over the increase more than he did. The fruits of that season of grace were found over America and in many parts of the homeland, with all of whom Mr McCulloch kept up a familiar correspondence throughout all the years.

His interest in the Lord’s people in Dalmellington continued unabated, until he was over four-score years. Almost to the last, he attended and actively shared in the open-air testimony at the "Bridge", where many gathered to hear the gospel, and on that spot some wonderful trophies of grace were won, and stood at his side throughout the years, testifying to the reality of their conversion. On the day of his burial, shops were closed and windows blinded all along the route to the cemetery, where his body was laid to rest to await the resurrection morning.

When Mr McCulloch learned the truth of separation from the world and its religions, he received it as a sacred trust. He held it fast, and practised it in all departments of his life, withstanding firmly, but always graciously, all attempts to fritter it away in doctrine and practice. He believed that when the Scriptures had brought him out from denominationalism, and all its belongings, it could never take him back again to any of its phases, or its amalgamations. He had learned, and proved the blessedness of obeying, and was persuaded of the necessity of holding fast to the truth of God that sanctifies and builds up the saints. In this he "continued steadfastly" all the years of his Christian life with a godly zeal worthy of the Lord. An appropriate text, engraved by one who was saved forty-six years before, and knew him intimately, is on the stone that marks where his body lies, awaiting the "shout" of the returning Lord: "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness" (Ps 17.15).


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