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3 corrections, most recently by doug.butler - Show corrections



On Sunday morning a memorial service, having reference to the late Mr. James Robin, formerly vice-consul for Brazil, was conducted in the Pirie-street Wesleyan Methodist Church.

The President of the Conference (the Rev. J. B. Stephenson) delivered the following address: — When one who has for long years been associated with us in the various relations of life is called away from our company and we begin to realise that the familiar form will be seen no more and that the voice of our friend is silent in death, it is natural that we should reflect on the character of the life that has come to a close and the influence that it has exerted. Indeed it not unfrequently happens that we have but a vague idea of the esteem and affec- tion in which we hold a man and the force of his influence upon us until he leaves us and we become conscious of his value by the sense of our loss. This morning a place in this church for many years occupied by one who wore among us " the white flower of a blameless life" is vacant, and many are deeply conscious that in the death of Mr. James Robin they have lost a faithful friend and a fine example of Christian uprightness of con duct and unswerving fidelity to conviction. We shall profit not by a useless mourning for the dead, but by the recollection of what was worthy in him and the resolve to imitate it, and so to perpetuate the good that was in his life by translating it into our own. Mr. Robin wan born in Guernsey and had a godly ancestry. His mother was a daughter of the Rev. John de Quetteville, the first Wesleyan minister in the Chanuel Islands and " the apostle of French Methodism." His father, a deeply pious man and a very popular local preacher, was renowned tor integrity, his conscientiousness and honesty being proverbial throughout the island, where stories are still current illustrative of his high principles of businees honor and morality. At the ancient Grammar School of Elizabeth College Mr. Robin received a round and liberal education; and when about 17 or 18 years of ace he left the Channel Islands for South America. But though he was young the foundation of the character and habits   which distinguished him through life was already laid, and the facts which I have stated afford the key to his whole after life. Those who knew Mr. Robin well can scarcely fail to perceive that in these facts they have a fairly adequate explanation of what he subsequently became and of what he was as they knew him. He was a thoughtful, intelligent man, fond of reading and remarkably well informed. He had refined and cultured tastes, and his chief   recreations were literary and scientific. In all this may be traced the influence of early train ing and of work at the Grammar School. I have mentioned the reputation of his father—a proverb of business integrity and honor. What was the son? The commercial men of South Australia can answer that. The name of James Robin was a synonym for uprightness. To say of him that "his word   was his bond"—great praise as this is com- monly reckoned—would be to express but part of the truth, for with him the obligation of bond or word was not necessary where integ- rity and fair dealing were involved. The principle of his business life was to do right, not because be was committed by bond or word, but because it was right. I am per- mitted to quote a few sentences from   letters of sympathy received by the bereaved family from those who had business relationships with him. One of these writing to his tons—partners in the business firm— says :—" His character as 'the soul of honor'     has been the central element of success in your business." Another writes—"l cannot think of Mr. Robin without admiring him. Such unswerving integrity, such freedom from everything mean and ignoble must have been a lesson and a blessing to all within his sphere. He was one who could be most strongly trusted. One always knew that be would act in the right way " And yet another writes— "I feel it my duty to add my testimony to the high appreciation and honor in which Mr. Robin was held by all with whom be came in contact, his integrity and conscientious attention to duty being prover- bial." This testimony in Adelaide concern ing Mr. Robin is in substance identical with that given in Guernsy concerning his father, and the character of the father was repro- duced in the son. Explain it as you will— early training, moral influence, heredity—the fact is there to teach its lesson and to convince us of our responsibility. No less distinctly was the effect of the reli- gious influences with which his boyhood was surrounded marked on the career of his manhood. The temptations surrounding a young man in a city like Rio (de) Janeiro, where Mr. Robin resided during the greater part of the time he spent in Brazil, are very great, especially when such a young man is distant from his own home and personal   friends and is largely at liberty to act on his own responsibility and to do as he likes. An experience of that sort is no trifling ordeal, and the youth who can come out of it without loss of Christian character and dis- position for Godly things earns for himself a good degree. I know no details of Mr. Robin's life in Brazil, but he gained respect: he always afterwards regarded the country with affection, and for many years be represented it in this province as vice-consul of Brazil. Moreover, when finding it necessary in consequence of failing health to return home, he settled in Liverpool, and there entered into business on his own account; he attached himself to the church and enjoyed not only the ministry of some of the eminent Methodist 'preachers of that day but also their personal friendship. Among these was Dr. Beaumont, then at the zenith of his fame as an eloquent and powerful minister of the Gospel. Mr. Robin often spoke with gratitude of his kind ness, especially in insisting that he should spend at least one evening a week in his (Dr. Beaumont's) home, remarking that he knew the temptations to which a young man was ex- posed in a great city and he wished to help him to avoid them. All this serves to show how the religious in- fluences and habits of the home life of his early youth bore fruit, and remained through the period when temptations and dangers so frequently overcome men. While in Liverpool he married tbe lady who for 50 years, within a few weeks, has been tbe sharer of his joys and sorrows and his helper in Christian life and service. In 1850 he de- termined to embark for Australia, and in May of the following year he arrived in this city, where, up to the time of his decease he had his home. All these years be has steadfastly and consistently adhered to the church of his fathers and of his own choice, being a constant attendant at the public services of the sanctuary and a cheerful supporter of church enterprises. A constitutional diffi- culty of speech, combined with a naturally reserved disposition, made it very difficult for him to meet in class. But in Eugland he had been accustomed to meet the Rev. Peter McOwan for Christian fellownhip. and was always grateful to have opportunity of such fellowship in subsequent years with ministers of his own church in Adelaide. It is not known when he first yielded himself to God in Christ, but for over 40 years be was a regular commu- nicant at tbe sacrament ot the Lord's Supper. In 165 the ministry of the Rev. William Taylor was made a great blessing to him in the quickening of his spiritual experience. Unable himself through the infirmity of speech, to which reference has been made, to conduct family worship, he yet main- tained morning and evening throughout his whole married life the family altar, and was always present at the worship however pressed with business. Twenty years since he wrote to one of his sons:—"As regards spiritual   matters, I must, feeling my great unworthi- ness, leave all to the mercies of God in and through Christ Jesus our Redeemer." These words will express the attitude he maintained to the end and the faith in which he died. During a protracted illness through which he passed a few months ago he endured great pain with fortitude, and when recovering he expressed to me the trust he had that whether in life or death he was in tho keeping of the Saviour. Perhaps even by the things that he suffered be was being made meet for the king- dom of beaven. Tbe end came suddenly and unexpectedly, though it was evident that he bad been failing for some time. When his wife realised that he was passing quietly away she asked if he trusted in Jesus. He held up his hand appa- rently in affirmation. And when his daughter repeated tbe question he faintly whispered ' Yes," and then quietly breathed his last and fell asleep in Jesus. Give me the wings of faith to rise Within tbe veil and see The saints above, how great their joys How bright their glories be! Once they were mourners here below. And poured out cries and tears They wrestled hard, as we do now. With sin, and doubts, and fears I ask them whence their victory came; They, with united breath. Ascribe their conquest to the lamb, Their triumph in His death.