Gardiner, James

Gardiner, James Colonel, son of captain Patrick Gardiner, of the British service, was born at Carriden, Linlithgowshire, Scotland, January 11, 1688, and at fourteen became ensign in a Scotch regiment in the Dutch service. In 1702 he obtained a commission in the English army, and was severely wounded at the battle of Ramilies in 1706. In several other battles he gave distinguished proofs of capacity and courage. His licentious habits, with his successful adventures in gallantry, gained for him among his dissolute companions the distinction of the "happy rake." But he was not happy. Passages of the Bible which were still imprinted on his memory, and the thought of his mother's pious character and early instructions, often recurred to make him miserable; and at one time, while entertaining a party of profligate young men by his licentious wit, he felt so degraded in his own estimation, and so inwardly wretched, that, a dog lying at his feet, the wish involuntarily rose in his breast, "'Would I were as happy as that dog!" In 1719 he became the subject of profound religious impressions. The circunmstances, as narrated by Dr. Doddridge, contain much that is marvellous, if not supernatural. "Doddridge himself hints at the possibility of the whole being a dream instead of a 'visible representation of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, surrounded on all sides with a glory,' etc. He also mentions that Gardiner 'did not seem very confident' whether the voice which came to him was really 'an audible voice, or only a strong impression on his mind equally striking.' Considerable doubt has recently been cast on the whole story by the publication of the Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle, edited by John Hill Burton (Edinb., Blackeood and Sons, 1860), in which Carlyle denies altogether the truth of Doddridge's version of the story, at least of the supernatural portion of it. The attendant circumstances, however, are of little moment one way or another; the great fact is the conversion of the brave but wicked soldier into a pious and excellent Christian, and regarding this there has nemaer beens any doubt. In 1724 Gardiner was raised to the rank of major, and in 1726 he married lady Frances Erskine, daughter of the fourth earl of Buchan, by whom he had thirteen children, only five of whom survived him." On his becoming the head of a family he commenced the practice of domestic worship — the presence of no guest, the intervention of no engagement, was ever allowed to interfere with its daily performance. He was also regular in attendance on public worship on the Sabbath, and established a system according to which all the servants accompanied him to church. In 1730 he became lieutenant colonel of dragoons, and in 1743 colonel of a new regiment of dragoons. He was killed at the battle of Preston Pans in 1745. Chambers, Encyclopaedia, s.v.; Doddridge, Life of Col. Gardiner; Jamieson, Religious Biography, s.v.

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