Disruption Worthies 2

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David Carment M.A.


Mr Carment was born on 28th September 1772, at Keiss, near Wick, where his father, James Carment, kept a school. His ancestors belonged to the south of Scotland, his father being a native of the parish of Irongray. His grandfather, John Carment, was born in 1672, and was baptised in the hills, under cloud of night, by John Welsh, the outed minister of Irongray.

Mr Carment received his early education from his father. When thirteen years of age, he went to the parish school of Canisbay, where he was taught Latin and Greek. He made rapid progress; and when he had just completed his seventeenth year, was appointed parochial schoolmaster of Kincardine, in Ross-shire. He remained there only one year, and being desirous to pursue his studies at college, he entered King’s College, Aberdeen, in November, 1791.

His father was not in circumstances to afford him pecuniary aid, and he had a hard struggle to get through his college course. At the close of the first session, he obtained the situation of tutor in the family of the Rev. George Munro, minister of South Uist. This enabled him to complete his attendance at the arts classes. He passed through the curriculum with much credit; and at the close of the session in the spring of 1795, obtained the degree of Master of Arts. He was then appointed parish schoolmaster of Strath, in the Isle of Skye, where he remained for four years. Having completed during this period his attendance at the Divinity Hall in Aberdeen, he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Skye, on 4th April 1799.

After being licensed, he gave up the parish school, and became tutor in the family of Mr Macdonald, tacksman of Scalpa, a small island adjoining Skye. Mr Carment always referred to this as one of the happiest periods of his life, and it is believed that it was while here he underwent a saving change.

In March 1803, he was appointed assistant to the Rev. Hugh Calder, minister of the parish of Croy, near Inverness, where the principal ministerial duties had to be performed in the Gaelic language. Mr Carment, not being a Highlander, knew nothing of Gaelic till he went to Uist in 1792, and the preparation of his Gaelic discourses taxed him severely.

His preaching soon proved attractive, and many from neighbouring parishes came to hear him. He preached with power and energy those truths which, not long before, had become realities in his own experience. Not a few had cause to bless the Lord for sending them such a ministry.

In January 1810, he was chosen minister of the new Gaelic chapel in Duke Street, Glasgow, and having been ordained by the Presbytery of Nairn, he removed to Glasgow in April following. He continued to labour there for twelve years, and these were, perhaps, the busiest years of his life. Besides two Gaelic services, he had an English sermon on the Sabbath evening, which was largely attended by many who were not Highlanders. He took an active part in the management of the various religious and charitable institutions of the city; and formed the friendship of Dr Love, Dr Balfour, Dr Hamilton of Strathblane, and Dr Chalmers. His labours in Glasgow were much countenanced and blessed.

In 1815, he married Margaret Stormonth, daughter of the Rev. James Stormonth, minister of Airlie, in Forfarshire. She was a woman of very superior mind and eminent piety. She survived her husband for many years, and died in her son’s house in Edinburgh, in October, 1874.

In December 1821, Mr Carment was presented to the parish of Rosskeen, in the Presbytery of Tain, as assistant and successor to the Rev. John Ross. He was inducted shortly after, and entered upon his ministerial duties in the spring of 1822. Mr Ross was an old man, disabled from duty, and died soon after Mr Carment’s induction. The charge was an arduous one. There were three villages in the parish, besides a large rural population, the total population being about 2600. The parish was at that time in a very rude state. Its educational requirements were inadequately provided for, and many of the people had no copy of the Word of God. He set himself vigorously to remedy this state of things, and ere long there were four schools in the parish, besides the parochial school in the village of Invergordon. He also made an arrangement with the British and Foreign Bible Society, by which he obtained from them large supplies of Bibles and Testaments, both in Gaelic and English. Hundreds of copies were distributed in this way, the price being regulated according to the means of the parties, and none being given without payment, except to parties in very poor circumstances. Every one in the parish able to read had soon a copy of the Word of God.

Mr Carment’s preaching made a great impression in the parish from the outset, and he soon acquired an influence over the people such as is rarely attained. This may be thought the more remarkable, as he had no Celtic blood in his veins, and his character was thoroughly Saxon. His preaching was eminently practical, and there was a directness and terseness in his style to which Highlanders, at that period at least, were not much accustomed. He was a man of large bodily presence, and of almost herculean strength. His utterance was clear and distinct, and his voice had a compass which enabled him, without straining or apparent effort, to be heard by the largest assemblages in the open air.

In 1822, the system of “The Men” was dominant in Easter Ross. Mr Carment’s straightforwardness and independence of spirit did not suit them, and he and they soon came to an open rupture. Such an event, in ordinary circumstances, was fatal to a minister’s influence. The people left him, and followed “The Men.” In Mr Carment’s case, however, this result was, for the first time, reversed. The people left “The Men,” and followed the minister.

The limits within which this sketch must be confined do not admit of any detailed account of Mr Carment’s unwearied labours in the parish during the remainder of his life. His own impression was, that a considerable portion of his ministry in Rosskeen was less fruitful of spiritual results than his ministry in Glasgow and Croy; but in the year 1840 there was a remarkable revival of religion in Rosskeen, in common with many other places, and he had reason to believe that many were brought to the saving knowledge of the truth.

Mr Carment was seldom absent from his own parish, though he occasionally visited other districts, where his services were much prized. He enjoyed being returned to the General Assembly, where he made not a few highly effective appearances.

He took an active part in the pre-Disruption controversy, and in preparing his people for the result. And when the day of trial came, the people, almost to a man, followed their minister. Out of a population of upwards of 3000, it is believed, not fifty remained behind. Mr Carment did not go out till the middle of June. He preached for the last time in the parish church on 18th June, taking his text from 2 Samuel 15:25, 26. It was a day long to be remembered. At the close of the sermon he read a solemn protest, which he recorded in the minute-book of the kirk-session, where it still remains. It breathes much of the spirit of his covenanting ancestors.

The manse had been built for Mr Carment some years after his induction. It was situated in a lovely spot, with a lawn in front, fringed by a small stream, which in those early days contained wondrous trout. There was a sweet garden, which had all been laid out under his own superintendence. The churchyard was within a few hundred yards of the manse. Six of Mr Carment’s children lay buried there. They were the flower of the flock. Often, as the twilight drew on, the old man stole out to the churchyard to visit the graves of his loved ones. Their very dust was dear to him.

The pecuniary sacrifice which the Disruption involved, though large in itself, was as nothing compared with the disruption of those tender and hallowed ties, which linked father and mother and the surviving children to the manse and garden and glebe and the solemn churchyard.

Mr Carment was one of those who doubted whether the Church, before resorting to disruption, should not have longer continued the fight with the civil courts; but the pecuniary results never for a moment influenced his judgment in the matter. The emoluments told for very little; but to leave to strangers the manse, hallowed by so many deathbeds; the garden, and its quiet walks; the green lawn, with the little babbling brook—places sanctified by communion and fellowship with his God—and the churchyard and its sacred memories; this was a sore trial. It was in the true spirit of martyrdom that Mr Carment and his saintly spouse turned their backs on the commodious manse, and took up their abode in a small house in the village of Invergordon. It was a noble thing for a man with a family to sacrifice an income of between £300 and £400 a-year for conscience’ sake. But to tear asunder all those tender ties and associations, which bound their hearts to the manse and its surroundings, was worse than death. Still, they bore it bravely;— Martyrs, not by mistake—but martyrs for conscience’ sake.

After the Disruption, Mr Carment had two Sabbath services—one in a small chapel in Invergordon, for the east part of the parish; another on a moor, some four miles from Invergordon, where the inhabitants of the upper part of the parish met to worship. There was a good deal of excitement in the district when a new minister came to take possession of the manse and parish church; but, though there was some rioting, nothing serious occurred. Mr Carment’s influence was sufficient to prevent that. Within two years, a commodious church, seated for eleven hundred, was built in a central situation, and was filled to overflowing. He continued to discharge the whole parochial duty till July 1852, when he was within a few months of eighty years of age. His strength at last began to give way, and the Rev. John H. Fraser was appointed assistant and successor. Mr. Carment continued to preach once every Sabbath until March 1855. He died on 26th May 1856.

The following quotation from an article, written at the time of Mr Carment’s decease by the late Rev. Andrew Gray, of Perth, one of his most intimate and valued friends, may fitly conclude this sketch:—

“In 1825, Mr Carment was a member of the Assembly. He spoke in the great debate upon Pluralities. In his own homely and earnest way, he drew a Bible from his pocket, and read to the house a passage or two respecting pastoral duties and responsibilities. The Assembly gave signs of impatience, and derisive murmurs assailed him. Mr Carment’s spirit was kindled within him. ‘Moderator,’ he cried, ‘are there men in this house that will not hear the Word of God? For my part, I was sent up to this Assembly,’ added he, producing his commission, and reading from it, ‘to consult, vote, and determine in all matters to the glory of God and the good of His Church, according to the Word of God.’ ‘Read on,’ said some of the doctors near the table; ‘read on.’ Mr Carment obeyed: ‘According to the Word of God, the Confession of Faith, and agreeably to the constitution of this Church.’ No sooner had he read the clause, ‘and agreeably to the constitution of this Church,’ than the great phalanx of Moderatism before which he stood broke into explosions of merriment and shouts of laughter. ‘Wait a little,’ whispered Dr Andrew Thomson, who was present as a spectator, and was looking gravely on, ‘wait a little, and you will see that Carment is a match for them.’ Mr Carment drew himself up, and glancing round the hall with an expression of face, in which indignation and glee were strangely mingled, exclaimed, in a voice that put down the storm instantly—’Moderator, I was not aware that the learned doctors and lawyers on the other side would have been so ready to confess that their views of the constitution of this Church are not according to the Word of God.’ They never laughed at him again.”
 

J. C.

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Thomas Chalmers, D.D., LL.D.


Thomas Chalmers

In the roll of Disruption Worthies, the first place belongs, by universal consent, to the name of Thomas Chalmers.

He was born of respectable and pious parentage, at Anstruther, Fifeshire, on 17th March 1780. During his early years he was much more remarkable for glee and frolic than for steady application: yet even then he gave proof of his mental vigour, for when he chose to exert himself, he could easily outstrip all his schoolfellows. Before he had passed the stage of boyhood, he was enrolled as a student in the University of St Andrews. During his first two sessions he made little progress in his studies, and his great faculties were not yet roused into activity; but in his third session his aptitude for mathematical science was strikingly developed, and he never afterwards relapsed into anything like mental indolence.1

In July 1799, when considerably below the statutory age, he was licensed as a preacher of the gospel. At this period he was ignorant of the way of salvation, both theoretically and experimentally. He is known to have prayed publicly in such terms as these: “Deliver us from the fanaticism of faith,” and to have quoted in one of his discourses a portion of the Sermon on the Mount, and then asked with an air of triumph, “Is there anything about faith here?” In May 1803, after having officiated for some time as assistant in the parish of Cavers, and subsequently as assistant in the Mathematical Classes at St Andrews, he was ordained minister of Kilmany, in the north of Fife. His conceptions of pastoral duty were meagre in the extreme. In a letter publicly addressed to Professor Playfair, when he became a candidate for the Mathematical Chair in the University of Edinburgh, he proclaimed his conviction that, after giving two days in the week to the duties of his parish, a clergyman might warrantably devote the rest of his time to extra-professional pursuits. And his practice was in accordance with his theory; for, after his settlement at Kilmany, he devoted much of his time and energy to the teaching of chemistry at St Andrews. His pulpit ministrations were characterised by intellectual power, but as yet evangelical fervour was entirely wanting. He preached on moral subjects with great energy and earnestness, and, as he afterwards acknowledged, without any practical results. A great change, however, was at hand. Laid aside by illness for some months, during which various good influences were brought to bear upon him, especially that of Wilberforce’s Practical View of Christianity, he came forth from his sick-chamber an altered man—”renewed in the spirit of his mind.” He now preached the pure doctrine of the gospel with amazing fervour, and, from that time till he was taken to his rest, he shone forth over Scotland, and ultimately over a large portion of the civilised world, as a star of the first magnitude.

Translated in 1815 to the Tron Church, Glasgow, and thereafter to St John’s in the same city, Dr Chalmers attracted vast multitudes by the fame of his extraordinary eloquence, and contributed mightily to the triumph of Evangelical truth over the cold and withering Moderatism that had been long in the ascendant. In addition to his ordinary pulpit work, he gave to the world his Astronomical Discourses, which, both from the pulpit and through the press, obtained a larger measure of acceptance than any series of discourses in the English language. In the best sense of the expression, his was a prosperous ministry, many having been won, by means of it, to the faith and obedience of the gospel; and, in another respect, it was eminently fruitful. Endowed beyond most men with the power of influencing the minds of others, Dr Chalmers gathered round him in Glasgow a band of devoted laymen, by whom his plans for the social and spiritual elevation of the common people were zealously worked out. The parochial organisation of St John’s became a powerful instrument for grappling with the ignorance, the vice, and the pauperism of a crowded population; and had this example been duly followed, society would have felt much more lightly at this day the pressure of enormous evils with which it is burdened and distracted.

While he urged the importance of turning the existing parochial machinery to the best account, Dr Chalmers saw clearly, and announced most emphatically, that it was far from being adequate to the necessities of the time. In an appendix to his sermon on the death of Princess Charlotte, published in 1817, he unfolded his plan for providing twenty additional churches for the city of Glasgow; and this may be regarded as the first of a series of efforts which resulted in a vast extension of the means of grace, not in Glasgow only, but over a great part of Scotland.

In 1823 Dr Chalmers was transferred to the Chair of Moral Philosophy in his native University. Here he wielded a commanding and most healthful influence,—rousing young minds into active exercise, inspiring many of his students with something of his own lofty enthusiasm, and kindling in others the flame of missionary zeal, which burned in after years with no common ardour. There still survive a few who can look back, with thankfulness and unabated interest, to the plain old classroom in which, day by day, they listened to such strains of eloquence and wisdom as could nowhere else be heard. Frequently, as the Professor was rising to the height of some great argument, a deep and almost breathless hush prevailed throughout the class; and then followed a burst of enthusiastic applause, which, however unacademic, was absolutely irrepressible.2

Dr Chalmers did not confine his labours within the walls of the University; and though there is little room for details in a sketch like this, it would be wrong to leave unnoticed his monthly missionary meetings in the Town Hall. These were largely attended, and were very helpful to the great cause of missions.

But a wider field was soon opened for his gigantic energies. In 1828 he entered on his labours as Professor of Systematic Theology in the Metropolitan University. In this new and more appropriate sphere, his influence was at once intensified and expanded: it operated more directly than before on the rising ministry of the Church, and was soon felt, and that most advantageously, in many of her pulpits. The Divinity Classroom was crowded from day to day, not only with regular students, but also with amateurs, among whom were men of high intellectual and social eminence. Examinations, introduced for the first time into the theological course, alternated with lectures, and were conducted in the most kindly and instructive manner. The substance of the lectures was ultimately published in the Institutes of Theology and the Notes on Butler’s Analogy,—works which testify to the profound wisdom and the intense earnestness with which the Professor sought to train his students for the work of the holy ministry.

Dr Chalmers took little part in the ordinary procedure of the Church Courts. He reserved his strength for great vital questions, and some of the brightest triumphs of his eloquence were won on the floor of themGeneral Assembly—as, for example, on the question of Pluralities. It was in a debate on this question, and in reply to one who had brought up against him the letter to Professor Playfair previously referred to, that Dr Chalmers gave utterance to the memorable words, “What, sir, is the object of mathematical science? Magnitude and the proportions of magnitude. But then, sir, I had forgotten two magnitudes. I thought not of the littleness of time—I recklessly thought not of the greatness of eternity.” The Church Extension enterprise, which was committed to his hands, brought him more frequently before the Assembly; and the Reports which he submitted from year to year were looked forward to with the deepest interest, and listened to with admiration and delight. In prosecuting that enterprise, he failed in obtaining additional endowments from the State, but succeeded beyond expectation in drawing forth the liberality of the people. Churches were erected in many localities where they were urgently required; parochial districts were attached to them; and, in a very few years, the Church was enlarged to a vastly greater extent than it had been for a whole century before.

From an early period, Dr Chalmers had been a strenuous supporter of Church Establishments, but always with the proviso, that the State should not trench on the Church’s freedom. State support he regarded as a matter of Christian expediency; the freedom of the Church he regarded as a matter of scriptural principle, not to be surrendered on any consideration. He would have retained both, if he could; but when it became evident that both could not be retained, he was clear and decided as to the course that should be taken. The famous Veto Act, though not precisely what he wished, received his acquiescence, because it protected congregations from the intrusion of unacceptable ministers; and when it was disallowed by the Court of Session, and the civil and ecclesiastical authorities were thus brought into collision, he took up his position at once in the very forefront of the battle. It is impossible here to enter into the details of the great controversy that issued in the Disruption. Enough to say, that Dr Chalmers was the Church’s trusted leader—the powerful and unflinching champion of its independence. And when, in consequence of the encroachments of the Court of Session, and the refusal of Parliament to afford protection or redress, it became necessary either to break with the State or to violate the Church’s scriptural constitution, he not only held that the former course was imperative, but formed his plan for the support of the ministry when the Disruption should take place. That plan he unfolded at the Convocation with a noble confidence and ardour. By many it was regarded with great misgivings; but experience soon proved its adaptation to the Church’s altered circumstances, and now, after the lapse of a generation, the Sustentation Fund stands forth before the world as a monument of the genius and wisdom of its founder,—proclaiming, as it does, that he who was foremost in eloquence among the Church’s sons, was also foremost in practical sagacity.

The Convocation alluded to above, adopted resolutions embodying the conditions on which alone the Church could remain in connection with the State; and when these were finally disallowed by Parliament, there was no alternative but to surrender emoluments which could not be innocently or honourably retained. This was the issue involved in the proceedings of 18th May 1843. Dr Chalmers was the first to follow the Moderator, Dr Welsh, in walking out of St Andrew’s Church, where the Assembly had convened; and on him, by universal acclamation, was conferred the honour of being appointed Moderator of the Free General Assembly. The scene in Canonmills Hall on that memorable day was such as Scotland had never witnessed; and assuredly not a little of its grandeur and impressiveness was due to the presence, the counsels, and the prayers, of the illustrious man by whom the chair was occupied.

During the remainder of his life, he watched with unremitting care over the interests of the Free Church, while his chief attention was given to the duties of the Divinity Chair in the New College of which he was appointed Principal. One of his latest labours is entitled to prominence, even in so brief a sketch as this. In the West Port, one of the worst districts of Edinburgh, he founded a Territorial Mission, which, in its infancy, he fostered with loving assiduity, and which, in the able hands of the Rev. W. Tasker, soon attained to remarkable prosperity. The example thus set was followed zealously and successfully in other districts of Edinburgh, in Glasgow, Dundee, and other large towns; and from the seed sown by Dr Chalmers in the West Port, there has sprung a rich and a still increasing harvest.

A careful economist of time, and very systematic in his habits, he accomplished with his pen an amount of work which, taken in connection with his other labours, may be regarded as immense. But it was easier for him to write than to sit in dreamy idleness: his pen kept pace with the operations of his mind.3 Not to speak of his multifarious correspondence, his authorship ranged over wide and varied fields—the Evidences and Doctrines of Christianity, Natural Theology, Mental and Moral Philosophy, Political and Social Economy, Church organisation, and kindred topics—besides many pamphlets on pressing questions of the day. His works are characterised by a majestic eloquence, often vehement and somewhat rugged in its style; they evince a most unusual combination of power, comprehensiveness, and penetration; and they are charged with great principles and lessons of practical wisdom, which the Church and society at large have, to their detriment, been all too slow to learn.

About the end of March 1847, Dr Chalmers was summoned to London to give evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons with reference to the refusal of church sites. His evidence was worthy of his character and fame, not only as exposing the paltriness and injustice of site-refusers and their abettors, but as involving a most noble testimony to the principles and policy of the Church which he so fitly represented. This was his last public service. After spending some time with friends in England, he returned to his home on Friday, the 25th of May. On the evening of the Sabbath thereafter, he retired to rest as usual, intending to be at work early in the morning, as he had the College Report to submit on Monday to the General Assembly. In the morning, when his chamber door was opened, he was found in bed in a half-reclining posture, with a calm and majestic expression on his countenance, but without a trace of life. His spirit had passed away, apparently without a struggle, to its joyful rest.

He was interred in Grange Cemetery. Hugh Miller says of the funeral:—”There was a moral sublimity in the spectacle. It spoke more emphatically than by words of the dignity of intrinsic excellence, and of the height to which a true man may attain. It was the dust of a Presbyterian minister which the coffin contained; and yet they were burying him amid the tears of a nation, and with more than kingly honours.”

Those who wish to have a finished portraiture of the man, of his humility and gentleness, of his child-like simplicity, of his bland and radiant humour, of his “leonine nobleness and potency,” of his geniality in private, and his grandeur in public life, must be referred to the invaluable biography by Dr Hanna. And those who would look still more closely into the inner life of the man, and form a just estimate of the depth of his piety, of his struggles on the field of spiritual conflict, of his aspirations after holiness, of his prayerfulness of spirit, and of his love to God and man, must consult the Horae Biblicae Quotidianae, and the Horae Biblicae Sabbaticae, a series of daily and Sabbath scripture studies which Dr Chalmers indited for his private use during the last years of his life, which he kept secret from his most familiar friends, and which of course did not see the light until after his decease.

D. C.

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Patrick Clason


Patrick Clason

On the 18th of May 1843, Dr Clason was appointed Joint-Clerk, with Mr Pitcairn, of the Free Church General Assembly. This office he continued to hold for upwards of twenty-four years, and was thus closely associated with the early history of the Church, and with the events that succeeded the Disruption.

Patrick Clason was born at the Manse of Dalziel—a quiet spot on the banks of the Clyde above Hamilton—on the 13th of October 1789. He was the youngest of a family of three sons and two daughters. His father, the Rev. Robert Clason (afterwards translated to the parish of Logie, near Stirling), was a man of singular gifts and graces. It was under his tuition that Patrick, together with several youths of the same age, received the first elements of learning; and in course of time, having decided for the ministry, he was entered at the College of Glasgow, and there completed his literary course. He was wont to recall the memory of these old times, when he toiled hard at his books in a lodging in a lofty tenement in the High Street. His course in divinity he prosecuted in Edinburgh, and was in due time licensed to preach the gospel in 1811.

We have no record of his probationary experiences, but in 1815 he was ordained minister of Carmunnock, near Glasgow. In that quiet rural parish he continued to labour for about nine years, and throughout life took a warm interest in the people of his first charge.

In 1824 he was translated to St Cuthbert’s Chapel of Ease—now Buccleuch Church, Edinburgh. There he ministered with much acceptance to a considerable congregation. As a pastor, he was faithful and sympathizing; and in his whole bearing there was an exceeding geniality, combined with dignity, which greatly endeared him to his flock. His ministry in the word was greatly relished by the more thoughtful and intelligent. It was not what is commonly called popular, but it was rich in exposition of divine truth, while his language was chaste, and abounding in the old Saxon; and his manner warm and attractive. None could listen to him without the impression that his heart was filled with the divine word, and that he loved to open up its treasures.

In 1830 he was brought forward as a candidate for a divinity chair in St Andrews; and though unsuccessful, yet the occasion brought out from some of the leading men of the day strong testimonies of the estimation in which he was held. Thus one writes of “the purity and consistency of his Christian character, his companionable manners, and the extent and solidity of his professional literature;” and another, “of his clear and sound judgment, his extensive attainments, alike in general and in professional literature, and his kind and conciliatory manners.”

The memorable era of the Disruption came, and Dr Clason, with the greater proportion of his congregation, left the old chapel, and worshipped for several years in a low-roofed building at the east end of Buccleuch Place, until the handsome edifice now occupied by the congregation was built.

One great interest in any notices of Dr Clason’s life proceeds from his close association with the early days of the Free Church. There are many who will remember his stately form at the clerks’ bar, his genial greeting of old friends, his thorough courtesy to all; and perhaps, specially, the peculiar grace and tenderness of his reading of the Bible portion at the opening of the diets of Assembly. His labours in connection with the clerkship were, we believe, congenial to his taste, and he continued to the last to take an intelligent interest in all the great movements of the Church.

In 1846 Dr Clason was deputed to visit some of the Mediterranean stations, and spent a considerable time at Malta, afterwards visiting Italy, and bringing home much interesting information. It was at his instance that steps were taken towards opening a Protestant church at Rome. Soon after his return he was called to the chair, as Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr Wood taking his place as interim-clerk. His stately appearance, arrayed in the old court dress and hat, is still remembered.

In the year 1854 his health was seriously impaired by an affection of the throat, and he was accordingly advised to go for the winter season to Egypt. The visit was not only favourable for the recovery of his health, but was peculiarly attractive to his antiquarian tastes. The account of his interviews with the priests of the old Coptish Church, and of his sojourn within an ancient tomb at the Pyramids, was very graphic. From Egypt he went up to Jerusalem, and formed one of a select party who were permitted, through favour of the Pasha, to visit the Mosque of Omar, accounted the holiest of Mahommedan shrines.

The succeeding winter was spent by Dr Clason in Madeira, where he enjoyed pleasant Christian fellowship, and returned home greatly recruited in health.

The appointment about this time of a colleague in the oversight of the congregation relieved him in some measure from his pastoral labours, but he still continued to retain his wonted chair in the General Assembly, and to take a warm and intelligent interest in all the enterprises of the Church. He had much pleasure in social intercourse with his friends, opening up the rich stores of his mind, and his knowledge of men and of books—abounding in anecdote and in memories of former days.

His last journey was into South Wales, to visit the son of an elder sister, whom for many years he had not seen. He was taken seriously ill on the journey home, and when at length he reached his own house, he felt that his end was near. He said to his faithful servant, as he sat down on the sofa, “B____, this is the end of the journey.” He had great peace in his soul. He had an impression for a long time previous that he was soon to be taken home, and when the hour of his departure came, he was at rest. “Now, Lord, lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.” He died on the 30th July 1867, and his remains were laid in the Grange Cemetery, beside many dear and honoured friends with whom he had been associated in the Lord’s work. “Thus blessed is the man that feareth the Lord.”

J. M.


William Collins


William Collins, the well-known publisher, and for many years the zealous fellow-labourer of Dr Chalmers, was born at Eastwood, Renfrewshire, on the 12th of October 1789. His memoir places us beside the infant springs of the Free Church of Scotland. Of independent, penetrating, and courageous intellect, Mr Collins was ever on the quest for new channels through which to develop his energies, but he was happily guarded from that tendency to theorise, which is the besetting sin of such minds, by the forethought and practical wisdom which he added to all his other qualities. His chief end and aim was the good of others. His philanthropy, early manifested, strengthened with his years, and opened out into a life which unfolded itself in a succession of great labours, wisely conceived and resolutely carried out, for the welfare of his fellow-men. Feeling that all that was really good in himself had its source in the gospel, Mr Collins’ efforts for the welfare of others were put forth along the line of that divinely restorative and elevating force which is found in the Cross, and nowhere else.

At the age of twenty-five Mr Collins was ordained an elder in the congregation of the Tron Church, Glasgow, then under the pastoral care of Dr McGill. In the course of his reading he happened to peruse the article on the Evidences of Christianity in the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

The freshness of its intellectual power, and the glow of its moral and evangelical enthusiasm, impressed and delighted him. Accordingly, when Dr McGill died, Mr Collins turned his eyes to the author of the article which had so fascinated him, the Rev. Thomas Chalmers, as a suitable successor to Dr McGill, and greatly aided in the movement which resulted in the appointment by the Town Council of the young minister of Kilmany to the church and parish of the Tron. From no one did Dr Chalmers receive a heartier welcome on his induction in 1815 than from the youngest member of his session, Mr Collins.

The subject of our memoir now took his place by the side of Dr Chalmers, and continued to co-operate with him in his manifold labours all the time the latter remained in Glasgow. The two men resembled each other in spirit and aim, in genuine piety and large benevolence. It was not the minister alone, nor the elder alone, but minister and elder together, that wrought out that marvellous social and moral change that now began to transform the wide district that was the field of their joint labours. When Dr Chalmers originated the idea of local Sabbath Schools, Mr Collins opened the first school, and thus gave the religious community a proof of the practicability and efficiency of the idea of his great leader.

Dr Chalmers was next transferred to the new parish of St John’s. Mr Collins accompanied his minister to his new charge, and still kept his place by his side as his valued adviser and zealous and efficient fellow-labourer. To Dr Chalmers, with his keen political and social insight, it belonged to originate methods of civic and Christian economy, more varied and novel, perhaps, than any age had yet known, and to expound and recommend them by an eloquence of unrivalled brilliance and power. But his elder, quiet and unobtrusive, with keen untiring activity, and soul on fire, came after him, testing the ideas of his chief, and giving them practical realization in the hovels of the poor, in the haunts of the godless, and in the dens of the profligate, thus convincing a somewhat incredulous world that the schemes of Dr Chalmers did not belong merely to the region of philosophy and rhetoric, but were thoroughly practical—indeed, the only agencies that ever would recover the lapsed masses, replacing thriftlessness with frugality, and ignorance and vice with that fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom. The movement then begun was the first turning in that dangerous tide, whose volume had been growing larger and its waters darker with each succeeding decade, and which, had it been suffered to flow unchecked till our day, would have burst its embankments, in defiance alike of the moral power of the pulpit and the legal authority of the state.

Mr Collins’ philanthropy moved within no narrow circle. Every good object evoked the sympathy of his earnest nature. He advocated with characteristic warmth and courage the abolition of African slavery, at a time when that cause was not so popular as it came to be at a later date. This brought him into contact and co-operation with Wilberforce, Macaulay, and other champions of the emancipation of the slave. The fact that he took openly the side of the negro, and that petitions for emancipation lay in his book shop, alienated some of his business customers, many of whom were largely interested in the West India trade.

Mr Collins, moreover, rendered no small service to the cause of religious literature by his reprints, in a more accessible form than heretofore, of many of the writings of the divines of the sixteenth and seventeenth century. To these volumes suitable introductions were prefixed, written by the more eminent clergymen and laymen of the day, of all denominations. This was a wide sowing of the seeds of evangelical truth throughout the land. Besides impregnating the general soil, it planted, doubtless, in many a home and heart the knowledge and the love of genuine piety, where before the gospel had neither been known nor prized. In this scheme, moreover, Mr Collins furnished an example which soon began to be imitated in the numerous societies that by and by arose, and which had as their object the reprinting of the historical, literary, and religious works of former days. Since that time, popular knowledge has been advancing with rapid strides.

When the temperance cause found its way to this country from the United States in 1829, Mr Collins hailed it, as “throwing a ray of light,” to use his own words, upon a dark problem. He was the earliest member of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Temperance Society, and he laboured in season and out of season to promote its object. He visited, on this errand, many of the towns of Scotland, and even extended his tours to Manchester, Liverpool, and London, in all which places he delivered addresses to large audiences. He visited the metropolis three times, and succeeded, on his third visit, in forming the British and Foreign Temperance Society. At one of its early meetings in Exeter Hall he delivered his famous lecture on the “Harmony of the Gospel and Temperance Societies,”—a lecture which contains the germs of the ablest arguments employed in behalf of the movement, even under its later phases. From 1829 to 1834 a large portion of his time and means were devoted to the maintenance of a cause which he regarded as one of the handmaids of the gospel, and which commanded his sympathy and support to his dying day.

Dr Chalmers, some time before, had left Glasgow to fill the Chair of Moral Philosophy in the University of St Andrews. The departure of the master, however, did not cause the disciple to relax in the prosecution of those labours of Christian benevolence in which the two had been so enthusiastic and so successful fellow-workers. It was now, 1834, that Mr Collins projected the greatest of all his enterprises. This scheme, with which his name came afterwards to be mainly associated, had birth in an incident of a domestic kind. He had an only daughter, who was confined to her chamber by a lingering illness. To beguile the hours and mitigate the sufferings of the invalid, Mr Collins would sit down by her bedside, and relate the sad history of individuals and families whom it had been his lot, as an elder of a very poor district, to visit in the course of the day. As she listened, she could not help contrasting her own happy condition, refreshed by the Divine promises and upheld by the lasting arms, with the utter misery of those who were living without God and dying without hope. Can nothing be done, she one day asked her father, as he sat beside her recounting the tale of the day’s experiences, can nothing be done to bring the glorious truths on which I am reposing within the reach of these God-forsaking and God-forsaken ones? The question struck him. “Can nothing be done?” he seemed to hear his daughter say again and again, as he continued to ponder over the matter. Yes, surely, he made answer to himself, something can be done. These men are not far off—they are living in a Christian city —and surely there is wealth enough in Glasgow to bring the cheapest of all commodities, but the greatest of all blessings, to their door. As he pondered, a gracious impulse led him to devise and propound his grand enterprise of aiming to provide twenty additional parish churches for Glasgow. Many pronounced his scheme a “devout imagination;” but the very greatness of the enterprise contributed largely to its success Christian philanthropy in those days found vent in contributions of one guinea, five guineas, and, on very extraordinary occasions, ten guineas. Here was an appeal to Christian men to unite in achieving a great object of an evangelical kind by contributions of £200 each, payable in five instalments! This was a novelty; but a novelty that first astounded and next attracted men. The originator, they saw, was in earnest. He had given proof of this by subscribing at once his own quota, from, as was known, very slender means. His example stimulated the liberality of those whose incomes were five, ten, twenty fold that of the propounder of the scheme, and the result was that in a few months Mr Collins had obtained, mainly by his own exertions, the sum of £22,000; and only eight years after he had first mooted his proposal before an incredulous public, he had the happiness of consummating his noble enterprise by laying the foundation stone of the twentieth church erected under the auspices of the Glasgow Church Building Society. Of these churches, not fewer than thirteen or fourteen had most appropriately the name of William Collins graven on their foundation stone.

The key-note thus struck, the work was taken up by Dr Chalmers, who resolved on doing for Scotland what Collins had so nobly done for Glasgow. When this illustrious divine put his giant shoulder to the wheel, and went through the length and breadth of the land, arousing the country to the need of additional church accommodation, his former elder, far from restricting his sympathies and efforts to Glasgow, once more took his place by his side, and accompanied his chief in prosecution of this enterprise of Christian philanthropy, along with other distinguished men who were raised up at this crisis of Scottish history to aid in the movement.

A Government Commission was appointed to inquire into the matter. Elaborate statistics of the spiritual destitution of Glasgow were given in by Mr Collins to that Commission. These were not without important results. Copies were sent to all the dignitaries of the Church of England, and the result of their circulation among the English bishops and clergy, was the formation of church building societies in at least two of the dioceses of the sister kingdom. The metropolis of England did not deem it beneath it to follow in the wake of Presbyterian Glasgow, nor its metropolitan pastor to copy the example of the humble elder of the Tron.

But it concerns us more to trace the effect of this church extension movement upon the future fortunes of the Scottish Church. In the first place, it established a much higher scale of Christian liberality than had been in use aforetime. This, in the providence of God, was a preparation for a time of greater necessities and still more urgent claims, then near at hand, though as yet altogether unforeseen. In the second place, the number of churches and zealous and faithful pastors were, within a few years, greatly multiplied. While in 1833 there were only twenty-four churches in Glasgow in connection with the Church of Scotland, in ten years the number had increased to forty-four, and within the same decade over the whole country not less than one hundred and eighty-seven new churches had been erected.

But these were the least important of the results flowing from the Church extension movement in which Mr Collins had taken the initiative. Its fully ripened fruits were not gathered till the Disruption, which, as every one knows, was followed by years of church building on a scale never before witnessed. It is true that the material fabrics erected by the efforts of Chalmers and Collins were in almost every case lost to the Free Church. But let us reflect how little was lost, when the stones and timber were adjudged to belong to those who remained in the Establishment, and how much was gained, when the numerous and zealous congregations which had been nursed in these fabrics, with the faithful pastors who ministered to them, cast in their lot in almost every instance with the disestablished Church of Scotland. Let us reflect also how important an item these ministers and members formed in the noble army that gathered round the standard uplifted on the 18th of May 1843 for the crown rights of Christ, and the liberties of the Christian people.

In all these labours we see Mr Collins working for an issue he did not foresee, at least till it was close at hand. The experiments he had made were afterwards to be repeated on a much larger scale, and the success that attended them in the first instance emboldened himself and others when similar operations had to be undertaken in every city and parish of Scotland. Without the enlarged scale of contribution established by Mr Collins, it would have been all but impossible to have reared the five hundred new churches imperatively demanded by the Disruption; and without the living congregations, which his Church extension scheme had called into being, how very much smaller would have been that host of ministers, elders, and adherents that, marching out of the Establishment in 1843, constituted themselves into the Free Protesting Church of Scotland.

His interest in all that appertained to the highest good of his native land continued unabated after the Disruption. In the labours of the subsequent busy years to provide churches, manses, and schools for the congregations of the Free Church, he took part, according to the measure of his strength. He laid the foundation stone of the new and elegant Church erected for the congregation of Free St John’s, then under the pastoral care of Dr Thomas Brown. He also laid the foundation stone of the Free Tron, of which Dr Robert Buchanan was minister; and now he connected himself once more with the session of that congregation. He had left it twenty-one years before; he now returned and acted as an elder in it till called to the General Assembly and Church of the firstborn on high.

In 1848, failing health compelled him to seek the more genial air of Rothesay. Even there the noble passion of his soul could not help displaying itself. Despite his bodily weakness, he took an active part in the establishing of a missionary station in the most destitute part of that town. The accomplished biographer of Dr Chalmers, writing of Mr Collins as one of Chalmers’ chosen and beloved friends, speaks of him as one who, after a life of honourable service in the cause of Christ—as few busy men among us have ever lived—in that retirement into which feeble health has forced him, still cherishes with unabated zeal those interests which in bygone years he loved so much to promote. The writer of this short memoir had the privilege of spending part of a day with him in his retreat only a little while before his decease, and he never can forget the sweet serenity of spirit which breathed forth in every word and look; the glow into which his conversation kindled when it turned on the progress of Christ’s kingdom throughout the earth, and the deep repose and joy of his heart resting, as it evidently did, on his Saviour. On Sabbath, the 2d of January 1853, as the church bells were summoning the worshippers to the sanctuary, Mr Collins ceasing to breathe, entered into rest.

J. A. W.

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James Crawford


James Crawford was born in North Berwick, in December 1808. Part of his education he received in that town, and part in Edinburgh. In his native town he always took the deepest interest to the last, and was connected with the burgh by legal ties throughout his life, as well as by relationships and old friendships. With the whole surrounding region he was intimately acquainted; each spot was an old friend to him. He delighted to shew his friends the beauties of North Berwick Law, Tantallon Castle, and Dirleton, and to point out the small islands that lie out in the bay; but especially did his eye turn to the Bass Rock, the prison-house of the martyrs, which he visited and re-visited, and of which he at last secured a permanent memorial in a handsome volume, embodying all that can be told historically and geologically of that well-known and picturesque island.

In Edinburgh he betook himself to the law, and entered the office of Walter Dickson, Esq., W.S. There he was known for his diligence and conscientiousness, and especially for his benevolence and good nature; so that to try to “provoke Crawford” was one of the feats which his fellow apprentices sometimes attempted but had to give up as hopeless.

In 1831 he was one of a small band who planned the Presbyterian Review—a periodical, literary, ecclesiastical, and theological in its character, which in after years exercised no small influence upon the affairs of the Church of Scotland. Though not, in the strict sense of the word, a “literary man,” he shewed by his unwearied energetic support of that Quarterly, how thoroughly he appreciated literary work, and how intelligently he sympathized with the literary labours of others.

In the religious poetry of the olden time Mr Crawford was much interested, and had a large and accurate acquaintanceship with the names and works of the old poets, from the Reformation downwards. More than one of his favourite hymns he printed in neat leaflets for letters, and for general distribution.

Perhaps we might say that his favourite book was “Rutherford’s Letters,” with which he was thoroughly versant, and from which he delighted to quote to friends when sitting by the fireside or walking by the way. It is in great measure to him that the public are indebted for that splendid edition of the “Letters,” in two handsome octavo volumes, which was published in Edinburgh in the year 1863. It was one of the last things to which he set his hands, and he was greatly gladdened at being helpful in raising this monument to the memory of his beloved divine before he himself was taken away.

Having all along taken an interest in ecclesiastical affairs, and being well versed in Church law, he assisted in editing the “Book of Styles,” published under the superintendence of the Church Law Society, of which he was a lay member. He was one of a small committee of that society to whom were entrusted in 1842 the editing of the Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The volume was published in the following year, with a brief preface by the Rev. Thomas Pitcairn, dated just three days before the Disruption, 15th May 1843.

At the Disruption he was appointed Depute Clerk of the Free Church General Assembly, which office he continued to discharge till he was taken from us with singular exactness, urbanity, and painstaking toil. He grudged no labour in the discharge of his duties, and no one ever saw him ruffled in temper by the pressure of business, or the inconsiderateness of those who had to deal with him as clerk.

He was firm and decided, not only in principle, but in his actings. With all his gentleness, he would not allow himself to be moved away from what he believed to be the path of duty. He was not only the Christian friend in private, but he was the Christian man of business in public. He did not obtrude his religion upon others, but he made them feel at all times “whose he was, and whom he served.”

A thorough Presbyterian, and an intelligent Free Churchman, he was yet a Christian all over, and knew how to recognise Christ in his members everywhere. Not confounding distinctive testimony with sectarianism, he was not ashamed of his creed or his church; yet he always held his own without censorious depreciation of others. Full of the charity which thinketh no evil, he yet possessed a far greater amount of shrewdness and accurate discernment of character than he was credited with. Without artifice or subterfuge, without affectation or show, he went about his daily duties, whether sacred or secular, shewing how to resist as well as how to yield. With a punctuality and attendance to business rarely equalled, he found time in the midst of common duties for reading, for prayer, for visiting the poor, for assisting the many religious institutions of the city. Business did not blunt the edge of his spirit, nor unfit him for the study of the Word, which was to him not a book of theology, or poetry, or sentiment, but a book of life, a well of living water for his thirsty soul. While studying the whole Scriptures, he dwelt specially on those passages which revealed the person of his Lord, either in the grace of his first coming, or the glory of his second. The prophetic Word he pondered much, and delighted to meditate on the predictions of the coming glory of the Church and of Israel. He “loved the appearing” of Christ; he “watched” for it; he longed to see the King in his beauty.

He not only read, but studied his Bible. It was his companion wherever he went He treasured up and noted down every illustration of it that he could lay hold of, from friends, from books, from sermons. One could not be with him five minutes without having the attention called to some passage on which he had been meditating, or on which he had obtained fresh light. The Bible that he was in the habit of using daily is all written over with references and remarks, sometimes original and sometimes borrowed. The interlinings and the marginal annotations frequently cover the page, and almost hide the print. It may be worth while to gather up a few of these, not so much for the importance or originality of the remarks, as for the exhibition of the writer’s mind. On Rev. 3:14, he remarks, “Laodicea is sunk in lukewarm apathy, dreaming of peace when on the edge of an undone eternity; but not conclusively abandoned.” On the margin of 1st John 5:11, there is written: “Boston says, Sweet and comfortable prop of my soul.” On the words, “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas. 1:15), we have, “Perhaps ‘finished’ has allusion to the sin of our first parents not being finished till the forbidden fruit was eaten, although both Eve and Adam had sinned before—the former by believing the devil, and the latter in also believing a lie.” On Heb. 13:15, we read, “Nothing shews the degeneracy of the heart more than the not praising God. David did it continually.” At the title of the Epistle to the Hebrews is written, “The royal and eternal priesthood of the Messiah.” On Phil. 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me,” his brief remark is, “Every one should be able to say this.” Above 2d Cor. 3:6 is written in red ink, “Quoted by Dr Cunningham on his deathbed, as a message to the students, December 1861”; and over 1st Cor. 15 is written, “This chapter was read to John Knox by his desire on the afternoon of the day of his death.” On 1st Cor. 2:14, he writes, “A man who is in the Spirit discerns things; does not judge, but has perception or discernment of which the world is totally ignorant.” At the top of the eighth of Romans is written, “The secret of living in the faith of an ever-present Saviour; loving, tender, watchful, faithful.” At Prov. 11:24, “He that watereth shall be watered also himself,” he has written these four words, as if expressive of his own experience as a teacher and elder: “What encouragement to teachers.” On the Song of Solomon 4:6, “Until the day break,” &c., there is this note, “This verse was wished to be put upon a tombstone in Rome by a Protestant father for a daughter. It was forbidden, as the Bible; for, if permitted, it would admit the possibility of Protestants being saved.” At the close of the fifty-third of Isaiah he writes, “The Church (believers) is in Christ, complete in Him, holy in Him, powerful in Him, hopeful in Him, glorious in Him.” At Isaiah 57:1, this note is made: “Dr Duncan, St Luke’s, Edin., 25th October 1853, after Dr Gordon’s death:” “Salt” (Matt. 5:12), “light” (Matt. 5:14). Psa. 119:20, “My soul breaketh,” &c., he marks by a quotation from Dr Chalmers, which was evidently meant to be a declaration of his own feeling as in coincidence with that of Dr Chalmers, “Most descriptive of my own state and experience of any in the Bible.” And on the same Psalm, ver. 130, he quotes the saying of another, “You cannot handle any saying of God in a true frame of spirit without finding yourself, in so doing, at a door which may lead you far in into the palace,—to the innermost thoughts of God’s heart toward us.” On Amos 5:18, he writes briefly, “Woe to those who are not prepared, as wise virgins, for the coming of the Lord.” On Obadiah and the brevity of his prophecy, he makes or quotes the remark, “If angels were to write books, we should have few folios.” On the side of the first verse of the 13th of Zechariah, about the fountain opened, there is this entry, “Tent at Ballachulish, September 1846.” On Matt. 11:28, “I will give you rest,” he writes, “Unrest is the great characteristic of the world.” On Matt, 28: 10, he writes, ‘”My brethren.’ No change in Christ’s feelings after His resurrection—’ My Father and your Father, my God and your God.’ How lovely!” On Mark 14:8, “She hath done what she could,” he says, “Sweet foretaste of things yet to come! Jesus will plead our cause, as he pleads this woman’s.”

It is interesting to notice the different places and ministers recorded in the margin of this well-used Bible. We have Dr Cunningham, Dr Chalmers, Dr Duncan, Dr Candlish, Dr Bruce, Dr Hamilton, Mr Hewitson, with others. We have many of the Edinburgh churches, such as St Andrew’s, St Luke’s, Lady Glenorchy’s, as well as North Berwick, Dirleton, and Regent Square, London. He delighted to go where he might hear the words of grace, Sabbath or week-day; and he was above many “a lover of good men.” The image of Christ in any one had an irresistible attraction for him. Loving the Master, he loved the disciple. The prayer meeting, the Bible reading, or the gathering of the “two or three” he delighted in. No one who observed him at these gatherings will forget his attitude of earnest looking and listening, as if drinking in every word. He was sensitive as to the soundness of the doctrine taught, and turned away from novelties that please the ear, but do not feed the soul.

One of the last conversations which the writer of this memoir had with him was when he lay upon his death-bed. The subject was “Christ our life,” on which his mind had evidently been dwelling. Once and again did he repeat the words, “The promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1: 2). Having in his days of early manhood found his way to the Cross, and learned there the forgiving love of God, he had walked this life as one who had tasted that the Lord was gracious, and who sought to lay everything that he possessed at the foot of the Cross. Surrounded with friends, burdened oftentimes with business, called to do much secular work, he yet maintained his conversation in heaven. “Blessed are the meek,” might be his epitaph; for with an uncommon meekness, gentleness, and tranquillity, did he pass through earth, leaving most blessed fragrance behind him.

He died in November 1863; and he lies buried in the Grange Cemetery, not far from Chalmers and Cunningham and the other worthies of his generation, to whom he was so fondly attached.

H. B.

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William Howieson Craufurd of Craufurdland


A finer specimen of a country gentleman could not anywhere be found than William Howieson Craufurd. He was the representative of one of the oldest families in Scotland. His mother was the only surviving child of John Howieson of Braehead, in the county of Midlothian, and Elizabeth Craufurd of Craufurdland, in the county of Ayr. By this marriage the two families of Howieson and Craufurd were united, and eventually the two properties passed into the possession of Mr Craufurd. Each of these has a history of its own—a romantic interest attaches to the one, a legal interest attaches to the other. The possession of Braehead dates as far back as the time of James V. The king had sallied forth unattended on one of his adventurous expeditions, and, according to the tradition, he was attacked by four or five gipsies, who were proving more than a match for him, when John Howieson, a bondsman on Braehead farm, came to his rescue, and delivered him out of their hands. The king invited him to call next day at Holyrood, and inquire for the goodman of Ballengiech, and he would at least shew him the king’s apartments. On doing so, he found to his surprise that it was the king he had befriended. In token of his gratitude he conferred upon him the lands of Braehead; and from that to this they have continued in the family in an unbroken line. This gift was coupled with the condition, that whenever the king came to Holyrood or passed over Cramond Bridge, the Laird should bring forth a basin to him in which to wash his hands. When George IV. visited Scotland in 1822, Mr Craufurd had the honour of performing that service to his majesty at the banquet given to him by the city of Edinburgh on the 24th of August. The ceremony is thus described by authority:— “As soon as the king had dined, a silver basin containing rose water was brought to his majesty by William Howieson Craufurd, younger of Braehead, who, in the right of his mother as proprietrix of Braehead, in the county of Midlothian, claims this privilege, the service performed being the ancient tenure by which the estate of Braehead is held.”

The succession to Craufurdland was the subject of protracted litigation. In the year 1793 Colonel Craufurd of Craufurdland died in Edinburgh unmarried. By a deed made on his deathbed he settled his estate on Thomas Coutts, Esq., banker, London. The validity of this deed was disputed by his aunt and heir, who had married the Laird of Braehead, and an action of reduction was instituted. Dying before it was finished, it was carried on by her daughter who succeeded her, and after many long delays, it was eventually reduced by a decree of the House of Lords. This decision is frequently appealed to as determining the question of law in all such cases.

Born on the 29th of November 1781, Mr Craufurd was educated at the High School of Edinburgh, from which he passed to the University, where he prosecuted those studies that enlarged his mind and fitted him for filling worthily and well the position he was afterwards to occupy. At a comparatively early period he was brought under the power of divine grace. This was in answer to the prayers of an invalid sister, to whom he was greatly attached. Before she passed away, she had the unspeakable joy of finding that he had passed from death to life. The change was decided, and its genuineness was attested by a long life of sustained consistent Christianity. While nature gifted him with all the amiabilities of a gentle and loving disposition, grace clothed him with those higher attributes that assimilate the soul to the Saviour. His religion, like himself, was lovely; it knew no gloom, and put on no austerity. He adorned the doctrine he professed, and commended it to other men.

In 1808 he was married to Janet Esther, only daughter of James Whyte, Esq. of Newmains, a lady of great intelligence, who took a deep interest in all that concerned the welfare of the people, and in the neighbouring town of Kilmarnock lent her influence in promoting every good work. Domestic in their habits, they dwelt among their own people. The situation of the castle is very beautiful. “It stands on the summit ʻof a steep bank overlooking Craufurdland water, which bounds the estate upon one side, while Fenwick water limits it on the other. The castle is surrounded with wood, and there are shady avenues in the vicinity, as well as a beautiful lake.” In all public matters Mr Craufurd took a great and active interest. As a Deputy-Lieutenant of the County of Ayr, Justice of the Peace, and Commissioner of Supply, he filled many important positions. All through life he was a keen politician, thoroughly Conservative; no one canvassed with greater eagerness or greater success than he: while the progress of events somewhat modified his views, he retained his political opinions to the end. But while these things received a share of his attention, it was the cause of Christ that awakened his deepest interest, and his sympathies were all on the right side. At a time when the friends of evangelical religion were few, and those who espoused it were exposed to reproach, Mr Craufurd stood forward, and made an open and fearless avowal of his convictions; occupying the chair at Bible Society and missionary meetings in Edinburgh, and joining with Dr Andrew Thomson in the defence of pure Bible circulation, he enrolled himself in the ranks of Anti-patronage, a cause which in those days was treated with ridicule and scorn, and made any one who maintained it become a marked man. As an elder of the church, he sat for nearly sixty years in the General Assembly, and if his voice was seldom heard in the discussions, his influence and vote were always given for the removal of abuses, and in defence of the liberties of the people, and the purity of the Church. One example may be given. Once and again what was known as the “Bracadale Case” came up before the General Assembly. It involved the question whether a minister could be compelled to administer sealing ordinances to persons whom he considered, from their ignorance and character, unsuitable—a rampant Moderatism having issued orders which, pressing upon the conscience of the minister, involved him in jeopardy of deposition for contumacy. The case became complicated, but the friends of evangelical religion rallied round him; and from the moderator’s chair, after the lapse of well-nigh half a century, the minister in question, Mr Roderick McLeod of Skye, made graceful reference to Mr Craufurd as one of the few survivors who had stood by him in an evil day.

It was but in keeping with his whole character and antecedents, that when “the ten years’ conflict” arose, he should be found on the evangelical side, and that when the day of decision came, he should march forth under the leadership of those noble men who surrendered position for principle, worldly interest and honour for Christ’s cause and crown. During those eventful years, when we were denounced as rebels and revolutionists, disloyal to the throne, and turning the world upside down, it was a matter of no small moment to have a man of the social position and high character of Mr Craufurd lending to our cause the weight of his honoured name. In politics a warm supporter of Sir Robert Peel’s government, and in himself the very impersonation of law and loyalty— a man who would have died for his queen and country—the idea of Mr Craufurd being revolutionary was felt to be an impossibility: the accusation died away upon the tongue. But while his political connections must have made it a greater trial and sacrifice to him, it only served to bring out into brighter exhibition the strength of his Christian principle. The well-known incident of the falling of the picture of King William in the ancient Palace of Holyrood, when the crowds attended the levee of the Lord High Commissioner on the Disruption morning, is associated with his name: it was he that exclaimed from a distant part of the throng, “There goes the Revolution Settlement!”

At the Disruption, along with several other valued elders and a considerable following of the people, he left the Low Church of Kilmarnock, and attached himself to the Free High Church, in which for twenty-eight years, till the day of his death, he continued to bear office. In everything connected with the congregation he took the deepest interest, and by his character and influence he contributed largely to its strength. The Sustentation Fund especially shared his liberality, and he made the Deacons’ Courts of the various congregations in which his properties were situated the channel of communication. It was no half-hearted adhesion which he gave to the cause; he was a most enthusiastic and thorough-going Free Churchman. But while he was firm and unbending in his adherence to principle, he passed through those exciting scenes, when sharp words were spoken and ungracious deeds were done, with perfect calmness and serenity, preserving his friendships unbroken.

Few men ever gathered around them so large a share of general estimation as Mr Craufurd. As an expression of their admiration of his high character, he was requested by his numerous friends to sit for his portrait, which now hangs in the fine old castle. The Presbytery of Irvine, whose representative in the General Assembly he had been for fifty years, invited him to a public entertainment to celebrate his official jubilee. Spared beyond the ordinary term of human life, he moved among his fellows like a venerable patriarch, and wherever he went the eyes of a new generation were turned towards him with respectful regard. Time laid her hand very gently upon him, and till very near the close he had few of the infirmities of old age. He had a long twilight, and his sun went down without a cloud. His place in the sanctuary which he loved so well began to be frequently empty. At several communion seasons he was able to be present only at the table service. On the last occasion he took the minister and his fellow-elders by the hand with an affectionate grasp, and on retiring, he looked round and said, “The Lord be with you all; my heart is with you, but I am not able to remain.” For a period of nine months he was confined to his room. He suffered no pain, but there was great feebleness. The last time I saw him he received me with the same pleasant smile; his countenance was lighted up with the old genuine geniality; time had written no wrinkles on his brow, and age had brought along with it no gloom,—even his memory, sadly failed though it was, seemed singularly fresh. Pointing to a portrait on the wall, he asked if I remembered that lady. It was that of his deceased wife—the old affection unabated—but above all there was the calm repose in his Saviour, and the bright hope of a speedy entrance. During all those months no repining word escaped him. He enjoyed being read to, but by-and-bye all other books were laid aside; he could listen to nothing but the Bible and a few hymns, his chief favourites being, “I heard the voice of Jesus say,” and “Just as I am,” adding at the close of it, “These were my father’s last words.” As the end drew near, the happier he grew. His confinement to his bed was short, but his exhaustion was extreme. His consciousness continued almost to the close. On the morning of the 17th of September 1871, he passed away without a struggle, in the ninetieth year of his age, leaving behind him a memory which will long survive as that of a man of stainless honour, of winning gentleness, and of genuine, but unobtrusive piety. His wife and two daughters predeceased him, and he is succeeded in his estates by his only son.

T. M.

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David Maitland Makgill Crichton


David Maitland Makgill Crichton

David Maitland Makgill Crichton took rank in the Disruption days as one of “the Lords of the Congregation.” His birth, his bearing, his shrewdness in discerning what ought to be done, at once assigned to him this honoured place. In addition to this, he was one of the foremost and lealest in the promulgation and defence of the Church’s principles and rights, when church court and platform were distinguished by the noblest band of eloquent men that Scotland had ever listened to. And all was heightened by the generous self-devotion with which all was done. Time, labour, health, horses, hospitality, means, were all unstintedly surrendered by him in the great struggle. The spirit of Christian chivalry was in the man.

Makgill Crichton was born at Rankeilour in 1801. His ancestry connected him with the Maitlands of Lauderdale; with James Makgill, the friend of John Knox, and the founder of the Rankeilour family; with Viscount Frendraught, Lord Crichton, to whose title he served himself as heir; and with the Johnstons of Lathrisk. Being the second son, he studied law, and passed as advocate in 1822. By the death of his brother he succeeded to the heritage of Rankeilour.

But his highest distinction, and as Baron Bunsen said of himself on his death-bed, “his richest experience, was the having known Jesus Christ.” To this he was “won” by the Christian conversation of his first wife, a daughter of Mr Hog of Newliston. He saw in her during a lengthened illness the sustaining power of the gospel of Christ. And what he saw in her he sought and got for himself—a saving interest in the same Redeemer. From the very first to the very last of his religious life, the inner character of his religion never altered. It was that of an individual soul dealing with a personal God. It was a transacting with God on the provisions and promises of the gospel for all that, as a fallen creature, he felt that he needed.

If then, as Carlyle says, “belief is the whole basis, essence, and practical outcome of human souls,” it is to the faith of Makgill Crichton that we are to look for the purpose and the energy which he put forth in the struggles of the Church, and “by this he obtained a good report.” This only can adequately explain the man’s entire consecration to the work. It was faith that worked, it was love that laboured.

In 1834 it was that Makgill Crichton enlisted as a willing worker, under the leadership of Dr Chalmers, in the cause of Church Extension. The commencement of his labours consisted in hard, patient, obscure local efforts to call forth thought and interest and liberality to the subject. Chalmers acknowledged, “with the deepest feelings of gratitude, his exertions,” and was accustomed to express it as his wish that there was a “Makgill Crichton in every parish.” By-and-bye he was moved forward to the front as a platform speaker. There he culminated at once as the most efficient of orators. Everything was in his favour. He was in his thirty-fourth year. An air of distinction sat upon the man. His figure was tall. An expression of firmness gave character to his sharp-cut features. His voice rung clear and trumpet-toned through the largest meeting. The cause which he advocated was of the noblest. The motive which inspired him was of the very highest. “If under the Church,” he said, “we have ourselves tasted of the word of life, we have in ourselves the true and only spring of pure philanthropy, and of love to God.” The high-souled look which lighted him up when he pled his cause, convinced every observer of his sincerity and earnestness.

His success was very great, but sometimes he was trysted with disappointments and downcasting. After a church extension tour, in which he met with discouragement, he returned to Rankeilour. His mind was weighted with its own depressions. It chanced to be the night of the prayer-meeting, which was held in the house of old Saunders Honeyman in Springfield, and being one of the members, David Makgill Crichton went to it. Before the service commenced, he unburdened his heart by telling his humble friends how much discouraged he was. All they of the meeting gave him their attention and sympathy. It was old Saunders’ turn to conduct the services. Saunders selected the 132d Psalm, and with solemn Scotch accent read out—

“David and his afflictions all,
Lord, do Thou think upon.”
 

After singing the usual four verses, they knelt on the earthen floor. Saunders led in the prayer, asking for the kneeling company all promised and purchased blessings, and not forgetting “David and his afflictions.” The laird returned home, and his countenance was no longer sad. Those clay-floor cottage prayers were the presage of success.

With the view of aiding the cause of Church Reform and Church Extension, Mr Makgill Crichton complied with a call which was given him, to offer himself for the representation of the St Andrews district of Burghs in Parliament. He entered the field as a moderate Conservative. He left the field, “declaring his mistrust both of Whig and Tory, and assuming the independent position of a Bible politician,” words which Merle D’Aubigne adopted as a motto to one of his own pamphlets. Mr Ellice was his opponent in the contest; and out of 551 votes given, it was only by the narrow majority of 29 votes that Mr Ellice was returned.

It was because the Christian men and women of Scotland believed that the Church of Scotland, “like Jerusalem which is above,” was free, and protected in her freedom by the constitutional law of the country, that they wished to promote the extension of that Church. But as the Church went forward, reforming her practice according to the word of God and her own standards, the law courts, by a strange fatuity, obstructed her path at every stage by a series of decisions which have deprived her of every shred of jurisdiction. “He that is spiritual discerneth all things.” As these law court decisions succeeded each other, the Evangelical leaders felt, that such a church as the law courts leave to us, is a church not worth extending. It would be a moral and spiritual nullity in the land. And the men and women in Scotland who knew their Bibles and the Church history of Scotland, responded, the true Church of Scotland, which is the mother of us all, is and has been a free church, and, God helping us, she shall be free. And so the great question of spiritual independence came up and stirred the country.

No one was more impressed than was Makgill Crichton, of the far-reaching importance of this subject. As a Christian who read his Bible, he saw that this spiritual independence was “a thing touching the King,” and the spiritual life of the Church. As a Scotchman, he knew Scottish Church history, and that in the words of Froude, “the political freedom of the country had been hitherto wrapped up in the kirk,” or in the words of Professor Blackie, “the centre of Scottish nationality lay in the Scotch Presbyterian religion.” As a lawyer, he was well convinced that the constitution of the country and special statutes had secured, as far as it was possible for legislation to do it, protection to the Church in all spiritual matters. He was quite equipped for the conflict, and most heroically did he enter on its self-denying labours. In church, in school-house, in hall, in barn, all throughout Scotland, and in many parts of England and of Ireland, did he advocate that Scottish doctrine of the co-ordinate jurisdiction of church and state, which Minghetti has in this year of 1875 been commending to his constituents at Boulogne, and to the Italian Parliament, as that which can alone secure a free church in a free state. If it is in the masses that the feelings of a community reside, no man, either clerical or lay, did more to implant these great church principles in the mind of the masses, than did Makgill Crichton.

It is not easy to convey to the reader an idea of the multitudinous subjects which were constantly pressing upon the attention of Makgill Crichton, and of the stern working to which he subjected himself, during these eventful years. Here is a bundle of his letters, about the year 1843. By opening them, we may see the multiplicity of questions which distracted his thoughts and time.

The first is from Dr Ferrie, refusing an offer to address the people of Kilconquhar on the Church question. The second is a letter dated “St Andrews,” and signed “A Working Man,” saying, “a new era is about to commence in the history of our Church and country. The Lord in his goodness grant that it may be found worthy to be called the third Reformation.” The third is from a zealous layman, beseeching Mr Crichton “to let the dead bury their dead, and to allow the Quarter Sessions for that day to take care of themselves, and not fail to be present as corresponding member at the Synod meeting at Brechin.” The fourth is from Sir David Brewster, telling “that the St Andrews University have, by a scandalous and illegal decision, expelled, without even the form of a trial, three of the most distinguished students, all these being members of the Church Defence Association, which is their crime,” and asking his presence in St Andrews. The fifth is from Charles Leckie, acknowledging with gratitude a cheque for £8, and continuing, “I have little hope for betterness. I am endeavouring to contemplate the Cross of Christ in its variety of associations, as my sure ground of hope, and I have reason to bless God that although my light and experience are not of the first magnitude, yet they leave me not without comfort and peace of mind. Dear friend, pray for me, that God would enable me to glorify Him in the day of His visitation.” A sixth is dated, “The Reform Club,” London. It says: “Twice since I was under your hospitable roof, I have been on the verge of eternity, and there nothing seems worth standing up for except eternal truth and right. In the valley of the shadow of death one cannot see the greatness of cabinet ministers.” The seventh is from Hugh Miller. It has this sentence: “I sadly miss your companionship, and my thoughts get mouldy for want of airing.” Hugh, whose words were well considered, usually closed his letters to Makgill Crichton with “Very affectionately yours.”
 

These letters shew the range of his sympathies. His activities were represented by his being week after week away from his home, in all parts of the country, and night after night addressing meetings, yet taking care to be at Rankeilour every Saturday, that he might spend the Sabbath with his family, and be in his own pew in Collessie church. It was in the face of the most vituperative opposition, both public and private, that all this was done. The editor of The Witness newspaper tells us, that for a few days he had clipped out of the newspapers all that he had seen written against Mr Crichton, and by fastening it together, he found that it had extended to eleven feet six inches and three-eighth parts of undiluted abuse, in one brief fortnight.

In 1844, under the strain of this excessive work and excitement, health gave way. Paralysis shewed itself unmistakeably, shattering for a time both body and mind. As Mr Percival Bunting of Manchester, wrote— “Many, very many, friends, both known and unknown, sympathised with him in his afflictions, and prayed, not coldly or unfrequently, for his recovery.” Among such, it is deeply affecting to see the venerable Chalmers bending over his fellow-labourer and fellow-soldier when he was stricken down, relating to him his own somewhat similar experience, and comforting him with the comfort wherewith he himself had been comforted of God.

“My very dear sir,” writes Chalmers, 18th August 1844, “I was forcibly reminded of my own situation in 1834, when an arrest was laid upon me in going along the North Bridge, after a three hours’ speech in the Presbytery, and I was conveyed home in a coach. The treatment which my physician laid upon me reduced me in the course of the summer by thirty-five pounds weight, so that, when I picked up again, it was more like a reconstruction than a recovery. …

“A very remarkable experience of mine during that summer was, that I often in speaking stuck in the middle of a sentence, and it seemed as much due to a failure in thought as a failure in articulation. I mention this because I have been recently visited by the same symptoms. …

“It is a great comfort, amid the uncertainties of this ever-shifting pilgrimage, to think that we are in good hands, and under the vigilant eye of Him who likes to be trusted, and bids us cast all our care upon Himself. May you, my dear sir, have great peace and joy in believing, and may you realise in your own person that most beautiful of Scripture verses, ‘in quietness and confidence ye shall have strength.’ I ever am, my dear sir, yours most cordially and with great affection, Thos. Chalmers.”

 

Another evidence of the wide-spread sympathy with which he was regarded, was the presentation of a silver centre piece, combining the properties of an epergne and candelabrium, bearing this inscription— “To David Maitland Makgill Crichton, Esq. of Rankeilour, from ten thousand members of the Free Church.” Dr Candlish, in making the presentation, said, “The principles in support of which you have submitted to so much labour and to so many sacrifices, are worthy of an apostle’s zeal and a martyr’s faith, connected as they are with the kingly crown of our blessed Saviour, and the freedom of his people.”

We have not space to particularize further. The years of life which yet remained were actively spent in the midst of the practical questions which were always turning up, and the course which he followed was the same “slapdash, straightforward, earnest course” it had ever been. But it was marked by more irritability, and impatience of contradiction, and severity of censure. And what were these but the symptoms of what the post-mortem inspection afterwards revealed, that structural disease had so pervaded the system as to make life a continual struggle and disturbance!

His last efforts were called forth on behalf of Dr Thomson of Coldstream, who had spent many years of his life, and “all he had left in the world,” in contending for a cheap Bible against Bible monopoly. Again did Mr Crichton traverse Scotland, raising the needed funds, and relieving a good man’s heart “from a heavy load of anxiety.”

Of all who still remain and knew Makgill Crichton intimately, there is not one but will regard his memory with fond affection. His likeness hangs in the “ben room” of their heart. One who was much with him, and knew him well, penned this statement the other day, and many will endorse it: “The general impression of the grandness and nobility of his character has been only deepened in my mind with the lapse of years, and with my increased knowledge of the littleness and selfishness of the mass of mankind.” Who that knew him will forget his zeal and generosity; his ready humour, and the twist of the mouth and the twinkle of the eye that accompanied it; the hospitality of his home, lighted up by the presence and the varied converse of Brewster and Hugh Miller, of Guthrie, Candlish, Patrick Clason, Begg, and James Mackenzie, whose fifteenpence History reflects more truthfully the spirit of Scottish history than all the volumes which have been written? Who will not remember his readiness humbly to acknowledge wherein he had erred, when dealt with in the spirit of meekness,—his gentleness in the midst of his family,— and the feeling of lowly reverence with which at family worship he prostrated himself before God? It is his religion, and the nature of it, which after all is the great fact to him now, and ever was, for it gave complexion to his character and life. His religion was strong in its scriptural simplicity. It was to him a matter of certainty, not so much logical or inferential as experimental, for he felt that it righted his relation with God through Christ, and maintained daily fellowship with God through Christ. His religion was definite and doctrinal, for he knew it as a system of divine truth wherein one doctrine harmoniously combined with and sustained another. His religion was a simple, childlike devoutness, healthily fed by the varied elements which the Spirit of God has infused into Bible narrative and Bible statement, and gathered by him daily, as the manna was gathered by the Israelites, with the dew of heaven fresh upon it. On this religion he lived the life he led, and by it he died in the quietness of faith.

There was a soldier-like simplicity in the manner of his death. He had sat up to evening family worship. He had requested to be allowed to ascend the stair to his bed-room unattended. He had his portion of Scripture read to him after he had gone to bed. In the early morning a fit of breathlessness aroused him. His son was immediately at his side. “Thank God,” he said, “my boy, I am better.” Scarcely were the words uttered, when the spirit fled.

“We bless Thee for the quiet rest thy servant taketh now,
And for the good fight foughten well, and closed right peacefully.”
 

Makgill Crichton was one of the row of hard-wood trees which stood on the outskirts of the forest, and sheltered it from the tempest These have now been mostly removed one by one. The stormy blasts now get entrance into the depths of the wood, and many a green spruce is seen lying on its side, with its surface-spread roots high up in the air.

J. W. T.

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William Cunningham, D.D.


William Cunningham

Principal Cunningham was born on the 2d of October 1805, at Hamilton, where he also spent the earlier years of his youth, and was taught to read. His father, a merchant in the town, having died suddenly, the widow, with three orphan sons, removed to the grandfather’s farmhouse of Drafane, near Crossford, in the parish of Lesmahagow; and amid the happiest advantages of rural seclusion and domestic comfort, the education of the boys went on as hitherto. But the aged tenant of Drafane was taken away by death not long after, and the family whom he had so generously sheltered, exchanged Lanarkshire for Berwickshire, to be comfortably settled at Cheeklaw, a farm-steading not far from Dunse.

There were kind relatives at Dunse, and a superior school, where the lad who had excelled in all the branches of Elementary tuition, kept still the highest place in Classical competition. No boy is more eager than William Cunningham on the playground, but even at this stage he was not less bent on reading. It is not improbable that the blood of Peden was in the mother’s veins; and at all events, in mental sinew, as well as in outward frame, the matron was worthy of the hero. But if slightly austere, as a covenanter might well be, tenderly did the mother love her son, and as affectionately did the son love his mother; and though then he knew not God at all, yet, anxious to ease her of any burden, and win her smile, William took his mother’s place in conducting family worship, whilst he was no more than fourteen years of age.

In 1820, William Cunningham proceeded from the provincial school of Dunse to the University of Edinburgh, and there he lost no time in shewing that he was a match, both in Latin and Greek, for even the duxes of the Metropolitan High School. Only a week after the Session had commenced, Professor Pillans asked the meaning of a hard passage in a difficult Roman author, and William Cunningham was the first out of the large Humanity class who stood up ready to give the translation. All the classes embraced in the Literary curriculum of the college William Cunningham attended, in their usual order, with marked distinction. But he did not graduate. And for this reason, that in his day, the degree of M.A. was no badge of merit, and even Professors discouraged students from making it an object of ambition.

It was in 1816 that the Edinburgh University Diagnostic Society was set on foot, and in 1821 William Cunningham became a member. We record this fact with especial interest, for now had he taken a step, or entered on a path, which was eventually to change the entire direction and object of his life. From the first he was punctual in his attendance at all the meetings of the society, and evinced the same readiness in debate, the same fearless candour, and the same lucid, though bald expression, which were the characteristics of his eloquence ever afterwards. But it was here he was brought into contact with those who now became the constant companions of his day and the chosen friends of his bosom —young men like himself in tastes and aims, but who, perhaps, in Christ before him, were the means of waking him up to spiritual thoughtfulness and concern. Born and bred a Moderate, William Cunningham had up to this hour no inward wants which required more than what the negative theology and hollow ethics of Moderatism were sufficient to meet. Drawn, however, by his new associates within the sphere of evangelical influence, he now often attended the ministry of Gordon; and in 1825, a sermon from that wonderful preacher on Regeneration was the means, in the hand of the Holy Ghost, of subduing the enmity of his carnal heart, and making him a new creature by faith in Jesus Christ.

Old things are passed away with William Cunningham, but not less are all things made new; and whilst ardent as ever in the accumulation of learning, he took part, with all his intense enthusiasm, in every scheme or society within the university which had the progress of the gospel and the glory of Christ for their object. Previous to this date, the Spirit had been poured out on the students of the Edinburgh Divinity Hall, and during the decade, extending from 1823 to 1833, in the much prayer and holy joy and zealous activity which were conspicuous, it seemed as if the days of Rollock and Leighton were come back. The Theological students formed their Association for the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge towards the end of 1825; the Church Law Society was instituted in 1827; a committee was organised that same year to place the Library of the Hall upon a more liberal basis, after an age of resolute and inexplicable mismanagement: and in each of these efforts William Cunningham always bore a leading part.

He finished his curriculum as a student of divinity in the spring of 1828, and being licensed, a few months later, as a probationer by the Presbytery of Dunse, he preached his first sermon on the 14th of December at Larbert, in the pulpit of the late Dr John Bonar.

Dr Cunningham was desirous of visiting the Continent, and his wish seemed to be on the point of being realised at this time, when the arrangement he was counting on unexpectedly failed:—

“While at Dunse,” he writes in a letter dated 25th August 1828, “I received a letter from an acquaintance of mine, wishing to know if I would accept the situation of tutor to the Marquis of Tweeddale’s son, to reside on the Continent, and talking of it as if he had the disposal of it. I would not have liked to have gone to the Continent with every family, but as the Marquis and Marchioness are truly Christian people, I wrote that I had no general objection to the situation, and requested to have some particular information about it. Now, I have been expecting to receive an answer to this letter every day literally for a fortnight, and I wished, of course, to be able to tell you of the result. I am a good deal surprised at not having heard, and don’t know very well how to account for it. However, I have ceased to think of it, and give myself no concern about the matter.”
 

Dr Cunningham was now on terms of most affectionate intimacy both with Dr Thomson and Dr Chalmers, and it is difficult to say which of these great men had the highest place in his esteem.

“I spent,” he writes in a letter dated 17th November 1829, “Saturday and Sunday se’nnight with Dr Chalmers at Penicuik very delightfully. But nothing pleased me so much in his conversation as the way in which he spoke of Dr Thomson—the kindliness and admiration he expressed towards him. ‘A most valuable man,’ he said. ‘One of the blithest and most delightful men you can meet with; just a tower of strength. I cannot express the thankfulness I feel for his great talents as a public speaker, and his importance in the General Assembly. I never felt myself so impregnable as in the Assembly 1825, when Thomson was a member.’ Chalmers also thinks that ‘the second statement’ for the Bible Society by Thomson, was one of the ablest and most conclusive pieces of argument he ever read.”
 

What has long gone by the name of “the Row Heresy,” broke out first in 1828, and as one who was very suspicious of its tendencies, Dr Cunningham thus expresses himself in a letter of 1829:—

“The Row doctrines continue to spread. Thomson has been preaching against them for two Sabbaths past. It is a most injurious perversion of the gospel. Some of the Campbellites, I understand, have the boldness to allege that Paul mis-stated the gospel to the jailor, when he said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,’ in place of saying, ‘Believe that thou art pardoned, and be saved.’ They seem to be under no apprehension of the consequences that must inevitably attend the preaching of another gospel than Paul preached. Like other heretics, they seem waxing worse and worse. Headiness, high-mindedness, and itching ears, are the epidemic diseases of the theological world in the present day, against which young theologians are especially called to watch and pray.”
 

In 1830 Dr Cunningham became assistant and colleague to Dr Scott, of the Middle Church, Greenock, and greatly was he blessed here, both in the pulpit and in the parish. At the same time he keenly watched the evolutions of Rowism, and not only warned his flock against that insidious heresy, but deposed one of his elders who was bold enough to avow it at a meeting of Session.

Dr Cunningham visited London for the first time in 1833, and preached in Regent Square Church, from which Irving had been recently ejected. During the week he heard some of the ministers best known for their talents and usefulness, and greatly admired them.

“I have been now,” he writes in March 1833, “nearly a fortnight at Berners Street, and have been very busy and very happy. I have been in both Houses of Parliament, and it was most interesting to behold the men on whom, under God, depends, in a great measure, not only the destinies of Britain, but of the World. I have heard some of the most popular preachers in the Established Church—McNeile of Albury, who has got quite clear of Irvingism; Melvill, who took an active part, and made a powerful and eloquent speech, at the formation of the Trinitarian Bible Society; and Baptist Noel, whose character as an efficient pastor stands very high, although he has been weak enough to go back to Earl Street. Melvill and McNeile are both decidedly superior men to Noel, and men who preach faithfully and powerfully to the times, although they are neither of them men who commend themselves to your understanding as authorities—persons to whose sleeve you would be at all inclined to pin your faith. I have preached two Sabbaths in the Scotch National Church, and I attended a meeting of the Presbytery of London, who are really a very respectable body. They are desirous that our Assembly should do something to encourage them, and they send a deputation to next Assembly. That Assembly will probably be the most important in its consequences of any that has sat for many years. May the great Head of the Church send up to it men full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and guide them in all their deliberations.”
 

So far back as 1826, Dr Cunningham, while only at the Hall, used to declare that were he a member of Presbytery, and a presentation against which the people reclaimed laid on the table, he would move that it be rejected. This early announcement of non-intrusion principles was mentioned by a fellow-student to Dr George Cook, and the quick remark of the astute politician of Laurencekirk, even at that date, was, “Let the attempt be made, and there is an immediate conflict between the civil and ecclesiastical courts.”

The view which Dr Cunningham had formed in 1826, he expounded with matchless clearness and force in the Assembly of 1833, when supporting Dr Chalmers’ proposal of the Veto; and the impression then left by his speech was, that though defeated on that occasion, defeat was only the prelude of a coming and conclusive victory.

A battle, however, must be fought ere this issue is achieved; and that he might be at the centre of Scottish influence when the crisis was advancing, Dr Cunningham was translated to Edinburgh in 1834, and became minister of Trinity College Church. In this sphere, though the disadvantages were manifold, he wrought with energy, and acceptance, and encouragement. But possessed of an aptitude for ecclesiastical business, and a capacity for ecclesiastical discussion, such as rendered George Gillespie so famous, Dr Cunningham soon exchanged pastoral duty for political conflict; and from this point his life was bound up in the history of that Church which he strove so manfully to reform, if haply it might be preserved, and not overthrown.

There were public questions lying outside the Church of Scotland, such as Popery, Voluntaryism, Education, Tests; and each of these Dr Cunningham took up and set in their true light. But it was rather Domestic measures and controversies he reserved himself for, and it was seldom that his wise and temperate judgment on such matters was disputed, or even modified.

In 1838 Dr Cunningham was brought to the verge of life by fever; but graciously spared, he girt himself for more strenuous labour than ever from that time, and in 1839 prepared his “Reply to the Dean of Faculty” on the Auchterarder case; following up this masterly exposure with his “Defence of the Rights of the People,” in answer to Robertson of Ellon, in 1840. It was in 1841 that Dr Chalmers moved the deposition of the Strathbogie ministers who refused to obey the authority of the General Assembly, and the speech of Dr Cunningham in seconding the motion was eminently distinguished as much for a lofty tone as by luminous argument.

The Convocation met in 1842, and the Disruption took place in 1843. Without loss of time “the New College” was constituted, and Dr Cunningham appointed Junior Professor of Theology, with Apologetics as his department.

Though this was a department of theological literature in which he never felt peculiar interest, yet he at once addressed himself to it with thorough earnestness, as the following extract from a letter, dated 8th August 1844, will shew:—

“It is my earnest wish that I may be enabled to do something for promoting the cause of sound theological education, and to contribute to make our future pastors able ministers of the New Testament. I hope I may be able to carry out some of the leading views upon the subject which have been put forth in the Presbyterian Review, and which I know to be approved by many of the best ministers in our church. As I will have only the first year’s students under my charge next winter, I must be mainly occupied with the origin, authority, character, objects, and uses of the Word, and the way and manner in which it is to be interpreted and applied as the sword of the Spirit—that is, very much in illustrating the first chapter of the Confession, and bringing out the information which the Word of God gives us concerning itself, and the means by which the knowledge of it is to be acquired. I propose to give some prominence to the subject of the Bible as the rule of faith—not merely negatively, by exposing the Apocrypha and Tradition, but positively, by opening up the sufficiency and perfection of the Scriptures, as these topics used to be discussed between the Papists and the Reformers.

“All these subjects may be handled in such a way as to bring the students a good deal into contact with the Bible itself; and when taken together, they should, I think, lay a good foundation for their theological studies.”

 

At the request of the Church, and just at the time when he was in much sorrow for the loss of a beloved child, Dr Cunningham crossed the Atlantic in mid-winter of 1844, to inquire into the constitution and working of the Presbyterian theological seminaries in the States; as also to explain the principles of the Free Church. Soon after he had arrived (in 1845) from America, owing to the lamented death of Dr Welsh, Dr Cunningham was placed in the Chair of Church History; and two years afterwards (in 1847) he became Principal of the New College, as successor to Dr Chalmers, of whom the Church had been suddenly bereaved.

Earnestly alive to his responsibility, as Principal, for the development of theological education, and the advancement of theological science, Dr Cunningham now directed all his energies to the equipment of the New College as a Model institute for training students of divinity; and his hope was, that he might be allowed to carry out his ideas in all their extent before other Halls were contemplated. But what he pleaded for was not granted. Aberdeen and Glasgow insisted on being dealt with, from the outset, as Edinburgh, and their claims were looked upon with favour by those who guided the affairs of the Church. The College controversy then broke out, and after an arduous struggle, Dr Cunningham, to his chagrin and sorrow, was foiled.

A wide chasm after this severed Dr Cunningham from those with whom he had hitherto acted in the Free Church, and the alienation, as obvious as it was unhappy, continued from 1852 to 1858, when the wound was closed, whether it were healed or not. Old friends were induced to come together once more, and in 1859 Dr Cunningham was chosen Moderator of the General Assembly, amid the acclamation of the whole Church.

Perhaps it would have been well had this honour been postponed; for there can be no doubt that his official duty in the chair told against the failing health of Dr Cunningham, and ripened the seeds of lurking disease.

During the summer, however, Dr Cunningham seemed to rally; and in 1860 he opened the Assembly, as retiring Moderator, with a masterly discourse upon the Atonement. This was the last sermon he ever preached, and it was his greatest. The greatest speech he ever delivered was on the Australian Union, in 1861, and it was his last.

Throughout the summer and autumn of 1861, Dr Cunningham had apparently gained strength, and he was cheerful as of old. But all at once the tall cedar shook: and now it was the root, not the branch, that was smitten. On the 15 th of December he died, and on the 18th he was buried—his sorrows ended, and his labours crowned, in the saints’ everlasting rest.

J. J. B.

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The Earl of Dalhousie, K.T.


The Earl of Dalhousie

This nobleman, for more than forty years, from 1831 to 1874, lived in the public eye, taking an active and influential part in all the stirring and important questions— civil and ecclesiastical—which agitated the country during that eventful period.

As one of the Disruption Worthies, this memoir has principally to record the services which he rendered to the Church. Yet the nature and importance of these services cannot be fully understood without adverting to his position in society, and to his political career.

He was lineally descended from two of the oldest families of Scotland —the Ramsays of Dalhousie and the Maules of Panmure, both famous in Scottish story. The Ramsays of Dalhousie trace their descent to the days of David I. Nearly two hundred years ago Allan Ramsay the poet wrote of the Earl of that day—

“Dalhousie of an auld descent,
My pride, my stoup, my ornament.”
 

And throughout their history, down to the subject of this memoir and his cousin and immediate predecessor, the Governor General of India, the Ramsays have been represented by many famous names, not unworthy of the poet’s praise.

The Maules of Panmure are of an equal antiquity, tracing their descent to the days of William the Conqueror. In 1224, one of the Maules married Christian,4 the heiress of the Panmure estates. As a race the Maules seem to have been distinguished by great strength of will, determination of purpose, and unwavering fidelity to every cause they espoused. On the death of one of the heads of the House of Maule without issue, the estates of Panmure passed to his nephew, the seventh Earl of Dalhousie. At his death the estates of Panmure were inherited by his second son, the Hon. William Ramsay, who then assumed the name of Maule. In token of his admiration of the great Whig statesman, Charles James Fox, he named his firstborn son, the subject of this memoir, Fox. This early dedication to political principles was fully accepted by his son in after life.

Fox Maule was born in Brechin Castle, 22d April 1801. He was educated at the Charter House, London. In 1819 he received his commission as ensign in the 79th Regiment of Cameron Highlanders. It is not a little characteristic of the man that, when he joined his regiment in Edinburgh Castle, he used after drill to doff his uniform and attend the Humanity Class in the University, and at the close of the session carried off the prize for Latin declamation.

For some years he served in Canada on the staff of his uncle, the Earl of Dalhousie. The practical knowledge which he then acquired of military duties and of a soldier’s life was eminently useful to him as a member of Parliament, and especially as Secretary at War during the latter part of the Crimean war.

In 1831, having attained to the rank of captain, he retired from the army, and having married the Hon. Montagu, daughter of the second Lord Abercrombie, he took up his residence at Dalguise House, on the banks of the Tay, near Dunkeld. This was his home for twenty years. Being then thirty years of age, in the freshness of manly strength, fond of society, and devoted to field sports, his life might long have been one of mere pleasure. But those were the stirring days of the Reform Bill when Scotland was excited to an unusual degree. Fox Maule caught the enthusiasm of the times, and issuing from his Highland home, plunged with his whole heart into the midst of the first election for Perthshire, canvassing in favour of his friend, the Marquis of Breadalbane, then Lord Ormelie. It was greatly owing to his indefatigable and persuasive efforts that the contest was won. The die was then cast. His aptitude for a political life was manifest at once. As he afterwards said, “I was politically born then.” At the next election, in 1834, he was returned as member for Perthshire. Having lost his seat at the next election, he was returned for the Elgin Burghs. Having resigned his seat for the Elgin Burghs, he was elected by the city of Perth, which he continued to represent for ten years, until he was called to the House of Lords after his father’s death.

But Fox Maule was more than an ordinary member of Parliament. During his Parliamentary career he filled several important offices of State. He was successively Under-Secretary for the Home Department, Vice-President of the Board of Trade, President of the Board of Control, and twice Secretary at War. He was also a Privy Councillor. On the overthrow of the Aberdeen Ministry in 1855, on account of the alleged mismanagement of the Crimean war, Viscount Palmerston was called to the helm of affairs, and Lord Dalhousie, then Lord Panmure, was selected by him to extricate the War Department from the difficulties in which it had become involved. His Lordship fully justified the confidence reposed in him, and by his good management and persevering labours, the British army was at the close of the war in a more effective state than at its commencement. His administration at the War Office was eminently successful. One of his first achievements was so to minimise and regulate the use of the lash as speedily to lead to its entire abolition. He introduced the system of competitive examination for commissions, which has tended so much to raise the standard of military education. He also reduced the period of enlistment; and in many ways promoted the comfort of soldiers.

The position which he had earned for himself as a public man was manifested when in 1842 he was elected as Lord Rector of Glasgow University, though his opponents were the Marquis of Bute and the Duke of Wellington. In token of his sovereign’s favour, he was appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Forfarshire, and made Knight of the Thistle and Knight Commander of the Bath. Midway in his political career, when after twenty years’ service in the House of Commons he took his place in the House of Lords, a farewell banquet was given to him by his constituents at Perth. Lord John Russell said of him: “During the whole time I was at the Home Office, and since which I had to conduct in a higher sphere the affairs of the nation, I have derived the greatest advantage from the sentiments, the intelligence, the perseverance, and the ability of my noble friend. But all this would not have so recommended him had I not been satisfied that he is thoroughly impressed with the great maxim of the great statesman (Mr Fox), from whom he has derived his name, that what is morally wrong cannot be politically right.”

Educated in England, for ten years actively occupied in military duties chiefly in Canada, surrounded by social enjoyments, and then plunging into political life, it seemed unlikely that Fox Maule would interest himself in the ecclesiastical questions that then agitated the Church of Scotland. Perhaps till he entered public life they had never engaged his attention. And probably at that time he might have thought it most unlikely that he would ever take any prominent part in religious questions. Various influences, however, prepared his mind and led him on. Among the earliest and most powerful of these was the teaching and example of a pious and much-loved mother. As the excitement of the first election after the Reform Bill led him into the arena of political life, so there were external circumstances which forcibly drew his attention to ecclesiastical affairs. Dr Chalmers was urging his scheme for church extension on the notice of the legislature when Fox Maule entered public life. As Under Secretary for the Home Department, Scottish affairs were largely submitted to his consideration. Being thus brought into contact with such men as Drs Chalmers and Guthrie, he could not but feel their influence. Again, at the election for Perthshire, in 1834, when he secured his seat in the House of Commons for the first time, the question of non-intrusion occupied so prominent a place, that both parties found themselves constrained to profess themselves to be friendly to the popular side of that question. This may have been his first introduction to the subject. But from the professions then made he never swerved nor drew back. In addition to this, the disputed settlements of Lethendy and Auchterarder, both in Perthshire, must have led him more thoroughly to consider the principles which were involved. But however this may have been, from that date Fox Maule was the zealous friend of all philanthropic and missionary enterprises, and the staunch supporter of the rights and principles for which the Church was then contending, the refusal of which led to the Disruption.

When the conflict thickened, and the Church refused to obey the orders of the civil courts in regard to spiritual things, Sir Robert Peel, in 1842, in his place in the House of Commons, accused the Church of Scotland as “defying and opposing the law.” “This attack,” writes the author of the “Ten Years’ Conflict,” “was not unanswered. It called up one whose enlightened and unflinching advocacy of the great scriptural principles, and constitutional privileges for which the Church was contending, had earned for him the gratitude and esteem of all who venerate the work of the Scottish Reformers, and who know how to appreciate that integrity and manly firmness of character, which fears not to avow honest convictions, and to defend them wherever they may be assailed. It is told in Scripture, to the honour of Onesiphorus, that even at Rome he was not ashamed of Paul’s chain. It will be told, in the ecclesiastical history of his country, to the honour of Mr Fox Maule, that he was not ashamed to identify himself, even in the House of Commons, with the calumniated Church of Scotland.” “If,” said he, in replying to Sir Robert Peel, “that Church had set itself up against the law of the land in matters of civil right, he would be the last man to stand up in its defence. But the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had over and over again declared, that as far as civil rights were concerned, it would bow implicity to the decisions of the land. All that the Church and the General Assembly had done was to say that, while on the one hand they obeyed the law as to benefices—still, they owed a duty to a higher authority than man when they inducted to any portion of their Church an individual who had a cure of souls.”

No better estimate can be formed of the position which Fox Maule had earned for himself in Parliament, and of the confidence which the Church reposed in him, than is manifested in the fact, that when, after ten years’ conflict, the Church resolved to make a last appeal to the Legislature to inquire into and to redress its grievances, by special appointment of the Commission he was requested to bring the matter before the House of Commons. On 7th March 1843, little more than two months before the Disruption, he did so in a speech of singular power and lucidity. “No Free Churchman can read without unfeigned gratitude the clear, intelligent defence of her position and privileges made by Mr Fox Maule in the House of Commons. His statement of the independent spiritual jurisdiction of the Church on the occasion referred to may be read at the present day with interest and instruction, and shew what a just and true grasp his mind had taken of the controversy which terminated in the Disruption.” 5

His motion for inquiry in the House of Commons was rejected by a majority of 135. “It is not undeserving of notice,” writes the author of the “Ten Years’ Conflict,” “that of the thirty-seven Scottish members who were present, twenty-five voted with Mr Maule. It was not therefore simply the voice of Scotland’s Church, but the voice also of her national representatives that was that night overborne in the British Parliament. The fact is one which an impartial posterity will mark and remember.” It is not a little remarkable that on the 6th of July 1874, the very day of Lord Dalhousie’s death thirty-one years later, the debate on the Patronage Bill took place in the House of Commons. On which occasion it was fully acknowledged by all parties that the statesmen of 1843 had grievously erred in refusing to make such concessions as might then have satisfied the just demands of the Church.

The same evening on which Fox Maule brought this subject before the House of Commons, a great public meeting was held in the City Hall, Glasgow. Dr Thomas Guthrie then said:—

“The last battle is now at this moment fighting on the floor of Parliament. The voices of Maule, Rutherford, and Stewart—and I can hardly mention, in that House of five hundred men, more than these three that will stand up for our rights—they are now pleading our cause; and did I not know that God rules on earth as well as in heaven, you might write ‘Ichabod’ already on the brow of Scotland. I confess I have no hope. My motion says it is our duty to use every lawful effort to avert this calamity. Now we have used every lawful effort. We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we have negotiated. … We have resolved never to give up our principles. We shall give them their stipends, their manses, their glebes, and their churches. They are theirs, and let them make ‘a kirk or a mill of them.’ But we cannot give up the crown rights of Christ; and we cannot give up our people’s privileges. … If this night they say, ‘You must sell your birthright for a mess of pottage,’ then I say I am done for my lifetime with the Establishment.”
 

“And so,” wrote Dr Guthrie at a later period, “we went forth under the old banner to enjoy that freedom without the Establishment which we were denied within its pale.”

Fox Maule was not awanting in the day of trial. He entered at once into all the preparations for the new state of the Church, and with an unflagging interest and most loyal enthusiasm continued his services to the last. No doubt his rank and public position lent value to his adherence and services; “but, apart from this, the warmth, the intelligence, the sagacity, the inherent weight of his counsels, the effective character of his advocacy, and the munificent liberality he displayed, gave him a prominent place among the leading and most trusted advisers of the Free Church.” For thirty years he was returned by the Free Presbytery of Dunkeld as their representative elder to the General Assembly, and took an active part in its proceedings. After the Disruption, when so many proprietors refused sites for the building of churches and manses, it was mainly through his firm, but calm, speeches in Parliament that the difficulty was surmounted.

At the time of his lamented death it was well said, “It is no secret— the fact was made so public in many ways that there need be no delicacy in recalling it—that during the latter years of his father’s lifetime, the relations of Mr Fox Maule towards him were exceedingly constrained and uncomfortable. It is proper to mention, however, that the cause of disagreement was well known to be highly honourable to the son. Its existence was the cause of bringing out, in a variety of ways, the firmness, the chivalry, and the good sense that were embodied in his character. In one way, this disagreement was connected with family and private arrangements. In another, it was of a more public nature. His property was left in a condition that, in the case of a person endowed with less of manliness, generosity, and clear-headedness, would have led to much embarassment and unpleasantness. He avoided this by taking his tenantry into his confidence at once, and laying down rules as to the re-letting of his farms, which they cordially acquiesced in. His rental was enormously increased during the period of his administration, and yet there was, by common consent, no better, fairer, or more liberal landlord. The social qualities of his lordship were of the rarest order. He was the life of every circle in which he appeared. There was about him an irresistible charm of manner; high and low alike owned the spell.” By Her Majesty he was esteemed as a friend. In London society he was always welcome; in his own county everybody was proud of him, and he knew almost everybody, and could make himself at home with them, whatever their rank or station. This picture, however, is not complete unless it be added that none could be more stern or repellant in his manner to mere tuft-hunters, or to those of whose character or conduct he disapproved. Firm in his opinions, and determined in action, he had many opponents. Yet transparently honest in his convictions, and genial in his manner of expressing them, he had few, if any, lasting enemies.

During the last seven years of his life, Lord Dalhousie spent the winter at his charming villa at Cannes, on the shores of the Mediterranean. There he made arrangements, without expense to the Church, for the maintenance of Presbyterian worship, which he loved so well. During the last two winters of his life the writer of this memoir officiated there, and bears most loving and willing testimony that, on Sabbaths and week days, he had no hearer more regular or appreciative, nor any who took a more lively interest, not only in the temporal prosperity of the congregation, but also in the spiritual welfare of its members. Though with characteristic modesty he sensitively shrunk from a loud profession of high personal religion, the depth, the earnestness, and the solemnity of his piety were manifest to all those to whom, in confidence of private conversation, he felt himself at liberty to open his heart.

After the death of his wife, in 1854, the honours of his house were done by his sister the Lady Christian Maule. Brother and sister never loved each other more truly or tenderly. His latest energies were spent in the service of the Free Church. Hastening home from Cannes, at that season in its richest beauty, he attended, and took his wonted part in the meetings of the General Assembly at the end of May. In June he was in his place in the House of Lords, and took part in the debate on the Patronage Bill. Towards the close of the same month he laid the foundation stone of the new Free Church at Dunkeld. Full of vigour and of cheerful, though chastened hope, apparently in better health than for many years, it seemed unlikely that the end of his earthly career was so close at hand. On 24th June, accompanied by the Lady Christian Maule, he went to pay his respects to his sovereign at the Bridge of Dun station as she passed on her way south from Balmoral. The same evening he was taken ill, and on the 6th of July, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, he died in Brechin Castle in the same room in which he had been born.

Though hopes were entertained of his recovery by his medical attendants, he anticipated the issue from the first, and trusting to the merits of Christ, he calmly waited to know the will of God. At the commencement of his illness, to one of whose love he was well assured, he sent the message, “Pray for me—but whatever the issue may be, all is well.” Among his last words, in reply to a question as to the grounds of his hope, he said to his pastor.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.”
 

Many touching incidents might be given illustrative of the warmth and tenderness and humility of his heart, did not delicacy towards the living and the dead, in the meantime, forbid it. “It will be many a day ere the Free Church find a man to serve her with such devotion and capacity.”

Dying without issue, he has been succeeded in his Scottish titles by his cousin, Vice-Admiral George Ramsay, second son of the late Hon. Lieut.-Gen. John Ramsay, fourth son of George Eighth Earl of Dalhousie.

W. G.

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Alexander Dyce Davidson, D.D.


The Memorial Tablet which stands in the Free West Church, Aberdeen, bears the following inscription, which sets forth in few words the leading outlines of a devoted but uneventful life:—

IN MEMORY OF

ALEXANDER DYCE DAVIDSON, D.D.,

MINISTER OF THIS CHURCH

BORN IN ABERDEEN 8 MAY 1807
ORDAINED MINISTER OF THE SOUTH CHURCH 3 AUGUST 1832.
TRANSLATED TO THE WEST CHURCH 5 MAY 1836.
SEPARATED FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT AT THE DISRUPTION ALONG WITH
A LARGE CONGREGATION, 23 MAY 1843.
OPENED THEIR CHURCH IN BELMONT STREET 28 JANUARY 1844
REMOVED TO THIS CHURCH 14 FEBRUARY 1869

AND AFTER LABOURING SUCCESSFULLY FOR NEARLY FORTY YEARS AS A
PREACHER OF CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS TO WARMLY-ATTACHED
FLOCKS HE FELL ASLEEP 27 APRIL 1872
DECLARING “HIS TRUST TO BE IN THE GREAT SALVATION AND
THE GLORIOUS REDEEMER.”

These lines sufficiently sum up the life of Dr Davidson. For his long, laborious, and successful career was spent among his own people. He was a pillar of the Free Church; and he was one of the best preachers of a day that saw many famous preachers. But he was not a man of affairs. He took no part in public life: if ever minister spent his whole time and strength on a congregation, Dr Davidson did. These memorial lines, therefore, with the addition of his marriage, but long loneliness, caused by the early death of wife and child, contain all that can be called biography of this able and excellent minister.

A volume of lectures on “The Book of Esther,” which the writer of these lines heard in the old Free West Church, in the winter of 1858, and which made an exceptionally deep impression when delivered, was the only work Dr Davidson published. Indeed that volume, along with a volume of sermons edited by one of his executors, and published in 1872, is all of the rich treasures of Dr Davidson’s study that has seen the light. To the latter work a preface was drawn up by the loving and dutiful hand of Mr Francis Edmond; and it is simply a perfect model of what such things should be. But it is referred to here, not for its own sake, but because it supplies us with material whereby to estimate somewhat the noble and unflagging life of this honoured minister in the sphere he had chosen for himself—the pulpit. It is an inspiring thing to read and ponder the pages of this preface, where the editor has done all ministers the service of letting them see how his minister wrought for his pulpit. A table is here given of 1800 lectures and sermons, carefully prepared and fully written out, ready for the West Church pulpit, and therefore ready for the press. To those who know what a lecture or sermon cost Dr Davidson, the reading and consideration of pages 6 and 7 of Mr Edmond’s preface will administer a humbling reproof, or a fresh impulse to faithful work, according to their own fulfilment of their pulpit duties.

Of course Dr Davidson could not have done such work, and so much of it, had he not resolved to give up his whole time, and thought, and strength to it. He might have been the most influential man in the affairs of the city in which he was so much loved and revered, but he retired from all public and social life, that he might discharge fully the office to which he was ordained. Dr Davidson was never so happy as when he was at work in his study. Perhaps he denied himself needful relaxation in his unceasing care for each Sabbath’s work. Considering his power and popularity as a preacher, it was often remarked how little he was from home; and we have heard it told by ministers whom he assisted at communion seasons, how resolute he was in getting home by the first opportunity after his work was done. He would on no account lose a day from the work he loved so well, and consequently fulfilled with such signal success.

Dr Davidson’s facility in composition was very great, and it was no doubt largely the result and reward of the honest, regular, daily work he performed through a long and happy ministry. His methods of composition were such as we might have expected from the mental characteristics and scholarly habits of the man. He wrote only after the greatest industry in preparing his matter, but when he once sat down to write, his work immediately took on its peculiar neatness and accuracy. It passed in the first draft from under his hand in a state of correctness and finish to which he could add nothing. Happy workman! He never needed to recast and correct, to destroy and restore! Indeed, he has been heard to say that he never drafted a discourse in his life. With such gifts and habits, natural and acquired, we come to see how it was possible that every Sabbath he went up to the pulpit with his work so thoroughly prepared, and carried to, and sustained at, such a high level of theological and homiletical excellence.

There was one part of his daily pulpit work which always was particularly, and indeed unapproachably, well done. It was his regular practice to give a running commentary on the passage of Scripture read each Sabbath morning. In few, sagacious, clear, and suggestive words he laid open the sense and bearing of the passage read, and that in a space of time that did not seem to add materially to the mere reading of the verses. But this, too, was only another result of those habits of mind which ruled and shaped all his life. Careful preparation, method, and a fine sense of fitness and proportion, were all characteristically displayed in this incidental looking exposition.

It could not but be that offers of promotion to offices of wider theological influence, and other preferments and promotions, should be set before such a man; but his quiet and retiring manner of dealing with all personal and public matters made these offers to be little heard of. Thus it was that Dr Davidson lived and laboured, and died in the city which had given him birth, and which is so justly proud of, and grateful for, his memory.

A. W.

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Alexander Duff, D.D.


Alexander Duff

Among the men who in 1843 laid the foundation of the Free Church, there was not one who occupied a more prominent position in the eyes of the Church and of the world than Dr Duff. The course which he and his brother missionaries might adopt on hearing of the Disruption of the Church was awaited with considerable anxiety on both sides, because it was felt that the adhesion to one party or the other of such a body of men would be, to a certain extent, a testimony in favour of the party to which they might adhere. There was not only anxiety but uncertainty as to the course which the missionaries might consider it their duty to pursue. Separated by distance, and by their views regarding the relation in which they stood to the Church as a whole, they had avoided any public declaration of their sentiments concerning questions which were still matters of “conflict” within the Church whose representatives they were. It so happened also that the two Conveners of the Foreign Missions who held office before the Disruption—Dr Inglis and Dr Brunton—belonged to the Moderate party; and between them on the one hand, and Dr Duff and his colleagues on the other, the most amicable relations had uniformly subsisted. In fact, Dr Gordon was the only man who held an important official position in the Home Administration of the Foreign Missions that cast in his lot with the Free Church. I have understood that it was with very real satisfaction that the Glasgow Assembly received the announcement that all the missionaries of the Church of Scotland, to Jews and to Gentiles, unhesitatingly adhered to its Free section.

It were impossible, and happily it is unnecessary, to give here any full biographical notice of Dr Duff. His public life is universally known, while his private life was that of the loving and beloved husband and father, the genial friend, the wise counsellor, the beneficent helper. At home alike in the lordly hall, in the gatherings of the learned, and in the dwellings of the humblest, he maintained in all his intercourse with his fellow-men, in a very unusual degree, the distinctive character of the Christian man, the Christian minister, and the Christian missionary. Naturally somewhat impatient of contradiction, and with his whole soul possessed with convictions on the only subjects on which he cared to speak, the first impression that he made on strangers was apt to be that he was a man of overbearing dogmatism. But gradually the impression wore off, and those who came to know him well beheld in him the simplicity of the child, united with the fire of the zealot, and an ardour of love which called forth their earnest love in return.

His public life was nearly equally divided into two parts—in India and at home. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance of the former. His style of eloquence was precisely fitted to captivate the Oriental ear, and influence the Oriental mind. With a large range of knowledge, and immense power of acquisition, and unequalled faculty of retention, he knew how to turn this to account in convincing the understanding and gaining the affections of all with whom he came into contact. He was essentially the orator. Even his ordinary letters were orations. The consequence of this is, that those who never heard him speak must deem his writings somewhat turgid, overlaid, as regards their matter, with imagery, and in respect of style, with superabundant adjectives and epithets. But those who can remember him, as he poured forth a stream of eloquence, now dashing impetuously and almost furiously over all obstacles, now gliding in glittering beauty between its banks, will not fail to recognise in his writings masterpieces of eloquent oratory. He was, of course, as a missionary, more occupied with the defence than with the exposition of the Christian system. But he was a powerful preacher. Ever handling the Word of God with profoundest reverence, and deeply penetrated with a sense of the unspeakable preciousness of revealed truth, he brought all his great powers into requisition in order to commend that truth to others.

His work at home was a continued effort to arouse a slumbering Church to a sense of its duty and its privilege, as put in trust of the sacred deposit of the Gospel for the benefit of the world. This was his one theme, and in handling it he was instant in season and out of season. Whether in his professorial chair, in church courts, in the pulpit, in private intercourse with all classes of men, or in doing from day to day the work that lay to his hand as Convener of the Foreign Missions Committee of the Free Church, he lived for this end, and cared not to live if he could not promote it; and for the furtherance of this end he had both the will and the power to cultivate habits which might seem almost contrary to his nature. But, indeed, his nature was many-sided. With all the exuberance of his fancy, and the apparently uncontrollable night of his imagination, he had a singular power of mastering details, and forming conclusions as to their bearings upon matters of business. It will perhaps surprise some to be told that he was a man of remarkably accurate and painstaking business habits. Endowed with unlimited power of work, sustained by over-mastering zeal, even during the later years of his life, which were years of great physical pain and suffering, he spent long sleepless nights in meditating on his work, and reverentially dealing with his God and Saviour respecting the establishment of His kingdom in his heart and in the world; while day after day he resumed his patient toil, ever glad to spend and to be spent in doing the work of the Master whom he served with the service of ardent love.

Of the men of our age regarding whom our children will be proud to tell their children and their grandchildren how they walked in our streets, and how they pleaded from pulpit or from platform for God with men, and for men with God, there is no one who will be held in fresher or holier remembrance than Dr Duff. He rests from his labours, and his works do follow him. And over most of his compeers and associates he had this advantage: their work, all-important as it was, could not but be to a considerable extent of a denominational, or, at the most, of a national character. But the work of Dr Duff was catholic in the widest sense. His heart was set upon the evangelisation of all the world; his influence was felt over all the Churches.

We shall now append a mere chronicle, consisting of little more than the dates of the principal events of Dr Duff’s life.

He was born at the farm-house of Auchnachyle, in the parish of Moulin, Perthshire, on the 25th of April 1806. His parents were not only sincere Christians, but were earnestly interested in the cause of God, and the spread of the Gospel all over the world. To their influence and their prayers he ever acknowledged himself a debtor for all that he was enabled by the grace of God to become and to do. When eight years old he was sent to school, and after that early age he was but seldom, and for short times, in his father’s house. After receiving the ordinary primary education in the parish school of Kirkmichael, and the usual secondary instruction in the Grammar School of Perth, at the age of fifteen he became a student in the University of St Andrews. From many testimonies it is manifest that here he made the most of his golden opportunities. In all his classes he held a high place, in some, the highest. He attended as a student the first course of lectures which Dr Chalmers delivered as Professor of Moral Philosophy in St Andrews, and the genius of the student caught an enlivening spark from the genius of the teacher. Under the genial auspices of this teacher and friend, he entered upon a course of study and of missionary effort, which closed only with his life.

Immediately after the close of his University course, he was licensed as a preacher, and was straightway appointed by the Foreign Missions Committee of the Church of Scotland as the first Missionary of the Church to India. His appointment was sanctioned by the General Assembly of 1829, and he was ordained to the office of the ministry on the 12th of August. After a disastrous voyage, and two shipwrecks, in one of which the Lady Holland was totally destroyed, he landed in Calcutta on the 27th of May 1830, and immediately began the great work with which his name will ever be associated. This is not the place either for the exposition of, or the apology for, that work. In the day of India’s regeneration, when its converted millions shall stretch out their hands to God, the arrival of Duff on her shore will be acknowledged to have marked an important epoch in the national and spiritual history of that great land. The hand of God was in it. Never before or since was there a time so opportune for the great experiment which Duff instituted; never before or since was there a man so qualified to conduct that experiment to a successful issue. In the doing with his might what his hand found to do, the young missionary “lighted the candle at both ends,” and after little more than four years of bright burning, it was all but burnt out. By the middle of 1834 he was prostrated with illness, and was carried on board a homeward-bound ship. Immediately on his arrival at home, though still in an extremely feeble state of health, he began the work of pleading the cause of missions all over Scotland, and inaugurated a movement which has already accomplished much, and is destined to accomplish far more, towards placing the Church of Christ in the position which her Divine Head designed her to occupy towards the world which He came to save. He returned to India in 1840, and at once resumed his labours in the Mission which he had been honoured to found. These labours we cannot describe in detail. They were abundant, and very various.

The event which gives its special character to the present publication, the “Disruption” of the Church of Scotland, was met by Dr Duff as all who knew him might have expected that he would meet it. He and his colleagues might have misgivings as to the ability of a portion of the Church to bear the cost of those operations which had been regarded by some as too heavy a tax to be paid by the undivided Church; but they had no hesitation as to the course of duty; and hence the name of Dr Duff stands in the roll of “Disruption Worthies.” The work of the Mission went on without interruption; and neither missionaries, nor converts, nor students, had more to suffer than the painful breach which divided them from many friends with whom they had hitherto been united. The death of Dr Chalmers, in 1847, led to great anxiety. The position which he had occupied in the Free Church, all felt, could never be filled by another. Men when they met were engrossed with the momentous question as to a successor to him in his office as Principal and Professor in the Edinburgh College. The response was gradually given more and more distinctly, that if Duff would accept it, he was the man. A proposal was accordingly made to him by the Commission of the General Assembly that he should return home and be appointed to this office. This proposal he felt himself constrained to decline. But, believing that one object that the Church had in view in making it was, that he might carry forward the work which he had begun as an advocate of the Mission cause, he consented to visit this country, and prosecute that work for a time. In order to prepare himself for it, he made an extensive tour over India, of which he had not till then seen much, and made himself acquainted, by personal observation, with all the work carried on in all its length and breadth. When this survey was completed, he left India, and reached home in May 1850. He now entered upon that course of exposition and advocacy of the cause of Missions, of which he had before given a foretaste, which may be said without exaggeration to have revolutionised the sentiment of the Church of Christ, not in Scotland only, nor in the British Islands, but also on the European and American continents. It was in the beginning of 1854 that he visited the latter continent. No pen of ours can describe the enthusiastic character of his reception, or the blessing that accompanied his visit. Before this, in 1851, he had enjoyed the highest honour that is open to the ambition of a Presbyterian minister, the Moderatorship of the General Assembly of his Church. His superabundant labours in this country and in America were again a lighting of the candle at both ends. For a time he was laid aside from all work, and had to learn that God requires of his servants patience as well as action. He returned to India at the close of 1855, and resumed his work in his 50th year with as much energy as he had expended on it in his 24th. But this could not continue always. Repeated illnesses convinced him that his work in India must cease, and prepared him to accept an invitation which was addressed to him to return home and work for India, and for the world, as Convener of the Foreign Missions Committee of the Free Church. This was to him a great disappointment. He had often spoken to the writer of his desire to “die in harness,” and to lay his bones to mingle with the clods of his beloved Gangetic valley. Reaching Scotland in August 1864, he entered with characteristic energy on the work of his new office. How faithfully and how laboriously he discharged his duties is known in the general to all the Church, but the writer may be excused the egotism of saying that he alone knew it to the full extent, from the circumstance that he was for several years associated with him as Vice-Convener. By the generous liberality of a few friends he was enabled to present to the Church a sum of £10,000 for the endowment of a Chair of “Evangelistic Theology;” and, says his biographer, “When the General Assembly of 1867, with whom the appointment of the first Professor rested, could not agree as to which of two experienced Missionaries, from Calcutta and Bombay, should be appointed to it, Dr Duff was most unwillingly compelled to accept the appointment by the unanimous call of his Church.” Thus he became at last a Professor in that College, of which he had fifteen years before declined to be a Professor and Principal. In 1873 he had the unique honour conferred on him of a second election to the Moderator’s Chair of the General Assembly, and that at a trying time in the Church’s history. When the Assembly of 1874 had to appoint a Principal of the New College in succession to Dr Candlish, many of the friends of Dr Duff deemed that he was the fittest man to be appointed to the office. He did not desire the appointment, but when he had consented to be nominated, he was certainly disappointed, and perhaps for the moment somewhat embittered, when he found that his appointment, if it took place at all, would not be unanimous. He therefore declined to be proposed. It were altogether out of place to revive the controversy here, and out of time to revive it anywhere. I have no doubt that Dr Duff received this disappointment as a gift of his Heavenly Father, and that it contributed to that which had long been the strongest desire of his heart, his growth in holiness, and in submission to his Father’s will.

During the sitting of the Assembly of 1876 Dr Duff met with a severe accident, from the effects of which I do not think that he ever fully rallied. From that time his friends anticipated that the day of his departure would not be distant. For many months he suffered from one affection after another, and, when the College session opened in November 1877, he was obliged to acknowledge to himself that he could not discharge the duties of his Chair. On the 12th of February 1878 came the end of a career marked by unflinching faithfulness to the cause of God and of man, a career whose track will not soon be obliterated from the sands of time, and which will be remembered, to the praise of God’s grace, in the anthems of eternity.

His remains were reverently laid beside those of his loving and beloved wife, who had predeceased him by twenty-three years.

T. S.

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Henry Duncan


Henry Duncan

Henry Duncan was born on the 8th October 1774, at the Manse of Lochrutton, Kirkcudbrightshire. He was the third son of the Rev. George Duncan, minister of that parish. His paternal grandfather, a native of Aberdeen, was also minister of Lochrutton, and was drowned when bathing in the loch, soon after his son had been licensed to preach the gospel. Perhaps no minister of the Church of Scotland was ever so closely connected with its clergy as the subject of this sketch. Before he was past middle life, he used to say that he was surely of the tribe of Levi, as he could trace his connection with no less than one hundred and fifty Scottish ministers; and before he died, he could have added considerably to that long list.

As a boy, Henry Duncan manifested those fine talents and amiable dispositions which afterwards raised him to distinction as a minister, an author, and a philanthropist. Having finished his preliminary education at the Grammar School of Dumfries, he went, in 1788, to prosecute his studies at the University of St Andrews. Having studied at that University for two sessions, he was sent to Liverpool, and became a clerk in an eminent banking firm, with a view to the mercantile profession. Under the patronage of his relative, Dr Currie, the biographer of Burns, he had the fairest prospects of success in business; but his decided taste for literature and the pursuits of a clerical life induced him to leave Liverpool, and study for the ministry of the Scottish Church. Yet the experience he gained in the Liverpool banking house was of great use to him in his after life. In 1793 he resumed his studies at the University of Edinburgh, and there he enjoyed the friendship of the Professor of Moral Philosophy, Dugald Stewart. His talents and general character commended him highly to the kind offices of that eminent philosopher. He also spent two college sessions at Glasgow, and specially profited by the profound and interesting lectures of Mr John Millar, Professor of Law. His last two sessions were spent in Edinburgh. At this period of his academic career he was elected a member of the celebrated Speculative Society, and became acquainted with many young men of high promise, among others with Henry Brougham, afterwards so famous in law and politics. He continued on habits of friendship and correspondence with this distinguished statesman during the greater part of his life.

In the year 1798 he was licensed to preach the gospel, and immediately received from the Earl of Mansfield the choice of two livings in his gift, both vacant at the time, Lochmaben and Ruthwell. He chose the latter, inferior though it was in value, because it appeared to be a more suitable field for his peculiar pastoral work and philanthropic experiments. And soon, as the minister of Ruthwell, he displayed that intellectual activity, fertility of resource, and fine benevolent spirit, which enabled him to do so much, both for the temporal and spiritual welfare of his people. He imported Indian corn from Liverpool for the supply of their wants during a time of great scarcity. He also effected, amidst not a little opposition, important social reforms, and in many ways sought to improve the habits and manners of his flock. During the time of the dreaded French invasion, he raised in his parish a company of Volunteers, of which he was appointed captain. On several occasions he put off his military uniform, to assume the clerical dress, and enter on the duties of the pulpit. As his views of divine truth and the nature of the pastoral office grew deeper and more spiritual, he ceased to regard with much satisfaction this part of his career; but his loyalty and patriotism did not suffer from his progress in personal religion.

In 1808 he commenced with a few literary friends the publication of the “Scottish Cheap Repository Tracts,” which were intended to furnish sound instruction to the common people. The best of the series were written by himself, and by far the best of all, “The Cottage Fireside,” was soon published separately, and attained great popularity. In point of spirit, pathos, and humour, it has never been surpassed by any composition of its class. Soon after this period he started the Dumfries and Galloway Courier, of which for seven years he was editor. Under his management, and the more professional control of his successor, Mr John MacDiarmid, this paper reached a very high position among Scottish journals.

As the advocate of the Bible Society, when it was a new and struggling institution, as an enlightened educational reformer, and the champion of every cause that appeared to bear upon the real welfare of the country, the minister of Ruthwell gradually became highly distinguished among his brethren; and at length, in 1810, his practical philanthropy took a form which made his name known over the whole country. In that year the first Savings Bank was instituted at Ruthwell, and by the indefatigable exertions of its founder, the merits of banks of the kind for popular use were speedily acknowledged by statesmen and philanthropists of all classes. The first Act of Parliament to encourage and facilitate the institution of such banks was passed mainly through Mr Duncan’s personal efforts in London among members of both branches of the Legislature. By pamphlets, lectures, and other appliances, he rapidly made known the claims of Savings Banks over the whole island. Before long, he had the satisfaction of seeing such banks instituted in many places, and carried on with high success. For his great exertions and large personal outlay in connection with this new and noble system of Savings Banks, he never received any public reward. His letters and parcels, chiefly on bank business, one year cost him more than £80; yet he cheerfully bore such a heavy burden in the service of his country.

At this period he published another excellent tale of humble Scottish life,—”The Young South-Country Weaver,” a fit sequel to “The Cottage Fireside.” A number of years later (1826) he published, anonymously, a work of fiction in three volumes, “William Douglas; or, The Scottish Exiles,” intended to counteract Sir Walter Scott’s aspersions on the Covenanters in “Old Mortality.” This was hailed as a work of real genius, and was remarkably well received by the Scottish public.

In 1823 Mr Duncan received the degree of D.D. from the University of St Andrews, in recognition of his philanthropic labours and literary merit. It was not till 1836 that the first volume of his chief literary work, “The Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons,” made its appearance. It was rapidly succeeded by the three others; for a volume, containing papers for every day, was devoted to each Season. The work, written in a popular and devout, yet truly philosophic spirit, rapidly ran through several editions, and was long a great favourite with the public. The philosophy is by no means yet out of date, and most of the papers are as fresh and useful as when they first appeared. No better work of its class than “The Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons” is to be found in British literature.

Dr Duncan rendered a service of the highest kind to the antiquarian world by his discovery and restoration of the famous Runic cross, which, as erected and repaired by him, now stands in the garden of Ruthwell Manse. He made several beautiful models and drawings of this remarkable relic of antiquity, and wrote a learned description of it, which was published in the “Transactions of the Scottish Antiquarian Society.” No professed and experienced antiquary could have done greater justice to a monument about which volumes have been written since he first brought it to light, and the mystery of whose Runic inscriptions has only of late been solved. To the same accomplished observer belongs the credit of having intelligently brought before the geologists of Great Britain the footmarks of quadrupeds on the new red sandstone of Corncockle Muir, near Lochmaben. This discovery constituted a new era in geology, and gave Dr Duncan an honourable place among the geologists of his day.

During the early part of his ministerial career, Henry Duncan was claimed by the “Moderate” party in the Church; but he gradually grew more decided in his evangelical sentiments, and cast in his lot entirely with the party of Dr John Erskine, Sir Henry Moncreiff, Dr Andrew Thomson, and Dr Chalmers. With the latter two eminent men he lived on terms of the warmest friendship. He contributed to the “Christian Instructor,” when edited by Dr Thomson, and corresponded with Dr Chalmers on various subjects of Christian philanthropy. So early as 1827, he addressed a long and admirable letter to his old friend Mr Brougham, on reform in the Church of Scotland, especially in regard to Patronage. Afterwards, in 1831, he published in the “Christian Instructor” another letter on the subject, addressed to Lord Melbourne, the Home Secretary. In these letters, as well as in a third which he wrote by request to Lord Landowner, another of his college friends, he advocated that check on the exercise of Patronage which was in 1834 embodied in the famous Veto Act. If any man in Scotland was the real parent of that measure, which had such memorable consequences, it was the minister of Ruthwell; and in all the controversies to which it gave rise, up to the time of the Disruption, the same minister took a prominent part. Dr Duncan, though at times a graceful speaker, had no great talent for debate; but he wielded a powerful and practised pen on the popular side, and contributed not a little to the triumph of the Evangelical party in the Church. In 1839, when the “Ten Years’ Conflict” was almost at its height, he was chosen Moderator of the General Assembly. This mark of distinction was amply merited by his varied services to the Church, of which he was an ornament, and by his eminent achievements as a patriotic philanthropist.

When the great conflict between the Church and the Civil Power ended in the Disruption of 1843, Dr Duncan unhesitatingly joined the Free Church, of which he became one of the fathers and founders. He was accompanied in his retirement from the Establishment by his two sons, George John Duncan, minister of Kirkpatrick-Durham, and W. Wallace Duncan, minister of Cleish; also by his two sons-in-law, Dr Horatius Bonar, minister of the North Church, Kelso, and the Rev. James Dodds, minister of Humbie. Few of his brethren made such sacrifices at the Disruption as Dr Henry Duncan. His manse, surrounded with gardens and grounds which he had laid out with exquisite taste, was one of the finest residences of the kind in Scotland. Everything around it had a history, or was endeared to him and his family by many hallowed associations. But he cheerfully left the charming spot, and took up his abode in a humble cottage by the highway side. He also met with much unworthy hostility from various classes of people in the parish and district, many of whom should have been specially forward to do him honour. He could procure no site for a church in the parish of Ruthwell, and was forced to accept of a site in the neighbouring parish of Mousewald, kindly offered by the late Dr James Buchanan and Mrs Buchanan. By his energetic efforts a new church, manse, and school were erected free of debt; and at this day, along with an obelisk reared to his memory, they form a worthy monument of noble devotedness to high principle. Built on what has been called by the people, “Mount Kedar,” they are conspicuous from various points of the railway between Dumfries and Annan.

This amiable and admirable man, on the appointment of the Rev. Alexander Brown as his colleague, removed, in 1845, with his family to Edinburgh; but, returning early in the following year to visit his much-loved people of Ruthwell, he was struck down by a deadly paralytic attack while holding an evening prayer-meeting in the house of one of his old elders who still adhered to the Establishment. He was immediately conveyed to Comlongon Castle, the residence of his brother-in-law, Mr Walter Philips, factor of the Earl of Mansfield; but consciousness only slightly returned at intervals, and in two days he calmly expired. The grief of his old parishioners knew no bounds at his death, and all classes of the people in the whole district lamented him as an eminent servant of the Lord, suddenly taken away from the scene of his lengthened and devoted ministry. He died on Thursday, the 12th February 1846, and was interred on the Tuesday following in Ruthwell Churchyard.

Dr Duncan thus died among his people, in the place he loved so well, and which will long be associated with his name. The cause of Evangelical religion, the principles of the Scottish Reformation, and the privileges of the Scottish Church, always found in him a faithful advocate; and when the time of trial came in his old age, he gloried in the name and position of a Free Church minister. He was, in lifting up his testimony for precious principles, more severely tried than most of the brethren who left the Established Church along with him; but, with characteristic cheerfulness and serenity, he bore hardship in the service of his Divine Master.

Dr Duncan was twice married, first to Miss Agnes Craig, daughter of the Rev. John Craig, his predecessor in the parish of Ruthwell, by whom he had two sons and one daughter; and, secondly, to Mrs Lundie, widow of his early friend, the Rev. Robert Lundie, minister of Kelso. His son, the Rev. Wallace Duncan, died in 1864, as minister of the Free Church, Peebles; his elder son, Dr George Duncan, who, on leaving Kirkpatrick-Durham, had been successively minister of the English Presbyterian Church at North Shields and Greenwich, and was for many years clerk of the Synod of that Church, died at Dumfries towards the close of 1868. His widow, the mother and biographer of Mary Lundie Duncan, and the author of many excellent works, a woman distinguished for her high talent and her consistent Christian usefulness, still survives in her honoured retirement. She belongs to a noble band of Christian workers who rendered great service to Evangelical religion during the past generation, all of whom but herself have been summoned to their blessed rest.

Dr Duncan was remarkable for the variety of his accomplishments. There was scarcely a literary or scientific subject that was strange to him, and he had an excellent knowledge of art in its various forms. His manual dexterity was something quite extraordinary, and was far above what is often connected with “a mechanical turn.” He excelled in drawing and modelling, was a first-rate landscape gardener, and on different occasions proved himself an excellent architect. He had a great genius for sculpture, and delighted at times in producing specimens of that noble art. But in domestic life, and in all the refinements of a cultivated social circle, he eminently shone. His piety, his benevolence, his literary culture, and manifold social accomplishments, never failed to impress all who visited Ruthwell Manse in those days when, under his sway, it was a model of a refined and happy Christian home.

J. D.

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John Duncan


John Duncan

John Duncan was born in Aberdeen in 1796. He was a delicate, dreamy, clever, engaging, affectionate, high-spirited, and occasionally passionate boy, sometimes crying bitterly under the severity of paternal discipline, sometimes abruptly laughing aloud at the brightness or at the humour of his own hidden thoughts. His father, who was of strict religious principles, and a member of the Secession Church, was by trade a shoemaker, and meaning to bring up his son in his own calling, he set him on a stool beside himself. But manual labour was very irksome to the boy; and his father, whose character was extremely stern, had little patience for his blundering work, and no pleasantry to make shoemaking attractive. After a time he was released from this bondage, through his mother’s intercession, and to his great joy was sent to the grammar school, whence he worked his way to the university, where, with a hard struggle, he supported himself by teaching.

In his college course he seems to have had the characteristics of his later years; acquiring great fluency in writing Latin, yet not distinguishing himself in the regular work of the classes, but labouring hard in his own fitful way in languages, literature, and philosophy. His insatiable love for languages grew side by side with an intense delight in philosophic speculation, into which he threw himself with an ardour that would recognise no barriers in heaven or earth. The ground of Revelation was lost, he sank down through unbelief, deism, pantheism, into material atheism; and man was in his eyes a mere animal, like the other beasts, living only to go through the degrading sameness of the daily round of nature’s wants and supplies, “born to eat, and to drink, and to digest, and to die.” Atheism had not on him the effect of exciting pride in man’s greatness; but, on the contrary, he was deeply mortified at his own littleness and the littleness of all humanity, for man without God and without immortality, presented to him nothing to interest, to admire, to respect, or to love.

His inward history is inseparable from his outward life, both on account of its marked and singular character, and because he was remarkably communicative about those personal transactions in the region of the great unseen, on which most men are apt to be reserved. Along with deep abstraction, he had an irrepressible love of intercourse with others, which often took the form of asking prayer for relief in doubt about his own salvation, but sometimes also of narrating the mental facts of his past life. Chief among these were three outstanding events—his deliverance from atheism, his conversion, and his recovery out of spiritual declension.

His recovery out of atheism he ascribed, in the first instance, to Dr Mearns, whose cogent reasonings in his lectures, along with his prayers to the “Great King,” convinced him of the existence of God. But the conviction had been reached by a logical process without any more direct mental perception; and the full breaking in of the light on this first of all truths he looked back upon to the last as a great era in his life. “I first saw clearly the existence of God,” he said, “in walking along the bridge at Aberdeen; it was a great discovery to me; and I stood in an ecstacy of joy.” But while he could now “thank God for His existence,” this measure of light wrought no abiding change on his heart or life, and he accepted of licence to preach the gospel while practically a Socinian, though nominally a Sabellian, and with nothing, either in his character or his views, consistent with the high calling on which he was entering.

The next great event, after eight years intellectually fruitful but spiritually barren was meeting with Dr Malan of Geneva, who visited Aberdeen in 1826, and pressed him closely with salvation freely given and to be instantly accepted. Towards the close of their conversation, Mr Duncan quoted a text of Scripture which Dr Malan instantly seized, and said, “Man, you have got the word of God in your mouth;” to which he replied, “And may He not take it utterly out of my mouth.” He frequently spoke with deep impression of the electric power which in that moment accompanied the word that was at once in the heart of God and in his own heart, and he regarded it as the great beginning of all communion between God and himself in time and in eternity. This turning event in his life was followed by liberty and light and joy in his own spirit, and holy boldness in testifying of free grace both in preaching and in conversation.

His third great inward event was the recovery of his soul out of declension after a year or two had passed, and he had lost the fervour of his first love. Through an exclusive adherence to promise and privilege and peace, apart from repentance, self-scrutiny, and watchfulness, his love and joy had lost their freshness, and all the fruits of the Spirit had withered. His words were the same as before, the doctrinal assurance remained, and the profession was as high as ever; but the reality and power were gone, the lips and the heart were not one. He could not endure this hollowness. “I’m not a hypocrite,” he said, “and I won’t be one.” He let go the “name to live,” that he might recover the life itself; and he fell into darkness, doubt, fear, all but absolute despair. Through a conflict very protracted and at length severe, with a deep submission to the sovereign will of God, he was restored to a good measure of light and liberty. After his conversion he was never troubled with doubts about the word of God; but he said that “he was naturally of a sceptical turn of mind, but his scepticism now took the form of doubt about his own salvation.” His conversion and his recovery embraced the two extremes of spiritual exercise; and they formed the man in his long subsequent life. Each was the complement of the other; and if for a time the last became first, the fervour and simplicity of the first recovered and retained its place. The two combined introduced him into a marvellous fulness of the word of God, which he cordially received in its length and in its breadth as few men have ever done. Through life his anger burned against a surface gospel that did not grapple with the conscience, but it kindled as keenly against the gospel withheld or robbed of its simplicity. “The best preaching,” he said, “is, Believe on Jesus Christ, and keep the Ten Commandments.”

In the earlier part of his course, and indeed throughout his life, his own preaching at its best was of a very high order. At its worst it was scarcely possible for him to speak without uttering weighty truths in an original and memorable form; his reading of the Bible was singularly instructive and impressive, and his prayers were the words of one standing in the immediate presence of the great Jehovah. But his preaching was too abstract, and was sometimes the slow utterance of thoughts that seemed to be gathering themselves in drops while he was in the pulpit— big drops, but with great intervals between them, and the whole occupying an excessive time before he could be satisfied that there was enough in the cup to offer to a thirsting soul. But at other times his whole discourse was a continuous flow of heavenly eloquence, in which both the intellect and the spirit soared in so lofty a region that the body itself seemed to partake of the elevation. On such occasions his language was concise, oracular, and singularly beautiful; every word was a thought sought out as a jewel, and artistically fitted in its place. His discourse was not one idea presented in many forms, nor many ideas fitted up with looser materials, nor a chain of successive arguments; but a unity made up of parts, each fine in itself, and each helpful to the whole, fitted together as in a beautiful mosaic, and lighted up with the frequent flashes of sanctified genius. In beauty it was a picture; but in power it was the rushing of sparkling wine that had burst its bottles.

In 1830 Mr Duncan was appointed, but without ordination, to the very rural charge of Persie Chapel, in the eastern borders of Perthshire. On the brief period of his pastoral duty there he always looked back with peculiar interest; and a deep mutual attachment was formed between himself and the people of the district, who highly appreciated his ministry. His tenderness and the strength of his affection tempered his faithfulness, which at that time was occasionally characterised by a severity which would otherwise have given offence. In 1831 he was called to a Sabbath lectureship in Glasgow, where he was afterwards ordained as minister of Milton Church, and where, in 1837, he married Miss Gaven, of Aberdeen, who died after two years, to his great grief. While there he received from Aberdeen the degree of LL.D. in acknowledgment of his Hebrew and Oriental learning, in which he had few equals; but by a strange omission none of the Universities enrolled him among their Doctors in Divinity, although beside him most other men seemed scarcely to be theologians.

In 1841 Dr Duncan was appointed as a missionary to the Jews in the beautiful city of Buda-Pesth, on the Danube, where the Archduchess of Hungary had been long praying for the help of a man of God. Before leaving Scotland, he had been married again to a widow lady, Mrs Torrance, who entered with great energy and wisdom into all his missionary work. His work in Hungary was in all respects one of the happiest and most fruitful portions of his life. His intimate acquaintance with their sacred language and their literature excited an interest in the Jews, and rendered them unusually accessible; the spiritual power that rested on himself was divinely used for their religious awakening; and there was abiding fruit in some remarkable conversions. At the same time he was greatly honoured and beloved by the leading Protestant ministers; and his memory is cherished with a singular affection by pastors of the Reformed Hungarian Church. At a later period he took a similar interest in the Protestant Churches of Bohemia; and nothing could exceed the gratitude and attachment of the Bohemian pastors toward him.

In the ever memorable era of 1843, Dr Duncan, with all his mind and heart, cast in his lot with the Free Church of Scotland; and not alone, but along with all the missionaries to the Jews from the Church of Scotland, for the character of the grand event of that time was not mainly ecclesiastical, but deeply religious. He was then recalled to fill the Hebrew Chair in the New College, Edinburgh; and this position he occupied till his death in 1870.

In genius, in learning, and in devotion, Dr Duncan was one of the most remarkable men of the Disruption. His knowledge of languages was so great, that Dr Guthrie spoke of him in the General Assembly as “the man who could talk his way to the wall of China;” but he knew languages better than he could use them, and he said himself that English and Latin were the only tongues in which he could speak with fluency. His irregularity of habit, his mental abstraction, and his weakness of will in ordinary life, made him in many things of less service than inferior men. But his wonderful insight into divine things; his fruitful thoughts clothed with light and beauty; his acute, brilliant, sententious sayings; his deep devoutness, his tenderness of conscience, his transparency, his humility, his continual repentance toward God, and his ardent love to the Lord Jesus Christ, have left priceless impressions that can never be erased from the hearts of his hearers, his students, and his friends. His own words form the best memorial of his character:— “Methought I heard the song of one to whom much had been forgiven, and who therefore loved much; but it was the song of the chief of sinners, of one to whom most had been forgiven, and who therefore loved most. I would know, O God, what soul that is; O God, let that soul be mine!”

A. M. S.

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Alexander Murray Dunlop


Alexander Murray Dunlop

Alexander Dunlop was born in Greenock on the 27th of December 1798. He was educated at the Grammar School of that town, and at the University of Edinburgh. After the usual attendance on the classes in the faculties of Arts and of Law, he was called to the Scottish Bar in the year 1820.

He was the fifth son of Alexander Dunlop, Esq. of Keppoch, and belonged to a family which had furnished many leaders to the Church and people of Scotland.

Soon after he was called to the bar, Mr Dunlop began to study carefully the working of the poor-law system of Scotland, and it was in this way that he began to take an interest in Church questions. Like most well-educated young Scotchmen, he had had a transient admiration for Episcopacy, but his sympathetic nature soon threw that off; and when his poor-law investigations led him to study carefully the ecclesiastical system of his country, which his ancestors had so greatly helped to fashion, he soon came to see the real grandeur of the old democratic Church government of Scotland. The first edition of his book on the Poor Law was published in 1825, and the fourth which appeared in 1834 contained an appendix upon the Law of Patronage. During the first ten years of his life at the bar, he devoted himself to the work of his profession. In 1822 he became one ot the editors of Shaw and Dunlop’s Reports, and in this capacity and others gave evidence of his legal attainments. But ere long Church questions absorbed the greater portion of his time.

In his early life Mr Dunlop was a Tory. His family held Tory principles; and in the pleasant letters which passed between the busy young Edinburgh advocate and the lively family circle in Greenock, there are many half-bantering, half-earnest references to the family political creed. His opinions gradually changed, however; and at the Dumbartonshire election of 1832, he published a letter to the electors of the county, which was warmly welcomed by the Scotch Whig leaders, more especially as “coming from one,” wrote Cockburn, “not steeped like me in the errors of Whiggery, but rather addicted to the follies of Toryism.”

The year 1832 saw the beginning of Mr Dunlop’s public life. He became really well known and a confidential leader, just when the party in the Church which he supported became dominant in the Assembly.

His great knowledge of old Scotch law, especially in its bearing on the relation between Church and State, as well as his powers of clear thought and expression, made his services specially valuable. He was the mediator in every dispute, the confidant in every plan, the active manager in all the more important matters of popular Church business. His correspondence on public affairs soon grew very voluminous, and now reads like the inner history of the “ten years’ conflict.” He was an active member of the various Church societies—of the Church Law Society, of the Anti-Patronage Society, and so on—and his whole time was occupied in the business which Church affairs brought upon him. In 1833 he was busiest with the Chapel Act, and was actively engaged in promoting anti-patronage meetings; in 1834 he became editor of the “Presbyterian Review,” which did good service to the cause which lay nearest his heart; in 1835 Church extension occupied him; in 1837 and in 1838 the Auchterarder case, the conflict between the Church and the Court of Session, and non-intrusion meetings, absorbed his attention. In the busy years that followed, Mr Dunlop’s activity was enormous. The Church then entered on a double struggle; self-defence was added to that of reform, and double labour fell to the lot of the leaders of the movement.

Among Church reforms Mr Dunlop took special interest in the restoration of the eldership to its old place in the Church of Scotland. He wrote two valuable articles upon this subject in the “Presbyterian Review,” and prepared an elaborate report for the General Assembly. He also left some valuable historical notes upon the place of the eldership in the ancient Church of Scotland, which have not been published. Church extension, too, interested him greatly; but, as was natural from his previous studies, the relation of the Church to education and to the poor occupied most of his attention. The information furnished by the Church to the Government about the number of paupers in Scotland, and the elaborate Report on the same subject presented to the Assembly of 1841, were both the result of Mr Dunlop’s almost unaided labour. He took an active part in the Voluntary controversy, and so thoroughly matured were his opinions upon the real connection which ought to subsist between State and Church—opinions framed not on a sentiment of what things ought to be, but on an historical study of the old Scottish Church—that, in later days, none of his speeches on the Irish Church or the Union questions in any way contradicted his earlier statements or ideas.

Mr Dunlop’s services, however, in the struggle between the Church and the majority of the Court of Session, are those which will ever be held in kindliest remembrance. He had already made himself obnoxious to most of the heads of the Parliament House by his anti-patronage views, and by his support of the Veto Act; but when he followed his church in her quarrel with the Court of Session, he deliberately surrendered all hopes of professional advancement. The services he rendered the Church in this unhappy strife, by pamphlet and by speech, in the court and at public meeting, can scarcely be over-estimated. The ground which he took up at first he never abandoned. He did not indulge in promiscuous declamation; he always appealed to the history of the Church. His argument, the same in speech and pamphlet, and at last set forth in detail in the Claim of Rights, was substantially this: There is no need in Scotland to dispute about the precise meaning and effects of the abstract doctrine of spiritual independence. In virtue of a concordat between Church and State, the Church of Scotland has had certain rights and liberties which can be enumerated, guaranteed her, and recognised as hers. These she claims to possess, not merely by inherent right, but also by legal recognition, and these are now being illegally wrested from her. This was the position he took up, and he maintained it to the last.

It would be impossible to give a list of all the pamphlets and speeches which he published during the struggle. The most important was his answer to the letter of the Dean of Faculty Hope; but the short tract, “Which Party breaks the Law?” was equally telling; and the preface and appendix to his edition of Wedderspoon’s “Maxims for the Moderates,” were full of very effective sarcasm.

When a compromise was found to be impossible, and when the Church felt that either State connection or liberty must be surrendered, the task of preparing documents befitting the occasion was entrusted to Mr Dunlop. He prepared that memorable overture setting forth the ancient relation between Church and State, and the guaranteed rights of the Church, which was afterwards published as the Church’s Claim of Right. I have before me now the various proof-sheets, which shew the gradual growth of the document, and the changes which were made upon it ere it saw light in the form in which we now have it. On the margins are corrections, mostly in Mr Dunlop’s handwriting; but here and there occur suggestions made by others to whom the sheets were submitted. On one, Dr Candlish has nervously pencilled two important additional clauses; on another, John Hamilton has suggested additions and alterations; but perhaps the most interesting is the one on which Dr Gordon was set to work, where he begins by suggesting alterations which tend to soften the sternness of the document, and ends, for divine wrath has kindled in him, with emendations which make the draft sterner and more severe. Those old proof-sheets, yellowish with age, stained with printer’s ink, and scored over with hasty pens and hastier pencils, bring back in a strange vivid way the mingled anxiety and resolution of the times. The MS. draft of the Protest which Dr Welsh left upon the table of the Assembly on the day of the Disruption, is also an interesting document. Its corrections are all in Mr Dunlop’s handwriting, except one clause, which seems to have been added by Mr Hamilton. Among Mr Dunlop’s papers there are two drafts of the programme of procedure on the day of the Disruption; the first proposes to have a discussion before leaving the hall. This difference is probably explained by the following MS. note appended to the MS. draft of the Protest, which is the only reference Mr Dunlop makes to the obloquy thrown upon him by many of the Scotch and English newspapers for the part he was taking in Church affairs:—”The Times gave Dr Chalmers great credit for the quiet and orderly way in which the Disruption was effected—contrasting it with what it might have been supposed would have taken place had Candlish or the author of the Protest had had their way. How little did they know of the matter! Till Chalmers read this draft, he was fierce for a discussion before leaving the hall, and that in opposition to the arguments of all his intimate friends. The ‘arch agitator,’ in the Times‘ estimation, was the person really entitled to credit for the course followed.”

After the Disruption, Mr Dunlop was made legal adviser of the Church, an office which he held till his death, and in which he continued to render eminent service to the cause which he had made his own. But want of space compels me to refrain from even mentioning the numerous evidences of his labours which are to be found among his papers.

In 1844 Mr Dunlop married Eliza Esther, only child of John Murray, Esq., of Ainslie Place, Edinburgh. On the death of his father-in-law in 1849, he assumed the name of Murray, to which he added the additional surname of Colquhoun-Stirling, on succeeding, in 1866, to the estate of his cousin, William Colquhoun-Stirling of Law and Edinbarnet. It was Mrs Murray Dunlop’s rare good fortune to be able to make amends to her husband for the sacrifices which his devotion to the Church had cost him. His marriage rendered him independent of the hostile influences of the Parliament House, and enabled him at last to yield to the wishes of his friends, who had long been urging him to enter Parliament. Mr Dunlop’s first efforts were unsuccessful. In 1845 and 1847 he failed; but in 1852 he was returned by the electors of Greenock, his native town, and he kept the seat until failing health compelled him to resign.

Mr Dunlop’s Parliamentary career was very successful. Few Scotch members have had as much influence in the House, and none were able to pass so many useful measures. His position was due almost entirely to his weight of character, and to the wisdom and diligence he shewed on committees and in the House; and although hindered by a weak voice and a somewhat hesitating manner, he was always respectfully listened to when he rose to speak. As was to be expected from his previous training and character, Mr Dunlop assiduously devoted himself during his Parliamentary career to the cause of legal and social reform. The Parliamentary work which he himself looked back upon with most satisfaction was that done in connection with the marriage law of Scotland, the series of measures regarding reformatories and industrial schools which culminated in Dunlop’s Act, and the Act to facilitate the erection of dwelling-houses for the working classes. His Parliamentary career was marked by the same lofty moral courage and disdain of all that was tyrannical and selfish which had characterised his earlier public life. In the “Arrow” affair, he testified his abhorrence of the conduct of the Liberal Government in the war with China in 1857. The defeat of the Ministry involved a general election, and it was felt that many of the Liberals who had voted against the Government would lose their seats. Mr Dunlop at once placed his resignation in the hands of his constituency, and declared, with his usual high sense of honour, that he would not even stand as a candidate if they disapproved of his conduct. The people of Greenock, however, were not unworthy of their member, and re-elected him in such a way as to shew their admiration for his honourable and high-minded course of action. Perhaps Mr Dunlop’s conduct in his vindication of Sir Alexander Burnes was still more courageous. The Government sought to justify the Afghan war in which they had engaged, by extracts from the despatches of the late envoy at the Afghan court. The papers thus published were so different from the documents sent home by Sir Alexander to his relatives in this country, that they were led to seek an explanation. The result shewed that “mutilated, false, forged opinions of a public servant, who had lost his life in the public service,” had been offered to the House, to support a policy which Sir Alexander had always opposed. Members of the House of Commons have described the appearance of Mr Dunlop on the occasion when he led the attack upon Lord Palmerston. His quiet and almost timid manner disappeared, and in a firm, almost loud tone, he said that he had read the papers with amazement, indignation, and shame; he declared that these papers had been laid on the table of the House by her Majesty’s command; that her name was appealed to as the stamp of their truthfulness, and that her servants had not shrunk from using that name as the voucher and the cover of a lie. Although, with the help of the leader of the opposition, the Government were not defeated on the vote, yet the character and reputation of Sir Alexander Burnes were vindicated; it was felt that such a mutilation of Parliamentary documents could not again take place, and a great victory was gained in the interests of public morality.

In 1868, at the general election, Mr Dunlop resigned his seat in Parliament. His health, never robust, had begun to give way, and he wished to spend the rest of his life out of the din of public service, and in calm preparation for the rest that remaineth to the people of God. That rest came soon after. He died the 1st of September 1870, and was buried in the beautiful little grave-yard of the Free Church at Corsock. He left to mourn him his widow, four sons—three of whom were not long separated from their father—and four daughters.

Mr Dunlop never received any of the honours which the Scottish Bar has to bestow upon her distinguished sons, but this was from his own unwillingness to accept them. Even in his early days, when he experienced considerable persecution, Cockburn, when Solicitor-General, offered him a sheriffship, which Mr Dunlop declined, because he thought it would interfere with his work for the Church; and later he was offered a judgeship, and the office of Lord Advocate. I cannot close this sketch in a better way than by quoting Lord Cockburn’s description of Mr Dunlop’s character, lately published in his journals. He ranks him in everything, except impressive public exhibition, superior to both Dr Chalmers and Dr Candlish.

“Dunlop,” he says, “is the purest of enthusiasts. The generous devotion with which he has given himself to this cause [that of the Church], has retarded and will probably arrest the success of his very considerable talent and learning; but a crust of bread and a cup of cold water would satisfy all the worldly desires of this most disinterested person. His luxury would be in his obtaining justice for his favourite and oppressed Church, which he espouses from no love of power, or any other ecclesiastical object, but solely from piety, and love of the people.”
 

T. M. L.

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Patrick Fairbairn, D.D.


Patrick Fairbairn

Patrick Fairbairn was born on the 28th January 1805, at Hallyburton, in the parish of Greenlaw, Berwickshire. He was the second son of a family of five children. His father, a respectable farmer, gave all his children a good education. Two of them he educated for the ministry, Patrick, the subject of this sketch, and John, now minister of the Free Church at Greenlaw. In November 1818 Patrick was sent to prosecute his studies at the University of Edinburgh. On leaving the Divinity Hall he was licenced as a preacher of the gospel by the Presbytery of Dunse on the 3d October 1826. In the year following be went to Orkney as tutor in the family of Captain Balfour, a large Orkney proprietor. Through the interest of that gentleman he was appointed by the Crown in 1830 to the Parliamentary parish of North Ronaldshay.

In his new sphere of action Mr Fairbairn found the need of all his natural firmness and resolution. His parishioners were addicted to many semi-barbarous practices; and many of them had the repute of being “wreckers.” They had not formerly enjoyed the benefit of a faithful gospel ministry, and their standard of morality was very low. But the young minister, by his powerful pulpit services and faithfulness in dealing privately with the people, soon wrought a great reform in the island. While diligently discharging his pastoral duties, he had ample time for private study. During his whole college career he had always been a laborious student, forced to depend more on his own efforts than on the assistance of his teachers. In this way a spirit of independent and original research was fostered as he pursued his studies. In the manse of North Ronaldshay he carried out with great regularity a scheme of study which he had previously planned. He made himself an excellent Hebrew and German scholar; but he read largely in theology, and laid the foundation of that eminence in biblical literature which he afterwards attained. When appointed to his Orkney parish, he had been asked how long he was likely to be buried in that remote locality, and had replied that he would not probably remain in it above six years, as he had given himself that period to complete the course of study he had projected. This prediction was one that was likely to lead to its own fulfilment. At all events, when he had been about six years in North Ronaldshay he was called to the new “Extension” Church of Bridgeton, in the city of Glasgow.

As the minister of a new and important city charge, Mr Fairbairn laboured with great zeal and energy. He soon collected a good congregation, and gained the entire respect of his people by his vigorous preaching and faithful pastoral labours. But he had scarcely entered on his work in Glasgow when he lost his wife and two fine children. In Orkney he had married Miss Margaret Pitcairn, sister of Mr Thomas Pitcairn of Cockpen, afterwards well known as the first Clerk of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. Of his children by that lady only one survived, John Fairbairn, who, after spending some years in Java, ultimately settled in Australia, where he died a few days after receiving intelligence of his father’s death.

When he had been about three years in Glasgow, Mr Fairbairn was presented to the parish of Salton, East Lothian, of which his distinguished friend, Dr Robert Buchanan, had once been minister. Salton is also noted as having been the first charge of the celebrated Dr Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, who left an endowment for the education of a number of poor children, and for the foundation of a ministerial library. This library, which had long been neglected, Mr Fairbairn put into excellent order, and turned to much better account than had been done by any of his predecessors. When he went to Salton in 1840, the conflict which led to the Disruption was approaching its climax, and he thoroughly identified himself with the Evangelical or Non-Intrusion party. In 1843 he cast in his lot with the Free Church of Scotland, and was the first in the Presbytery of Haddington who left a pleasant manse to brave all the hardships of a trying period. He took an active part in organizing the Free Church Presbytery of the district, and in supporting every movement that bore upon the diffusion of scriptural principles and practical religion. With some difficulty he procured a site for a church and manse in the parish of Salton; and in the course of a few years he was enabled to reside once more among his people.

In 1845 Mr Fairbairn published, in one thick duodecimo volume, his “Typology of Scripture,” a work which had occupied much of his leisure for several years. It was afterwards published in two octavo volumes, and in its greatly enlarged form it reached a fifth edition. It was instantly recognised both in this country and America as a work of extraordinary merit. Not so much from any elegance or splendour of style, or from the sterling weight and value of its matter, it was hailed by the best judges as a real contribution to modern theology. The Old Testament types had never previously been expounded in a truly philosophical manner, and it was reserved for the Free Church minister of Salton to produce a work on the subject which, for grasp of principle, soundness of judgment, and solid, though unostentatious learning, has not been surpassed, if ever equalled, by any similar performance. The publication of the “Typology” naturally fixed the eyes of his brethren on its author as a man qualified to fill with distinction a theological chair.

Mr Fairbairn had translated, when at North Ronaldshay, two German works—”Stieger on 1st Peter,” and “Lisco on the Parables,” both of which were published by Messrs Clark of Edinburgh as parts of their “Biblical Cabinet.” Soon after the appearance of the “Typology,” the same eminent firm published, in three volumes, Hengstenberg’s “Commentary on the Psalms,” translated by Mr Fairbairn and the Rev. John Thomson, now minister of St Ninian’s Free Church, Leith. His knowledge of German introduced Mr Fairbairn into the vast region of German theology, and no Scottish minister ever explored that region to better purpose. It has been justly observed, that his works present an excellent combination of some of the best fruits of German erudition with the solid attainments of Scottish orthodoxy. In 1851 Mr Fairbairn published, in one volume, “Ezekiel and the Book of his Prophecy,” which was well received by the public, and added to its author’s reputation. He next published a translation, in two volumes, of Hengstenberg’s “Commentary on the Revelation of St John,” a performance which, whatever may be said of the general views of its learned author, is certainly an important contribution to Apocalyptic literature.

In the autumn of 1852 Mr Fairbairn was appointed assistant to Dr Maclagan, Professor of Divinity in the Free Church College, Aberdeen. He had scarcely entered on his duties when he met with a most painful bereavement in the death of his second wife, Mary Playfair, who died soon after giving birth to her fourth child. In spite of this terrible trial, he, through grace given him, performed his work at Aberdeen with signal energy and success. Dr Maclagan having died before the winter session began, Mr Fairbairn was appointed his successor by the following General Assembly. The new professor gave fresh life and vigour to the Aberdeen College, which in the course of a few years became a well-equipped Theological Institution. While Professor Fairbairn was at its head, he received the well-merited distinction of D.D. from the University of Glasgow.

In 1856, when the Free Church College of Glasgow was instituted, Dr Fairbairn was appointed its first professor, and in the year following he was elected to the office of Principal. In this new and important situation he taught his classes with distinguished ability, and managed with consummate prudence the general affairs of the college. Everything connected with the buildings, the endowments, the library, and the business of the different classes, were directed by him with great zeal and judgment. He also endeared himself to the students, not only by his ability in the chair, but by the genuine and kindly interest he took in their welfare. They came to look upon him as a father and a friend as well as a learned and judicious theological instructor. When he had presided over the college about fifteen years, his “present and former students,” with enthusiastic eagerness, subscribed a sum of £200, in order to present the Principal with a portrait of himself by an eminent artist. This was but a demonstration of that feeling of affectionate reverence with which, from first to last, he was regarded by the young men who studied under his care. The portrait, painted by Mr Norman Macbeth, A.R.S.A., was publicly presented to the Principal, and by his directions hung up in the College library. There it still remains, having been bequeathed by him to that Institution.

Between 1856 and 1858 Dr Fairbairn published a volume on “Prophecy,” as a sequel to the “Typology,” and a Hermeneutical Manual intended chiefly for the use of theological students. Both of these works bear the impress of the author’s learning and intellectual power, and are characterised by good sense and sound judgment. But neither of them has attained any degree of popularity, though they well deserve to be studied by professional theologians. During many years of his residence at Glasgow, Dr Fairbairn acted as editor of the “Imperial Bible Dictionary,” published by Messrs Blackie & Son. His labours in conducting this great work were exceedingly onerous. Many of the best articles proceeded from his own pen, and the necessary correspondence with his contributors severely taxed his energies. The work has taken a high place in Biblical literature. Soon after he had finished his editorial labours, he was appointed to deliver the third series of “Cunningham Lectures.” He chose for his subject the “Revelation of Law in Scripture,” which he treated in nine separate lectures, the first six of which he delivered in Edinburgh early in March 1868. The whole of them were published soon after their delivery. The work is very profound and able, but is too abstract in subject and style to be popular.

Principal Fairbairn was chosen Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church in 1864, and by his excellent bearing in the chair, he amply justified the confidence of his brethren. None ever better deserved the honour of the chair, or bore it with more dignity. Though eminently a scholar, versed in books and devoted to theological studies, Dr Fairbairn was an admirable man of business, well acquainted with ecclesiastical forms, and not shrinking from his fair share of the burden of Church government. When he spoke in the Presbytery or General Assembly, he was always listened to with marked respect. The gravity of his character added force to the weight of his arguments, and commanded the attention, if they did not change the convictions, of his keenest opponents in debate. He warmly advocated the Union side in the great controversy that agitated the Free Church from 1863 to 1873; but he always spoke with studied moderation, and strove to mitigate the fierce contentions that for some time estranged so many of his brethren from one another.

In 1867 Principal Fairbairn, along with the Rev. James Wells of the Barony Free Church, Glasgow, visited America, to represent the Free Church of Scotland in various Presbyterian General Assemblies held in the United States and in Canada. Dr Fairbairn’s name had travelled before him across the Atlantic, and American scholars vied with one another in doing him honour. He visited President McCosh at Princeton, and had an interesting interview with Dr Hodge at Washington.

Principal Fairbairn was chosen one of the Committee appointed to revise the Authorised Version of the Old Testament Scriptures. He was one of four Free Church professors selected to represent Scottish scholarship in this great matter of national concern. He attended to the close of his life the meetings of the Committee with remarkable regularity, and was held in great respect by his learned colleagues. He took a deep interest in the work of revision, and contributed not a little to its real progress.

Early in 1874 Principal Fairbairn published a volume on the “Pastoral Epistles.” It contains a learned introduction vindicating the authenticity of the epistles, a new translation of the Greek text, and a valuable commentary on each verse. This is one of the best of his works, and ought to be in the hands of every minister of the gospel. For judicious criticism, sound theology, and a practical spirit, it is not surpassed by any modern work of the kind. An excellent sequel to it, “Pastoral Theology,” which he had prepared for the press, was published shortly after his death, under the superintendence of the writer of this sketch. These two volumes are legacies to the Church of Christ, which would of themselves have been sufficient to give their author a good place in theological literature.

While this distinguished man was spending his best energies in the service of that religious denomination which he adorned, and in the cultivation of that sacred learning which belongs to the Church of Christ at large, he never forgot what was due to his own spiritual life; and to the very last he grew in that spirituality of mind which best becomes intellectual accomplishments. Holding fast the great doctrines of evangelical religion, he took a deep interest in all evangelistic work. He gave his hearty support to the remarkable evangelistic labours associated with the names of Messrs Moody and Sankey. He presided over several meetings at Glasgow at which Mr Moody was the chief speaker, and on the 16th April 1874 he attended the Evangelistic Convention held in the Glasgow Crystal Palace. After delivering a very earnest address, he suddenly felt unwell, and was obliged to go home, where he was confined several days by what was his first serious illness.

A hitherto unsuspected affection of the heart was discovered by his physician, and he was advised to take some quiet relaxation in the country. Accordingly he went with Mrs Fairbairn and a few relatives to Arrochar, where he gradually recovered strength, and soon was fit to resume with caution his ordinary duties. On the 30th June he went up to London to attend a meeting of the Revision Committee: and after paying several visits in Berwickshire on his way home from England, he returned to Glasgow, and resumed his ordinary work; but on the evening of Thursday, the 7th August, after he had retired to rest, he was suddenly seized with a fatal illness, and before Mrs Fairbairn could summon any medical aid, he calmly expired. Thus, while his usefulness was undiminished, and his mental faculties were as strong as ever, this honoured servant of the Lord was called to his eternal rest and reward. Deeply was his departure lamented by good men in all the churches. His eminence as a learned theologian was universally acknowledged, and every one felt that his death had made a blank in the ranks of sacred scholarship which could not be easily filled up. But while he was an undoubted ornament of Scottish theology, he was a true-hearted Free Churchman, whose character and talents raised him to a high place among the heroes of the Disruption. In manners and bearing he was mild, yet dignified. To great force of will and soundness of judgment he united meekness of temper and a conciliatory disposition. His tall, well-formed figure and majestic presence were admired wherever he went, and appropriately set off the solidity and strength of his intellectual powers.

Principal Fairbairn was married in 1861 to Miss Frances Turnbull, sister of a worthy Disruption minister, the late Rev. John Turnbull of Eyemouth. This lady survives him, as well as three children, two sons and a daughter, all by his second wife. He was buried in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh, where Chalmers, Cunningham, Guthrie, and other mighty men of the Free Church are laid, in the hope of a blessed resurrection.

J. D.

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John Forbes


While the Presbyterian Churches in Scotland have always maintained an honourable place in respect of the general intelligence and culture of their clergy, they have never at any time had a large number of men who occupied foremost places in the fields of literature or science. Probably the third part of a century immediately preceding the beginning of the “ten years’ conflict,” on account of the revived activity of ministerial work, was less productive of literary or scientific attainments of a high order among the clergy than the days of Moderatism, when pulpit preparation and pastoral duties claimed a smaller share of men’s thoughts and energies, or had not their claims allowed. In point of fact, we believe that we do no injustice to any, when we say that the Church of Scotland on the morning of the Disruption day contained three men who occupied places in the first rank of scientific men, and that on the evening of that day the Established Church contained not one. It so happened that this trio consisted of a minister, a probationer, and a layman, though the probationer had for a long time ceased to be more than nominally such. Their special departments of science were respectively the demonstrative, the experimental, and the observational—mathematics, physics, and geology. The men were John Forbes, David Brewster, and Hugh Miller. We do not mean to say that Dr Forbes was as eminent as a mathematician as Sir David Brewster was as a physicist, or Hugh Miller as a geologist. But he had long before given evidence that he had the power to do anything in mathematics, and had left it beyond doubt that if he had abandoned the work of the ministry at an early age, as Brewster had done, and had made mathematical study the business of his life, as Brewster had made physical research the business of his, he would not merely have been, as he actually was, in the foremost rank of mathematicians, but he would have occupied one of the foremost places in that rank.

It will be through our incompetency if it be not made to appear that, while of the heroes of the Disruption, none but Dr Chalmers and Dr Gordon came near him in the faculty of mathematical investigation, he did not fall behind either of them in simplicity and godly sincerity, in zeal for the glory of God, and for the salvation of men; while it is freely admitted that in the power of leading a great movement and stirring up men to enthusiasm in a great cause, he was not for a moment to be compared to one, and in pulpit eloquence and power he was much inferior to both.

Those who have read much of Scottish ecclesiastical biography have become familiar with the sentence which might be stereotyped as an almost universally applicable introduction, that “the subject of this memoir was the son of poor but pious parents.” From the way in which we have frequently heard our friend allude to his early days, we presume that the statement is strictly applicable to him. A native of Perthshire, and shewing even at an early age a liking for the ministry, he was placed as a pupil at the Perth Academy,—a seminary which has sent forth many who have done it honour. In Forbes’s days one of the teachers of mathematics in the Perth Academy was Mr Gordon; and the relation of close friendship, cemented by congenial tastes and similar sentiments, which led to so close an association of Robert Gordon and John Forbes in the thoughts of those who enjoyed their friendship, began while the one was the earnest teacher and the other the earnest pupil. Often have we heard Dr Forbes speak of all that he owed to Dr Gordon, both as the first cultivator of his mathematical powers, and as his ideal model of a Christian man and a Christian minister. At an early age Forbes became a student in the University of St Andrews; and, as a matter of course, when his natural abilities, his habits of application, and his previous advantages are taken into account, he passed through his university course with distinction and high credit. At the close of it he was licensed as a preacher; but whether because in those days of patronage there was no place open to him, or whether because he desired to have time to consolidate his knowledge and prepare himself more fully for the great work of the ministry, he does not seem to have been much occupied in preaching for a time. He became instead an assistant-teacher in his old Perth Academy; and on the appointment of Mr Gordon as minister of the parish of Kinfauns, Mr Forbes succeeded him in the mathematical mastership of the Academy. From Kinfauns Mr Gordon was translated to Buccleuch Chapel, Edinburgh, thence to Hope Park Chapel (now Newington Church), thence to the New North, and ultimately to the High Church of Edinburgh. On his removal from Hope Park to New North, Mr Forbes became his successor there, and was ordained to the ministry in 1826. From this time onward, for very nearly half-a-century, his life was that of a faithful, laborious, earnest city minister. In Edinburgh he remained only about two years, and was removed to Glasgow, to what was then called the Outer High Church. In consequence of the inconvenience of having two congregations meeting in the old Cathedral, the church of St Paul’s was built for him and his congregation. Thither he and they removed, and there he continued to minister to a large and intelligent congregation, who regarded him with a singular union of affection and reverence. The cares inseparable from the life of a city minister did not press so heavily on him as they do on some, not because he discharged his duties more perfunctorily, but because his well-balanced mind and his methodical habits enabled him to go through more work with less appearance of effort, and probably less consciousness of effort, than a less amount of work would have cost almost any other man. At no time did he take a prominent place in the discussion of public questions, social or ecclesiastical. The pulpit was more appropriate to his powers than the platform; and of this he was perfectly aware. He took indeed such a share in the public work of the Church through her courts as every Presbyterian minister ought to feel himself conscientiously bound to take; and when the Voluntary controversy, and the Church Extension controversy, and the unhappy Moderatorship controversy, arose one after another, he did not withhold the sagacity of his counsel and the influence of his character, but heartily threw them into the scale. And his brethren always knew that when any matter arose which required sustained thought and clear logical exposition, they could count upon Dr Forbes as ready to render the aid which they needed. Speaking now of the time when our own interest in such matters began, the decade from 1830 to 1840, we recall with pleasure the interest which students in Edinburgh took in the then comparatively young and chivalrous champions of the truth and of the Church in the western metropolis— Lorimer and Buchanan, Gibson and Forbes—now, alas! all passed away. It was on such occasions that he produced almost the only professional publications that he ever gave to the world, with the exception, probably, of a few occasional sermons, and one or two pamphlets on subjects of comparatively temporary interest. In 1838, a course of lectures was delivered by ministers in Glasgow, on the Evidences of Revealed Religion, which were afterwards published in a volume; and in the following year another course was delivered on Infidelity. Each of the volumes contains a lecture by Dr Forbes. We have just read these lectures, and cannot state in too strong terms our admiration of the clearness of the arguments, and of the felicity of the illustrations. The former, especially, on the “Harmony of Scripture and true Philosophy or Science,” is one of the most comprehensive treatises that we have ever seen on this most important subject. It contains passages of real eloquence; and the whole bespeaks the earnestness which was characteristic of the man.

In the “ten years’ conflict” he sustained exactly the part that his friends would have expected him to take. While he never occupied a very prominent place in the discussions, no one who knew him ever doubted for a moment on which side he would be when the crisis should come. Cautious and somewhat slow in coming to a conclusion, balancing the arguments for and against a particular course of action, rather than coming to a conclusion by intuitive or instinctive perceptions, strongly conservative in all his mental leanings, and knowing that a Disruption would break many ties which to him were very binding, when once he had made up his mind as to the right, few men could be more confidently counted upon to pursue unhesitatingly and unflinchingly the path of duty. If a solution of the difficulty had been offered which should have conserved the great principle for which the Church contended, he would have been one of the first to hail it with joy. His extreme simplicity of character might even have rendered him liable to be imposed upon by the plausible schemes which were propounded; and the fact that none of these schemes ever made him hesitate, is to us one of the strongest proofs that their glitter was not of gold. We are persuaded that amongst outsiders, intellectual scientific Englishmen, who never could understand what the controversy was about, there were not a few who began to think that there must be something in it after all, when they came to learn that John Forbes was one of those who unhesitatingly signed the deed of demission.

For by this time Forbes was well known to the mathematicians of Europe. It must have been very scanty leisure that the minister of St Paul’s could give to the study of mathematics; but it was the only relaxation for which he cared, and to him it was really a relaxation. Some years before the Disruption he had published a most remarkable book on the Differential and Integral Calculus; not remarkable merely on the ground that it was composed in the snatches of leisure in a busy life, but remarkable in itself, by whomsoever composed. We have made a careful examination of this book with a view to the preparation of this sketch, and have no hesitation in saying, that it is as original a work on a purely mathematical subject as has appeared in this country in our time. Almost all our books on this subject are largely borrowed from the French; they have been written by mathematical teachers, with a view to their being used as text-books, and in most of them rigidity of investigation has been occasionally sacrificed to simplification. We do not know whether Dr Forbes expected that his book should be used as a text-book. It is certainly not suited to that use. But it is suited to a higher use, even to point out to the mathematician hundreds of unsuspected connections betwixt the truths which he has learned apart, and so to contribute to the unification of mathematical science. We are afraid that we may expose ourselves to some measure of good-natured ridicule on the part of some who may peruse these pages, when we say that Dr Forbes’s book suggests to our thought the singing of a lark on a summer’s morning; and that because of the recklessness with which he throws out his formulae, and the abandon with which he revels in the profusion of his harmonies. Be it noted that there is not a sentence in the book in which he tells us his delight—indeed there is scarcely anything in it that can be called a sentence at all, only formulae,—but neither does the lark tell us that he delights in his own song. We only infer it from the way in which he sings.

It may be as well to say here that Dr Forbes never abandoned his mathematical pursuits. About a dozen years ago he told the present writer that he would take it as a great favour if he would look over a manuscript, containing an investigation of some questions relating to “elliptic functions,” as the results that he had brought out were so strange that he thought he must have introduced some erroneous assumption, which a stranger’s eye might perhaps detect. Having very willingly undertaken the task, we were not a little taken aback when, after a few days we received some three hundred closely-written folio pages! We were obliged to break the promise which we had rashly made, and we do not know what has become of the MS.

When the Disruption occurred in 1843, Dr Forbes became minister of Free St Paul’s. A great portion of his congregation quitted the Establishment along with him, and the affection betwixt him and his congregation grew with length of years. They were to him as wife and children, and he was to them as a father whom they revered, a friend in whom they confided, and of whose character and reputation they were far prouder than he ever was himself. His preaching, without being eloquent, as eloquence is commonly understood, was earnest, impressive, solemn, in no ordinary degree. Few men have given sound instruction to so many, or given it so acceptably, as Dr Forbes did during his long ministry. Up to the last his preaching lost none of its freshness, while of course it gained in those qualities which depend upon experience, and continued converse with God and with divine things; and his pastoral dealings with his people were in accord with his strong common sense, and with the tenderness of a peculiarly sensitive nature, sanctified by a large measure of divine grace.

There are two points on which we must touch before we close, and, upon the whole, we are not sorry that our exhausted space compels us to touch upon them with extreme brevity.

A vacancy having occurred in one of the Chairs in the Glasgow Free Church College, it fell to the Assembly of 1864 to appoint a professor. Dr Forbes was proposed, but was not elected. Those who opposed his election grounded their opposition mainly on his age, and strongly expressed their respect and affection for his character, their admiration of his gifts, and their gratitude for the services which he had rendered to the Church and to the cause of truth. It fell to the lot of the present writer to take a somewhat prominent part in advocating the claims of Dr Forbes; and while thankfully acknowledging that the appointment actually made was a good one, he still regrets that Dr Forbes was not then put into a position for which he had very singular qualifications.

The other point on which we must touch was the part that Dr Forbes took in the Union negotiations. He was a member of the Assembly of 1863, made a long speech on the Union question, and accepted a place in the Committee. Afterwards, when he and some of his brethren came to believe that union with the United Presbyterians could not be achieved but by the relinquishment of one of the fundamental principles of the Free Church, he felt that he had no alternative but to withdraw from the Committee. This is not the place to argue the question of the accuracy or erroneousness of his belief. No one could doubt the sincerity of it. Very keenly he felt the painfulness of the position which he had henceforth to occupy, of antagonism to those with whom he had so long and so lovingly dwelt together in unity; and his somewhat recluse habits made him more sensitive than those who are more habituated to the rubbings and knockings of public life.

Although time seemed to sit but lightly on his stately frame, and it seemed to his friends that he might yet do good work for his Master on earth; yet with his characteristic conscientiousness, he would not undertake responsibilities which he felt himself not able fully to discharge; he therefore applied to the Assembly of 1874 for a colleague and successor, spontaneously abandoning his right to a retiring allowance either from the general funds of the Church or the particular funds of the congregation. While steps were being taken to obtain a colleague, he continued to discharge his full duties. On the 20th of December he conducted the services as usual in his own pulpit; on the Wednesday following he was seized with an inflammatory affection in the chest, and on Christmas day he closed a seventy-three years’ service of his generation according to the will of God, and fell on sleep.

T. S.

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James Gibson, D.D.


James Gibson

James Gibson was born in Crieff on the 31st of January 1799, of parents who were much respected in the place. Their house was the resort of the pious ministers who, at communion times, came to officiate there.

After leaving college, where he proved an industrious and, especially when attending the Divinity Hall, successful student, he was employed as tutor in a family in the Presbytery of Hamilton, and it was from his residence there that he obtained licence from that Presbytery. He next filled the same office in a family in the Presbytery of Jedburgh, where he remained three and a half years.

In 1825 Dr Gibson became travelling companion to Captain Elliot, a cousin of the Earl of Minto. They first went to Portugal, and as they remained a considerable time in Lisbon, he had full opportunity, by visiting the churches and cathedrals of that city, of witnessing the corruptions and gross superstitions of the Church of Rome.

Returning to this country, Dr Gibson was appointed assistant to Mr Steel of the West Church, Greenock. After labouring there for two years, he accepted an offer unexpectedly made to him, to be tutor to a young gentleman who was about to travel on the Continent. But before leaving Greenock, he received a testimonial from the congregation, expressive of their esteem for him both as a man and a minister.

His continental tour occupied a year and a half. In company with his young charge he travelled through France, Switzerland, and Italy, especially visiting Paris, Geneva, and Rome; and what he saw of the irreligion, infidelity, immorality, and licentiousness of these countries, he traced in a great measure, after the depravity of the human heart, to the monstrous forms of popery which fell under his observation. Indeed, what he saw of the corruption of popery, had a saddening and yet a beneficial effect upon his mind. Writing to a friend, he says, “I have just come from St Peter’s, disgusted with the crowd, noise, bustle, glare, folly, trickery, absurdity, and impiety of ceremonies called religion. In the great part of the popish ceremonies which I have seen, it would baffle any human being not initiated into the mystery to find any resemblance to religion either Pagan or Christian. It is a strange compound of human pride, gaudy show, and abject degradation. How the earth does not shake it off its bosom, I cannot comprehend; but, by the most ingenious methods and deep-laid policy, it has laid hold of the strongest principles of our nature, and drawn into its sphere everything, good and bad, by which it can rivet the chains on poor human nature.” This was a training for the future. And the hand of God in leading him by the way was also seen in his unsuccessful attempts to obtain a ministerial charge. He longed for rest after so much wandering. He would have deemed himself happy could he have obtained a “guid little charge,” with the opportunity of devoting himself to his Master’s service, and many were the efforts made by himself and others to obtain such a charge. The highest influence was put forth on his behalf, and on one occasion there was the almost certain prospect of obtaining a rural parish in the south of Scotland. But this hope, so bright, was doomed to disappointment. In short, every door was closed. There was to be no “guid little charge” for him. It was to be on a wider sphere that he was to be engaged in his Master’s service; and the training having in God’s providence been completed, that wider field was opened up. Returning from the continent, Dr Gibson became assistant to Dr Lockhart of the College Church, Glasgow.

It was during the heat of the Voluntary Controversy, and having been led from circumstances to take part in that controversy, he so ably defended the cause of Establishments by his writing, that certain influential members of the church put it in his power either to accept a sum of money, which, it is believed, amounted to £2000, or that a church should be built in a destitute locality of Glasgow, of which he should be the minister. He adopted the latter alternative, and in 1839 he was inducted into Kingston Church. In 1843 came the Disruption, and having joined his brethren who formed the Free Church, he was obliged to leave his place of worship; but soon after another was erected for him and those of his congregation who adhered to the principles of the Free Church.

The Clerkship of the Glasgow Presbytery having become vacant, Dr Gibson was unanimously requested to accept the office; and such was his knowledge of Church law and practice, that he rendered important service to the Presbytery in that office. On resigning it, the Presbytery recorded their sense of the painstaking zeal and careful efficiency with which, for twelve years, he had discharged its duties.

In 1855 the Assembly resolved to proceed with the erection of a Theological College in Glasgow, Dr Clark of Wester Moffat having promised a grant of £30,000 for its erection and endowment, and it is well known that he frequently communicated with Dr Gibson on the subject, whose influence with Dr Clark contributed materially to his liberal proposal. In 1856 Dr Gibson was elected by the Assembly Professor of Systematic Theology and Church History.

Dr Gibson had a vigorous mind, and was quick of apprehension. When he once formed his opinion, no one was better able to hold and defend it. Tenax propositi (firm of resolve) was a characteristic feature of him. He was of a noble and generous disposition. He could not brook anything that was mean and grovelling. He shrank from it as from the touch of a loathsome reptile. We remember with what contempt he spoke of a fellow-student who had stooped to a low artifice to secure a prize. “It was,” he said, “the essence of meanness.” It was the noble in conduct which fired his soul. He looked up to it with the admiration with which we gaze on a lofty mountain.

In debate there was no want of the fortiter in re. He would have liked a little more of the suaviter in modo, but then we must make some allowance for the warmth of his feelings; and however he might treat the argument of his opponent, there was no ill-feeling towards the opponent himself. On the contrary, we have known him burst into tears when the hand of reconciliation was stretched out, and the hope expressed that no difference of opinion should henceforth mar their social intercourse. Nor was this generous regard for the manliness of his honesty confined to his brethren of the Presbytery; the same justice was done him by the world outside.

But under the stern countenance of the polemic, there was a genial loving heart. It shone forth in his family, rendering it a happy home, and in private life; and those who experienced his friendship can best speak of its warmth.

As a minister, he admitted that he was not “popular in his manner,” and thus did not attract crowds; but his discourses were rich in gospel truth. His writings on the Voluntary Controversy, on the Claims and Protection of the Sabbath, on the Marriage Affinity Question, on the Errors of the Church of Rome, and on the Distinctive Principles of the Free Church, shew the good he was the means of doing by the press as well as the pulpit. And no doubt the students who listened to his instructions from the chair can bear testimony to the advantages they received from his teaching.

[In the foregoing Sketch, which is substantially the Minute adopted by the Free Presbytery of Glasgow expressive of its appreciation of the life and work of Dr Gibson, no reference is made to his views on the Union question. Throughout these negotiations he ably and consistently maintained that Union was inadmissible on the footing of the proposals of the majority of the Church.]

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William Henry Goold


William Henry Goold

Although Dr. Goold’s present relation to the Free Church goes no further back than to the summer of 1876, his name is not out of place in the roll of the Disruption Worthies. His father, the minister of the congregation of Reformed Presbyterians in Edinburgh, belonged, like his neighbour and friend the elder Thomas McCrie, to the number of those old-fashioned Dissenters who witnessed with warm sympathy the reforming movement which began to stir the Established Church in the early part of this century. These men, although conscientiously dissenting from the Established Church, rejoiced to see the growing zeal and strength of a party within it, which not only maintained the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, but laboured to carry the light of this gospel into the dark places of the nation,—a party which, moreover, claimed for the Church authority under Christ to do its proper work, independently of the State, and asserted the liberties of the Christian people. The elder Goold rejoiced in the newly-awakened zeal for these ancient principles of the Scottish Church, all the more that it was taking place in a community so much larger and more influential than that to which he himself belonged. When the Non-Intrusion party at length achieved predominance in the counsels of the Establishment, he saw in the fact a token that the Church of Scotland was returning to her first love; and, like a true son of that Church, he rejoiced at the sight. The effect on his son was just what might have been expected. Dr. Goold was, from his boyhood, a frequenter of the Ecclesiastical Assemblies; and among the ministers of sister Churches who were present at the Disruption Assembly, when it met at Canonmills, under the presidency of Dr. Chalmers, no one looked with a more rapt interest on the stirring scene.

Dr. Goold is of Covenanting lineage. His father, a native of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire, belonged to a family which had been connected with the “Cameronians” or “Society-people” from the time of the eight-and-twenty-years’ persecution. For a good many years, subsequently to the Revolution of 1688, this community subsisted as a number of praying societies. It was not till 1743 that they were in a condition to constitute a Presbytery. Long after this, a curious tradition of the persecuting time cleaved to them in the shape of a fancy for erecting their meeting-houses in out-of-the-way places. Thus the Glasgow people met for worship at Sandhills, near Shettleston, three miles out of town; the Dumfries people, smitten with a similar shyness, met at Quarrelwood; the Kilmarnock people at Crookedholm; the Falkirk people at Laurieston. Thus it came about that the “Society-people,” in and about Edinburgh, held their meetings at the village of Pentland, not far from the battle-field of Rullion Green. Here the Rev. John Thorburn ministered to them during the closing decades of last century; and here the elder William Goold was ordained to the ministry on the 13th of December, 1804.

The congregation after a while divided, one part clinging to the Pentland meeting-house, the rest transferring themselves, along with their pastor, to a place of worship which they erected for themselves in Lady Lawson’s Wynd, near the Grassmarket. It was in Edinburgh, accordingly, that the subject of this sketch first saw the light. The date of his birth was the 15th of December, 1815. He was a bright boy, and as he was the only son in the family, special care was bestowed on his education. Entering the Edinburgh High School at an early age, he ran a brilliant course, and in 1831 attained the much-coveted position of Dux of the Rector’s Class. Thereafter he prosecuted the usual course of classics and philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Divinity he studied under Dr. Andrew Symington, of Paisley, in the Divinity Hall of the Reformed Presbyterian Church; but he attended also the lectures of Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Welsh in Edinburgh. It is known that Dr. Symington conceived for him a singular affection and admiration. Of all the students—Scotch or Irish—who passed through the Hall at Paisley, he undoubtedly stood highest in the esteem of the venerable Professor.

From the first, there was something about William Goold which left on the minds of those about him a deep impression of unfeigned piety. He belongs to the class of men—never very numerous—who are exceptions to the proverb, that “a prophet is not without honour save in his own country and in his own house.” The members of his father’s congregation watched with loving eyes his brilliant academic course; and rejoicing, above all, to see the grace of God in him, they spontaneously and unanimously called him to be his father’s colleague, immediately after he was licensed to preach the Gospel.

Dr. Goold “has never changed—nor wished to change—his place.” The congregation to which he now ministers, in the Martyrs’ Church on George the IV. Bridge, is the same over which he was ordained in 1840, in Lady Lawson’s Wynd. Soon after his ordination, he married the eldest daughter of the elder Dr. William Symington, of Glasgow, who, like his brother Andrew, of Paisley, was long one of the most distinguished preachers in the West of Scotland. In addition to the ordinary duties of the pastorate, Dr. Goold soon came to have more than an ordinary share of public service allotted to him. In 1850, an enterprising Edinburgh firm having undertaken an extensive republication of the works of the Puritan divines, it was resolved to begin with the voluminous writings of Dr. Owen; and Dr. Goold was appointed editor. This entailed on him much labour during six years—labour so well bestowed that the new edition has finally superseded all previous ones. The vacancy in the Divinity Hall, caused by the death of Dr. Andrew Symington in 1853, was supplied in the following year by a double appointment, Dr. Goold being appointed Professor of Biblical Literature and Church History, his father-in-law, Dr. William Symington, receiving the Chair of Systematic Theology. As the session extended to no more than eight weeks each year, the appointment did not, in either case, involve separation from pastoral work. New labour it certainly did involve; but the labour was congenial in the highest degree. And among the students who passed through the Hall during the twenty-two years of Dr. Goold’s Professorship, there is, we believe, but one opinion regarding the ability and efficiency of his teaching.

A variety of circumstances led Dr. Goold, at an early age, to take an uncommon interest in the work of the Bible Societies. Accordingly, when the Scottish National Bible Society was constituted by the union of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Societies, and a Secretary was required, on whose judgment reliance could be placed, in relation to the business connected both with the translation and the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, the Directors turned their eyes towards him. After some hesitation on the score of the paramount claims of pastoral and professorial work, he saw his way to accept the Secretaryship, and a reference to the Records of the Society will show that the work has prospered greatly under his care.

Dr. Goold’s aptitude for the management of affairs is such that his help has always been much sought in conducting the schemes of the Church. For this, as well as other reasons, when negotiations for union were entered upon by the Free and United Presbyterian Churches in 1863, and the Reformed Presbyterians agreed, on invitation, to take part in these, the Synod unanimously appointed him Convener of its Union Committee. This position he did not accept without hesitation; for although, even at that time, an ardent friend of the projected Union, he had a stronger sense than most of his brethren of the difficulties likely to be encountered. But, after having accepted, he never once turned aside. His time and strength were ungrudgingly expended on the cause; and it certainly was not through any fault of his that the negotiations, after having been prosecuted for ten long years, had at length to be broken off. In the progress of the negotiations, the leading men of the two larger bodies expressed a great and growing appreciation of his sound judgment, his wisdom, and his high Christian integrity. The indefinite postponement of the general Union is known to have caused him poignant sorrow. This was somewhat alleviated by the success with which it pleased the Head of the Church to crown the endeavours afterwards made to effect a separate union between the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Free Church. The great speech delivered by him in the General Assembly of the United Church on the day of the consummation of the Union (Thursday, the 25th of May, 1876), was the most thrilling feature in the proceedings of a memorable day.

Dr. Goold was appointed Moderator of the General Assembly of 1877, a graceful recognition of the Reformed Presbyterian section of the Church, and at the same time a token of the regard and confidence in which he was himself held. He had rejoiced in the Union of 1876, and he was not insensible of the honour done him in the Moderatorship of 1877, but these had been immediately preceded by domestic afflictions, which chastened the gratification he felt. During the winter of 1875-76, the Lord took from him first one son, and then another, both dearly beloved, and both on the threshold of active life. In the short interval between these trying bereavements, Mrs. Goold, who had till that time enjoyed fair health, and whose cheerful godliness and winning ways had imparted an uncommon charm to the house, was suddenly called away. In all the three instances there was solid ground for a good and assured hope regarding the departed, nevertheless the blow was heavy. But grace has sustained under it, and the tree so much chastened has not ceased to bring forth fruit.

W. B.

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Elizabeth, Duchess of Gordon


Elizabeth, Duchess of Gordon

The last Duchess of Gordon meetly finds and honourably fills a place in the roll of the Disruption Worthies. In the exalted position in which God had placed her, with a grace and wisdom very engaging, and with a piety ever ardent and active, she greatly advanced the cause of truth and godliness in all the north of Scotland. Descended from a race, many members of which were singular in their age for their piety, in due time she yielded herself to the yoke of Christ; and thus became an inheritor of the covenant blessing, which descends, as promised, upon the seed of the righteous.

This is not the place to trace her history as a citizen of earth, and as one of the nobles of the land. These brief sketches of the Disruption Worthies are intended to exhibit chiefly their connection with that series of events in the history of the Church of Scotland, culminating in what is aptly termed the Disruption. These transactions are still too recent, to be viewed, either by friends or foes, in their due proportion. We confidently hazard the assertion that with increasing years their magnitude will be acknowledged, and their weighty influence upon the progress of true religion, not only in Scotland, but throughout the world, freely admitted.

Elizabeth, Duchess of Gordon, was born in London, 20th January, 1794. Her father was Alexander Brodie, a younger son of Brodie of that Ilk. Having acquired a large fortune in India, he returned to his native land, and purchased the estates of Arnhall and Burn, in Kincardineshire, and sat as Member of Parliament for Elgin. Her mother was Miss Elizabeth Wemyss, of Wemyss Castle. Having lost her mother at the early age of six years, she was carefully trained by her aunts. Educated with a culture not the usual then for ladies, she passed, in due course, through the customary routine of fashionable life, and was married to the Marquis of Huntly in 1813, and was widowed in 1836.

Adorning the position in which she was placed by the providence of God, she would have been a remarkable woman in any rank of life. Distinguished for beauty of person in her youth, she retained to her latest years, features indicative of sweet gentleness, great good sense, Christian benevolence and heavenly rest. She had, it may be added, a most winning smile, and an unconscious, but irresistibly attractive manner. She possessed very fair natural abilities, carefully cultivated, great stores of general information, derived from her intercourse with all classes, and from the constant habit of having in course of reading some standard work. She was distinguished for great tact, with a singular combination of firmness and gentleness.

As with many eminent servants of God it seems difficult to say when first she truly came to know the Lord. Some links in the chain, some helpers on the way appear—Erskine’s Essay on Faith, seems to have made a great impression, subsequently intercourse with Lady Olivia Sparrow, and specially with the Duke of Manchester. Step by step she was led on till at length the dawning brightened into noon-day, and she knew the Lord, and knew that she knew Him. Ever after, in often most testing circumstances and amid great temptation, with notable wisdom and humility, and sweetness and courage, she confessed Christ before all.

The history of her connection with the Disruption is noteworthy, exhibiting, as it does, the steps of an ingenuous and truth-loving mind making its way to the light through mists of error and over mountains of prejudice. Born and bred an Episcopalian, and living in an atmosphere and surrounded by a society to which “The Church” was everything, and all outside, socially and religiously, nothing, her leanings naturally were very strong towards Episcopacy. Then, too, the barriers which separated her politically from Presbyterianism were, if possible, stronger still. The questions which were connected with the Disruption were intensely disagreeable to all Tory minds. The struggle for the crown rights of Christ and the liberties of His Church was viewed by most of the aristocracy as radical and revolutionary, and all who favoured it were suspected of disloyalty. To any in such a position and with such surroundings, it required very strong convictions of duty and very clear light to enable them to break through and follow the teachings of the Word of God and the dictates of conscience.

Very early in her spiritual history she seems to have got a firm grasp of what are distinctively known as the Doctrines of Grace. Few could more quickly detect, whether in the living voice or the printed page, any deviation from a pure Gospel, either towards legality or antinomianism. While, therefore, continuing nominally an Episcopalian, during these earlier years she sought after and waited upon the ministrations of the Evangelical clergy in the Church of Scotland.

Thus it came to pass that for some years before the Disruption she and the ministers of the Evangelical party in the Church of Scotland stood in a somewhat peculiar relation. She honoured them much for their Master’s sake. She waited upon their services, and received them as welcome guests in her home, and yet she stood aloof from them in all their efforts to deliver the Church from Erastian bondage, and to restore to Christ his crown rights as the Church’s King and Head.

Strathbogie is familiar, ecclesiastically, to every one who knows anything of the history of the Disruption. The intrusion of a minister upon the people of Marnoch—the deposition from the ministry of the majority of the ministers of the Presbytery by the General Assembly for the breach of their ordination vows—the Interdicts of the Court of Session— the proclamation of the Gospel in these parishes by leading ministers of the Assembly in the face of these Interdicts! During this time the Duchess was absent upon the Continent. With her measure of light she acted in the circumstances with what might almost be termed a beautiful inconsistency. With her still strong episcopal and political leanings, she greatly disapproved of the steps taken by the Church, not, indeed, in the deposition of the ministers, but in breaking connection with the State. On the other hand, with her quick spiritual instinct and love of the Gospel, she gave express orders for the honourable reception, as her guests, of the ministers sent from Edinburgh to preach in the parishes of the deposed incumbents, although she knew they were acting in the face of Interdicts from the Court of Session.

The Disruption at length came, breaking the stillness of death—opening avenues of access for the Gospel to many a parish from which it had been banished for more than a century. The Duchess, on her return to Huntly, found herself in exceedingly trying circumstances, nominally an Episcopalian, politically strong in the belief of the inviolability of the union between Church and State, religiously full of clear light as to the truth of the evangelical doctrine which the ministers of the Free Church preached! But, doing “His will,” ere long she came to know of the doctrine that it was of God. Her path was made plain, and became as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. She came at length clearly to apprehend the glorious truths clustered round the doctrine of the Headship of Christ. She cast in her lot with the Free Church of Scotland, and ever after gave herself, with all her influence and means, to the cause of God in connection therewith.

To form any due estimate of the services she was enabled to render to Evangelical Religion in the north of Scotland, one requires to understand something of its previous history. From the combined effects of Scottish Episcopacy and Presbyterian Moderatism, true religion was almost extinct. The whole region was aptly termed “the Dead Sea.” It is strictly correct to say that at the period prior to the Disruption, in whole parishes, scarcely one could be found who would openly confess his personal and saving interest in Jesus Christ, and if he did so, such a confession would be met with incredulity and derision. The history of the revival of religion in Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, and the surrounding region, during the past half century, has yet to be written. The landowners as a rule, discountenanced, and often violently opposed the quietest efforts made to preach the Gospel by any one and every one outside the Established Church. In some parishes the preachers of the Gospel were denied a lodging, and the tenants who would shelter them were threatened with eviction! The people themselves were in gross ignorance of the Gospel; while parishes by the combined influence of the Laird and the Minister were hermetically sealed. Half the Queen’s highway was the only place where a man dare stand and preach Christ! Sabbaths were sometimes spent by parish ministers in the effort to refute the new doctrine of regeneration by the Spirit, and justification by faith alone. The proclamation of the Gospel in feeing-markets, a plan approved of and aided by the Duchess, where salvation by free grace was set forth, was received with wonder and incredulity, and often with the exclamation, “That’s a new way o’ it!”

Now it was in such circumstances that God raised up the Duchess of Gordon to do a work for His name and for the souls of men, for which He so admirably qualified her. In her own high social circle she disarmed prejudices, stood sponsor for the loyalty of the members of the Free Church, and exhibited to all with whom she came in contact, the attractive beauty of living Christianity. Visitors, not a few, of all ranks and classes, and from all lands, were made familiar with the doctrine and practices of the Free Church in Huntly Lodge, in the ministration of the Sabbath, to which almost all invariably accompanied her. Of these visitors, many were disarmed of their prejudices, and not a few were attracted and blessed. Thus the Free Church, through her, was exhibited to many in high places, as loyal to the sovereign, as the mother of true piety, and a blessing to the land.

But while thus, by wise words and a holy life she testified to those in her own circle, seeing the fearful state of spiritual death everywhere around, she took the most prudent and active measures to have the Gospel widely and faithfully preached. It was her custom for many years both before and after the Disruption to invite to her house, for a monthly conference, all evangelical ministers within access of Huntly Lodge. At such meetings the forenoon was spent by the ministers in much prayer and brotherly conference on some difficulty in the way of the spread of the Gospel, and the best measures for its removal. In the afternoon there was a prayerful review of the subjects, in company with the Duchess and all her visitors who desired to be present. In the evening some two of the ministers addressed a public meeting in the church. The power of such meetings for good it is impossible to estimate, and the fruit that followed. There is great reason to believe that the revival of religion which spread over the north of Scotland, may in no small measure be traced to these meetings. Certainly, it can be established as a fact, that very remarkable revivals of religion were witnessed in the parishes of all the ministers who attended’ these conferences.

But there were large districts lying spiritually waste without any to cultivate them—large masses of the people who seldom, if ever, heard the Gospel preached in purity and power. For such districts she sought to provide evangelists and missionaries. Her name and influence obtained access for these labourers to places and persons from which they would otherwise have been completely shut out.

Frequently under her auspices, evangelistic tours were undertaken, and the Gospel preached from parish to parish—in the fair green of the village—in the market square—not seldom in the quiet meadow of a Highland glen. Multitudes heard the Gospel in the half-yearly feeing-markets. From such labours abundant increase was gathered. The first access to a parish, lying in great spiritual darkness, whose minister was a prominent leader of the Moderate party in the Disruption conflict, was obtained through the conversion of a farmer under the preaching of the Gospel at a feeing-market. Having welcomed Christ to his heart, he gladly welcomed Him to his house. In his barn the first evangelical sermon was preached that had been heard in that parish for very many years.

In later years of her life, the expedient was tried of holding large gatherings in the parks surrounding Huntly Lodge. Many had been brought to God by the faithful preaching of the Gospel throughout the region. But although numerous they were scattered, and as yet timid, and surrounded also by opposers and scoffers. It was thought that if they could be collected together, for mutual recognition and encouragement, a strong stimulus might be given to the work; and moreover, that an opportunity, upon a large scale, would be afforded for the proclamation of the Gospel. Such meetings were then a new thing. It is difficult to realise with what fear and anxiety the step was taken. Many true Christians spoke against them. Others stood aloof in wonder! God greatly owned them! Believers were greatly strengthened and edified, and multitudes of sinners were led to Christ, who by their future lives, proved the reality of the change. Some who found Christ at these meetings are now in the ministry of the Gospel; many in the eldership of the Church, and others serving the Lord in almost every colony of the British Empire.

As the fruit of all these prayers and efforts, and of the full consecration of herself to the Lord, and of uninterrupted labour for His name’s sake, it might safely be affirmed, comparing the present with the past, that in no part of Scotland has vital godliness made such progress, and acquired such a hold as in these northern counties. When she came to Strathbogie, she found it spiritually a region and shadow of death, and when she ceased from her labours and went to her reward, she left it full of the life and light of the Gospel.

As one thoughtfully reviews her life, and notes the fruit of her influence and efforts in the cause of Christ, he is ready to say concerning the nobility of our land, “O si sic omnes!” If in their exalted station they would become, as she, nursing fathers, and nursing mothers to Zion, the widening gulf between class and class would quickly be filled up, the whole breath of society sweetened, many difficult social problems solved, our land would become a delightful land; then should we not only hear it, in prophetic utterance, but see it with our eyes, “Thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.”

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Andrew Gray


The pen of Hugh Miller delineates Mr Gray to the life, as he appeared among the leaders in the heat of the “ten years’ conflict”:—

“Now, mark that strongly-featured man a few benches away. He is barely of the middle size, and stoutly made. The nose has an almost Socratic degree of concavity in its outline; indeed, the whole profile more nearly resembles that of Socrates, as shewn in cameos and busts, than it does any other known profile to which we could compare it. The expression of the lower part of the face indicates a man who, if once engaged in battling in a good cause would fight long and doggedly ere he gave up the contest. The head is also marked by the Socratic outline in a singularly striking degree; the forehead is erect, broad, high, and the coronal region of immense development. He rises to speak. His voice, though not too finely modulated, is powerful; his style of language plain, energetic, and full of point—such a style as Cobbet used to write, and which, when employed as a medium for the conveyance of thoughts of large volume, is perhaps of all kinds of style the most influential. He is evidently a master of reason; and there runs through the lighter portions of his speech a vein of homely, racy humour, very quiet but very effective. That speaker is Andrew Gray of Perth, one of the vigorous and original minds which the demands of the present struggle have called from comparative obscurity into the controversial arena, full in the view of the country. Mr Gray’s admirable pamphlet, ‘The Present Conflict,’ took the lead, we believe, of all the publications of which the unhappy collision between the civil and ecclesiastical courts has been the occasion; and it must be regarded surely as no slight proof of the judgment of the man, that of all the positions he then took up, not one has since been abandoned. He marked out the Torres Vedras of the question; and the lines have not yet been forced.”
 

Mr Gray was born at Aberdeen, 2d November 1805, and he used to remark with pleasure, that most of the leaders in the controversy which ended in the Disruption, were born about the same time. As his parents were unable to meet the expenses of his education for the ministry, he had much hard work in supporting himself during his preparatory course by teaching privately and in schools. His father early dedicated him to the Lord’s work, and instilled into his mind the doctrines of the Reformation and the principles of the Presbyterian Church. This humble and singularly pious man spent his latter years under the roof of his son, in whose congregation at Perth he acted as an elder. Even while a student Mr Gray was recognised as a man of mark. Although he entered Marischal College, Aberdeen, when religion there was at a low ebb, yet he found a few companions like-minded with himself, and great was his delight in them as well as his influence over them. He had all his life a keen relish for the company of men of his own calling. The reserve which he sometimes maintained in general society gave place, among his trusted brethren, to genial frankness and hilarity, especially when he recalled the happy years of his youth. Mr Milne of Free St Leonard’s, Perth, in preaching Mr Gray’s funeral sermon, mentioned that Mr Gray once led him out into the country, and spoke to him faithfully and affectionately about the state of his soul and the way of salvation; “the first time,” added Mr Milne, “that any one had ever addressed me directly on the subject.” This pleasing circumstance must have had a good effect on the relations between these men of God, who occupied the most important positions in Perth at the Disruption. While Mr Gray was at college, the tide turned, and the evangelical section of the students which had been despised became most influential. He was largely instrumental in bringing about this change, and preserved in a book intimations of meetings and other memoranda of his activity among his fellow students. In after years, his exertions for the erection of a Free Church Divinity College in Aberdeen, led to differences with honoured friends, which, to the writer’s knowledge, caused Mr Gray intense pain. Aberdeen should remember him, for all that concerned her was to him most dear. When Dr Andrew Thomson remonstrated against the insertion of the Apocrypha in the bibles of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the great questions of the canon and the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures came to be publicly discussed, Mr Gray, though only a student, wrote with unusual power against the loose views of Dr Thomson’s opponents.

But the controversy with which his name was most closely associated, and in which he best evinced the energy and determination which characterised him, was what is called the “Chapel Question.” While yet at college, he took the foremost place in assailing the unscriptural practice of excluding chapel ministers from the government of the Church, and even forbidding them to hold kirk-sessions in their own congregations. In 1825, when he had scarcely completed his twentieth year, he published, in the “Christian Instructor,” an able vindication of the right of all ordained ministers to rule as well as to teach. Both Dr Andrew Thomson and Dr Chalmers opposed the movement for procuring the acknowledgment of this right by the General Assembly, in the case of ministers of Chapels of Ease. Yet undaunted even by such opposition, Mr Gray kept the matter in various ways before the public mind, and stirred up those who had a voice in church courts to bring it forward, before he could procure a hearing in them himself. His ordination as minister of the Chapel of Ease at Woodside, near Aberdeen (1st September 1831), brought home to him very painfully, in his own experience, the restrictions which so anomalous a position imposed on the exercise of the Christian ministry. He delighted to tell that on his return from the Assembly of 1834, in which, greatly owing to his powerful speech at the bar, the evil was remedied, Mr Carment of Rosskeen recommended him to give out in Woodside Chapel, as their first psalm in their state of freedom, Psalm 129.

Notwithstanding bitter opposition from some influential individuals in the neighbourhood, Mr Gray’s labours in his first charge were highly successful. The congregation, of which he was the first minister, became numerous, and five hundred scholars attended the Sabbath school. Conversions gladdened his heart, especially among the members of his bible class. Woodside was a field which the Lord was blessing up to the time of Mr Gray’s removal to the West Church, Perth (14th July 1836). In this new sphere he was soon the acknowledged leader of the evangelical party in the church courts of the district, while the congregation became much larger than it had ever been, though he found it in a flourishing state. He began weekly prayer meetings, and during the sittings of the Assembly great numbers met every evening to hear a letter from their minister, when the struggle became serious, and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Aided by a munificent member of his congregation, he erected a handsome parish school, and, amid far greater difficulties, he built, after the Disruption, another school and teacher’s house. His preaching was of a very high order, as his published sermons prove, and those who loved a pure gospel rejoiced in the simplicity and fervour with which he proclaimed salvation. It was to him a painful trial that his work for the church at large, coupled with his frequent ill health and consequent absence from home, prevented him from accomplishing the amount of pastoral visitation he felt to be due to his people. Of his lack of service in this respect, and of his own shortcomings as a man, he had a deep and lowly conviction. “A minister’s sins are so aggravated,” he once exclaimed, and burst into tears.

But few, if any, rendered more valuable service to the Free Church. Dr Candlish, as well as Hugh Miller, assigns to Mr Gray’s pamphlet on the conflict between the civil and ecclesiastical courts, the merit of marking out the precise ground which was subsequently taken by all the leaders on the evangelical side. He says it became the text-book of the controversy. Dr Chalmers pronounced it “one of the most masterly and conclusive reasonings that ever issued from the press.” It is not therefore surprising that after the Disruption Mr Gray was requested to draw up a Catechism for the instruction of the young in the principles of the Free Church. If some of the answers in that Catechism are rather long, many are both short and pithy. Thus, having quoted from the authorised “Proceedings” of the Established Church Assembly of 1843, that the Assembly appointed a committee to draw up a full and formal answer to the Protest of the Free Church, and report to the Assembly on Saturday, he asks, “What happened on Saturday?” Ans. “There was no report.” He then records that the committee, having been enlarged, did, in August, give in a report to the Commission, and quotes from the “Proceedings” that the Commission agreed to consider this report “at their meeting to-morrow.” We then have—Ques. “What occurred on the morrow?” Ans. “No quorum appeared, and the Commission did not meet.” Ques. “What became of the answer to the Protest?” Ans. “It was never heard of more!”

Mr Gray would gladly have retained the benefits of an Established Church, could he have done so with a good conscience. He confessed that, as an endowed minister, he felt more at rest in regard to his income than at Woodside, or after the Disruption. It was chiefly owing to him that the large congregations of the Free Church in Perth were content with humble structures for themselves, more aid being consequently given to country churches. The claims of the Sustentation Fund were vehemently urged from his pulpit, while congregations had not yet learned to look on the things of others, though his personal interests might thus have suffered. He was himself a liberal contributor. His labours for the Free Church in his own Presbytery were most abundant; and he took a leading part in the Assembly, both in the arrangement of its business and in its legislation. His profound sagacity and knowledge of Church law made his advice much sought and followed in the many perplexing questions that arose both before and after the Disruption. He was the first to suggest the scheme for the evangelisation of the masses in Glasgow which has been so marvellously successful; and the Assembly made him Convener of the Committee on that scheme as long as his health permitted him to take charge of it.

In the prosecution of this great and difficult undertaking, he was separated for weeks together from his own congregation, and subjected to toils which seriously injured his constitution. No one more clearly saw the danger to which the Church is exposed, not only from the encroachments of the State on its freedom, but from the prevalence of ungodliness in our great centres of population. Strict as he was in his views of ecclesiastical order, he reckoned it expedient in the circumstances of our overgrown cities, to employ effective speakers, chosen from the ranks of working men, to reason with their neighbours, “of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.” Had his life been spared, he would have developed original and valuable ideas and modes of operation in the department of Home Missions. Revival work always lay near his heart; but a suspected undervaluing of the ministerial office on the part of some who were active in its advancement rather alarmed him, though he rejoiced at the co-operation of ministers and gifted members of different churches in giving addresses.

From the time of his coming to Perth to his death (March 10, 1861), he was labouring under chronic bronchitis, which often brought him very low, and made public speaking, especially such vehement oratory as his, a perilous task. He said he made men think rather than feel; but as his weakness increased, his pulpit addresses became very touching. In his eyes the preaching of the gospel always seemed the best and noblest work to which he was called. If his abrupt manner repelled strangers, those who enjoyed his friendship found him true as steel, and of a generous disposition. He had a great desire to visit the Exhibition in London in 1851, but to an old fellow-student who asked pecuniary aid from him at the time, he gave the sum required for his own expenses, and stayed at home himself. Yet perhaps in public life he was apt to be too eager in the pursuit of the objects he sought; and he himself looked on his afflictions as a curb on this natural impetuosity. Once, after a severe paroxysm of coughing, he said to a friend, “I would have been a terrible fellow had the Lord not put some such restraint on me.”

J. B. I.

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Thomas Guthrie, D.D.


Thomas Guthrie

Thomas Guthrie, to be known as Dr Guthrie the preacher and philanthropist, was born in Brechin on the 12th of July 1803, and died at St Leonard’s, Hastings, 4th February 1873, having all but completed his threescore years and ten. His father, David Guthrie, a burgher of some note in the town, was a man of strong sense and Christian principle; his mother, Clemintina Cay, had force of character and deep piety. The ancestors on both sides were farmers of the hill country of Angus. Thomas, the twelfth child and sixth son, had his lot early cast for the ministry. His College course commenced in Edinburgh in 1815, and he was licenced to preach the gospel in 1825. Lay patronage, as then exercised in the Church of Scotland, delayed his settlement, and only in 1830 did he obtain a charge. With the energy that afterwards marked him, he gave part of that interval to scientific and medical studies in Edinburgh and Paris, and part to the management of the paternal bank in Brechin, preaching and public speaking not being intermitted, and the knowledge he gained of men and of practical business bestowing a second training for his life-work. In 1830 he was ordained to Arbirlot, a country parish near Arbroath, and the same year married to Anne, the eldest daughter of the Rev. James Burns of Brechin. Here he entered with great earnestness on the chief lines of action to which he devoted himself through life, preaching to his congregation of farmers and labourers with all the clearness, warmth, and power of illustration which shone out afterwards, visiting from house to house, organising prayer meetings, Sabbath schools, a library and savings bank, and taking share in the movement against Patronage which was then stirring the heart of Scotland. His power and originality as a preacher, and his effectiveness as a platform speaker, brought him rapidly to the front, and with a sore wrench to himself and his people (“they were a’ greetin'” is the account given by one of them), he was, in 1837, transferred to Old Greyfriars’, Edinburgh, the historic church of the covenant and the martyrs. Here began that wonderful popularity which continued to grow for years, and attended him while he could ascend a pulpit. It was a very busy period with him, occupied with constant pastoral work, his hands full of the benevolent and religious movements of the time, and with a large share in the Church discussions which were shaking the country ever more widely and deeply. In 1840 he entered the new church of St John’s, a parish formed from Old Greyfriars’, to carry out the territorial principle —one of the chief reasons which had forced him from Arbirlot, and a favourite conception of Chalmers. He laboured at this with incessant vigour till the Disruption came in 1843, to change his position and the condition and prospects of the Church of Christ in Scotland.

The movement which ended in this event had been progressing in the “ten years’ conflict”; a battle waged over the breadth of the land, in country homes and hamlets as well as in church courts, in remote islands as keenly as in the great towns, by lecture and debate, through book, newspaper, and pamphlet, and every agency of speech and pen by which the heart of the people could be reached. It was one of the periodical uprisings that have made the nation what it is. “Scotland,” wrote Lord Palmerston, “is in a flame about the Church question,” and men who imagined the ages of faith gone, and materialism lord of the future, were surprised to see the same unquenched spirit that leapt into being at the voice of Knox, and signed the covenant amid tears of enthusiasm on the tombstone in Greyfriars’ churchyard. In the surging eddies of the fight Thomas Guthrie was often seen, and his winged words, with the pen of Hugh Miller, were powerful co-efficients in bringing out the response which the heart of the people gave to the self-sacrifice of the ministers, and in securing, under God, the success of the Free Church from the first day of its existence. He was in the band that burst from the doors of St Andrew’s, Edinburgh, on the 18th May 1843, and which, beginning with 474 ministers, has grown to 900 churches, three Divinity Halls, and a yearly free-will revenue of half a million sterling. He formed one of a deputation that visited the chief towns of England and Ireland, to explain the principles of the Church, and not long after commenced his operations for the Manse Scheme, which ended with his reporting £116,370 for this one object, as the result of a year’s labour. The journeys, speeches, and business work compressed into this effort might have been spread through an ordinary life, and shook a frame of unusual strength. From homeless ministers, his exertions turned to what had long been in his heart, houseless children, and in 1847 came out the “Plea for Ragged Schools.” Its effect was electric, for the Christian conscience was ready; and he became identified with the movement personally in his own city, and, in name and influence, throughout the country. One plea followed another; hundreds of “life-boats,” to take his own favourite figure, were launched, and he was called on to advocate the cause with the people, and to watch the part taken in it by Parliament. To the close of his life it held the place nearest to his heart of all public questions; not as a piece of politics, or branch of social improvement, but as a chief part of the religion of Christ. His numerous speeches, and his fervent pleadings through the press, have entered deeply into the general zeal for the education and elevation of the people which is one of the best features of our time.

In the midst of these multiplied efforts his health broke down, and a silence of two years from pulpit work made many fear that his public course was finished. But it had half its way to run. In 1850 the happy settlement of Dr Hanna, the son-in-law and accomplished biographer of Dr Chalmers, as co-pastor in St John’s, divided his pulpit labour, and doubled his power and opportunity. His name as a preacher had been growing like sunlight; it was now at its zenith, and audiences representing all classes of rank and culture, mixed with strangers from every part of the world, were drawn to listen to the same gospel preached with a clearness and force, a vividness and human interest, that satisfied a common need. Another field opened in the use of his pen. It is seldom that eloquence of speech can flow through the press without losing a large portion of its colour and vitality, and accordingly his first “Plea for Ragged Schools” took many by surprise, and was the revelation to himself of a latent power. His heart had been touched in what lay nearest to it, and the string of his tongue was loosed to speak on other matters. In 1855 his first volume, “The Gospel in Ezekiel,” appeared, and at this date it has reached its fortieth thousand. “The City: its Sins and Sorrows,” rose to fifty thousand, with others corresponding, too long here to mention. His books cannot represent him to those who never heard him, as he was in his mastery over an audience, not merely by gesture, and voice, and look, but by the mysterious soul magnetism which some speakers possess; nevertheless it is remarkable how much of his heart and life he was able to transmit through the conducting rod of the pen. It is proof of the great store of impressive power with which his spiritual nature was charged, and also of an instinctive literary skill, for though his style in both was the same, there was a change of manner and proportion of which few orators are capable. To thousands who never saw him, he was familiar as the editor of the “Sunday Magazine,” known as “Dr Guthrie’s Magazine,” which reached a great circulation in his hands, and where he gave to the world not only many of his sermons, but his view of things civil and sacred, his observations on men and manners, as, in later years, he extended his journeys at home and abroad. His independence and breadth of handling made his papers always racy reading, while there was felt through them the discrimination of the best touch-stone—”A good understanding have all they that do his commandments.” To number up the subjects in which he took the interest, not of a man who is an editor, but of an editor who is a man, and proved it also by speech and action, would be to give a list of most of the great concerns that touch the welfare of mankind. Anti-slavery, total abstinence, the purity and morality of national law, the improvement of the condition of the army, sanitary reformation, better homes for the people, working-men’s clubs, continental missions, with a peculiar love for the old Church of the Valleys, the union of the Presbyterian denominations, are some of the questions that occupied him. His fugitive papers have an interest, in shewing the comprehensiveness of his nature as well as its intensity, the curious pleasure he took in peering into, and the curiosa felicitas he had in touching, whatever belongs to genuine human nature, and helps it on. Differing as he and the late Dr Norman Macleod did in Church polity and some other things, these two distinguished men had the same ground of a true and broad humanity in them, playful in its rippling creeks, sadly earnest in its depths, with the sure sign of this breadth, a sympathy that moistened into humour and melted into tears; and, never far off, the endeavour to make a wider, nobler, human nature, of which Christ is the alone possible centre.

Some of his later papers were entitled, “Out of Harness,” but this condition he never reached till he lay down to die. A winter’s preaching in Rome, and a visit to America, to work his way across the States to California, where he had a son, were among his last plans, an extraordinary proof of courageous energy on the verge of his seventieth year; and with his heart still pressing forward, his strength failed. His end was by the border of the sea, which had been making its music within him for many years, and he looked out on it, as Bunyan describes his pilgrims by the brink of the river they had to cross, exchanging messages with friends near and far, rehearsing memories and expressing hopes with an affection and faith and humility that were very touching; and at the close of Sabbath the 23d February, he entered into his rest, or should we not say of him, began his new work? He was laid in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh, beside numbers of his old companions, eminent ministers and faithful elders, with many a tribute of love and sorrow from the vast multitude that gathered to his burial, but with none felt so deeply as the song of the children of his own Ragged Schools, a requiem very fitting, and also the echo of a welcome, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these little ones.”

While his life-work went beyond the Disruption, we cannot estimate his character without going back to it. Whatever view may be taken of the claims involved in that event, no thoughtful man can help seeing that it contained immense quickening influences. It was an epoch in Scotland, moving and magnetising it as perhaps nothing has done since the Reformation, and those who were most hostile to its principles have not been able to escape its impulse. We should be blind and ungrateful did we not acknowledge the obligation which the entire Christianity of this land, and of others, owes it for its noble testimony to the power of conscience, for the spirit of self-sacrifice and generosity, of free-giving and zealous working, that have flowed from it into many channels, as from a swelling river. If it was a mistake, the world could stand a few more such errors; abnegation is not such a common thing even in the Christian Church that we can afford to want this instance of it; our history would have been poorer, and our life lower, at this day without it, and this is its best practical justification. But, doubtless, it told most on those who were directly engaged in it, and brought out whatever was in them of heart and capacity—an Ithuriel’s spear, with a better result in its touch. Under the frown of Government, and with the door of Parliament shut in their face, they carried their appeal to the people, put the rights and resources of the Church, under its Head, in their hands, and the reply inspired a confidence which made them strong for Christian work everywhere. After Chalmers was so soon withdrawn, there was no one perhaps of the survivors who felt so much this quick beat of the heart for fresh enterprise as Dr Thomas Guthrie. The Disruption, like every other great providential movement, had its men made for it—we omit the living—each fitted to his place; the central fire and upheaving force of Chalmers; Cunningham the Ajax of debate, with his colossal blows; the sinewy strength and marshalling skill of Candlish; the calm sagacious statesmanship of Robert Buchanan; the pen of Hugh Miller, dipped in poetry and feathered with history and philosophy. But Dr Guthrie represented its sense of new-found power not only to maintain itself, but to give out energy as never before; its obedience to the command, “to launch out into the deep and cast the net on the right side;” its interest in the children of the poor, in the home heathen, in the continent of Europe, in the world. It was mainly this spirit which determined henceforth his ecclesiastical outlook, and turned it not back, but forward. From the first he went for the entire abolition of Patronage, when Patronage only was in question. When the independence of the Church in her spiritual domain was invaded in the course of the struggle, he was forced, with many more, to give up connection with the State; but when once that tie was broken, new feelings and considerations came in, and grew with the new experience. A different kind of life brought its own pleasures, in its sense of freedom, its activities, its struggles, its very sacrifices, its growth of affection to objects for which, and friends with whom, these sacrifices had been made—the joy of life in life itself—and it became a question, not difficult to answer, whether all this should be forsaken for the former position, even if it lay open. It is the ancient parable of putting the new wine into the old bottles, with the fact, that the bottles had given way before. Dr Guthrie felt, as he expressed it, “when he had got rid of the crutch and found his limbs,” no desire to go back to that kind of help, and the fear that, if he did, he should lose what he had gained. And, after all, this is what will determine the form of Church reconstruction in Scotland, not the lines drawn across the water by statesmen, but the deep currents below—the necessities and cravings of spiritual life in the Christian people. Statesmanship has often had to recognise that there are things done in the world by its mistakes which it cannot undo. The abolition of the tea tax would not have reclaimed America when independence was declared; and when Israel was once across the sea, in the freedom of the wilderness, with its divine provisions, and Canaan before, not the land of Goshen and a constitution, octroi or other, under a repentant Pharaoh, could have brought them back, though some would fain have tried.

In describing a man, it is the custom to begin with his appearance, and the likeness which this sketch is to accompany invites its continuance. He was tall beyond the ordinary stature, with a strength of frame that would have made him a “shepherd of the people” in the old Homeric time, as his other gifts made him in the movements of ours. The face was not regular, but had much expression, first in the eyes, keen and gray, and then in the mouth, which spoke by its lines, as well as its words; a face that was the farthest from being a cover to the feelings, but let them through in their quick changes, flitting up in sympathy and mirth, and honest anger and righteous scorn. The photographer cannot give this, the reader’s imagination must help. The complexion was swarthy, especially in youth, with long dark hair, which retreated as age advanced, and waved in a cloud-like white about his temples, the general remark being that he grew comelier as he grew older.

His intellectual nature was not of the abstract or contemplative order, but strongly concrete and objective, thinking in analogies and speaking in figures, as old Homer used them, with picture-like fulness that would have been dangerous to the sustained interest but for the glow and movement that made them one with the subject. It recalled the eddy of a Highland pool in love with the overhanging birch and rowan, but still part of the stream. His knowledge was drawn from nature more than science, and from men more than books, gathering all his life from every one he met, and having his library of fact and incident and observation ready at hand. The amount and variety of these, and the power of putting them in easy dramatic form with naturalness and geniality, were the charm of his conversation. Those whose conception of Scottish divines is represented by the dried mummies that fill the vaulted niches of the Capucin Monastery at Rome would have had their ideal disturbed; and yet the type to which he belonged has great antiquity, as any one may see who will study the character of John Knox himself in his “History of the Reformation.” Connected with this was a stock of prompt common sense in reaching instinctive judgments about men and things, much of what is thought to be the national peculiarity of shrewdness, that is, penetration for cases of entanglement, and much also of what is thought to be not so national, tact, the perception of things delicate. But the centre of his natural character was his power of emotion—commonly called heart—a great breadth of human nature, inflammable all round, crackling in playful flames, burning also with steady worklike purpose, and capable of deepening to a still white heat. This made him the preacher and philanthropist he was—a preacher who needed to fill his study in thought with his congregation, and kindle himself thereby to fire them in turn; and a philanthropist, not of the Benthamite school, but with a personal friendship for waifs and strays, a romantic interest in them, and a human naturalist’s study of the curious shell under which he hoped to find his pearl. In little things it was seen, in the ready confidences he made up with children, and the good understanding he was on with dogs; for humane is only human widened out. And humanity lay at the root of his theology. Not but that he was sound to the core in his Christian and Calvinistic faith, that “all things are of God,” and drew it from God’s book. But there are different ways of realising it, as there are different roads leading up to Christ, though He is the one only door. One way of theology is by reasoning the matter down, as is done in systems; another is by thinking it up, and this last was according to his bent. Given man, his sin and unhappiness, and how can he be cured and raised? Is not the gospel the only possible solution of this? Is not its fitness for humanity the seal of its divinity, and is not the centre of its power, as well as its mystery, God manifest in the flesh? It was in this way, we believe, that he reached it for his own comfort; and it was in the presentation of the gospel as the great human need, in the application of it to the circumstances and wants and sorrows and sins of men, as he had learned to know them, that the power of his preaching lay. He had truthful realism, and vivid fancy, and passionate force; but natural as these were in him, they were successful, under God, from their having something in their midst more deeply human, because divine, the presence of Jesus Christ brought close to the heart, as the only Satisfier of its yearnings and Healer of its wounds.

He did much for his own Church, but more for the Church of Christ; and though it may seem a narrower thing to close with, it needs to be said, he did much to represent the best parts of the Scottish character— deep feeling, with a tenderness that seeks to hide itself under humour; sagacity of the head with warmth of the heart; shrewdness with self-devotion; outbursts, resolute to obstinacy, against human authority when it crosses the path of the fear of God; a nature very jealous of its rights, and very fervid for what it believes to be the cause of freedom and truth. History has written down this character of the people for three centuries or more, and it will put the name of Thomas Guthrie among those who in different ways have helped to keep up, and hand forward, the old renown.

J. K.

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John Hamilton


Of the laymen who exercised a leading influence in the Disruption controversy, and in setting up the Disruption Church, Mr Hamilton’s place was second to none, with the single exception of Mr Dunlop. But, for the most part, it was an unseen influence—the influence of a pure-minded, modest man, who sought only to do his duty, courted no eclat, and was careless of fame. Though a member of the bar, he was no public speaker; he never drew forth the enthusiastic huzzahs of the General Assembly, but was content to see his friends wearing the laurels which his exertions had in a large measure helped them to gain.

Mr Hamilton was born in Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, in 1795. His father, who died young, held the office of Deputy-Controller of Excise; his mother was the daughter of Mr Walter Biggar, of Sciennes. He was the youngest of four brothers, all now dead;—Walter, a colonel in the Indian army, who, on succeeding to the Estate of Falkland, assumed the name of Tyndal-Bruce; Andrew, Secretary of the Alliance Assurance Company, London, and for a considerable time editor of the Record newspaper; and Robert, a doctor of medicine. His education was received mainly at the High School and the College of Edinburgh, but between his attendance at these, he spent a couple of years at Shelford, near Cambridge, where Mr Simeon’s curate received a few young men to be boarded and educated. In that beautiful spot, “the garden of Cambridgeshire,” associated with the names of Simeon and Thomason, of Henry Martyn and Henry Kirke White, it is believed that Mr Hamilton first felt the power of grace, and gave his heart to the Lord.

Mr Hamilton was called to the Bar in 1821, and for a number of years lived quietly with his mother and brothers, among whom there subsisted a warm family affection. In 1836 he married Miss Louisa Balfour, daughter of Mr James Balfour of Dantzic, a connection of the family of Balfour of Pilrig. She was a young lady of singular beauty; and not less simplicity and sweetness of character. When on a visit to some relations in Banff, and under the ministry of the late Mr Grant she received her first impressions of divine truth; and we have been told by some who knew her intimately, that her progress in the divine life was singularly interesting and rapid, and that a more beautiful Christian character could hardly have been conceived. The fair prospect of domestic happiness which thus opened to Mr Hamilton was destroyed in less than a year, by his wife dying in childbed, both mother and infant having been laid together in the grave. This was felt by Mr Hamilton as a terrible blow: he bore it like a Christian, but it was long before he regained his wonted tranquillity of mind.

In politics, Mr Hamilton was a Conservative, and being a member of the congregation of the late Dr Muir of St Stephen’s, it did not seem likely that he would take side with what Lord Cockburn and many others called the wild party in the Church. His taking that side, and taking it with great decision and earnestness, was due to his strong conviction that it was constitutionally right, and to his not less strong intuitive perception, that the most vital interests of the Church of Scotland were bound up with the maintenance of non-intrusion and spiritual independence. Nothing short of this could have induced Mr Hamilton to labour as he did in the cause. We have said that he was no platform man or public speaker. He was a chamber-counsel for the Church, a wise adviser in her difficulties, a compiler of important documents, a writer of pamphlets for statesmen and public men, a negotiator in delicate transactions, the trusted and valued friend of the more prominent leaders, particularly Dr Candlish, with whom Mr Hamilton had extraordinary influence, and in whose congregation, after the Disruption, he took office as an elder. During the conflict (1840-41), he wrote two pamphlets that did yeoman’s service in the cause of the Church; the one entitled, “The Present Position of the Church of Scotland Explained and Vindicated,” the other, “A Remonstrance, especially addressed to the Members of the Legislature and others, in relation to the Scottish Church question, embodying an answer to an article on the same subject in the Quarterly Review!” Mr Hamilton filled for some time the laborious and irksome post of Secretary of the Non-Intrusion Committee; and when the Disruption hove in sight, and for a considerable time thereafter, he was Convener of the Building Committee. He rendered another important service, as editor, for a considerable time, of the Scottish Guardian newspaper.

The chief feature that distinguished Mr Hamilton among the galaxy of great men at that remarkable time, was his singular fairness and calmness in controversy, joined to profound earnestness, and deepest concern for the interests involved. These were qualities remarkably fitted to gain the esteem of opponents, at a time when those whose post was often on platforms and in Church Courts were naturally more hot and excited. How remarkably Mr Hamilton impressed public men with his fairness and honesty, may be gathered from the opinion of the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Aberdeen. The latter nobleman wrote to Mr Thomson of Banchory (Jan. 27. 1840): “Mr Hamilton will perhaps like to be informed that I have placed his pamphlet in the hands of the Duke of Wellington, who, at my request, has read it, and entertains a very favourable opinion of the work. The Duke takes a warm interest in the affairs of our Church, and deeply laments the unhappy differences which exist.” A few months afterwards, Lord Aberdeen wrote of Mr Hamilton, with whom he had now become acquainted, contrasting him with some other champions of the Church: “Your friend Hamilton is a man of another stamp altogether. I had the greatest pleasure in all my intercourse with him, and found him always the same, honest and straightforward, and invariably adhering to his words. I did not agree with him, far from it, but that was quite a different matter; he is as well entitled to his opinion as I am to mine, but I always had pleasure in discussing with him,” &c. A similar impression of Mr Hamilton’s character was conveyed by an eminent member of the Parliament House, shortly after the publication of his second pamphlet. It was understood that this gentleman was the author of the article in the Quarterly to which the pamphlet was a reply. “I was much gratified to-day,” wrote Mr Hamilton to Mr Thomson (2d March 1841), “by G. M. [George Moir] coming up to me in the House with great frankness, and saying he had read me, and had nothing to complain of, as he might say what Chalmers had said in relation to the Dean, that ‘it was a great happiness to fall into the hands of a gentleman.'” The celebrated pamphlet of the Dean of Faculty, however, Mr Hamilton could not regard with respect. “It appears to me,” he said, “to distort the whole subject of controversy to an extent that I should have thought absolutely impossible. Unquestionably it is written, throughout, in the spirit or tone of a counsel or party in a private cause, which is far from the temper of mind with which it befits either the duty or the interest of the country to regard the proceedings of its Established Church.”

It is not easy to estimate the value of the calm, fair, judicial tone of a man like Mr Hamilton, in the face of the unexampled torrent of denunciation which the attitude of the Church drew down on it. There was such a gentle, honest look about him, that the usual epithets, “firebrand and fanatic,” would not fit him in any degree. The world has long since learned to regard the lofty spirit of self-sacrifice as the outstanding feature of the Free Church movement, and before the splendour of that spirit the infirmities of controversy, which marked some of her leading men, have passed out of view. But in those days this was reversed. The world would not believe in the sincerity of the Church, and its refusal to obey the law exasperated the friends of law and order to the verge of madness. The whole tone and character of Mr Hamilton, and, indeed, of not a few other leading men, was a demonstration of the world’s injustice. As shrewd as any man, as true a Conservative, as good a friend of the law, as sincere a lover of the constitution, he not only sailed with the wild men, but helped to steer the ship. On some points of policy, it is true, he did not agree with some of his friends. When the veto was declared illegal, he would have made some concession, and in some other matters he would have been more cautious, but he was too loyal to the great principles involved in the controversy to allow such matters to cool his earnestness in the cause.

Mr Hamilton died in the prime of life. His last illness was sudden and short. In the end of August 1847, he was seized with diarrhoea, which ended fatally on 2d September. Dr Candlish hastened to the bedside of his friend, and found him in the last extremity of weakness. “He could scarcely speak articulately,” says Dr Candlish, in an interesting notice of him, “but his breathings were all ejaculatory thanksgivings and prayers. We asked him if he had anything to say regarding the affairs of the Church, in which together we had taken so deep an interest, and shared so many toils. No, he briefly answered; you know my views on all points sufficiently already. Nothing then passed but what pertained to the common salvation. His smile was radiant as in broken sentences he poured out his soul, adoring Christ’s love, and wondering that it should have reached such a sinner as himself. We asked if he would wish us to join in prayer, and immediately, with a beaming countenance, he himself offered up a short collected supplication. The scene was too affecting. He had on the previous day commissioned one of his medical attendants, who was also a personal friend, to convey a message to the writer, and to another of the brethren, to the effect, that on his deathbed he derived great comfort from the thought of the principles he had maintained, and the cause in which he had contended. But while thus bearing testimony, along with so many others, to the preciousness of these principles and of that cause, as seen in the light of the eternal world breaking in upon the departing soul—while deriving consolation from the remembrance of his having been enabled to be faithful to the crown rights of the Redeemer, in whose presence he was so soon to appear—he was far from resting his confidence on any other ground than the mediatorial work of the Great High Priest. It was of Jesus, as the Lamb of God, that he spoke; it was atoning blood that gave him all his hopes; and redeeming love formed the burden of his last feeble utterance of praise. We saw him in the same frame on the night before he died. Early on the 22d he fell asleep in Jesus.”

The names of champions whose eloquence resounded through the country and stirred the soul of the multitude, are naturally remembered longest, and by the greatest number. But there are still some who are moved with a tender and respectful affection, if perchance, sauntering through St Cuthbert’s churchyard, their eye lights on the stone that bears the name of John Hamilton. It recalls to them a man eminently good and loveable, and reminds them how much the Free Church owes to such men, who, in the noblest spirit, and with much self-sacrifice, built the wall of Jerusalem in troublous times.

W. G. B.

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William Maxwell Hetherington


William Maxwell Hetherington

The subject of our Memoir, William Maxwell Hetherington, was born on the 4th of June 1803, in the parish of Troqueer, in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. His parents were of humble station, but seem to have been endowed with those sterling qualities of character, which have so often made the homes of the Scottish peasantry the nurseries of greatness.

He received his primary education in the parish school of Troqueer, which he left however without introduction to the study of the Classical Languages. In 1822, after a few months’ private study of Latin and Greek, he matriculated in the University of Edinburgh, at the age of nineteen, and in spite of disadvantages in preliminary training, achieved marked success as a student all along the lines of study; taking the highest place in Greek, and the second in the class of Moral Philosophy. His relations to Professor Wilson developed rapidly into intimate friendship; and it was under his encouragement, that he ventured to publish in 1829, before completing his Theological Curriculum, a small volume of poems, under the title of “Dramatic Sketches.”

On the completion of his course of study, Mr Hetherington received an appointment as tutor, first in the family of a Scottish nobleman, and then to the son of an Irish peer resident in London. During this period of comparative leisure which extended over several years, he devoted himself to the study of general history; and in the course of his research became impressed with the idea that there was room for a popular exposition of the course of providential discipline by which the world was prepared for the advent of the Son of God. In prosecution of this idea, he published in 1834 an elaborate treatise, felicitously titled “The Fulness of Time,” in which he traced the progress of the mental and moral development of the race during the Patriarchal Age, and under the dynasties of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The work is one of profound erudition, and is confessedly the ablest and most original of his writings.

In 1836, Mr Hetherington accepted a presentation to the parish of Torphichen, in the Presbytery of Linlithgow, where he speedily won for himself a position of influence, by the earnest evangelism of his ministry, and the ardour with which he entered into the discussion of the public questions of the day.

Shortly after his ordination he married a daughter of the Rev. Dr Meek, of Hamilton, formerly of Torphichen, who by a singular arrangement of Providence, returned as his wife, to the manse in which she had been born, and where she had spent the years of girlhood.

During these opening years of his ministry, Mr Hetherington, though a young man, gained the confidence of the more public leaders of the Evangelical party; he was looked to as a representative in his district of the country; and was in frequent and intimate communication with them. Perhaps the most effective of his platform appearances on the Church question was made at this time, in Linlithgow, when, in response to a sudden call to take the place of a deputation from Edinburgh who had failed to appear, he held the large audience spellbound, while in an extempore address of three hours, he expounded the principles at stake.

His ministry at Torphichen was a period of great literary activity; his “Minister’s Family,” the article “Rome” for the “Encyclopaedia Britannica,” and numerous contributions to the Presbyterian Review, and other Magazines, being amongst his lighter efforts.

As the Ecclesiastical Controversy advanced, Mr Hetherington became alive to the want of a Treatise, which would present, in a popular form, the historical bearings of the questions in debate; a want which he supplied by his “History of the Church of Scotland,” published in 1841. The rapidity with which new editions were called for, testified at once to the seasonableness of the Work, and to the important part it played in ripening the minds of the people for the brilliant issue of 1843. In the Autumn of that year the history was brought down to the Disruption; and by the year 1848 the work had reached the sixth edition.

His next important literary contribution to the solution of existing ecclesiastical problems, was a “History of the Westminster Assembly,” published in 1843. Written with the avowed intention of “vindicating the principles and the character of the Presbyterian Church,” the work did an important service at a time when these were both “misrepresented and condemned.” It is characterised by the author’s wonted intensity of thought and feeling, and stands alone as a popular History of the Genesis of the Standards of the Presbyterian Church. In a recent edition, published in 1878, under the editorship of the Rev. Dr Williamson, Ascog, Bute, the work has been enhanced in value, by the addition of a considerable amount of new matter, and by various important corrections which have been supplied by the publication of a portion of the Original Minutes of the Assembly proceedings, a document, which until after the death of the historian was supposed to have been “irrecoverably lost.”

In 1840, Mr Hetherington was one of the General Assembly’s deputies to the refractory Presbytery of Strathbogie, and in the discharge of his work received the usual attention of a Civil Interdict, which he defied on the strength of his higher commission as a servant of Christ and of His Church.

Mr Hetherington was present at all the diets of the memorable Convocation in 1842, in which the Church’s line of action was finally determined; and has left behind him an interesting memorandum of each day’s proceedings, noted on the spot.

There is no need that we should here describe the familiar and stirring events of the 18th of May 1843; but a few lines from a letter of that date to his “disinherited wife” may be of more than personal interest.

The deed is done!! We are now sitting in the hall of our new Assembly with feelings of the deepest solemnity, yet holy joy, and unutterable peace. … All was done in calm and solemn sacredness of manner and spirit. The protest was read without interruption; then Dr Welsh stepped down from the chair and walked out, followed closely by Drs Chalmers, Gordon, Makellar, Macfarlane, &c. Then we all rose and left the house as quietly as we could. … The hall (Tanfield) is quite full, and it will contain at least 3000 people. About 460 ministers have signed the protest … were there no more, enough. Glory to God alone! … All has gone on most nobly, and every one seems light and happy, and thankful to God for the great things which He has done for us.”

On the second Monday of its session, the Assembly of 1843, “taking into consideration all the goodness which the Church had received at the Lord’s hands,” appointed Thursday the 15th of June as a day of thanksgiving, to be observed in all the congregations of the Church. The pastoral address issued on the occasion was prepared by Mr Hetherington.

On the 28th of May Mr Hetherington preached for the last time in the Parish Church of Torphichen, closing the service with a solemn protest against the action of the Legislature, by which “wrong had been done to the constitution of the kingdom, and to the Church of God.” It is an interesting evidence of the deliberate certainty with which he had anticipated the issue of the controversy, that the site for the new church at Torphichen was secured, and some materials collected, before he set out for the meeting of the Assembly in 1843. The removal of earth for the foundations was begun on the 12th of June, and on the 6th of August, within eight weeks of its commencement, the church was opened for public worship. On the 24th day of the same month Mr Hetherington entered the new manse; and, on the 2nd of October, a new building was opened as a school-house. Thus it was given to the congregation of Torphichen to complete successively the first church, manse, and school-house in connection with the Free Church of Scotland.

In addition to the enormous labour of organising the Free Church, there fell upon the leaders of the Disruption the work of expounding its principles far and wide, at the earnest solicitation of friends interested in its history. Mr Hetherington was sent in November of 1843, along with Dr Candlish, Rev. Andrew Gray of Perth, D. M. Makgill Crichton, Esq., and others, to visit certain of the leading towns in Yorkshire. A short extract from a letter, dated Bradford, 24th November 1843, will give an idea of the straining character of these missions. “For three days I have been driven from place to place, travelling every day, I know not how many miles, scarcely reaching the place of meeting till the hour was come, and then commencing to speak immediately; again resuming conversation after returning from the meeting, and continuing till two or three o’clock in the morning; then getting up at seven in order to resume travelling on next morning. Such has been my course since Monday, at Sheffield, and must be for another week, till I leave Leeds. This forenoon I addressed the meeting at Bradford, and have to speak again this evening. To-morrow I obtain a little respite; and, on Sabbath, have to preach three times. On Monday I have to be at Leeds; on Tuesday, Dr Candlish and I return to Sheffield, and thence again to Leeds. …”

Early in 1844, Mr Hetherington accepted a call from the congregation of St Andrews. He was a fitting representative of the evangelical cause in a university city, which was a hereditary stronghold of Erastianism, and the very “Siberia of Moderatism.” By appointment of General Assembly he received a certain Professorial charge of the students attending the University of St Andrews who adhered to the Free Church. One of them, who remembers his friendship with a grateful enthusiasm, thus writes:—”It was of great value to us in that testing time and place to be in habitual contact with a man of nerve and vigour like Dr Hetherington. There was about him a wholesome atmosphere of sharply defined opinion, which was a shield to our young convictions. … Altogether, with his literary wealth, his ecclesiastical lore, his fertility and vigour of thought, his robust convictions, and his manly courage in maintaining them, he made his years in St Andrews a time of forcible and effective service.”

As a pastor and preacher he was held in the highest esteem by his congregation, and, although circumstances arose which somewhat marred the peacefulness of his work at the close of his ministry in St Andrews, the attachment of the congregation was evinced by a memorial, couched in the most affectionate terms, and signed by 427 members and adherents, urging him to refuse the call which an Edinburgh congregation had addressed to him.

Immediately on his settlement in St Andrews, Mr Hetherington received the Degree of LL.D. from the College of New Brunswick, U.S.; and, eleven years later, in 1855, the Degree of D.D. was conferred on him by the Jefferson College, Pennsylvania. At St Andrews, he started and for four years edited the Free Church Magazine.

In 1848 Dr Hetherington was translated to Edinburgh, to the pastoral charge of the congregation of St Paul’s. His Edinburgh ministry was an influential and, in many respects, a remarkable one. The notes of daily work which he has left indicate a rare amount of pastoral activity. In the pulpit he was always fresh, always vigorous, and not unfrequently rose to a height of real eloquence, when his theme kindled the passionate fire that was so characteristic of him. His widest fame as a preacher was achieved in connection with his monthly Sabbath evening lectures on the characters and scenes of Old Testament history. These lectures were enriched by a free use of his extensive stores of historical and scientific information; and in them Old Testament incident was often used as a foil to set off some moral principle bearing a contemporary national or social life. They attracted hearers from all parts of the city, and throughout the whole course the large church was crowded month after month,—pews, passages, and pulpit stairs being thronged with eager listeners.

At this period he was a frequent lecturer on subjects of general interest—social, literary, and historical; in 1853, delivered in Exeter Hall, London, a brilliant lecture on “Coleridge and his Followers;” and during his Edinburgh ministry wrote his well-known “Memoir of Mrs Coutts.”

After a laborious ministry of nine years in Edinburgh, he received a unanimous appointment by the General Assembly of 1857 to the chair of Apologetics and Systematic Theology in the Free Church College of Glasgow. A posthumous volume entitled “The Apologetics of the Christian Faith,” which contains the lectures prepared for his students during his first session, and almost in the form in which they were originally delivered, testifies to the enthusiasm and thoroughness with which he entered on the duties of the professorship.

In connection with this period of Dr Hetherington’s life, it is due to him to refer to his unwearied labours in fostering the young charge of Kelvinside, of whose provisional session he was the first moderator, and over whose beginnings he watched with all a pastor’s affectionate care.

The heavy strain of the first two years of his professorship fatally undermined his constitution, and prepared the way for a stroke of paralysis in 1862, by which he was entirely laid aside from public duty. During three years he bore his affliction with the most perfect resignation. Though the vigour of his mental powers was much impaired, and his remarkable memory sadly shattered, he manifested occasionally something of his old clearness of perception, and was to the end keenly alive to the preciousness of Divine truth. The end came peacefully on the 23rd of May 1865. His wife, who tended him with the most affectionate devotion through his protracted illness, thus wrote a few months after his departure:—”When I remember his irrepressible energy and restless activity of both mind and body in younger days, I look back with thankfulness and something like wonder to the calm, cheerful, submissive, patient sufferer. Never a murmur escaped his lips; and when, on that bright morning, he fell asleep in Jesus, without a struggle, without a pained look, without even a nervous quiver, I truly felt how graciously and tenderly the Lord, in His mercy and loving-kindness, had dealt with me and mine; and now all my reminiscences of him are pure, unmingled love—love that draws me onward and upward to my Saviour and my God.”

By his own request, his remains were interred in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh, “as near as possible to Cunningham.” The session of the General Assembly afforded to many of his old friends and admirers the melancholy satisfaction of following his body to the grave. The graceful monument that marks his resting-place was erected to his memory by the congregation of St Paul’s, who never ceased to cherish the most affectionate regard for their former pastor.

W. M. F.

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Robert Gordon, D.D.


Robert Gordon

Among the names which appear in the martyr roll of the Disruption period, there is not one which was regarded in its day with a deeper reverence than that of Dr Gordon. He did not mingle much in the strife. He took little part in the debates which were constantly occurring in popular assemblies and church courts. So far as we know, he wrote no controversial pamphlets. And it was never to him that his party looked when they were battling with the politicians. But there was no man who moved forward with a firmer tread — no man who was more resolute in asserting the Church’s independence, or more ready to brave all consequences in order to maintain it; and the very quietness, and calmness, and dignity, which characterised his usual demeanour, gave an almost startling impressiveness to his words and actions when he emerged, as he did once and again, from the crowd, and took up an advanced position as one of the undoubted leaders in the great movement of his time.

His outward personal history was not an eventful one. He was born at Glencairn, in Dumfriesshire. After receiving license to preach the gospel, he became Mathematical Assistant to the Rector of the Perth Academy,—an office in which he was succeeded by the Rev. Dr Forbes of Glasgow. There his gifts came to be known to Lord Gray, who presented him to the parish of Kinfauns, where he continued to labour from 1816 to 1820, when he was translated to Edinburgh. In that city he remained till his death in 1853, but during that long period his services were not confined to one congregation. His first charge was that of Hope Park Chapel; his next was the New North, in Brighton Street; his third was the High Church Parish; and his last the Free High Church, at the head of the Mound. In all he maintained, from first to last, the character of an able and earnest evangelical preacher. His discourses were prepared with extraordinary thoroughness and care. They were delivered in a manner which was particularly impressive. And there is the best reason for believing that his ministry was eminently successful, in the highest sense of that expression. A volume of his sermons was published in 1825, and since his death two other volumes, containing additional examples of his method of expounding Scripture, especially the prophecies relating to the Messiah, have been given to the world. We have it also on good authority that he contributed several articles on mathematical subjects to the Edinburgh Cyclopaedia, a publication which was edited by Sir David Brewster. But his highest memorial is the spiritual fruit which followed from his pastoral labours, and the emphatic testimony which, with all the weight of his character, he gave to the principles which constitute the heritage of the Church of Scotland.

In the latter connection, there are several outstanding incidents in the life of Dr Gordon which are peculiarly worthy of being referred to in such a record as the present.

One of these was his appearance at the bar of the Court of Session, along with the Presbytery of Dunkeld. That Presbytery had been placed in a somewhat singular position. Two men—Mr Clark and Mr Kessen—had been nominated to the pastorate of Lethendy, a parish within their bounds. The former was first in the field, but he was vetoed, and, with the concurrence of the patron, was set aside. Mr Kessen was then presented, and he having received in addition a call from the people, the usual steps were taken with a view to his settlement.

Mr Clark, however, was not prepared to be thus dropped. He asked the Court of Session to interfere on his behalf, and the Court did so, issuing an interdict forbidding the Presbytery to proceed to Mr Kessen’s ordination. Lord Cockburn, commenting not long afterwards on this act, says in his Journal:—”This is the second deep cut into the nervous system of the Church, for if we can order a Presbytery not to induct, I don’t see that we have not the power to bid it induct. And after this, where is the peculiar power of the Church?” So reasoned the Church itself. The Presbytery was forced to settle for itself the question, of whether in a matter so purely spiritual as the ordination of a minister, it was bound to obey the civil court or its own spiritual superior. The General Assembly’s command was explicit:—”You shall proceed to Mr Kessen’s induction to the pastorate of the people of Lethendy, leaving the law to determine, as it has a right to do, to whom the benefice shall belong.” The Court of Session was equally articulate:—”This is a matter which concerns us, and you must not ordain Mr Kessen until we give you leave to do so.” In just such a dilemma was once the famous Presbytery of Strathbogie. The civil power said one thing, the Church said another, and they were in a strait between the two. But they came to a very different conclusion from that which was reached by the Presbytery of Dunkeld. At Marnoch, the will of the Court of Session was carried out, and the ministers got their reward by being upheld by the law in the performance of all their spiritual functions, even after their deposition. At Lethendy the order of the Church was obeyed, and the offenders were threatened in consequence with fine and imprisonment. It is no secret, now, that in the breasts of some of the judges, who had been, as they thought, defied, there raged such a feeling of anger that, if it had not been for the influence of some of their more temperate brethren, measures of a very extreme character would certainly have been taken. As it was, the men who had dared to ordain a minister without the permission of the Parliament House, were summoned to answer for their conduct at the bar of the Court of Session. And in the remarkable historical picture which, in consequence of this summons, came to be framed in Edinburgh on the 14th of June 1839, one of the figures which appears most prominently in the foreground was that of Dr Gordon.

He was not, of course, a member of the Presbytery of Dunkeld; but he believed that they were being called to suffer in a public cause, and for the maintenance of a great principle—the freedom and independence of the Church—and he resolved to place himself by their side, to share their shame and their glory, and to give to them what comfort was to be derived from his openly identifying himself with their interests.

It must have been a striking scene:—

“In front, elevated on their bench, clothed in their robes of human authority, and invested with the stern insignia of secular power, sat the judges, twelve in number. Opposite stood another court—a court of Christ—called to their bar for executing the spiritual functions conferred by the Lord Jesus on His Church. … A very few of the most respected ministers of Edinburgh and the neighbourhood—sufficient to countenance their brethren, but not to have the slightest appearance of a bravado— attended them to the bar. First one, then another, and then a third, followed them. A frown darkened the brow of the court; but the crowd closing, as if all had come in, nothing was said. After a moment’s pause the crowd opened again, and yet another entered. It was Dr Gordon. No sooner was his noble and venerable head seen emerging from the crowd, at the end of the bar, than the smothered feeling broke forth, and a proposal burst from the bench to turn out these clergymen from the bar; but an indignant and solemn remonstrance from Lord Moncreiff checked the attempt.”
 

What followed belongs to the ecclesiastical history of the period. It is enough, in the present sketch, to connect Dr Gordon, as a leader, with one of the most significant battles of the “ten years’ conflict.”

Two years later, in 1841, Dr Gordon received the well merited distinction of being called to the Moderatorship of the General Assembly: and in that capacity he was required to perform a duty which could not but have been painful, but which he discharged, there can be no doubt, with the entire approbation of his own conscience—we refer to the pronouncing of the sentence of deposition on the seven Strathbogie ministers. Occupying the chair of the Assembly, as he did, it did not fall to him either to take part in the discussion which preceded the judgment, or to vote upon the two motions which were made on the occasion. It is rather remarkable, however, that in the history we should find him so closely associated with the two cases in connection with which the Church asserted its Spiritual Independence most emphatically, and in the face of all hazards. The good-will and active support of the civil powers he no doubt highly valued, and it could not but pain him to find himself in such direct collision with them. But whether these powers were for him or against him, there was one principle which he could surrender in no circumstances—that of the Church’s inherent freedom—its right to rule without secular interference, within its own province.

And some months later he gave distinct and articulate expression to these feelings in the famous meeting of office-bearers which was held in St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh. That meeting was attended by over twelve hundred ministers and elders, and was the first of a series held in different parts of Scotland, in which the Evangelicals everywhere banded themselves to resist the encroachments of the State. Dr Gordon was called on to preside; and those who heard his opening speech, as chairman, were never weary afterwards of telling of the profound impression which was made by it. He uttered strong words, but these did not exceed in strength the feeling which manifestly possessed him. Never, we have heard it said, did Chalmers himself speak with more power, and intensity, and effect:—

“It has come to this,” said he, “plainly and distinctly, that I, a minister of the Church of Scotland, who have solemnly sworn before God, and as I shall answer to Him at the great day of judgment, that I believe in my heart and conscience that Christ is the great Head of the Church, and that He has appointed office-bearers in it, distinct from the civil magistrate, to whom He has committed the keys of His spiritual kingdom; who are to loose and to bind, to lay on and to take off, spiritual ecclesiastical censures; it has come, I say, to this, that I am called upon either to renounce these principles, or to renounce the privileges which I hold as an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland.”
 

Having thus clearly stated the nature of the issue which was at stake, he, with equal explicitness, announced the practical conclusion to which he had come—viz., that he would maintain the great principle of the Church of Scotland, whatever might be the consequence.

It was one of the first unmistakeable foreshadowings of the coming Disruption. Dr Gordon even then clearly foresaw the catastrophe toward which the civil courts were driving; and his address derived an additional solemnity from the picture which he silently held up before his audience.

One other outstanding incident of these times is well worthy of mention in this connection. The General Assembly of 1842 adopted The Claim of Rights—a document in which the position of the Church was finally defined, with a view to a last appeal being made to the legislature. The adoption of that great historical State Church paper was moved by Dr Chalmers, and seconded by Dr Gordon. In the short speech which he delivered on that occasion, Dr Gordon expressed a hope that Parliament would act in a wiser way than the Court of Session had done.

“But, Sir,” he went on to say, “if, unhappily, it should be otherwise, if they have resolved on refusing to grant what we think reasonable on our part to ask, I feel, for one, that we are bound, as honest men and Christian ministers, with all calmness and all respect, but with all firmness and determination, to tell them that we cannot carry on the affairs of Christ’s house under the coercion of the civil courts; and, however deeply we may deplore the loss of those advantages which we derive from our connection with the State, if ultimately the legislature determine that they will not listen to our claim, then those advantages we must relinquish, because we could not hold them with a good conscience.”
 

When the 18th of May 1843 arrived, and intimation was formally given that no more was to be hoped for from the legislature than from the civil courts, Dr Gordon took, without the slightest hesitation, the now unavoidable step of seeking, with his brethren, spiritual liberty outside of the Establishment; and for ten years more he was honoured to do the work of an evangelist in Edinburgh, and to aid effectually in the organisation of the Church of Scotland, free.

But he was not allowed to spend this last decade of his life in absolute quiet. The refusal of sites, in many places, for the erection of Free Churches, had resulted in the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission to take evidence on the subject, and Dr Gordon was summoned to London as a witness. He appeared before the Commission on the 27th of March 1847, and some of the things which he said on this occasion are important enough to warrant our quoting them here:—

Sir James Graham: A very important point in dispute between the Free Church and the Established Church, which you have left, is the efficacy of the call by the hearers of the clergyman to be appointed?

Dr Gordon: The main question I hold to be the spiritual independence of the Church; the interference of the civil authority with matters purely spiritual.

Sir J. Graham: Is not the call a very important check, among others, against the abuse of patronage in your opinion?

Dr Gordon: No doubt, but the question which led to the Disruption, was the question of the independence of the Church.

Mr Fox Maule: The question of Patronage was not that upon which the Free Church separated from the Establishment?

Dr Gordon: Certainly not.

“Mr F. Maule: It was a question entirely as to the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church?

Dr Gordon: Yes. …

Mr W. Patten: At what period do you think the Established Church relinquished the truth?

Dr Gordon: At the time of the Disruption.

Mr W. Patten: Were any steps taken at the time of the Disruption, other than those which had been taken previously?

Dr Gordon: They then homologated the act and deed of the civil authority in interfering in spiritual matters.

Mr W. Patten: Was that the first time they had done that?

Dr Gordon: The first time they gave consent to it. …

Mr G. W. Hope: Is it not denied by those who adhere to the Church, that they do exercise these functions under the guidance of the State?

Dr Gordon: They believe, I suppose, that Lord Aberdeen’s Bill has protected them; but the very introduction of the Bill appeared to me to be an admission that the law which led to the Disruption had, in fact, deprived the Church of her rights and privileges as a spiritual court. …

Mr Brotherton: Have they changed within the last seven years?

Dr Gordon: We think that they have admitted the civil power to interfere in spiritual matters, so that the spiritual liberty of the Church has been sacrificed.

Mr Brotherton: In what respect?

Dr Gordon: In permitting themselves to be dictated to in spiritual matters by the civil authorities.

Chairman: Has the great body of the Scottish dissenters separated from the Church of Scotland upon the same ground, that of interference with the spiritual independence of the Church?

Dr Gordon: The original dissenters from the Church of Scotland left it partly on the ground of patronage. They considered that as an interference with the liberties of the Church. We continued in the Church, and thought that we retained our liberties, even with the law of patronage, although among us there were many who looked upon patronage as rather a grievance—indeed, a great grievance—but still we did not consider that patronage itself, if the call had its proper place, was such an encroachment upon the liberties of the Church as to compel us to leave it.”

The Scottish worthy, of whom the above is a most imperfect sketch, was engaged in the preparation of a sermon for his communion Sabbath, when the summons reached him to go up higher. The sermon was never finished and never preached; but after his death it was published for the edification and comfort of his people. We have that discourse of his now before us, and it is most striking and affecting to see that the last words he ever penned were these:—”Death is swallowed up in victory. O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?”

N. L. W.

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1 An early instance of his vehemence and concentration of mind may be worth preserving. He spent the college recess in his father’s house, where he was in the habit of retiring to an upper room, that he might prosecute his studies undisturbed. On one occasion when he was intensely occupied, the sudden announcement that dinner was ready, broke up his equanimity, and drew forth a burst of indignation. “Oh,” cried the rapt votary of science, “I wish I were alone in the world.”

2 He stated in one of his opening addresses that, on comparing notes with the Professor of Mathematics regarding the students by whom their classes were attended, he found that those who were distinguished in the one class were, for the most part, distinguished also in the other; and he added, with great emphasis, that his brother Professor and himself were thoroughly agreed on one point—that they would rather have a response from the heads than from the heels of the rising generation.

3 A few days before his death, he was asked by his brother, the late Charles Chalmers, Esq., while the two were together in the Doctor’s study, “Now could you not sit down quietly and muse for half an hour in that chair?” “No,” was the reply, “I must either have a pen or a book in my hand.”

4 A name still nobly represented in the family.

5 Minute of the General Assembly of the Free Church on the death of Lord Dalhousie.

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