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REV. THOMAS WRIGHT CALDER, AYR

(Died January 14, 1873)
Author: Rev. A.M. Brown, B.D., Free St. Andrew’s, Kirkintilloch
The Free Church Monthly Record, March 1, 1873, p.59


Many of the readers of the Record will learn with deep regret and profound sorrow of the early and unexpected death of this promising young probationer. Born at Kirkintilloch in 1847, he has passed away at the early age of twenty-five. After receiving his preliminary education in his native place, he studied at the University of Glasgow, where, devoting himself with much diligence to the work of the various classes, he was regarded as a student of much promise. This promise was fulfilled at the Hall, where he was not merely beloved of the students, but regarded by the professors as one who, had he been spared, would have been a useful and faithful servant of Christ. During this period he carried on mission work, in connection with the congregation at Holytown, with great acceptance in this mining district. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow only four months ago; and at the time of his death, which occurred at Ayr on the 14th of January, through brain fever, he was filling the place of Mr. Grant, who is himself on the Continent in search of health. God had gifted him with no ordinary abilities, which were carefully cultivated; but with these he united a modesty and amiability of character, and a sweetness of disposition, that endeared him to all who knew him—that have drawn forth letters of sympathy with his friends from such men as Principal Fairbairn, Professor Douglas, and Dr. W. C. Smith— and that led the congregation at Ayr, whose sad privilege it was to have his services for so short a time, to hope for him a long career of usefulness. The dispensations of God are often mysterious and inscrutable to us. To us it seems only to be lamented that a youth of such promise, after preparing himself for nine or ten long years for the work of the ministry, should be cut off, just when he has entered on the work to which his life has been devoted. We could have wished that it had been otherwise; we could have gladly kept him longer; but the Lord had better things in store for him.

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REV. ROBERT R. CALDWELL, ERSKINE

(Died January 16, 1898)
Author: Principal Douglas, D.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1898, Obituary, p.95


Mr. Caldwell was born at Paisley in 1819. He was trained for business as an accountant. At the end of his apprenticeship his masters offered to make him a partner, and pressed the offer on him; but he declined it, having his heart now set upon direct work for Christ. It is interesting to learn that his desire was to become a medical missionary, at a time when the value of this form of service was little understood. He passed his arts course at the University of Glasgow, beginning in 1837; and there he also took some medical classes. But as the Ten Years’ Conflict in the Church of Scotland grew hotter, he seems more and more to have been drawn to the ministry at home. He took the theological course at Edinburgh, greatly enjoying the teaching of Welsh and Chalmers. Chalmers, indeed, was to him, he said, rather a personal friend than a professor. Besides these preparations, he had the advantage of studying as an amateur for two sessions at the Reformed Presbyterian Hall, under the able and saintly Dr. Andrew Symington of Paisley.

As a probationer he was nearly a year in charge of the station of Inchinnan, in the Presbytery of Paisley. Having had several calls addressed to him, he accepted that to the adjoining parish of Erskine, in the Presbytery of Greenock, in May 1845. Soon after this he married the daughter of a well-known Paisley citizen, Mr. John Findlay (who also gave a son to the ministry of the Free Church), the lineal descendant and namesake of one of the martyrs in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, whose testimony is recorded in The Cloud of Witnesses. She and four children predeceased him; two daughters survive, one of them the wife of the Rev. J. Campbell, minister of the Free Gaelic Church at Greenock.

Mr. Caldwell never accepted any other charge, occupying this one for almost fifty-three years. Nearly seven years before his death he retired from the active duties of his charge. Two or three years of broken-down health and strength followed upon the death of his beloved wife and true helpmeet. The end came painlessly and quickly by a shock of apoplexy.

Mr. Caldwell was intelligently and firmly attached to the truth of God as he had been early and carefully taught to know it. If one were to give the character of his preaching, it might be called eminently practical. He aimed first at bringing all his people to Christ, and then at training them up in all the completeness of the Christian life. As a pastor he was most attentive to their spiritual wants, visiting them carefully both in health and in sickness. The pure and loving example of his energetic life must have told powerfully in his parish. It had been blessed with the evangelical ministries of a father and a son, the son coming to be widely known as the Rev. Robert Walter Stewart of Leghorn, who was the immediate predecessor of Mr. Caldwell.

Mr. Caldwell’s business knowledge and habits, coupled with his acquaintance with church law, and made attractive by his wisdom and kindliness of disposition, recommended him to his brethren for the office of presbytery clerk at the time when they were smarting under the loss of his distinguished predecessor, the Rev. James Stark of Greenock. When he resigned this office, in October 1893, they heartily acknowledged how they had been indebted to him for twelve years of service. And in their address to him on occasion of his jubilee, signed by every one of them, they said: “Your ability in the conduct of the business of the presbytery from time to time was no less marked than your unfailing courtesy and considerate kindness. Our association with you as brethren, in private and in the public work of the church, has been uniformly pleasant and profitable; and the more intimately we have known you, the more we have been struck by a combination in you of firmness of principle and gentleness, of charity, of courage in upholding what you conscientiously believe to be true and right, and a modesty of disposition, and an absence of self-assertion, peculiarly beautiful and attractive.” The presbytery repeated their testimony of affection on occasion of his death. In it they bear witness to his faithful and abundant labours in all departments of church work, to his zealous evangelistic efforts, especially in the revival of 1859-60, and again when Mr. Moody paid his two visits to our country, and in the special services on behalf of men and women at the fishing-stations. In these last he enjoyed the co-operation of his daughter, Miss Caldwell. In the same spirit the whole of his office-bearers had united in bearing similar testimony when he retired from the active work of the congregation.

It should be added that, among other social and religious enterprises, he was a life-long advocate of total abstinence.

The church has reason to thank God for occasionally granting such prolonged lives of admirable labourers of whom the names are scarcely known in the records of worldly fame.

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REV. ALEXANDER CAMERON, LL.D., BRODICK

(Died October 24, 1888)
Author: Rev. John Kennedy, Caticol, Arran
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September, 1889, Biographical Notices, p.277


Mr. Cameron was born at Torcroy near Kingussie on the 14th of July 1827. His father was a very shrewd and intelligent man, but not so lively and energetic as his mother, who seems to have had much to do with the shaping of the youthful mind of their eldest son.

Like many others who eventually attained to eminence, Mr. Cameron’s early educational advantages were few. In this sense it is good to bear the yoke in youth, for the struggle to gain knowledge tests and develops the quality and strength of faculty.

Mr. Rutherford and other teachers who were for a time located at Kingussie helped the young aspirant to study, and very soon he was able to teach side schools in the neighbouring glens, and thereafter at Thurso, where there is a kindly recollection of him still.

One of the Edinburgh professors who happened to be on holiday in Badenoch and casually met Mr. Cameron suggested that he should prosecute his studies at the university. Acting on this advice, when about twenty years of age he went to the Edinburgh University, and notwithstanding his defective training made his mark the first session. Later on he took a very high place in mathematics, philosophy, and logic, as his numerous prizes attest.

He then entered the Divinity Hall of the Free Church, but continued his attendance on classes at the university as well, and acquitted himself admirably. He was missionary and teacher for a summer in Islay, and then at Renton, where he was licensed in 1856. The station grew under his care, and was eventually erected into a charge in 1859. During these three years he had many invitations to leave the somewhat difficult sphere in which he laboured. He preached his first sermon in Greenock for Rev. John McRae, Macrath mohr, with the result that the congregation approached him with a view to his remaining with them. He was elected at Pulteneytown and Paisley, and also unanimously at Kilmartin in 1858. But he decided to continue at Renton, where he was ordained in 1859.

For the following fifteen years he devotedly and successfully laboured in the Vale of Leven. It was here he seriously commenced the Celtic studies with which his name will always be honourably associated—or, rather, that he consolidated them; for he began to study the Gaelic grammar during his first session, and gained while at the Hall the first of three bursaries open to all Gaelic-speaking students. Zeuss’s great work on Celtic grammar was published in 1853, and soon after Mr. Cameron turned his attention to the study of old Gaelic, as contained in the ancient Irish Glosses and old MSS. He translated from the Latin a considerable portion of this epoch-making work, as well as at a later period from the German, Professor Windisch’s Irish Grammar; and although neither translation was published by him, his Gaelic students at Glasgow reaped the benefit. It is not too much to say that he was the first in Scotland who placed Celtic philology, and especially Gaelic etymology, on a scientific basis.

In 1862 he was appointed a member of the Joint-Commission of the General Assemblies for the revision of the Gaelic Scriptures; and of his qualifications for this position Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall, also a member of the same Committee, remarked: “As to exact acquaintance with the structure and roots of the Gaelic language, the copious use of Gaelic terms and phrases, the knowledge of cognate dialects, and the power to explain and establish his opinion regarding any disputed point, there was no member of Committee to be compared to the Rev. A. Cameron.” His papers in the Gael, 1872-74, amply show that he paid special and prolonged attention to the wide subject of comparative philology.

During the ten years’ Union Controversy, 1863-73, Mr. Cameron came into prominence as a fearless and frank defender of the Anti-union position, and his knowledge of ecclesiastical law and procedure was, his friends believed, unrivalled.

In 1874 he was called to the pastorate of Brodick, to succeed a well-known man, the late Mr. Peter Davidson. This proved a much wider sphere of labour and of usefulness than his last, both in regard to district and the large numbers of summer visitors that crowd to this favourite and lovely resort. Here his extensive learning and great logical power, as well as lucid and exact statement of gospel truth and Reformation theology, were highly appreciated and borne glad witness to by auditors of all denominations.

Nor did he fail to prosecute his Celtic studies with all the old enthusiasm, and continue to conduct a Gaelic class, first in the Free Church College, and then in the University of Glasgow. This class was attended latterly by over seventy students. Not only did he perform this as a labour of love, but he succeeded in collecting from such generous friends of the Highland students as the late Mr. Kidston, Sir William Mackinnon, and others, the sum of about £200 annually, which was distributed in bursaries according to merit evidenced by examination at the close of the session.

In 1881 he started the Scottish Celtic Review, in which many able articles on Gaelic philology and grammar appeared, and also translations of Professor Windisch’s contributions to Celtic literature—the main burden of the literary and pecuniary undertaking being borne by himself. Four numbers appeared, and these contain some of his ripest philological work.

During all these years he paid due heed to his pastoral work, and few knew how anxiously, constantly, and prayerfully he watched for the souls of his flock, and how often he was on the eve of giving up his literary labours, in case they should be supposed to interfere with the great and responsible work of a minister’s life. He was also a man of profound personal piety, given much to self-examination and private prayer; and his diaries reveal what a poor estimate he held of his attainments in the divine life, and what fervent aspirations he continuously breathed after greater conformity to the mind of Christ.

The last few years of his life were not without trial—ecclesiastical and other—and his robust health and herculean frame became undermined; but all that need be said in this connection is that he remained at his post working arduously, assiduously, and successfully to the end. Many strangers, on a passing visit at Brodick, have borne witness to the exceptionally able character and high spiritual tone of his last two summers’ sermons, in which all the promise of his earlier years found fulfilment.

Six months before his death, on April 18, 1888, the University of Edinburgh, his alma mater, conferred upon him the degree of LL.D., in acknowledgment of his great attainments in and advancement of Celtic philological scholarship; an honour which he highly prized, but did not live long to enjoy. His one regret in this matter was how little had been permitted to him by other avocations to perform; for he had accumulated vast quantities of philological material which he hoped to put into shape – indeed he had only gained the threshold of his projected constructive Gaelic work. It may be added that his literary remains are to be published very soon.

Mr. Cameron engaged in many ecclesiastical controversies, and gave frank expression to his judgments on all the burning questions of the day; and when men found it impossible to agree with him, they invariably acknowledged his remarkably subtle argumentative power, and clear, comprehensive grasp of subject. His almost unbounded hospitality was widely known and appreciated; and many, when they came to know his genial and kindly ways, changed or complemented their former estimate by association of the qualities of the lion and of the lamb.

A month before the end he went to Edinburgh for medical advice; and although Drs. G. and T. Balfour did all that could be done for him, he passed peacefully to his rest and reward on the 24th October in the house of his kind friend Rev. William Balfour.

He was tall and handsome in appearance, with an unusually brilliant and penetrating eye. He possessed that quiet yet commanding dignity that is associated with the motto of his clan, “A Cameron never can yield.” He was unflinching in his adherence to principle, and unhesitating in his acceptance of the truths of the Word of God; in short, a Calvinist in doctrine, a Constitutionalist in Church affairs, a Conservative of all he thought right and good, but above all a Christian.

He was unmarried, and a younger brother mourns his loss.

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REV. ANDREW CAMERON, D.D.

(Died December 17, 1877)
Author: Rev. Professor Blaikie, D.D.
The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1878, p.93


Very special grief must fill innumerable hearts at the sad necessity which places the name of Andrew Cameron in the record of the departed. Cut off in the prime of life, when but a year or two beyond fifty, he has been taken from his brethren at a time when his mature judgment and large experience were every year multiplying the value of the gifts and graces so long and so well employed in his Master’s service.

The bitterness of his removal is lessened in no slight degree to those who remember him in 1849, apparently at the point of death, and who cannot but recognize, as a very special gift of God, the prolongation of his life for nearly double the extension given to Hezekiah.

Mr. Cameron came so early into harness, and has so long held a conspicuous place in the Church, that to many he seems as if he had filled the allotted term of life. It must be remembered that he was but a boy in his teens when he became associated with Hugh Miller as reporter for the Witness, and accustomed us to that singularly intelligent, careful, and well-proportioned style of reporting which we often miss now. Wonderful, truly, were these Disruption times; for every branch of work, great and small, some one seemed to be raised up, and to be enabled to do his work in a style that has rarely been equalled, and never surpassed, either before or since.

Apprenticed thus to literature, Mr. Cameron for many years made it his great work. And in literature he was an original and originating force. The Free Church Magazine, which he took up for a time, he did not continue to edit long, nor did he throw his energies very much into it. The Christian Treasury was his first original literary enterprise, and in its evangelical earnestness, its directness and simplicity, and happy combination of original and selected matter, it bore the impress of his practical and earnest character. In the Family Treasury he sought the same great objects, in combination with a higher literary tone and a wider range of thought; and had he done no other service than draw out such gifts as those of the author of the Schönberg-Cotta Family he would have greatly enriched the Christian literature of the country. To his advice were due some of the best enterprises of Messrs. Johnstone and Hunter —such as Goold’s edition of Owen. The British and Foreign Evangelical Review was started by Mr. Cameron, as the result of a conviction that the Churches of this country would be greatly benefited by acquaintance with the able and useful products of the theological press of the United States. The News of the Churches and Journal of Missions exemplified the catholicity of his heart and his earnest desire to bring together all who were engaged in the service of the same Lord and Master.

The colportage department of the Book and Tract Society was his next great enterprise. The remarkable success of that movement, in connection with which upwards of two hundred colporteurs are now employed, is the best proof of the Christian sagacity and wisdom which Mr. Cameron exemplified in bringing it into existence. Every successive year shows that that most important work was not begun a day too soon. But for his foresight and energy objectionable periodicals would have got a stronger footing in the country, and the work of the colporteur, delayed too long, would have been far more difficult than it is.

Mr. Cameron had, however, always looked forward to the work of the Christian ministry, and was truly thankful when his life-wishes were realized on his ordination to the Free Church at Maryton in Forfarshire. His eminent gifts and powerful character led to his being appointed a few years afterwards to the principal Presbyterian congregation of Melbourne in Victoria, where, as colleague to Dr. Cairns, he laboured with much ability, until considerations of health obliged him to resign and to accept the charge of St. Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne. About this time the degree of D.D. was conferred on him by the College of Princeton, New Jersey, at the instigation of the president, Dr. McCosh. The latter portion of his life was signalized by the starting and editing of a weekly religious newspaper, under the name of the Southern Cross, one of the most important Christian enterprises ever taken in hand by a Christian minister, and likely to prove a remarkable blessing to the whole colony of Victoria.

Short, comparatively, though his career has been, Dr. Cameron has left his mark on the Christian literature both of his native land and his adopted colony. He had a kind of literary intuition. A glance often enabled him to tell the character of a book or the quality of a paper. All about American theologians and their works he seemed to find out by a kind of instinct. His judgment, so remarkably intuitive, was generally very sound, and it was thoroughly dominated by his evangelical convictions. No man knew better how to combine the conservative and the progressive elements in the arrangements of the Christian Church. His help would have been very valuable in our own Church at the present day, when so much confusion has arisen, and on both sides there is so much risk of one-sided views and hasty action.

In his affections he was warm and tender, attaching his friends by a strong bond of affectionate regard. Dr. Cameron always spoke of the Rev. Dr. Charles Brown as his spiritual father; and the tone of Christian life which he sought to promote was ever in accord with what he acquired from that excellent minister.

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REV. JAMES CAMERON, M.A., GLENBERVIE

(Died May 23, 1875)
Author: Rev. J.O. Gray, M.A., Marykirk
The Free Church Monthly, August 2, 1875, p.198


Born at Udny on the 8th of February 1837, James Cameron entered the Free Church school there in the spring of 1844, and received nearly the whole of his education in his native parish prior to his entering the university. From his boyhood he seems to have given indication of the qualities for which he was afterwards distinguished. Though he had fewer advantages than many, on coming to Aberdeen he took at once a very creditable position in the fourth class of the grammar school there under Dr. Melvin, when he had been only three months in the class. In the following year, 1852, after only another quarter’s training under that noted teacher, he gained the third bursary at the annual competition in Marischal College, thus entering on a university course which was marked with high distinction; for not only did he maintain the position which he thus early made for himself, but he soon fought his way up to the first place in mathematics, taking also the second place in natural philosophy that same year. Towards the beginning of session 1856-57 he carried off the highest mathematical honours, having gained Gray’s Mathematical Bursary of the value of £60, and graduating with honours in April 1857. Soon after this he held the position of assistant teacher for a period of two years in the Aberdeen Commercial and Mathematical School, under the late Rev. R.A. Gray, and gave the fullest satisfaction in the discharge of his onerous duties. He afterwards held a responsible position in the Gymnasium; and when he was a candidate for the Examinership in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in the University, the head of that institution bore this testimony to him: “I can truly say that, among all the distinguished young men whose services I have had the privilege of enjoying, Mr. Cameron is the one who has seemed to me to possess in the highest degree an aptitude for the work of written examinations, evincing quickness of perception and soundness of judgment, precision and clearness of expression, accuracy and conscientiousness, as well as diligence and promptitude in executing the laborious work of examining and estimating the value of a large number of exercises. … As a man, his character is above all praise. While maintaining an authority over his pupils (never once, within my recollection, called in question), he enjoys in the highest degree their affection and confidence. His services to myself have been untiring and invaluable.” At the divinity hall also, though probably his strength had been somewhat impaired by the close application of these early years, he maintained his well-earned reputation for scholarship. He was one of the favourite students of Professor Sachs, and came only a little behind the Hebrew bursar of his year.

Towards the close of his theological course, his fellow-students signified their appreciation of his worth by appointing him president of the Students’ Association. Part of one season he spent in Germany, with the view of preparing himself for his life-work. Could it have been wondered at, if one of such attainments had looked forward to occupying some important sphere in the Church at home? Yet it must ever be to his credit that, on finishing his studies, he was quite ready to devote himself to the foreign field, when the claims of India came to be pressed upon his attention, and was only prevented from acting out his convictions of duty on the recommendation of his medical adviser. Being thus debarred from the mission field abroad, he was led, under the influence of the same spirit, to give himself to mission work in Dumfries, where he laboured about a year among the poor and outcast with earnestness and devotedness, and not without tokens of success. In the spring of 1864 he was cordially and unanimously called on to undertake the pastoral oversight of the congregation of Glenbervie.

For the past eleven years he has laboured there with great acceptance, being privileged in the autumn of 1874 to see signs of spiritual quickening among his people, of which he spoke and wrote with much thankfulness. In addition to his other labours, which were not light, owing to his readiness to help his brethren, he had been for some time past preparing the materials for a critical and exegetical commentary on the Minor Prophets, and had made some progress in the work. There was no more active and interested member of the Melville Theological Club, to which he had contributed several valuable papers, and whose members, in common with many others, are now mourning their loss. His discourses were always marked by much clearness and conciseness, bearing evidence of careful preparation, a cultivated style, and a sound exegesis, while of late the spirit of them had become more than usually earnest. His interest in the young will not soon he forgotten, and no one more than he will be missed at the children’s meetings on the Monday evening after the spring communion. His disposition was remarkably genial, such as to endear him to all who knew him. He was always full of life and spirit, so much so that we are led to marvel at that grace which wrought in him such patience and resignation under a long and trying illness, extending over five months, in the course of which he was never heard to utter one complaint. As he said himself to a friend by his death-bed, in reference to something that had been read to him, it was long since he had been “wrapped up in Christ,” and it was His grace that triumphed amid all his weakness, his prayerfulness being not less remarkable than his patience.

He was able to look forward to his change with great composure, making even the necessary arrangements as to his funeral; and thus, as the closing hour of the first Assembly Sabbath of 1875 had run about half its course, he “fell on sleep” in his thirty-eighth year, leaving behind him a young widow and three little children to mourn an irreparable loss. Not only every member of his attached flock, but his co-presbyters and his many friends have felt his removal to be a personal bereavement. The event, in fact, has called forth universal regret and sympathy in the district where his lot had been cast.

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REV. ADAM CAMPBELL, PETTY

(Died June 14, 1894)
Author: Rev. Charles Falconer, Fortrose
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, August, 1895, Obituary, p.194


Mr. Campbell was born in the parish of Farr, Sutherlandshire, in 1807. He began life-work as a teacher, and held the position of teacher in the parish school at Farr at the Disruption, when he cheerfully cast in his lot with the party in the church which contended for the crown rights of Christ and the liberties of the Christian people. He studied at Aberdeen University, where he took the degree of M.A., and gained some bursaries. He was a diligent student to the end, and delighted in reading Greek and Hebrew.

After licence in 1844, he preached in several Highland charges, and received a hearty call from both the congregations of Petty and Avoch. He selected the former, and although tempted to go elsewhere he continued to minister to his beloved and attached congregation for the long period of forty-three years.

His ministerial jubilee was celebrated on the 26th of April last year, when he was presented by his congregation with a beautifully-illuminated and framed address and a purse of sovereigns, and with an illuminated address by the Free Church Presbytery of Inverness, of which court he was for years the venerable and venerated father.

He was a theologian of the good old Calvinistic type, and his strength as a preacher lay in exposition. While not what is called a Broad Churchman, he had liberal sympathies, and clearly and fearlessly declared his views on Biblical and ecclesiastical matters when these were discussed in the church courts.

His latter end was calm and clear like the setting sun. When suffering from weakness and pain words like these fell from his lips: “Lord, be near, for grief is near. Come, Lord, come soon. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” “He hath holpen his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy.” “In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

Like the patriarch of old he fell asleep “in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.”

His wife and five children—two sons and three daughters—survive him. The eldest son, who is an M. A. of Aberdeen University, is at present a student in the New College, Edinburgh.

He died on the Thursday morning—the fast day before the communion in his own church—and was buried on the following Monday at the close of the communion services. That was a communion which will long be remembered in Petty. “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” A weeping congregation and a large number of attached Christian friends followed the remains of Adam Campbell to their last resting-place.

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REV. ALEXANDER BELL CAMPBELL, MARKINCH

(Died April 20, 1807)
Author: Rev: R. B. Blyth, M.A.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, July, 1897, Obituary, p.173


The subject of this notice was born in Edinburgh during the autumn of 1826, and received his early education in Gillespie’s School. Not long after leaving this institution, Mr. Campbell entered for a short time on the work of a teacher. His experience in this field was gained in a school in Queensferry Street, ably conducted by Mr. Crow; and very valuable did this experience afterwards prove, first during his missionary career, and subsequently when he was settled in Markinch. At this period he took an active part in a debating society, got up by a few young men eager to improve themselves; and threw himself with characteristic energy into a circle of young men’s Sabbath morning fellowship meetings. About this time occurred his connection with Free St. John’s, the minister of which was the well-known Dr. Guthrie. In after years Mr. Campbell frequently referred with gratitude to the benefit which he had derived from this church connection, and to the quickening imparted to him by familiar personal intercourse with his pastor.

Now came the important step of his entrance into the university, where he prosecuted his studies with diligence and credit. Here, as indeed throughout his life, he was marked by a genial bonhomie which won him many friends, and proved delightfully infectious in numerous circles. The university course was succeeded by that of the divinity hall, where he not only pursued with ardour the studies preparatory for the pastorate, but was an active member of a theological society then existing in the New College. Alike by the papers which he read, and by the part which he took in discussion, he came well to the front here.

And now we arrive at an important epoch in Mr. Campbell’s life. Dr. Duff, home from India, and finding great difficulty in inducing young men to enter the missionary field, addressed the students of the New College with such burning power, that within a few days five of his auditors offered themselves for the service of Christ in India. Mr. Campbell was one of them; and in a few months, after being married to Miss Orrock, sailed for Madras. There he was associated with John Anderson, the founder of the General Assembly’s mission in that great city. A few years, however, saw the end of this remarkable missionary’s career, when Mr. Campbell and his colleagues, all young men—till the Rev. John Braidwood returned from Scotland—did indeed feel themselves bereaved. Still the work went on in its two great departments, educational and evangelistic. What it has now reached, under the direction of Principal Miller, every member of the Free Church may know. It was in 1852 that Mr. Campbell crossed the terrible Madras surf. In 1857 came the awful Mutiny—a time never to be forgotten by those who were then in India. In the mercy of God, however, the Presidency of Madras remained loyal to our Queen and Government—so loyal that thousands of Madras sepoys sailed to the north, and in the great Gangetic valley did good service in combating their rebellious co-religionists.

After ten years’ residence in India, the health of Mrs. Campbell, our brother’s excellent and devoted wife, so gave way that she was ordered home; and her husband accompanied her. Again, for a short time, he returned to India; but it was only to be soon recalled by his beloved partner’s increased weakness. And now Mr. Campbell had, so to speak, to begin the world again as a preacher. It was not long, however, before the Free Church congregation of Markinch, appreciating his pulpit gifts, gave him a unanimous call. With his induction there comes a period about which not much requires to be said, because soon, by his ability in the pulpit, by his readiness to help his brethren, by his evangelistic efforts in various directions, and by his unvarying geniality, Mr. Campbell was known by a very large circle of friends. Not long after his settlement in Markinch his beloved wife was taken away. The sorrowing husband, strong man though he was, and meekly bowing to his heavenly Father’s will, was greatly shattered by this blow. Friends at this juncture induced him to go to Venice, where, learning Italian, he not only ministered with great acceptance to the Presbyterian congregation there, but so endeared himself to the Italian flock that, at their request, he afterwards went back for another stay of a few months. After a widowerhood of two years, Mr. Campbell, marrying again, was guided to the choice of a lady who in every way proved a true helpmeet to him, both in his time of vigour and when the infirmities of age began to tell upon his frame. She and six of his seven children mourn their great loss, but thank God, as do also the members of his attached congregation, for blessed memories of his love, his laboriousness, his faithfulness to them, and his loyalty to Christ.

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REV. ALEXANDER D. CAMPBELL, LOCKERBIE

(Died June 3, 1892)
Author: Rev. Kenneth Moody-Stuart, Moffat
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1893, Obituary, p.143


Scarcely a General Assembly of our Church passes without our having to mourn the death of one of its members in connection with its sittings. The Assembly of 1892 proved no exception to this rule, and exposure after a late and heated sederunt was the proximate cause of the death of one of the ablest and most prominent ministers in the south of Scotland—the Rev. Alexander D. Campbell of Lockerbie.

Mr. Campbell was born in Greenock on October 23, 1829, and after the Disruption attended with his parents the edifying ministry of the Rev. J. J. Bonar, D.D. He received license in 1856, and during the next four years he acted as assistant in Dumbarton, Dunoon (with Dr. Mackintosh), and elsewhere both in Scotland and England. He was then called to succeed the Rev. Donald McKinnon in the important charge of Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, and ordained over that charge in the spring of 1860, where he continued till his death to minister to an influential and attached congregation.

The revival which had begun in America in 1858, extended to Ulster in 1859, and visited Scotland in 1860-61. This remarkable work of grace first manifested itself in Lockerbie, under a sermon by Mr. Campbell on the text: “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee” (Job 36:18). The congregation was deeply impressed, some of those present crying aloud. From that Sabbath the movement spread through the town and district, influencing all the congregations, all the ministers cooperating in it. The work became so general and arduous that in order to maintain the nightly meetings, which continued for several months, assistance had to be obtained from ministers, elders, and divinity students from a distance. The results of this awakening were eminently satisfactory. Many who were then converted now sleep in Jesus, while others continue to this day testifying by their lives to the permanence of the spiritual impressions then made upon them.

In June 1863 Mr. Campbell married Mary Lundie Duncan, daughter of the Rev. W. Wallace Duncan of Peebles, and grand-daughter of Dr. Duncan of Ruthwell, the originator of savings-banks; one who for thirty years was an admirable helpmeet of her husband. In 1868 the Lockerbie church was remodelled into the present large and handsome structure, and was opened by Dr. Begg. In 1872 Mr. Campbell visited France and Italy, and he embodied his observations there, along with the fruits of his extensive reading, in a course of lectures, delivered to large audiences. Indeed, Mr. Campbell’s gifts shone on the public platform as much as in the pulpit, whether the subject of his addresses were Church history, or general literature, or description of lands and cities, or political principles, the latter of which he only permitted himself to expound when, as in the case of the Home Rule Bill of 1886, he felt himself bound to defend the Presbyterians of Ulster from what he viewed as their imminent peril of being crushed under the priestly tyranny of the Papacy. On other questions he had deep popular and liberal sympathies. In such lectures the wide extent of his reading and general culture found that full scope which he rigidly refused to give them in preaching the everlasting gospel, in which he allowed nothing to appear which might in the least detract from the solemnity of the message he delivered in his Master’s name, and which he always sought to bring into impressive contact with the conscience as well as the intelligence and affections of his hearers.

In 1874 a second religious revival took place in Mr. Campbell’s congregation, in which he again took the leading part, while aided effectively by brother ministers and laymen like the late Earl of Cavan, and Mr. Stothert of Kelso. This awakening chiefly influenced the Bible-class, and young persons generally: one of these has told me that he was then brought to Christ under a sermon of Mr. Campbell’s, on “The Spirit and the bride say, Come!” which he characterized as one of the freest gospel offers he had ever listened to. This awakening, like the earlier one, left results that have proved permanent. In 1880 he was sent by our Church to Constantinople for six months to conduct the Scotch service. On this occasion he visited Athens in company with Dr. Schliemann, the celebrated excavator of Troy, and made many friends, with whom he continued to correspond till his death.

In 1888 he had a very serious illness, from which he was gradually raised up; but probably it left behind the weakness which prevented his rallying from the attack which seized him on the night of the heated debate in last Assembly on the revision of the Confession of Faith. The subject was one in which he was deeply interested, and on which he took a strongly conservative position, being deeply attached to our old theology, although not unwilling to adjust its expression so as to meet the scruples of those who had difficulties on points of minor importance. Going out of the intense heat of the hall into the cool lobby, and taking a draught of cold water, he was seized with a chill, which ended fatally after a week’s illness. Such an issue, however, was not at all anticipated till very near the end. He was nursed assiduously by his wife, to whom, indeed, Mr. Campbell spoke as if he thought his work on earth was completed; and he died on June 3rd, in the house of his friend Sheriff Jameson, with whom he had been staying while in Edinburgh. The last psalm he repeated was the closing verses of the Forty-third,—

“O send thy light forth and thy truth;
Let them be guides to me,
And bring me to thy holy hill,
Even where thy dwellings be.”

An unfinished discourse found in his desk, which would probably have been his next sermon had he been spared, was on the strikingly appropriate text, Job 42:5: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.”

Mr. Campbell was a well-equipped theologian and an able controversialist, though always fair to his opponents. He opposed the union with the United Presbyterian Church because of what he regarded as the sacrifice of principle involved, but always expressed himself as favourable to a general union of Scottish Presbyterians, in which the views of one party would counterbalance those of the other, the Free Church occupying the central position. Warmly and intelligently attached to Free Church principles, he represented our Church ably in the general community. While he was an earnest preacher, faithful in pastoral duties, and deeply concerned for the highest spiritual good of all his flock, no minister in the southern counties did probably so much to secure for our Church the respect of public men outside of her communion. He regarded the constitution of our Church, both ecclesiastical and theological, as worthy of being consistently adhered to and upheld, following in this his great friend the late Dr. Julius Wood of Dumfries. He had the deepest sympathy for his brethren in the ministry, and grudged no inconvenience to himself in aiding them in any strait. He has left four sons (the eldest presently assistant to the Rev. John Tait of Dumbarton) and a daughter to mourn, along with their widowed mother, the loss of a most devoted father and husband.

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REV. DAVID CAMPBELL, DUNNET

(Died February 25, 1876)
Author: Rev. Alexander Auld, Olrig
The Free Church Monthly, February 1, 1877, p.43


Mr. Campbell was a native of the parish of Halkirk, Caithness. His parents and several of his near relatives were esteemed for their godliness. The example and influences by which he was surrounded in early life were unusually valuable, for, besides his own family, there were to be found at that time in his native parish of Halkirk very many professors of religion who eminently adorned the doctrine of the gospel; and we believe that the circumstances in which he was thus favourably placed exerted a beneficial effect on his character in early life. After his school-days were over, he pursued his education; and was enabled to do so, and to support himself, by engaging in teaching in the summer season, and attending the University of Aberdeen during the winter. A period of his life to him very eventful, was his entering the family of the late Rev. Mr. Gunn of Watten as tutor. Mr. Gunn, as is well known in the north, was a man of great force of character; and his evangelical and powerful ministry marked an era in the ecclesiastical history of Caithness. If Mr. Gunn’s teaching was not the means of engendering Mr. Campbell’s spiritual life, it gave a decided impulse to it. Constantly, in private intercourse, and not unfrequently in his public speaking, he was wont to recall the truths and incidents brought under his notice at this period. He was afterwards teacher at Achow, in the parish of Latheron, where also he formed friendships with not a few of the excellent of the earth; and this, while developing his personal piety, gave him also much of the tone of thought and idiosyncrasy of the “men.”

Mr. Campbell’s course of study, with a view to the ministry, was completed just at the time of the Disruption. The thought of remaining in the Establishment —although the temporal inducements to licentiates were then, on account of the abundance of vacant livings, very great — never, we suppose, entered his mind. Not long after being licensed he was called to the Free Church of Dunnet, where for upwards of thirty years he faithfully laboured. Mr. Campbell’s ministry was much prized by those among his people who feared the Lord; and we believe it was owned of God for the calling and edifying of souls not a few. He was not an ordinary preacher. Though he did not aim at close reasoning, or a very accurate style or systematic forms of address, his mind so teemed with edifying thought, and he had such a ready use of plain speech, such pathetic tones of voice, and a manner so fervid, that he often greatly affected his hearers. Few ministers in the north were more acceptable to the general body of hearers; and his removal has made a very sensible blank.

Mr. Campbell’s health gave way about a year and a half before his death. He recovered sufficiently to be able to resume preaching, until one Sabbath he was suddenly struck with paralysis while in the pulpit. Though he survived for eight months afterwards, he rallied but very little at any time. It was, however, gratifying to his friends to see that his mind kept its grasp of the truth, and was sustained by its consolations.

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REV. DAVID CAMPBELL, LAWERS

(Died January 25, 1877)
Author: Rev. D. MacAlister, Kennoway.
The Free Church Monthly, March 1, 1877, p.71


In the month of March 1867 the Daily Review contained the following notice: “At Roroyar, Glenlyon, on the 12th instant, Mr. Patrick Campbell, aged seventy-eight. For more than forty years he was a faithful witness for the truth, and a zealous promoter of vital godliness in Glenlyon. His two brothers, the Rev. David Campbell of Lawers, and the Rev. Duncan Campbell of Kiltearn, par nobile fratrum, were successively ministers of Glenlyon before the Disruption; and the conjoined labours of the three, by the Divine blessing, gave a mighty impulse to evangelical religion in the heart of Perthshire.”

Mr. Campbell of Kiltearn died in 1873, and his life has been touchingly told by the Rev. Duncan Macgregor, himself a Breadalbane man.

The youngest of the brothers, Mr. Campbell of Lawers, has now followed to the Church above. He died on the 25th of January, aged seventy-nine.

Though, through various bodily ailments, laid aside for some years from anything like active service, he may be said to have continued to the end a tower of strength in the Church of Christ. Till within a few months, he went out and in as he was able among the sick and dying of his flock. On rare occasions, too, he appeared in the pulpit, uttering a few words of earnest warning and counsel, and perhaps engaging in prayer. His last ministerial act was, on his deathbed, baptizing a child to a sorrowful widow, who had been suddenly bereaved of her husband.

Mr. Campbell was one of the fruits of the revival at Loch Tay Side, during the second decade of the present century; in connection with which we find the names of Mr. Findlater, Dr. Macdonald, Mr. Russel of Muthill, and others of similar stamp.

During his intervals of leisure, while pursuing his studies at the University of Edinburgh, he acted as city missionary in Perth; and we happen to know that at that time he was highly thought of by Dr. Chalmers, his divinity professor, and by Mr. Maclagan, then of Kinfauns.

In his best days he was famed for the eloquence and poetry of his Gaelic sermons; and no man, in his generation, was more owned in the work of the Lord throughout the Northern and Perthshire Highlands.

But perhaps his “great strength” lay in prayer. Engaged in that exercise, whether in private or public, he constantly reminded one of Abraham pleading before the Lord for Sodom. Whole congregations have been seen moved before him, as the trees of the forest bend to the winds of heaven. “Truly the Lord is in this place,” was what filled the hearts of many.

He was always much concerned about the state of the Church, “grieved for the affliction of Joseph;” and his loss, as an intercessor, may not yet be fully realized, but there are some constrained to cry, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.”

In bodily presence he was not weak, but tall, well-built, and commanding. His manner in the pulpit was both graceful and vigorous. In private life he ever proved himself the perfect gentleman, whilst firm in the maintenance of principle.

Not only because he was a Breadalbane Campbell, but for his sterling worth, his genial, happy spirit, and especially for his power in prayer, he was frequently invited by the late Marquis and Marchioness of Breadalbane to spend the night at Taymouth Castle.

Mr Campbell’s wife was a sister of the later Rev. Francis McBain of Fort Augustus; they had no family, and she predeceased him more than thirty years.

He was remarkable for hospitality; and his affection for those whom he believed to be what he called “subjects of divine grace,” was something more than common.

Towards the end his sufferings were at times very great, but, amidst them all, he said, “I am not as one having no hope. I think my anchor has got a firm hold of the Rock of Ages, and will weather out the storm.” He frequently spoke of “devout men carrying Stephen to his burial;” and as often repeated the prayer, “Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions.”

Among his last words were these, uttered in Gaelic: “O Lord, relieve me.” “Give me, give me” — when asked by an affectionate niece, What? he immediately answered, “The Blood.” Again, “I need what I need;” and when asked, replied, “What you cannot give me — grace, more grace.”

As showing his various spheres of labour, we give the following, found on the fly-leaf of one of his Bibles, in his own handwriting: “David Campbell. Licensed to preach, the last Tuesday of July 1831. Ordained to the pastoral charge of the church of Glenlyon, last Tuesday of July 1832. Recorded member of the Presbytery of Dunkeld, last Tuesday of July 1833. Inducted to the pastoral charge of the congregation of the East Church, Inverness, on the 20th November 1836. Inducted as minister of the parish of Tarbat, Presbytery of Tain, 20th September 1838. Joined the Free Church on 18th of May 1843. Inducted at Lawers, Presbytery of Breadalbane, 20th August 1855.”

From the above record, it may easily be discovered who his fast friends and associates in the ministry were — Mr. Macalister of Nigg, his immediate predecessor in Glenlyon, Mr. Allan of Kincardine, Mr. Shepherd of Kingussie, Mr. Carment of Rosskeen, Mr. Matheson of Kilmuir, Mr. Mackintosh of Tain, and some others gone home before him; Mr. Macdonald of Urray, and Mr. Aird of Creich, also, still preserved to the Church of Christ.

We cannot close without saying what an interest he took in bringing forward to the Lord’s work some of the younger ministers, amongst whom it is sufficient to name the late Mr. Cobban of Braemar.

His body rests in the burying-ground of Kerrumore, Glenlyon, with the dust of his fathers.

“The memory of the just is blessed.”

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REV. DONALD CAMPBELL, A.M., BALLATER

(Died September 22, 1878)
Author: Rev. R. Reid, Banchory Ternan
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.19


Born in a humble rank of life at Campbelton, near Fort George, in 1799, the Rev. Donald Campbell received his elementary education in that neighbourhood. He entered King’s College, Aberdeen, as a student in 1818, and at the close of the arts curriculum took the degree of A.M. During his undergraduate and his theological courses, he was engaged either in private teaching in town or acting as tutor in the family of a landed proprietor in the country. He was licensed as a preacher in 1832, and thereafter was employed as a missionary in connection with the congregation of the late Rev. Dr. Paul, Edinburgh, at the same time serving as under-chaplain in the jail. In 1841 he was ordained as assistant to the late Mr. Fraser, minister of Cluny, Aberdeenshire; and when the Disruption took place, he espoused the side of the Free Church, thereby separating himself ecclesiastically from a beloved brother, a minister in the same presbytery, from whom he had received much useful counsel and assistance in his student days. He was associated with the Free Presbytery of Kincardine O’Neil at its first meeting on 7th June 1843 as an ordained missionary, having been sent to Ballater by the Provisional Committee of the Church. While labouring there he received a call from the adherents of the Free Church in the parishes of Keig and Tough, signed by between 200 and 300. The adherents at Ballater at the time were very few, but considering the importance of the place, and the strong opposition made to the cause there, he considered it his duty to his Master to abide where he was, and assist the “little flock” in making good their footing in the face of the difficulties with which they had to contend. He was then duly called and inducted as pastor of the congregation at Ballater, the induction taking place in a barn at a little distance from the village of Ballater in the midst of a heavy snowstorm on 29th February 1844.

The hardships and opposition which Mr. Campbell and his congregation had to endure for several years were very great. When he first went to Ballater, warnings and threats were resorted to in order to prevent his obtaining lodgings. For a time every door was shut against him. At last one man of an independent spirit, indignant at the treatment to which he was subjected, took the risk, and received him into his house as a lodger; and afterwards when it was seen that no vengeance was inflicted on the householder who received him, several others signified their willingness to admit him.

A site for a church was resolutely refused on the two properties on which it would have been convenient for the congregation to have their church placed. They had rented the town hall as an interim place of worship, but were driven from it by an interdict, issued by the sheriff at the instance of some of their opponents, who urged that such a use of the town hall was contrary to the title-deed. By the advice of Mr. Dunlop the point was not contested, and the congregation worshipped for six months in the open air. To have the Lord’s Supper dispensed to them, they had to repair to the farm-steading of Ferrar, in the neighbouring parish of Aboyne, where the tenant’s family were very friendly to the Free Church.

The first stated place of worship which they obtained was a sheep-cot, about a mile out of Ballater, on the north-west side of Craigendarroch. In this rude pen for sheep, fitted up with temporary pulpit and seats of the plainest kind, and with a few small windows and doors, they continued to worship with not a little discomfort for six years, their numbers all the time slowly increasing. They then accepted from the Marquis of Huntly, who from the first had granted sites for Free churches, a site on the roadside midway between the sheep-cot and Ballater, being the part of his property nearest to the village on which they could be accommodated. On this site a neat and, on the whole, a comfortable and respectable-looking wooden church was erected, and was used by Mr. Campbell and his congregation for twenty years. By this time the present liberal-minded proprietor of Invercauld had come into possession of that estate, and relieved them from their inconvenience by granting them, on most favourable terms, the site in Ballater on which the present elegant and comfortable Free church stands. It was chiefly by Mr. Campbell’s unwearied efforts that the cost of this building was defrayed, as well as that of the manse, which was erected a considerable time previously on a site beyond the sheep-cot, granted by the Marquis of Huntly. Among his last acts, Mr. Campbell signed and gave to a friend a cheque for £47 to clear off the remaining debt on the church. Strongly attached to the principles of the Free Church; faithful and diligent in the discharge of his ministerial duties; especially regular in pastoral visitation, and most sympathizing with the sick and afflicted; ever ready to render service to any one who wished it from him, whether of his own congregation or not, Mr. Campbell was a useful servant of the Lord, and much esteemed by all classes, as was shown by the large concourse of persons of all denominations who, on the funeral day, assembled without special invitation, and carried his remains from his manse to the foot of the Gairn, where, in that romantic burying-ground beside the rushing stream, they were committed to the dust by his attached brethren and people, in the hope of a blessed resurrection.

“But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days ” (Dan. 12:13).

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REV. DUNCAN CAMPBELL

(Died October 21, 1873)
Author: Rev. D. Shaw of Laggan
The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1874, p.82
(Abridged)


It is remarkable that Dr. Candlish and Mr. Campbell were ordained in the same year, died the same week, and were buried on the same day. They are now with the King their Master, and enjoying the blessed society of their fellow-servants in glory.

It was under the powerful ministry of Dr. Macdonald of Ferrintosh that Mr. Campbell was converted, during the great revival that took place at Loch-Tayside about fifty years ago, when there was a large ingathering of souls into the fold of Christ. Two brothers of his were taken in at the same time. The sermon which was first blessed to his soul, and under which he and many others were impressed, was the famous Action Sermon by Dr. Macdonald, on a communion Sabbath at Lawers, from the words, “For thy Maker is thy Husband,” &c. That was considered the greatest sermon ever delivered by the Apostle of the North. It was attended in a wonderful way and degree by the awakening power of the Holy Ghost. There was an awful shaking among the dry bones. Before the close there was scarcely a dry eye. Stout-hearted sinners were made to tremble, and in almost every part of the immense crowd assembled around the tent, men and women, old and young, were pierced with sharp arrows from God’s quiver; and under a terrible sense of their guilt and danger, the piercing cry was heard on all hands, “Lost, lost! what must I do to be saved ?”

This being the day of their espousals, the two brothers, Duncan and David, — like James and John, who were called and appointed by the great Master to be “fishers of men,” — resolved in his strength to give themselves up at once to the holy ministry. They were full of love and burning zeal. The two went together, first to school, and afterwards to college; and after passing through the usual curriculum in arts and divinity, they were licensed about the same time. Their love to each other all along was like that of David and Jonathan. We may remark, in passing, that Duncan, on account of his unction and rare piety, and the sal evangelicum in his discourses delivered in the Hall, was a special favourite of Dr. Chalmers, under whom he studied. The great man was always very kind to him and his brother David, and also to other Highland students in whom he discovered the right thing.

After license, Mr. Duncan was engaged for about a year as a city missionary in Perth, where his labours were highly prized, and blessed to precious souls. When there he received a call from the congregation at Lawers, where his brother Mr. David now is, and was ordained there to the holy ministry. Afterwards he was translated to Glenlyon, and shortly before the Disruption, was inducted as parish minister of Kiltearn. He proved himself an excellent pastor, much beloved by his people. But, as the services of such a popular man could not be confined to his own flock, he was often called away to preach in other districts. Being remarkably well built and elastic, and favoured, too, as he was with a most powerful and musical voice, and, above all, having much of the love of Christ in his heart, and always an earnest desire for the conversion of sinners, — he was admirably fitted for the work of an evangelist, which he soon proved himself to be in an eminent degree. So he often went from place to place, at the earnest request of ministers and others, in all Ross-shire, and throughout the most of the Highlands. It was his great delight to preach the glorious gospel to poor sinners, especially in the distant neglected, and dark places of our land. Except Dr. Macdonald, whose mantle, it was believed, fell on him, no minister in all the Highlands was in labours more abundant than he for the last thirty years.

Laggan was his favourite resort, and he was always gladly received. He was in the habit of coming every year to the communion for at least fifteen years, till latterly he became so frail that he could not venture so far. Here, as he used to say himself, he had much of the Lord’s gracious presence in secret and public, much tenderness, liberty, and spiritual power in the pulpit. That was the case particularly in the years 1860-61, when there were two most glorious revivals like what took place at Loch-Tayside fifty years ago. Mr. Campbell himself, we doubt not, received a fresh baptism of the Spirit in Laggan during the communion in 1860, and his sermons were blessed to souls.
We can never forget a sermon he preached on a thanksgiving Monday in 1855, from Matt. 11:28, when every soul present seemed to be deeply impressed, and when, in particular, a wild, careless woman was converted, — one who turned out a very outstanding witness for Christ, and in whose house there was a prayer-meeting kept regularly every Saturday up till the day of her death.

One remark of his was, “When I get a true breathing after Him in the first prayer before sermon, I am right for the day.”

The brave veterans of the Disruption are fast leaving us. Where among our young ministers do we find men like them? Alas! they are few and far between. But the Lord liveth; he can and will, we trust, raise up faithful labourers for his own work soon. God grant it. Amen.

Mr. Campbell left a widow (daughter of the late Dr. Macdonald of Ferrintosh) and two sons and three daughters to mourn his loss.

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REV. DUNCAN CAMPBELL, KILFINNAN

(Died May 17, 1891)
Author: Rev. D. McCormick, Rothesay
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1891, Obituary, p.274


Mr. Campbell was born at Carsaig, Tighavallich, North Knapdale, in January 1834; but his youth and early manhood were passed in Islay, whither his father, who was a farmer, had removed when the subject of this sketch was but very young.
Duncan was the eldest of a family of nine, and worked along with his father till he had grown up to manhood, when he eventually settled down to a farm of his own, on the island of Colonsay. In his early years he was rather light and careless; but he was not allowed to go very far, when he was arrested and brought to the feet of the Saviour. His father was a strict Sabbatarian, and the whole Sabbath was literally spent “in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as was taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.”

He was aroused to serious thoughts one of those days whilst reading or hearing the “Pilgrim’s Progress” read. For some time he was in much distress and anxiety, but by-and-by the Lord revealed himself to his soul, and enabled him to rest on the blood and righteousness of his Son, when his peace was like a river, and joy unspeakable and full of glory filled his soul.

After his conversion, God in his providence brought him in contact with several pious men, who were instrumental in strengthening his faith and deepening his spiritual convictions, especially the godly catechist Mr. Charles McLeod, now of Glasgow, one of the few survivors of a noble band to whose devoted services our Church is much indebted. Whilst at Colonsay he had frequent opportunities of intercourse with ministers who made his house their home when sent from time to time there to preach, all of whom were struck with the young farmer’s fervent devotion to the Lord’s cause and his great power in prayer. Thinking it a pity that such talent and piety should be lost to the Church, they strongly recommended him to study for the ministry. To one who, comparatively speaking, was now well advanced in years, this in more ways than one was a very formidable undertaking; but his zeal for God’s cause eventually overcame all difficulties and misgivings, and having left the farm to one of his brothers, he betook himself to studying, and in less than two years he entered the University of Glasgow, session 1864-5, and afterwards passed through the Free Church College there, taking a creditable place in all his classes. During these college days he was employed on the Gaelic Mission, and also as a missionary to the Argyle Free Church, Glasgow, in both of which spheres he laboured with much acceptance. After being licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Islay, and being some time a probationer, when his labours were greatly blessed in the islands of Tiree, Eig, and other places, he was in 1877 unanimously elected to the pastorate of the Kilfinnan congregation. Here he laboured for a period of ten years with earnestness and zeal to an attached flock, until, through failing health, he was laid aside from all active work. During the last years of his life God saw fit to send his servant through a course of protracted illness, which was borne with patience and meekness.

Mr. Campbell was a faithful pastor and an earnest preacher, full of evangelical fervour, and while by no means inclined “to break the bruised reed,” was always most uncompromising in his denunciation of what he considered wrong, and faithful in warning sinners to flee from the wrath to come. To all who came in contact with him, it was manifest that his whole life was one of untiring devotion to the cause of Christ, but only those who knew him intimately were aware how bright the fire of God’s love burned in the inner shrine of his being, and with what resignation and fortitude he bowed his head in acquiescence to the Master’s will. Having committed his beloved wife and dear little girl to the care of Him who saith, “Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me,” he fell asleep in Jesus on the 17th of May last with the words of the psalmist frequently on his lips, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.”

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REV. GEORGE CAMPBELL, EVANGELIST

(Died July 6, 1893)
Author: Rev. A. C. Fullarton
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1893, Obituary, p.262


Mr. Campbell was born in Aberdeen in the year 1833. He was the second child of a family of eight. At his birth he had one of the highest privileges that man or woman can obtain in this world—in entering life under the nursing care of godly parents, where the incense of morning and evening family worship ascended daily to God, like the morning and evening sacrifice among the Jews in their best days. Thus he breathed the atmosphere of piety in the parental home, and drank in the leading truths of the gospel with his mother’s milk; and he knew Christ as his own Saviour, he knew of him as the Saviour of sinners, and had his character and habits formed under the influence of gospel morality.

Mr. Campbell was educated in the Grammar School of Aberdeen, and became a good student, a great reader of books of general information, and a great lover of literature. But though trained in an atmosphere of piety, and possessing every opportunity of knowing and embracing the Saviour, who is himself the gospel, he grew up an unconverted young man, outwardly decent and moral, but unregenerate, without Christ and without spiritual life, till he was nineteen years of age. At that age, however, while in the midst of his university studies, he became deeply concerned about his eternal interests. Like Saul, in the house of Judas in Damascus, Mr. Campbell passed through a severe struggle for three days; but it resulted, as such earnest wrestlings generally do, in a conscious closing with Christ as he is freely offered in the gospel, and in a life of almost cloudless assurance of his interest in Christ. The change was so manifest that it was visible to every one who knew him. God had shined into his heart and had lit the candle of his soul, and he could not refrain from letting it shine. The fire glowed in his bosom, and the warmth came out in him in a manner that all who came in contact with him felt it. For a period of six years, between his conversion and his ordination, he was almost constantly engaged in evangelistic work. These were days of young spiritual life and of holy burning zeal, and they resulted in turning many to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as their righteousness and their all.

In the year 1859, after having obtained license, and after having spent a short but fruitful probationary period at Auchterless, he was ordained as colleague and successor to the late Dr. John Murray the Free North congregation, Aberdeen. It was the first year of the great wave of spiritual awakening that sprang up in America, that then powerfully moved the north of Ireland, and afterwards rolled over great Britain with such power that the columns of the daily newspapers were filled with the reports of religious meetings. The Free North Church became the centre of the revival movement in Aberdeen, and the congregation rapidly increased until the church became crowded. For some time meetings were held night after night with people invested in the great business of salvation, and large numbers showed, by their changed lives, that they had undergone a change of their nature. The writer of this notice remembers being in the Free North Church on a communion fast-day, and seeing sixty certificates of membership handed in at one meeting, besides a goodly company of young persons seeking admission to the communion for the first time. Nor were the labours of Mr. Campbell confined to the North Church or to Aberdeen. For several years he and Mr. Duncan Matheson, and Mr. Williamson of Huntly, and Mr. Macpherson of Dundee, and some others, moved over Aberdeenshire and the neighbouring counties addressing revival meetings, much in the same way as Messrs. McCheyne and William Burns and the Bonars did in the movement that preceded the Disruption, and that helped towards it; and they carried on their work with similar blessed results.

In the year 1873 Mr. Campbell married the daughter of one of his own elders, and his marriage was in every respect happy and helpful. Shortly after that event he was translated to the Wynd Church, Glasgow, where he laboured for eleven years. In the year 1884 the General Assembly offered him the position of an ordained evangelist under the superintendence of the Home Mission Committee, and he accepted of the offer, and laboured in it with success during the last nine years of his life. In the letters sent home to his wife from time to time, abundant evidence is left of the blessed results that flowed from his labours as an evangelist. In conducting a series of meetings at Huntly, he reported that thirty had professed to have embraced Christ. At a similar series of meetings at Rosehearty, as many as seventy professed to have obtained the peace that passeth all understanding; and similar results were produced at Johnstone, at Aberdeen, at Peterhead, at Aberfeldy, and at other places. Thus in many of the towns and country districts of our land he left behind him groups and companies brought to Christ through his instrumentality, to be unto him a crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus. On the second day of last July he preached his last sermon, and on the sixth he passed away, and entered into the rest that remaineth unto the people of God. He left behind him a widow and a family of three sons and two daughters to mourn their loss, and to follow in the same path to the same home.

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REV. JOHN CAMPBELL, TARBERT

(Died September 17, 1874)
Author: Rev. J.M. Mcpherson, Killean
The Free Church Monthly, March 1, 1875, p.71
(Abridged)


Mr. Campbell was born in the island of Luing, Argyleshire. His early training was with a view to the holy ministry, and was received first in his native parish, and thereafter at Lochgilphead.

Having completed his literary and theological studies in Glasgow, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Lorn in 1829, and, as had been anticipated, soon became one of the most popular and powerful evangelists in the West Highlands, a position which he deservedly maintained to the last.

Mr. Campbell was also a pioneer for the gospel in many pats of his native country, at a period when spiritual apathy and death all but universally reigned; and there are many now occupying useful and influential positions in the Church whom he was then instrumental in bringing to a saving knowledge of sin and salvation.

His next sphere was that of missionary in connection with the congregation of the late Mr. McBean of Greenock, where he laboured with acceptance for several years.

He was ordained over the Gaelic congregation of Paisley in 1833. There his ministrations seem to have been very effective and highly appreciated. The congregation evinced their gratitude and sincere attachment by several valuable presentations to him; and a large majority adhered to the Free Church along with their pastor at the period of the Disruption.

In 1845, Mr. Campbell was translated from Paisley to Tarbert by the General Assembly, and there more especially he was enabled, during the remaining period of his life, to make full proof of his ministry. He was instant in season and out of season, preaching the word, reproving and exhorting with all longsuffering and devotion, and an example of the believers in spirit, in faith, in purity. During his twenty-nine years’ ministry in Tarbert there has been a great moral reformation throughout the community, and not a few have been turned to the Lord through his instrumentality. Mr. Campbell was of an amiable, humble, and affectionate disposition. He was also noted for modest but manly prudence, steadfast principle, and a sound judgment, and not less, when necessary, for inflexible firmness in defence of truth to a degree that would have enabled him to endure the pang of persecution and even the fire of martyrdom.

Mr. Campbell was universally esteemed and beloved by all who knew him, both as a man and a minister. He will be greatly missed and long and affectionately remembered by his attached congregation, also by his Presbytery, and throughout the county of Argyle, and by his amiable and mourning widow. But his work on earth has finished, and his Master removed him to a higher sphere. May we be followers of him, even as he was of Christ.
Mr. Campbell has left a widow, but no family. His mortal remains rest at Tarbert, in the assured hope of a glorious resurrection.

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REV. SAMUEL CAMPBELL, BERRIEDALE

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, March 1 1869, p.65


This amiable and estimable Disruption minister died, at the house of a relative, in Ardrishaig, on the 15th December, in the seventy-ninth year of his age.

He was born in North Knapdale, of respectable and pious parents, under whose training he gave early indications of his desiring “the office of a bishop,” out of love to the “good work.”

His university course was pursued at Edinburgh, with exception of one session at Glasgow, and his vacations were employed in teaching. He lived several years in Holyrood Palace, as tutor to the family of Mr. Hamilton of Kames Castle, Bute, and continued to enjoy the respect and friendship of that family, and warmly to reciprocate them, after his services in that capacity were ended.

After being licensed to preach the gospel, he was some months employed as assistant, both at Glenorchy and North Knapdale, the incumbents being invalids; and afterwards as missionary in Perth, in connection with Dr. Thomson’s congregation. While thus employed, he was greatly affected with the evils resulting from intemperance with which he came into contact in the course of his visits, and he became a total abstainer, in the hope of inducing others to beware of such ensnaring and enslaving indulgence.

In 1837 he was ordained minister of the Parliamentary Church of Berriedale, Caithness, and at once manifested the most cordial adherence to the Evangelical party; and in 1843 he had no hesitation in leaving his church and manse, although there was no provision, and but little prospect of his obtaining either sites or buildings. The kind of accommodation which the ejected minister and teacher were obliged to share was the poorest, and the period of continuance in it the longest, within the range of the writer’s knowledge, as the allotment of any Free Church minister. A niece of the deceased, who acted as his housekeeper, did not, however, long survive the change of residence. Mr. Campbell felt her death keenly; but of his own sufferings he seldom spoke, and never complained. He was singularly unselfish; and made his personal privations minister to the abundance of his liberality in supplying the necessities of others. When a student he attended some medical classes, and he continued to dispense advice, medicine, and means freely among the poor of his charge, to an extent that will not be known until the Day declare it. After sites had been obtained, his own private means were expended upon the building, to an amount exceeding £300.

He was always ready to answer the requests addressed to him by his brethren who might require his services, and his transparent uprightness and honesty secured him the respect of all; while his genial humour made him an especial favourite with the young, who received much of his attention.

Mr. Campbell had long enjoyed good health, and took much exercise; but all flesh is grass, and failure of memory, induced by strokes of paralysis and other infirmities, rendered him unable to discharge public duties during the past two years.

When his removal to Ardrishaig was resolved upon, in September last, it was necessary, out of regard to the state of his health, to avoid everything fitted to produce excitement; but it was found difficult to take him away from the midst of a people among whom he had so long laboured, without much sorrowing that they should see his face no more. “Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.”

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REV. WILLIAM CAMPBELL, NATAL

Died February 30, 18731
The Free Church Monthly Record, June 2, 1873, p.127


Fairlie by Greenock, l4th April 1873
Dear Sir,—I send you the Times of Natal, February 1st, in which there is an obituary notice of Rev. William Campbell, one of our devoted labourers in the African vineyard.

Mr. Campbell was a native of one of our northern counties. He studied at Aberdeen, and was a licentiate of the Church of Scotland; but, having been employed as private tutor in a respectable family in the north of Ireland, he was ordained, by the Presbytery of Belfast more than forty years ago, to be minister of the congregation at White Abbey, where he continued to labour with much acceptance; until soon after our memorable Disruption of 1843, having received a call from the congregation of Alexandria in Dumbartonshire, he was inducted into that charge by the Presbytery of Dumbarton, in connection with the Free Church. There the same exemplary zeal, conscientiousness, and piety characterized him, until, under the sanction of our Church, transferring his labours to the unbroken soil of the African field, he formed a church at Pietermaritzburg, in the new colony of Natal, where, after having served his Master there for upwards of twenty-two years, he fell asleep as a good soldier of Christ.

I write these few words with the utmost regard for the memory of an old friend, one of the best of men, and the most devoted of missionaries.—Yours, &c,
John Gemmel

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PROFESSOR JAMES S. CANDLISH, D.D.

(Died March 7, 1897)
Author: Rev. Robert A. Mitchell, M.A., Aberdeen
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1897, Obituary, p.121


CANDLISH, JAMES S.

In the death of Professor Candlish our church has to mourn the loss of one of her ablest and most devoted servants, whose great theological attainments and beautiful Christian character conferred an added lustre on the great name he bore.

Born in December 1835, James Smith Candlish was the eldest son of the distinguished Disruption leader and minister of St. George’s Free Church, Edinburgh. He received his education at the Edinburgh Academy and University, and had a very distinguished college career. He won the highest distinction as a student at the New College, Edinburgh, and also prosecuted his theological studies at Erlangen and Berlin. During his student days he was engaged in editorial work in connection with The Encyclopaedia Britannica. After acting for a short time as assistant to Dr. Henderson in St. Enoch’s Free Church, Glasgow, he was ordained in 1883 to his first ministerial charge at Logiealmond in Perthshire. Five years later, in 1808, he was translated to the Free East Church, Aberdeen, where he ministered with much acceptance for four years, his preaching being characterized by great vigour and freshness of thought, and by a deeply earnest evangelical spirit. About this time his contributions to The British and Foreign Evangelical Review attracted considerable attention, and the sound judgment, breadth of view, and extensive acquaintance with the literature of theology which they displayed marked him out as possessing eminent qualifications for a theological chair. In May 1872, he was appointed to the professorship of Systematic and Pastoral Theology in the Free Church College of Glasgow.

During the quarter of a century which has elapsed since then he devoted himself with untiring energy to the labours of the professoriate; and while the thoroughness of his work and the depth and range of his acquirements won the cordial admiration of his students, the singular beauty and simplicity of his Christian character secured for him such reverent affection on the part of those who knew him best as few men are privileged to win for themselves. This is the testimony of one who studied under him: “There was no one who gave us a higher ideal of what a student ought to be — patient, open-minded, laborious, and full of a passion for truth; and he himself was so emphatically the Christian student, all his work hallowed by the Spirit of God. What a devout, loving, and brave spirit his was!” Another of his students, now for many years in the ministry, testifies “how thoroughly and faithfully and loyally he discharged the task laid by the church to his hands, with what consummate learning and gentle piety, and self-repression and consideration towards our frequent foolishness and our unripeness, which must have been trying to his wise and lofty spirit. He gave us in his own Christian example an inspiration which every good man might well desire to cherish.” No man could be more generous, sympathetic, and considerate in his dealings with students; but the gentleness of his spirit was blended with a strength and fearlessness and steadfast loyalty to evangelical truth which no student could fail to appreciate. While full of courage, he was as gentle as he was brave; and his guileless simplicity, his singleness of eye and of heart, his elevation above everything petty and self-regarding, his genuine and deep humility, his perfect freedom from all unkindly feelings towards those from whom he differed in opinion, gave his character a very peculiar charm. No one ever heard him speak an unkind or ungenerous word of an opponent; he was, in truth, “a very perfect, gentle knight.”

While Dr. Candlish’s chief work was done in the professor’s chair, he rendered important service to the church by his contributions to theological literature. He was for several years editor of The British and Foreign Evangelical Review, to which he contributed some valuable articles. His most elaborate work is the treatise entitled, The Kingdom of God Biblically and Historically Considered, being the Cunningham Lectures for 1884. The work embraces a wide range of interesting topics, and must be regarded as a contribution of permanent value to the treatment of a subject which, as the writer says, “has deservedly gained a prominent place in modern theological thought,” but which “has not to any great extent been made matter of express and systematic study.”

Dr. Candlish rendered good service to the church by contributing several excellent volumes to the series of Hand-Books for Bible Classes issued by the Messrs. Clark. These include treatises on The Sacraments, The Biblical Doctrine of Sin, The Work of the Holy Spirit, The Christian Doctrine of God, and The Epistle to the Ephesians. These books are models of theological workmanship, characterized by rare acumen, deep insight, profound learning, and complete mastery of the subject treated in all its bearings. The little book on The Sacraments deserves special notice as an eminently wise, well-weighed, judicious, and thoroughly practical treatment of the subject, displaying in a striking way the characteristics of the author, who always shows himself disposed to dwell on the points in which varying systems of opinion agree rather than upon those in which they differ, though never minimizing the importance of anything which has a practical bearing on the religious life.

A few words must suffice with reference to the part which Dr. Candlish took in the discussions on topics connected with Biblical criticism occasioned by the writings of Professor Robertson Smith. His chief contribution to the controversy was a pamphlet entitled, The Authority of Scripture, independent of Criticism, which he published in 1877, in which he aimed at allaying the anxiety prevailing in the church. The position which he took up is sufficiently indicated in the concluding words of this pamphlet: “The discovery of the late origin of the Hebrew points, of the multitude of the various readings in the New Testament, of the value of the ancient versions of Scripture, all occasioned as much alarm in their day as the results of historical criticism are raising in some quarters now; but a fuller and calmer study of the subject showed these alarms to be needless, and it is difficult now even to understand why they were felt. In like manner, we may be sure that what seem now to be causes of fear will be dispelled by more thorough investigation. Either it will be shown that these modern critical views are not correct, or, if they are, they will be seen to be perfectly compatible with the reception of all Scripture, whatever be its method or style, as the Word of God that liveth and abideth for ever.”

Dr. Candlish was the worthy son of a noble sire. He had not, indeed, the brilliant oratorical powers of the great preacher and church leader, and his modest and retiring disposition made him shrink from taking such a prominent place in the church courts as he might have been expected to take, though no man could be more fearless in avowing his convictions when impelled to do so by a sense of duty. But he possessed in more eminent measure the gifts of the reflective, judicious, well-balanced, and accomplished theologian; and the treasures of learning at his command were such as no man immersed in church politics or in the labours of an exacting ministry could be expected to amass. While as deeply versed, perhaps, as any of his contemporaries in the theology of the Reformation and in the writings of the earlier Protestant theologians, he had a wonderfully extensive and accurate acquaintance with all recent movements in theology on the Continent and in our own country. He was profoundly imbued with the spirit of the Reformation theology and loyal in his adherence to the Westminster Standards. But he appreciated the difficulties felt by some who, while cordially accepting the entire substance of the Confessional doctrine, felt that there are some important aspects of Scripture truth to which the Confession fails to do justice. To meet the difficulties of such men, and win them for the service of the church, was an object which he had greatly at heart; and to secure this result by wise, well-considered, sympathetic action on the church’s part, he laboured with an earnest and single-hearted zeal, the purity and unselfishness of which even those who differed from him most could not fail to acknowledge. No one could doubt that it was a profound concern for the best interests of the church which he loved so well and served so loyally that prompted his whole action in this matter. He was, in truth, one of the most unselfish of men, as high-minded and chivalrous a spirit, those who knew him best can testify, as single-hearted a servant of Christ, as it has ever been their privilege to know.

Dr. Candlish’s relations with his colleagues in the Glasgow College were of the most cordial nature; all of them regarded him with warm affection, and fully appreciated his rare qualities of mind and heart. He was laid aside from active work in the summer of last year, and during last session his lectures were read by his friend Dr. McCrie of Ayr and by his brother-in-law Dr. Henderson of Crieff. His last illness was borne with exemplary patience and resignation to the will of God. He died at the Free Church manse of Tarbolton on the seventh of March, leaving a widow and one son, who is prosecuting his studies at Glasgow University, to mourn the loss they have sustained. The church he served so faithfully mourns along with them, but rejoices at the same time to believe that the results of Dr. Candlish’s life-work will long remain in many devoted and fruitful ministries in our own country and in other lands.

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DR. ROBERT SMITH CANDLISH

(Died October 19, 1873)
Author: Rev. Robert Buchanan, D.D.
The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1873, p.255


Compared with the apathy, and deadness, and headlong conformity to this world which characterized the previous century of the Church’s history, the change that took place in the course of the twenty years immediately preceding the Disruption could be likened to nothing but life from the dead. It was in that quickening time, that time of special reviving and refreshing from the presence of the Lord, that Dr. Candlish was prepared for the ministry, and for the marvellous life-work in connection with it, that, all unknown to himself, was then lying before him. A few years before his ministry began, the sudden death of a truly great man — a man who, by the sheer force of his commanding intellect and noble character, conquered for evangelical religion a position I n the most cultured circles of this proud city such as it had never before, in modern times, achieved — had left a blank in the most conspicuous pulpit, which seemed as if it could never again be adequately filled. For a brief interval that pulpit was subsequently occupied by one of the best of men; but also, him death too soon removed, and again the need for Edinburgh and for the Church which Dr. Thomson’s decease had created was more vividly and more painfully realized than ever. Happily, in that memorable time, when the righteous were thus taken away, there were many who laid it deeply to heart, and who also laid their felt want and their great anxiety before the Lord. The servants die, but the master lives; and his name is Jehovah-jireh — “The Lord will see to it;” “The Lord will provide.” When, in the days of old, the successor of the mightiest of the prophets of the ancient Church was found in the person of one who was following in obscurity the oxen and the plough, the surprise throughout Israel could hardly have been greater than that which, thirty-nine years ago, ran through our own country when one, whose very name till that moment was altogether unknown to the Church, was called to fill the most influential position within its bounds. Under the wise and wonder-working providence of God, Robert Smith Candlish had been left for six years to exercise and mature — out of sight, so to speak, and in the humble station of a simple licentiate — those rare gifts and attainments, and those marvellous endowments of intellect and utterance, which, when suddenly called to occupy the pulpit of St. George’s, made him burst upon the world as, perhaps, take him all in all, the very greatest preacher of modern times. The burden of a reputation so immense as that which he almost immediately acquired is not easy to carry, and is peculiarly hard for any considerable length of time fully to sustain. By the grace of God he bore it, not only unlessened, but rather ever increasing, to the end of his long and most blessed career. Brilliant as that career was, it never for a moment turned his head. It dazzled others, but it never dazzled him. At the highest, he was always so far below his own ideal of what a minister of Christ and a preacher of the glorious gospel of the blessed God ought to be, and had, in consequence, so deep a sense, habitually present to his mind, of failings and shortcomings in every department of his work for God and of his walk with men, as kept him truly humble. It has been my privilege during the last fifty years to live in the personal intimacy and friendship of many distinguished men; and looking back over that lengthened period, I can truly say that I never knew one more unpretending, less lifted up by the distinguished position he occupied, by the immense influence he wielded, or by the high public consideration in which he was held. Those whose close and continued intercourse with your beloved and revered minister enabled them to see furthest into his mind and deepest into his heart, will be the foremost to confirm the testimony I have now borne.

The department of his public life in which he was best known to me was that which belonged to the courts and the work of the Church. The commencement of his career, as is well known, was contemporaneous with the beginning of a conflict which has left its mark, broad and deep, on the history of our time. That conflict turned on the character and claims of the Church of Christ as a spiritual kingdom, and on its constitutional relation, in Scotland, to the civil power. It was the high and sacred interest thus attaching to that conflict which drew into it, with their whole heart and soul, those remarkable men already alluded to, whom God had so evidently raised up for the work that had then to be done. And, if it may be allowed to one to speak upon the subject who himself lived through it all, and who possessed advantages for knowing both its outer and its inner history, such as, in the same degree, hardly perhaps belong to any other survivor, I would venture, with no hesitation, to say that, from beginning to end of that momentous conflict, no single individual filled so large a place in it, and that no one exerted so sustained and so commanding an influence, either in expounding and vindicating the vital Scripture principles it involved, or in bringing out of it those mighty and blessed results which have made our Free Church, with all its many faults, an honoured name and a household word throughout the Christian world. I will venture, moreover, and with equal confidence, to say also this — that all through the many trying vicissitudes of a time that searched men as with candles, and tested their spirit and character with a closeness and severity through which few could safely pass, Dr. Candlish showed himself to be one of the most disinterested, most unselfish, most generous, most single-minded of men. It was not often, or with every one, that he entered on the solemn theme of his own spiritual condition; but when he did, it was always with great feeling, and with a truly touching humility. The features of his character thus indicated continued to mark it as strongly as ever on to life’s close. “Pray for me,” he said to one at his bedside when his end was drawing near, “that I may have a more lively sense of Christ’s presence and salvation. And yet,” he added, “I would only ask for that, if it be God’s will, for I am satisfied. I have never believed in frames and feelings as grounds of confidence. I am not much concerned about feeling my personal interest in Christ. I know that my Redeemer liveth. That is enough for me.” His words to myself, about the same time, were these — “I would fain have had a more vivid and realizing sense of eternal things — of sin and salvation, and of the great coming change; but I am resting on the Word, which is abiding and sure; I am resting on Christ and him crucified.” On yet another occasion, when speaking of his approaching decease, he said, with the same perfect naturalness and beautiful simplicity — “It is hard to realize the entire break between this life and the future. When I try to think of it, I always find myself still taking an interest in the ongoings of the world and of the Church after my death — looking on at my own funeral, and so on — and cannot realize an entirely new scene. There is so little revealed in Scripture, except that it is to be ‘with Christ,’ and I just think of him.” In this unpretending, self-abasing, truth-loving way, which had been all along the habit of his religious life, and which would not suffer him by one iota to exceed in utterance what he felt within, he said on another occasion still — “This is the beginning of the end, and we must look it in the face, and I can look forward to it — not with raptures; no, not anything like that; but I know in whom I have believed.”
My last sight of him can never, while memory lasts, fade from my mind. Though suffering constant pain, he had no complaint to make, and spoke only of the graciousness of all God’s dealings with him. His heart was full of love to all around him, and full of contentment and peace. His countenance had lost its careworn look. The furrows of time and toil and anxious thought had all been smoothed out from his broad bright brow. It seemed as if already he had a foretaste of the rest into which he was so soon to enter. And now he is not, for God hath taken him. Absent from the body, he is present with the Lord; which is far better. Amen.

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REV. JAMES CARMENT, COMRIE

(Died January 29, 1880)
Author: Rev. Andrew Donald, Blackford
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.149


James Carment was born in Glasgow, on the 23rd March 1816, where his father, the Rev. David Carment, was minister of Duke Street Gaelic Church. In 1822 the family removed to Rosskeen, in Ross-shire, to which parish Mr. Carment’s father had been called, and where he became a Disruption worthy. His son James was educated for the ministry of the Church of Scotland at the universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Uist, and served during most of his probationary period in Dundee, where he enjoyed the friendship of Mr. McCheyne and Mr. James Hamilton, then at Abernyte. In 1841 he received a Crown presentation to the church and parish of Comrie, Perthshire, and a call from the parishioners, to whom he had preached with acceptance. Ordained to the charge that same year by the Presbytery of Auchterarder, he threw himself heart and soul into the work. It was his lot to fall upon witnessing-times for the crown-rights of the great Head of the Church and the spiritual liberties of the people. He had scarcely tasted the sweets of life when, rather than surrender these sacred rights and liberties which were sweeter far, he surrendered manse and church and stipend, and the position which such things give, and formed one of the four hundred heroic men who faced and braved the opponents of spiritual liberty and won the victory, though at the loss of their earthly goods.

The great working-hive of the parish followed Mr. Carment, and among them were all the sixteen elders but one, and all the deacons. It was in the quieter days that succeeded that the full sacrifice for truth and righteousness was seen, and the full cup of trial that had been drunk. No church site for a time could be got, and the people worshipped under the open heaven. The pastor’s first-born son was baptized under this lofty roof by his grandfather, of Rosskeen, whose own grandfather had been baptized in the open air and under cloud of night in persecuting times.

A new and complete fabric of parochial machinery was at length set up under the Free Church of Scotland, and never had either preacher or people been so blessed in the gospel of Christ as then. Mr. Carment continued to testify of the grace of God, and to urge it upon the acceptance of all till a few months before his death, when severe affliction came upon him. It was among the last of his public appearances to stand in the midst of his people at the laying of the foundation-stone of a new and magnificent church, the gift of a deceased member of the congregation; and though this was not such a sight as some of them had beheld when he left goodly buildings and vested rights for conscience’ sake, yet they beheld how true it is that they who do such things for the kingdom of heaven’s sake receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

Mr. Carment was a diligent student, an accomplished theologian, a terse and interesting preacher, and a faithful and painstaking pastor. He was loyal to the truth, and fearless in expressing it; and as he preached to others so he lived himself. The smoothness of some men he had not, but the candour and kindness that all men like to see he largely possessed. He loved the Church of Christ at large, and knew more than many what was doing in it. Few took a livelier interest in its extension, or could more effectually plead for it, or more impressively pray for it in the very language of Scripture with which he was so familiar.

How far he was blessed in turning sinners to Christ and to righteousness can never be known here; but the writer of this notice, during a season of much felt religious concern in Comrie, remembers with what gladness one came to tell him that, through the preaching of Mr. Carment, he had been awakened and brought out of the depths. Now that this faithful pastor has finished his course and kept the faith, his people and friends can connect his name with the crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge will give to all who love his appearing.

Mr. Carment has left behind him a widow, seven sons and two daughters.

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REV. HENRY CARMICHAEL, M.A., PEEBLES

(Died August 11, 1879)
Author: Rev. T. Crerar, M.A., North Leith
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1879, Biographical Notice, p.301


The Rev.Henry Carmichael was a native of Cambus in Stirlingshire. After having received the earlier part of his education from the well-known teacher, Dr. Bruce of Alloa, he removed with his parents to Dumfries. While acting there in the capacity of a pupil-teacher at the time of the religious awakening of 1859-60, his conversion took place.

Immediately afterwards he became an active Christian worker, and the fervour and persuasiveness, as well as the accuracy of his public addresses, were remarkable in one so young. The first, or almost the first time that the writer saw him, was in the summer of 1861, in a quiet country village, at one of the open-air evangelistic services organized by the late Mr. Peter Drummond of Stirling. The earnestness, force, and grace of his speaking were made doubly impressive by his boyish aspect.

He entered the University of Glasgow in the winter of 1861, and removed two years thereafter to Edinburgh, where he completed his literary as well as his theological studies, and took his degree.

During the greater part of his student course he was engaged in mission work,—first at Airth, and then at Cambusbarron, in the Presbytery of Stirling, and latterly at North Leith. His ministrations at Airth were specially prized, and the result of them was a decided religious awakening, some of the fruits of which still remain.

After finishing his studies at the New College in 1869, he proceeded to the University of Erlangen, in Bavaria, and, on his return in the succeeding winter, was licensed by his native Presbytery. He immediately began work in Newhaven as assistant to the late Dr. Fairbairn, who was wont to speak of him in the most glowing terms as another Puritan divine. The congregation gave testimony to the esteem in which they held him by sending a deputation of their number to represent them at his ordination in Peebles, Mr. Carmichael having been elected to that charge in February 1870.

His ministry began under the happiest auspices. He was in good health, well furnished for his work, owing to his experience, knowledge, and studious habits, and the congregation was hearty. A scheme for constructing a more handsome and more commodious church was speedily suggested, and in due time was successfully carried out.

He was very popular as a preacher. His language was choice, his style easy and natural, his voice clear and sweet. He seldom used notes, and many of his sermons were characterized by great spiritual power and beauty. He was devoted to evangelical truth, and no one could hear him without feeling that he was aiming directly at the proper object of the Christian ministry.

It was about the sixth year of his ministry, just when it was becoming of greatest value, that his diminished strength became evident. He felt a strange and inexplicable languor creeping over him. But as he was conscious of no pain beyond weariness, he refrained from taking medical advice till the necessity for doing so was put beyond doubt. When he learned that he was suffering from a malady of the most serious kind, he was quite unnerved, and felt that sentence of death had been pronounced upon him. In a few days, however, he recovered somewhat from the shock caused by the announcement of his danger; but his buoyancy never returned, and his life was thereafter a brave but forlorn conflict with a disease which has seldom been overcome. He was greatly benefited by two visits, paid in successive years, to the mineral springs at Neuenahr, in the Rhine district, and his strength was so far restored that he was able to remain at his post during almost the whole of the last year of his life. The discipline of those trying three years which he spent in the valley of the shadow of death was not lost upon him. The fruit of it was apparent in his preaching, and he makes a touching allusion to the subject in a letter, written from Shetland the month before his death. “I sauntered up a burn-side till I came where it ran level among the hills. I looked down on the brown stream and away across the moors, and thought of many things. I was perfectly alone, except with God, and I seemed to feel him nearer, and tried, as before him, to review this poor, broken thing which I call my life. I thought of my unworthiness, how poor a return I had made him for all his mercies. I thought, too, how much worse I might have been but for this malady, which is my daily trial,—how much I should probably have missed had it not been sent. Before I rose, my prevailing feeling was joyous thankfulness.”

He preached his last sermons in his own church on Sabbath the 3rd August. The subjects were: “Lord, who hath believed our report?” (Isa. 53:1), and “the Great Healer” (Matt. 4:23-25). He had prepared notes of the sermon he intended to preach on the succeeding Sabbath, but was seized on the Friday with what seemed to be a cold. On retiring to rest that evening he said, “How strange it would be to feel that one was lying down to rise up no more in this world.” But he did not appear to be thinking of himself. He cherished the hope of being able to preach even so late as Saturday morning. During the day his languor increased, but no one felt much alarm about him. His illness developed very rapidly thereafter, and it was generally known on Sabbath that he was dying. He uttered no last testimony, nor was it needful. He had been saying by his life for twenty years, “I know in whom I have believed.” Shortly after midnight of Sabbath he fell asleep, and entered into his eternal rest.

He has left a widow and five children to mourn his early death. An impressive funeral service was held in the church where he had preached the gospel, and a crowd of friends bore him through silent streets beneath a sunny sky to a “quiet resting-place” beside the murmuring river and the green hills which he loved.

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DR. WILLIAM CHALMERS

(Died November 5, 1894)
Author: Professor Gibb, D.D., London
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1895, Obituary, p.17


Dr. Chalmers was the son of a medical officer in the service of the East India Company, and was born at Malacca on April 12, 1812. He was educated in Aberdeen, his father’s native city, attending classes first at the Grammar School, where he was taught by the famous Scottish Latinist, James Melvin, and afterwards at Marischal College. Although he was not fond of books either as a schoolboy or as an undergraduate, he easily outstripped his contemporaries, gaining the first bursary at the entrance competition at college at an unusually early age, and carrying off most of the first prizes in the various classes. At the age of seventeen he graduated as Master of Arts. He then joined his father, who had settled in Glasgow on his return from India, and there he began his studies for the ministry of the Church of Scotland. In a memorandum by himself, to which we have had access through the courtesy of Mrs. Chalmers, he thus writes of his student days in Glasgow: “By this time I had become a hard student, mainly in consequence of reading Craik’s ‘Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties;’ and finding there was little to learn under the then theological professors, I took three partial sessions—that is, gave my attendance at classes for only a few days—and I spent my time in reading Dutch divinity.” In the year 1833 he removed to Edinburgh to attend the lectures of Dr. Thomas Chalmers, who was at that time unconsciously preparing her future ministers for the new epoch which was about to dawn on the Church of Scotland. Young Chalmers caught the spirit of his great teacher, and became imbued with an ardent love for evangelical doctrine and for ecclesiastical freedom. During his stay in Edinburgh, and in the years immediately following, he became the friend of many of those who were afterwards to become leaders of the Free Church. Among them were Dr. William Cunningham, Dr. James Buchanan, Dr. Gordon, Dr. Robert Buchanan, and Mr. Murray Dunlop. We have been informed by those who remembered those days, that Chalmers was greatly admired by his early associates for his versatile gifts, and the almost magical ease with which he performed arduous tasks. In the year 1836, he became colleague of Dr. Bryce of Aberdour. He was ordained August 6, 1836, and was introduced to his people by Mr. William Cunningham, afterwards Principal of New College, Edinburgh. After a ministry of five years in Aberdour, he was transferred to Dailly, in Ayrshire, which had become vacant through the appointment of Dr. Thomas Hill to a theological chair in the University of Glasgow. On his settlement in Dailly, he married the daughter of Dr. Bryce, his former colleague. When the Disruption arrived, it did not find Chalmers in a doubtful mind. He was an enthusiastic non-intrusionist, and had already proclaimed his opinions in his own and in the neighbouring parishes. On his return from the Assembly in Edinburgh in 1843, he spoke for the last time in his own church at the morning service, preaching from the words “Holding the Head.” In the afternoon he preached to a vast audience from a tent, taking as his text, ”Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” He had his full share of the privations and toils of the memorable Disruption days. He and his flock had to worship in the open air; and as the principal heritor, although an excellent man, was a zealous opponent of the new movement, he was unable to hire a house. He sent his wife, with her child, back to her mother, and himself took refuge in the house of a parishioner, who kindly entertained him. Only three ministers out of eleven left the Established Church in the district of Carrick, and the care of the adherents of the Free Church in eleven parishes devolved upon them. Into all those parishes, and indeed into most of the parishes of Ayrshire, Chalmers went as a crusading champion of the Free Church in spite of threats and of interdicts. In buildings procured for the occasion, or more often in the open air, he preached the gospel, and defended the position of the Free Church with such eloquence and force that the name of “Chalmers of Dailly ” became a household word among the Free Churchmen of Ayrshire. His ability as a controversial speaker having attracted the attention of the leaders of the church, he was sent to America in 1844 to join a deputation which had gone thither to plead the cause of the Free Church. During the five months he spent in America he travelled five thousand miles, and made upwards of a hundred appearances in pulpit and on platform. On one occasion he preached before the House of Representatives at the Capitol, Washington. On his return from America he received a call to London, whither he went in the year 1845. The congregation, which had amongst its members Mr. Fox Maule and the Marquis of Breadalbane, was at the time worshipping in a hall, but it soon removed to a church in George Street, Marylebone, which was built for the new minister. For upwards of twenty-three years Mr. Chalmers of Marylebone was one of the most honoured and influential among the Presbyterian ministers of London. Not content with his arduous congregational labours, he threw himself into the work of the extension of Presbyterianism in England, and he bore a great part in the remarkable movement which has transformed a few scattered and languid congregations into a united and vigorous church. He was the acknowledged leader of the liberal party in the synod which desired to accommodate Presbyterianism to the tastes of the English people by introducing instrumental music and hymns into the public service of God.

His perfect coolness, his readiness, and the command he had of sarcasm, rendered him an effective and sometimes a formidable debater; for although he was always good-humoured himself, the amusing banter with which he treated the arguments of his opponents created considerable discomposure in minds accustomed to a more ponderous treatment of ecclesiastical subjects. In his later years, the gay and bantering tone disappeared from his public speeches. He became a rather stately speaker, grave and judicial. His speeches were, however, always listened to with close attention because of their lucidity, and the masculine good sense which always distinguished them. In the year 1867 he received the degree of D.D. from the University of Aberdeen; in the following year he was appointed Professor of Theology in the College of the Presbyterian Church of England. It was late in life to enter upon a new career, but his mental vigour was unabated, and he became an esteemed professor, especially in the department of systematic theology. He possessed great clearness of thought, considerable powers of expression, and a taste for dialectics, and his students received from him expositions and defences of the old theology which they never forgot. His theology was that of Calvin and Cunningham. He had no sympathy with the new theology which makes the spiritual nature of man, rather than written words, the final arbiter in religious controversy; and he sometimes expressed fears that the subjective character of modern theology would weaken and divide the church. In spirit and tendency a Latin rather than a Greek theologian, he was content to accept the first principles already acknowledged, and to draw deductions from them. He felt no disposition to question or even to re-examine the first principles of religious truth and certainty. But while he held his own views with unwavering conviction, there was no acerbity in his references to theologians who did not share his views. By his students he was held in much respect; his manly sense, his courtesy, and the impartial justice he showed to all equally, and to their work, securing universal regard. During his tenure of office as professor, and latterly as principal—in 1880 he was appointed to the principalship on the death of Principal Lorimer—he was associated with four colleagues—Dr. Lorimer, Dr. Graham, Dr. Elmslie, and myself. As the only survivor, I may say, what his other colleagues would have cordially endorsed, that Dr. Chalmers was a delightful colleague. A strong man, he was absolutely indifferent to official dignity and precedence, and he worked with his younger associates on terms of brotherly equality. As an administrator, he was kindly and apparently easy-going; but when occasion required he could be firm, and did not shrink from the full responsibility of an unpopular act. His natural courage and his experiences of stormy controversy rendered him indifferent to hostile criticism.

In the year 1888, Dr. Chalmers, owing to failing health, retired from the active duties of his professorship, and resigned the office of principal. His death was preceded by a very long and trying illness, which he bore with beautiful Christian patience. During the years of ever-increasing weakness he was watched over by his devoted wife, who survives him. He was buried in Brookfield Cemetery, Surrey, on November 8. His two sons, his grandsons, and a number of friends who came from London, followed his remains to the grave. The funeral service was conducted by Principal Dykes, who paid a warm and eloquent tribute to the worth and services of his predecessor.

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REV. GEORGE CHARLES, M.A., B.D., BUSBY

(Died September 4, 1882)
Author: Rev. Alex. Warrack, M.A., Leswalt
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January 1, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.19


Mr. Charles was born at Stranraer on the 10th of February 1848, and was the only son of the late Rev. George Charles, minister there.

Having received his earlier education at the local academy, he entered Edinburgh University in 1863, and during his course at the Arts classes proved an able and industrious student, and won for himself a high degree. From the university he passed directly to the New College in 1867, and was distinguished by the same qualities in his theological studies, gaining the affection and esteem of his class-fellows and the high approbation of his professors, and obtaining from his alma mater the degree of B.D.

Licensed by the Presbytery of Stranraer in July 1871, he officiated as assistant in several congregations, particularly in Newhaven, where his character and services were very greatly appreciated by the people, and especially by their minister, the late Dr. Fairbairn.

About two years after license Mr. Charles was settled at Busby, near Glasgow. Throwing himself eagerly into his work there, he soon succeeded in increasing the congregation very largely, so much so that the place proved too strait for them, and they had to convert the hall in which they worshipped into the present convenient and comely structure. But he worked too hard for his own health, which, after two or three years of earnest labour, not only in ordinary pulpit and pastoral but also in special evangelistic work, gave way, and became broken. Still he struggled on, until, exhausted by the demands made upon him—demands only too readily met—by people in the town, where he was the only available minister during a serious epidemic of scarlet fever, he fairly broke down, and had to seek restored health in absence from his charge for about ten months. Failing, however, to gain what he sought, and finding himself not likely to be better as long as he was burdened with the responsibility of a charge to which he could not minister, he felt it his duty to himself and his people to sever, not without great pain to himself and to them, his connection with Busby, where his character and labours are still fondly remembered by many whom he helped and comforted by his counsel and sympathy.

Resigning his charge in November 1877, and returning to Stranraer under his father’s roof, he became a learner in the school of affliction, spending nearly three years in great weakness, and not knowing whether he was to die or to live—longing to live and again serve his Master in the gospel, but willing to die if such were his Master’s will, meekly submissive to what the Lord should appoint for him, and gaining a chastened spirit and an unusually rich experience for a young man. At length, towards the close of 1880, he was able to preach occasionally without injury to himself in various congregations in the Presbytery of Stranraer with remarkable unction and savour. As his strength came back he gave full and regular service in two local congregations during the absence of the ministers.

Rejoiced to find himself fit for the work he loved so well, having, as he said, “the solemn joy of resuming an interrupted ministry,” he accepted, in February of the current year, an engagement as assistant in the West Free Church, Brechin, in the absence abroad of the Rev. John Fraser. From his work there his friends were encouraged to anticipate for him full ability ere long to undertake all pastoral duty in a charge of his own. Their hopes were not destined to be realized.

On the 3rd of September Mr Charles preached with unusual pathos and power from John 15:12 what proved to be his last sermon; some of his hearers, indeed, that day remarked that from its earnestness it might have been his last, though little did he or they know that it was his farewell word, and that in twenty-seven hours he should be dead, and they should hear his voice and see his face no more on earth.

On the Monday he went, in apparently his usual health and spirits, to visit his friend, Mr. Christie, at Scotscraig Mains, near Tayport, for the day. On his way back to the station, when he had been driven only a few yards from Mr. Christie’s house, he was suddenly seized with severe hemorrhage, speedily became unconscious, and, in spite of all that medical skill, quickly at hand, could do, passed away in less than half-an-hour, at the age of thirty-four, and in the tenth year of his ministry.

No dying testimony was permitted to him, nor was it needed: ample testimony to his faith in Christ he gave during the years of illness in which he looked death in the face; ample testimony was borne in his blameless character, his earnest ministry, and his quiet acceptance of the chastening of the Lord. Early brought to the knowledge of the truth, he steadily grew in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and ripened especially in Christian experience while laid aside from the ministry in which he spent his strength. Naturally gentle and winning, a man that had no enemies, his gentleness and amiability were sanctified by grace and refined by the discipline of pain. He was a strong man too in mental power and resoluteness of will, able to hold his own opinions firmly and assert them fearlessly when duty called him. Tenacious of the substance of the Confessional theology, he could yet welcome its more recent developments, and set forth the old doctrines of grace in a way suited to the modern style of thought and expression. His preaching was of a high order, always clear, simple, direct, thoughtful, and fervent in its evangelicalism, and latterly penetrated by the rich experience of one who had been a meek and docile learner in the school of suffering and dwelt habitually in the secret of God’s presence. In his premature death a wide circle of attached friends and fellow-students mourn the loss to themselves and to the Church of Christ of a man singularly gifted naturally and by grace, a man greatly and justly beloved, a true and faithful and devoted servant in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mr. Charles was unmarried, and is survived by a widowed mother and four sisters.

He lies beside his father in the churchyard of Inch, near his native town.

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REV. GEORGE CHARLES, STRANRAER

(Died February 4, 1881)
Author: Rev. A. Urquhart, Portpatrick
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June 1, Biographical Notices, p.149


As minister of the Free Church at Stranraer, Mr. Charles occupied one of the most prominent positions in Galloway. During thirty-seven years his name was associated with active and faithful discharge of duty in the district; and Christian men of all denominations have united in expressing their respect for his memory.

Born and educated in Edinburgh, he distinguished himself in its university; and before he was licensed he gave himself, under the direction of Chalmers, to the work of an active missionary in the suburbs of the city. On receiving license he joined the faithful band of probationers who, in face of all the temptations and threatenings of the time, openly cast in their lot with the ministers who were preparing for the Disruption. Some time after the Disruption, when considerable anxiety was felt for an early and suitable settlement of the Free Church congregation at Stranraer, he was suggested as a candidate by a friend in the neighbourhood to whom he was well known, and immediately afterwards he received a harmonious call. He was ordained on the 9th of May 1844. From that day till his last short illness of a few weeks he devoted all the energies of a ceaseless and self-denying activity to his varied duties, both public and private. In pulpit ministrations, in home mission services, and in domiciliary visitations, it may well be said that he abounded; whilst, “in season and out of season,” he was ever ready to comfort the sick and the afflicted, and to help the helpless. Most considerate towards his brethren in the ministry, he was ever generously forward to offer his assistance when needed, even when that was at a sacrifice of his personal comfort. Nor was he slack in his duties as a Christian citizen. In all schemes for relief of the poor, for the reformation of the habits of general society, and for the extension of the benefits of education, he was ever ready to take an active part. And it may be noted, as an illustration of the unselfishness of his character, that he refused to move for the erection of a manse till a school should be erected and be free from all debt.

Remarkably earnest in everything which engaged his interest, he was especially earnest in asserting and defending the vital doctrines of the gospel. And the honesty transparent in the expression of all his convictions must have carried a precious significance and assurance with the pastoral letter written from his deathbed to his congregation, and with his assertion to loved ones around of “the glorious all-sufficiency of Christ.” The sure and blessed hope in which he lived and died remains for those who survive. May it abound in its consolations and strength to his widow, who with heart and hand was ever united with him in all his work; to his son, happily recruiting from the labours of a ministry in which he sacrificed his strength; and to his four surviving daughters.

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REV. GEORGE A. CHISHOLM

(Died December 30, 1876)
Author: Rev. Andrew D. Mackenzie.
The Free Church Monthly, May 1, 1877, p.122


Mr. Chisholm was born in Easter Ross, parish of Kilmuir, in the year 1815, his father being tenant of the farm of Tullich in that parish. About the usual age in the Highlands he repaired to King’s College, Aberdeen, where he seems to have completed his whole course in arts and theology. On the ground of a Highland cousinship, the writer of these lines was glad to make his acquaintance there in 1834, and to form a friendship which has lasted throughout his life. He was then known as a youth of excellent character, good abilities, and as a conscientious student. Though not among the distinguished few, he was never far behind them.

The session 1842-43, the last of his theological course, was, in all the universities, a heart-stirring time. I can remember, as if it were yesterday, how in Edinburgh every spare moment at the meeting of classes was occupied wdth earnest discussions regarding the Church’s prospects and the merits of outgoing or instaying; and how reluctantly these discussions were discontinued even at the approach of our revered professors, who, we knew, were themselves heavily burdened as well as we with the perplexities of the thickening conflict. Much has been said and written of the trials of ministers in settled charges during this time — not too much,certainly — but we have sometimes thought that too little notice has been taken of the struggles of our students of theology when bracing up their minds to follow the path of duty at whatever hazard. Then there were those sallies of humour and sarcasm with which students never fail to spice the gravest discussions. Some there were who indicated with ludicrous candour the perplexity in which they found themselves, while others saw clearly that the conflict was nearing, step by step, the vitals of the Church’s testimony, and made up their minds accordingly. Of this class was the subject of our notice; and though he spoke little, his mind was clear and decided, and when the time arrived, he cast in his lot without misgiving with the Free Church.

In April 1844 he was licensed by the Presbytery of Tongue, and during the following six years he laboured as a preacher in different parts of the Highlands and Islands. For a considerable time he laboured in the Lewis, where, having to reside in Stornoway, he was wont to walk distances of from fifteen to twenty miles to his preaching stations, and where, on one occasion, he narrowly escaped being drowned when attempting to cross a stream swollen with rain. Naturally grave and gentle in his disposition, and having enjoyed a godly upbringing, it is not easy to determine at what period of his life he became the subject of a gracious change; but we have before us a paper written by him on the first anniversary of his license, when stationed in the parish of Glenelg, in which he records, in terms of the deepest contrition, his sense of shortcoming and unfruitfulness as a preacher of the gospel, combined with earnest prayer for more grace to enable him to live a more devoted life in the future. Though somewhat reticent as regarded his own experience of divine things, one could not know him long without feeling persuaded that his heart was right with God.

Having been appointed to officiate for some time in Avoch, he received from the congregation a harmonious call, and was ordained as their pastor in 1851. Here his time of active service, though acceptable to his people, and not without some tokens of the Master’s presence, was lamentably brief; for, in consequence of exposure to the sun, when preaching at a neighbouring communion in the open air, in the second year of his pastorate, he was seized with apoplexy, which eventually assumed the form of epilepsy. For a year or two, clinging to the hope of recovery, he continued to employ preachers, assisting them himself in the administration of ordinances; but in 1856 he obtained leave from the General Assembly to associate a colleague and successor. And having seen his charge thus suitably provided for, he retired to Aberdeen; where, by supplying vacant pulpits, and by superintending the studies of young men attending the university, he continued to eke out his scanty means of subsistence. We have reason to know that during his residence in Aberdeen his Christian life and gentlemanly bearing procured for him the warm esteem of many of the ministers and elders of the Free Church. Soon after his settlement in Avoch he married Miss Brander, only daughter of Mr. Brander, late of Embo, Sutherlandshire, in whom he found a faithful helpmate and a devoted wife.

And now there remains but that we should chronicle the closing scene of his life. Towards the end of November he was asked by Mr. Gillespie, Free Church minister of Keith, to supply his pulpit during a week’s absence from home. Arrived in his usual health on Saturday; and when about to retire for the night, Mrs. Gillespie observed him turn suddenly pale, and asked him if he felt ill. He had scarcely time to reply when he was seized with the illness of which he shortly after died.

Mr. Chisholm’s life journey was sufficiently chequered, and his disappointments were not few; but patiently and bravely he accepted his lot, as became one who knew that his race was set before him, and that he was guided by an unerring hand.

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REV. JOHN SIM CLARK, A.M., FOVERAN

(Died January 7, 1886)
Author: Rev. John Mennie, Methlic
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1886, Biographical Notice, p.115


Mr. Clark was born at Woodside, near Aberdeen, on the 14th December 1828, and was educated at the Grammar School there, of which the famous Dr. Melvin was rector. From that he passed to King’s College, Old Aberdeen, where, after passing through the curriculum in a very satisfactory manner, he took his degree. For a short time thereafter he engaged in teaching; but having consecrated himself to the ministry, he studied divinity under Professor McLaggan, Professor Sachs, and Dr. Davidson of the Free West Church. Licensed in due course, he was ordained as minister of the Free Church. of Foveran in the year 1855. That was his only charge, and the duties of it he lovingly and faithfully discharged for the long period of thirty years.

From the very beginning of his ministry, he had faith in the pulpit as the grand power for spiritual good, and he set before himself a high standard of excellency in that department. Indeed, it might be said that his ideal in that matter was too high for an ordinary country congregation; but he believed in the power of educating, and in that he succeeded, for few congregations prized more highly pulpit ministrations than his did. In a letter which I had from one of his elders after his death, I find these words:—”But we as a congregation will be very headless. Mr. Clark managed all our church affairs so well. But most of all will we miss his pulpit ministrations.” The burden of his preaching was Christ and him crucified; but he did not forget the practical side of his religion. Indeed it might be said that few spoke out more fearlessly than he on the wide subject of Christian duty. As a pastor, he was diligent and laborious. He was careful of the sick, and wise in dealing with them. The young had a warm place in his heart, and in turn he was much beloved by them. He had a keen eye to all that tended towards the intellectual and spiritual elevation of the district; and as a member of the School Board, none laboured so diligently as he did. As a member of the Presbytery, he was most regular in his attendance, and most helpful by his counsel. Elected as clerk of his Presbytery in March 1882, he performed its duties with great efficiency. As a man he was physically strong, mentally keen, possessed of a large knowledge of men and things, having a warm, loving, and generous heart underlying all. He had the courage of his own opinions, and did not fear to express them. He was given to hospitality, and nowhere more than in his own manse did the generous and genial disposition of the man appear.

Through his last illness he was enabled to possess his soul in patience, and died as he had lived, with a calm and firm faith in Christ, testifying that the Saviour he preached to others was a Saviour sufficient for himself in the immediate prospect of the future.

He has left a widow and three children, by whom, as well as by a very wide circle of friends and acquaintances, he is sadly missed anel deeply mourned.

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REV. WILLIAM B. CLARK, D.D., formerly of Half-Morton

(Died March 15, 1893)
Author: Principal Mcvicar, D.D., Montreal
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1893, Obituary, p.212


William B. Clark, D.D., late minister of Chalmers’ Church, Quebec, was born at Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland, on the 27th January 1805. When two years old his father, a respectable country merchant, died, leaving his mother, Janet Brown, in charge of six children, whom she faithfully trained in the fear of the Lord.

William received his early education, including a thorough grounding in the elements of Latin and Greek, in the parish school of Biggar.

Like many Scottish students, he was obliged to depend upon his own efforts to secure funds to carry him through college. He accordingly, while quite young, betook himself to teaching, and was greatly aided by James Hogg, the “Ettrick Shepherd,” who enabled him to open a small school in the parish of Yarrow.

During leisure hours Mr. Clark composed a tale, which the kind-hearted Shepherd enlarged and published in Constable’s Magazine, giving the sum received for it to the young teacher.

Having saved money sufficient to pay college expenses for one session, he entered the University of Edinburgh in November 1822. Through the influence of his poetic patron of Ettrick, he received free tuition in the classes of Professor Pillans.

His course in arts was more than once interrupted for lack of funds, but in spite of this he distinguished himself in several departments, especially in classics.

In 1828, the year in which the celebrated Dr. Chalmers came to the University of Edinburgh as professor, Mr. Clark entered the Divinity Hall. In common with all other students, he greatly profited by the teaching of that extraordinary man, and imbibed a good measure of his evangelical enthusiasm. The study of theology became to him a source of delight; and he was wont afterwards to tell of the great benefits derived from investigations pursued by him in preparing a Latin exegesis upon the words: “An Christus sit colendus summo cultu Deo Patri debito?

Soon after this he received, upon the recommendation of Dr. Chalmers, a bursary of twenty pounds, which relieved him of financial difficulties to the close of his curriculum. In the summer of 1832 he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Biggar; but as there was a superabundance of preachers in the Church of Scotland at that time, he continued his labours as a private teacher.

About this time the ministers of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh having formed a society for voluntary missionary work among the poor, Mr. Clark was chosen for this service by Dr. Inglis, of the parish of Old Greyfriars. His field was the Cowgate, with the closes extending from it to the Lawnmarket and High Street. He preached regularly in an old church in the Cowgate, whose quaint spire is visible from George IV. Bridge. It was in this unique edifice, now visited by tourists as a curious relic of the past, that the first General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was held. The squalor, poverty, and vice encountered in this vicinity were often heart-rending. Visitors from other lands frequently wonder that the piety and zeal of Edinburgh have so long failed to purify the moral slums of this neighbourhood. It is a good field in which to test the strength and wisdom of a young minister’s missionary resources. It was for a time the scene of Dr. Guthrie’s labours, while colleague with Mr. Sym in Old Greyfriars’, and here, no doubt, he gathered materials for his work on “The City, its Sins and Sorrows.”

In 1835, upon the recommendation of Dr. Chalmers, Mr. Clark took charge of the parish of Half-morton. Here he married Jane Brown, a distant relative of his own, a woman of culture and deep piety. They spent years of comfort and happiness in the Lord’s service till the Disruption took place and they were obliged, in following their conscientious convictions, to sacrifice the comforts of their pleasant home. These were stirring times, and Mr Clark entered enthusiastically into the spirit of the movement of his native country. For a time he preached in the adjoining parishes of Canonbie and Langholm, where a strong feeling in behalf of Free Church principles had been excited. During the summer of 1843 services had to be held in country places, chiefly in the open air; but at Canonbie a marquee capable of sheltering several hundred people was erected in a pasture field. Mr. Clark had officiated only two Sabbaths in this place when he was interdicted by the Duke of Buccleuch. The interdict was obeyed, and preaching continued by the road-side with greatly increased numbers in attendance.

Towards the close of 1843 Mr. Clark was called to Maxwelltown, a suburb of Dumfries; but the Presbytery refused to release him from Half-morton until in 1844 a second call was addressed to him from the same parish. In this parish he remained happy and useful, until the spring of 1853, when he felt called of God to emigrate to Canada, and accepted the pastorate of Chalmers’ Church, Quebec, in which he continued to discharge faithfully and laboriously the duties of his office till September 1874. His church was a centre of Protestant and evangelical influence for the Province; and in addition to the diligent care of his own flock, the services of Mr. Clark were invaluable in reviving the small Protestant communities around Quebec, such as Stoneham, St. Sylvester, Inverness, St. Charles, Beauport, and other places in the eastern townships. His ardent missionary enthusiasm led him to seek opportunities of doing good to the neglected without waiting to be sent for. His memory will long be fragrant among them on this account.

After six years of comparative rest, during which he preached in the city and neighbourhood as occasion offered, he was appointed by the trustees of Morin College, Quebec, Professor of Church History. In 1889 the Presbyterian College, Montreal, in recognition of his varied and high attainments, and his many valued services to the cause of truth and of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.

Dr. Clark published several works, two of which a “Manual of Family Worship,” and “Asleep in Jesus,” obtained a large circulation.

Dr. Clark was a man of spotless integrity, of large heart and intellect, of poetic and literary taste; gentle and kind to all, and yet vehement when roused by the apprehension of injustice being done or any lack of fidelity to the truth being shown. He had a strong and undying feeling of patriotism— Scotsman through and through, and equally loyal to his adopted country, Canada, of whose grand resources and glorious destiny he delighted to speak with the fullest confidence.

He profoundly abhorred tyranny in every form and was therefore fearless and zealous in his effort to break the oppressive yoke of priestcraft from the necks of the people of the Dominion.

Among the family trials which deeply affected him may be mentioned the death of his only son at Maxwelltown, and the death of his wife at Quebec in February 1854, shortly after her arrival from Scotland. He remained a widower sixteen years and was then joined in marriage to Amelia Torrance, widow of Thomas Gibb of Quebec, whose demise occurred a few years ago.

Upon retiring from professional work in Morin College, he resided with his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. James Moody, at Chesterville, Ontario. He there enjoyed the loving care of his children and grandchildren, and continued to the last to exercise unwavering confidence in the truth and the divine Saviour he had so long preached to others. He gently fell asleep in Jesus in the eighty-ninth year of his age, and his mortal remains were laid to rest in Mount Hermon Cemetery, Quebec. Two daughters, Miss Clark and Mrs. Moody, survive him.

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REV. GEORGE CLAZY, PAISLEY

(Died August 31, 1896)
Author: Rev. Gavin J. Tait, Paisley
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, June, 1897, Obituary, p.145


The sudden death of Mr. Clazy, on the thirty-first of August last, created a profound impression in the large community where he had laboured for over forty years, and in which he was universally respected and beloved. He had just returned from his summer holiday, apparently in the best of health, and was looking forward eagerly to his winter’s work, when the call came. “God’s finger touched him, and he slept.” The life thus closed was begun at Eccles, Roxburghshire, where Mr. Clazy was born in 1825. He came of a Covenanting stock; so it is not surprising that, after completing the literary part of his education in Edinburgh, he should have decided to enter the ministry of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Accordingly he came to Paisley, to study in the Reformed Presbyterian Divinity Hall under the Rev. Dr. Symington, who combined the double office of minister of the Reformed Presbyterian congregation there and Professor of Divinity. Shortly thereafter Dr. Symington died, and Mr. Clazy became his successor, being ordained on October 3,1854. He remained the minister of this congregation until the day of his death. It is interesting to notice that the ministries of Dr. Symington and Mr. Clazy in the same congregation extended over the long period of eighty-six years.

Mr. Clazy’s ministry was a peculiarly interesting and fruitful one. As a preacher, he loved the old paths, and delighted to set forth a full and free gospel. He believed with his whole soul in the great doctrines of grace, and preached them with a fervour and unction that let his hearers see what they were to himself personally—no barren formulas, but most vital and potent expressions of Divine truth. This he did without showing any narrow antipathy to the fresh views and statements of truth characteristic of these days. He was not intolerantly wedded to the past, but kept a remarkably open mind for new movements of thought, and was ever ready to sympathize with the aspirations and efforts of younger men. He was not an ecclesiastic, but during the Union negotiations of thirty years ago he was heartily on the side of union; and when his own church threw in her lot with the Free Church in 1874, there was no more enthusiastic supporter of that step than Mr. Clazy. Thenceforward he proved himself a most loyal and devoted servant of the Free Church, and in the presbytery his mature counsel and high tone were invaluable in counsel and debate.

As a man, none stood higher in the church and in the community of Paisley. Simple and unaffected as a child, of a singularly bright and lovable disposition that endeared him to young and old alike, his sterling integrity, his fine courage, his enthusiasm for righteousness, won him the confidence and admiration of all who knew him. His Christ-like character preached Christ no less effectually than did his pulpit labours. He was indeed a living epistle of Christ, and a brother beloved.

Mr. Clazy was twice married. His widow and six children, three sons and three daughters, survive him. His second son, Rev. R. S. Clazy, was ordained minister of Dunning Free Church a few months after his father’s death.

P.S.—Since the above was written, Mrs. Clazy has also passed away, having died on the seventeenth of April after a short illness. Mrs. Clazy was greatly beloved in the congregation of which her husband was minister, and by a large circle of friends who deeply sympathize with the family under this additional bereavement.

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REV. ALEXANDER CLEGHORN, LEUCHARS

(Died May 20, 1887)
Author: Rev. Neil Macleod, M.A., Newport, Fife
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September, 1887, Biographical Notices, p.275


Fifty years ago “Cleghorn’s Academy” was a well-known institution in Edinburgh. There must be still living a considerable number of those who received their early education in it, and there is not one of them who has not a grateful remembrance of the head of the school, Mr. William Cleghorn, a strict disciplinarian, a most effective teacher, and withal the most kindly and genial of his profession—one who threw his heart into all his work, and especially into the Bible lesson, and who, with godly zeal, long before the City Mission had been started, or home missions in the modern sense had been thought of, spent his spare time on Sabbaths and week-days in conducting classes and carrying on Christian work in the most destitute and degraded districts of the city.

The late Rev. Alexander Cleghorn, Leuchars, was the eldest son of Mr. William Cleghorn. The year of his birth was 1809. Like his father he was a born teacher, and throughout all his life he had a special aptitude for communicating instruction to the young, with whom he was to the last a great favourite. At the early age of fourteen he began to teach, and during the next twenty years of his life he was more or less employed in that work, invariably with efficiency and success. Yet all through it had been his desire to be a minister of the gospel; and before 1843 he had not only completed his studies, but had for some years been a probationer of the Church of Scotland, and had been employed as such with acceptance in different places. At the Disruption he was offered a presentation to one of the vacated charges, but he had no hesitation in declining it, and in identifying himself with the band of probationers who cast in their lot with the Free Church. His whole sympathies were with the men whom on 18th May 1843 he followed from St. Andrew’s Church to Canon-mills.

It was in 1845 that Mr. Cleghorn was settled as minister of the Free Church of Leuchars, and from that time for thirty-nine years he devoted himself assiduously to the work of the ministry in that charge.

As a preacher he sought to present to his hearers the gospel of free grace in its fulness and simplicity. He delighted to commend the love of God in Christ, and a sense of that love so evidently filled his own soul as to make his words oftentimes peculiarly impressive. He was a diligent student of the Scriptures, and was in the habit of expounding consecutively the different books of Scripture, seeking to feed his flock by leading them over the green pastures of the field of Revelation.

From his early training and tastes he was specially useful in his Sabbath school, which he always personally superintended, and which, during his whole ministry, was ever felt to be a great power for good in the community. There are many now scattered over the world who owe much to his labours in this department of his work.

Mr. Cleghorn greatly endeared himself to his congregation by the warm interest he took in their affairs, by his sympathy with them in their troubles, by his loving attention to the sick, by his accessibility to all who needed his help or advice, and by his efforts in various directions to promote the general well-being of the people among whom he lived. There is no one in Leuchars who does not speak with deep respect and affection of their old minister.

Of a modest and retiring disposition, he was not widely known beyond the immediate sphere of his work. But all who really knew him had a genuine regard for him as a gentle, unselfish, kindly, straight-forward servant of Christ, who according to his ability sought faithfully to discharge the trust God had put into his hands.

He was a useful and valued member of Presbytery. One reminiscence of the past may be noted. In the days before the Education Act, when Presbyterial examinations of schools meant, or were supposed to mean, something, his brethren used to feel that if Mr. Cleghorn was present all was right. There was no fear of the interest flagging. The children were sure to have a lively time of it, and to get a stirring address at the close. In this field, at any rate, Mr. Cleghorn shone without a rival.

In 1883 Mr. Cleghorn’s failing health compelled him to retire from the active duties of the ministry. “I have been hard at work,” said he to the writer of this notice, “between teaching and preaching for sixty years, and I am now worn out.” He returned to Edinburgh, the city of his birth, and spent there the last years of his life. During these years he took little interest in secular matters, and occupied himself almost exclusively with his Bible and in meditation and prayer. Two years before his death he sent a touching letter to every household of his old flock, in which, as a dying man, he gave his testimony to the reality and importance of the things of the eternal world, and with solemn earnestness reiterated the substance of the gospel message he had preached so long.

Amidst the decays of nature, and conscious of failing memory as the end drew near, he was in the habit of keeping before him in his hand a small slip of paper on which, in his own characteristic shorthand writing, he had noted down the texts which he found helpful to his faith and hope, so that the constant sight and perusal of these might secure, so far as might be, his remembrance of them.

On the second day’s meeting of the last General Assembly, he left the Church below to join the General Assembly of the Church above.

Mr. Cleghorn is survived by a widow, a son, and a daughter.

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REV. D.R. CLARKE, ABERFELDY

(Died May 13, 1883)
Author: Principal Shairp, St. Andrews
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.276


In the death of this faithful pastor the Free Church has lost one who was felt to be a power for spiritual good throughout a wide district of Perthshire. From Perth and Dunkeld up to Tyndrum, throughout Athole and Breadalbane and beyond them, no one during the last forty years has exercised a more vital influence. A native of Sutherland, Mr. Clarke was the son of a worthy father, who held a large sheep-farm around Loch Eribol, and was what in the old Highlands was known as a tacksman. His schooling he received first in Tain Academy, then in the Manse of Laggan, under his cousin, Dr. McIntosh Mackay, afterwards the well-known minister of Dunoon. He completed his education in the University of Edinburgh, where he must have come under the influence of Dr. Chalmers, who at that time held the Chair of Theology in that University. In 1840 he was licensed as a probationer by the Presbytery of Tongue, and soon afterwards became assistant, first to Mr. Grant of Banff, and then to Dr. Mackay at Dunoon. When the year of the Disruption came, Mr. Clarke, like his cousin the minister of Dunoon, cast in his lot with these who left the Establishment. Towards the close of that year he was unanimously chosen by the new congregation of Aberfeldy to be their minister, and his presence and energy did much to root and to extend the influence of the young Free Church not only in that place, but throughout the surrounding district. His solidity of character and excellent ability were a great strength to this as they would have been to any cause into which he threw himself. His endowments, both as a man and as a minister, were such as might naturally have made him look forward to a more prominent position in his Church; but he was content with the place to which he had been first called. He had nothing of that ambition, or push, which some say is a characteristic—not a wholly admirable characteristic—of all Scotchmen, and from which not even ministers are exempt. He loved the people committed to his care, and the country in which his lot was placed, and his one ambition was to be found faithful. And faithful he was, on Sabbath and on week-day, in the pulpit and out of it, during those forty years. In his private ministrations from house to house he was most assiduous, visiting and comforting especially the aged, the sickly, and the afflicted. With these he conversed freely in Gaelic, and got very near their hearts. In preaching, he combined the strong clearheadedness which is thought to belong to the Lowlander with the fine fervour of the best Celtic temperament. When, as in him, these two elements meet and harmonize, the result is admirable.

His doctrine and convictions were entirely those of Evangelical Calvinism. Satisfied with this for himself, he commended it to his hearers with much directness, and with a calm depth of personal conviction, pervaded by a native fervour subdued and restrained. He was too entirely earnest to care for subtleties of argument, or elaborate graces of style, seldom even let himself go in bursts of eloquence; but there were those who felt his reality all the more for this. Justification by faith only, the atonement, substitution— he has been heard even to say from the pulpit that substitution is the whole gospel—these were the subjects he was never weary of pressing home in all their depth and breadth. With modern speculations and so-called “results of the higher criticism,” he did not much trouble himself. The whole frame-work of his thought had been fashioned at a time before these things began to encroach upon theology. The old evangelical teaching sufficed him to live and die by, and he commended to others what he had found sufficient for himself.

In the words of one who attended Mr. Clarke’s ministry during recent summers: “As his mind ripened he seemed to have got beyond reasonings and arguments, into the calm of assured experience that lies beyond these. The thought of the personal Saviour, and of abiding in Him, seemed to grow more and more to him, and to fill all his mind and desire. He seemed to have attained to a region of divine communion, in which he abode, and out of which he spoke of things his inner eye saw, and his heart held converse with.” Those who knew him well during his later years felt that there was a ripening of spirit within him which seemed preparatory for a higher state.

With this there was no austerity, rather increasing gentleness. His natural humour still played about the subjects of his conversation; still he clung with affection to all the Highland associations of Breadalbane and of native Sutherland. One remembers how, as he stood by General Wade’s Bridge over the Tay last autumn, on a lovely afternoon, he looked for a time in silence on the beautiful landscape— the woods of Weem-Rock, the green braes of Garth, with the dark mountains of Glen Lyon beyond—and then said, “The late Dr. John Duncan, looking on such a scene once said, ‘Let me take it well in, for I believe that I shall bear the remembrance of it with me to heaven.'” Probably he was taking home that word to himself.

A good many years ago, while Mr. Clarke was journeying through Glen Dochart on some Presbyterial business, he was thrown from a gig and severely injured. Ever since that accident he suffered occasionally from the injuries then sustained. About a year ago his health visibly declined. In April last his medical attendant told him that his case was hopeless. He received the tidings, we are told, with perfect calmness. During the weeks when he lay waiting for his call, those who had the privilege of visiting him were deeply impressed by his saintly look of perfect peace. The end came at the very close of Sabbath, the 13th of May last. His wife, the faithful sharer of all his toils and cares, during health and sickness, for nearly forty years, and two sons and three daughters, survive to mourn his loss and to cherish his memory. His congregation feel that they have lost one of the most faithful of pastors, whose place it will be hard to fill. And many others, both far and near, will remember him, while they live, as one of the most devoted religious teachers, and as a most faithful friend.

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REV. DR. PATRICK CLASON

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, September 2, 1867


In the death of this venerable man, another link that bound the Church of the present to that of our fathers’ days has been broken. It was among the last, and we can ill afford the breaking of it. He was born in October 1789, at the manse of Dalziel, of which parish his father was for many years minister, before his translation to the charge of Logie. His professional education was pursued at the University of Glasgow, which to its honour conferred upon him, in 1836, the degree of D.D. In 1815 he was presented to the parish of Carmunnock, in the Presbytery of Glasgow, where he laboured for nine years with great acceptance. On the translation of the late Dr. Gordon to the New Chapel-of-Ease in Edinburgh, he was appointed to the Old, or, as it was afterwards called, Buccleuch Chapel, to which he was admitted on the 16th April 1824, in which charge he continued till the Disruption.

In the controversy which preceded that event he was a steadfast, though not a very prominent, supporter of the evangelical party in the Church; and when the day of trial came, it found him, true to his principles, casting in his lot with his brethren who resigned the benefits of the Establishment for the sake of truth. Carrying with him the bulk of his congregation, he continued his ministrations among them, until failing strength induced him to seek from the Church the assistance of a colleague in the charge. This was granted to him in 1854, and since that time he has, as health allowed, continued to take a part in the services of the sanctuary. His last effort as a minister was an address at the communion table in his church in April last. He was seized, as our readers know, with illness at the opening of the General Assembly in May last, and although he recovered from the attack, he never resumed his place in the pulpit. He left Edinburgh in the beginning of July, and was for some weeks in Wales; and on Saturday the 27th he returned, smitten by what proved to be a fatal illness. He gradually sank, and died on the afternoon of Tuesday the 30th.

He was a man of extensive reading, a correct scholar, and an admirable theologian. In some of the controversial questions which have agitated the Church, he was profoundly versed. His pulpit ministrations were very attractive, the devotional part of them being always marked with peculiar beauty; while his expositions of God’s Word, ever full of evangelical truth, were enriched by the admirable taste with which they were set forth. In the missionary work of the Church he had a deep interest; and although the Colonial, and especially the Continental schemes claimed a largE share of his attention, it is interesting to know that the association for Foreign Missions in connection with his congregation is believed to be the oldest in the Church, dating, as it does, so far back as 1826. Compelled as he was by the state of his health to spend many winters in a warmer climate, he turned his foreign residence to good account in many lands, as the congregations of Presbyterians in Madeira, Malta, and Lisbon can bear witness. Wherever he went he worked for Christ, and was a workman that needed not to be ashamed. His personal piety was evinced by his everyday life, and death was truly to him. the gate of life.

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REV. ALEXANDER COBBAN, M.A., RATHEN

(Died May 11, 1880)
Author: Rev. A. Urquhart, M.A., Old Deer, Aberdeen
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.225


The Church of Christ and the district of Buchan have sustained a heavy loss in the death of this minister. Very unassuming, Mr. Cobban was less widely known than many of smaller gifts and more pretension; yet by the circle in which he moved, as well as by some occupying prominent positions, who had opportunity of discovering his worth, he was highly esteemed. By his own flock he was warmly loved.

Though never robust he was scarcely ever incapacitated for duty, and for nearly forty years he has been privileged to do the work of the ministry. He entered on it with a deep sense of its importance, and prosecuted it with diligence, and not without marked tokens of blessing.

After receiving license, he laboured for a short time as assistant to the late Dr. Topp, then one of the ministers of Elgin, and there he gained general acceptance and formed friendships interrupted only by death. Afterwards, and on to the Disruption, he laboured in the church-extension district of Inverallochy, comprehending part of the parish of Rathen.

While a student, he had been in thorough sympathy with those who contended for the spiritual independence of the Church, and when they left the Establishment, he unhesitatingly and unfalteringly cast in his lot with them. Immediately after that event he received simultaneous calls from Inverallochy and Huntly; and though the flock at Huntly was by much the larger, the wealthier, and the more influential, he preferred to remain in the place where God had been owning his work. And that was not the only instance in which he subordinated fame and emolument to his sense of duty and his love to his poor fishermen and their families; for several times he was asked to occupy other fields, and among these a very important one beyond the Atlantic.

He was throughout of high standing as a scholar. Under the late Dr. Melvin and at Marischal College, he ran a neck and neck course with men of mark who still survive. Most of his college acquirements he retained, and some departments he continued to cultivate; but, from his entrance on the ministry, he made theology his special study, and he studied it sedulously and to purpose. His preaching was such as might be expected from that habit. His sermons were no off-hand productions. It is not known that he ever delivered an unprepared or an ill-prepared one. The result of sustained thought and, not unfrequently, of extensive hard reading, they attained rare excellence. Though solid, they were not heavy. Strictly textual and luminous, and delivered with calmness, yet emphasis, they secured general, and, in many cases, riveted attention; and it was always apparent that his aim was to turn men’s thoughts not to himself but to his message. The good effect of his preaching was not hindered by his ordinary walk, for all who knew him well saw that as a man he lived near to God. He was permitted to see in his field of labour several seasons of intense interest in the things of God; and his humility and prudence in connection with these raised him in the estimation of fellow-workers.

For upwards of thirty years he acted as Clerk of the Presbytery of Deer, and in that capacity he was noted for orderliness, precision, and accuracy. He was a man of weight among his brethren; and well he might, for besides being a good scholar and theologian, he was of sound judgment, honest, firm in his principles, ever ready to oblige, and faithful in all things.

Mr. Cobban was not a demonstrative man, but his emotions and affections were deep and strong. Averse to everything savouring of display, and remarkable for modesty, frequently amounting to diffidence, when occasion called for it he braced himself for work which brought him into public view, and in defending or contending for truth he was bold as a lion. It was no child’s play to encounter him in debate, yet he was ready as any to recognize ability in an opponent; and if his side was worsted, it was not his wont to depreciate or to harbour unbrotherly feeling.

For upwards of a year his health was impaired, but he continued at regular work up to the middle of August. Since that time he gradually declined, yet his end was unexpected. His death took place on May 11th, and his funeral, which was largely attended by brethren in the ministry of various denominations and a great company of neighbours and mourning hearers, on the 15th.

Mr. Cobban was twice married, and has left a widow and a numerous family.

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REV. JOHN COCHRANE, GRANGEMOUTH

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, March 1 1869, p.65


This excellent minister of the Free Church, who died on Tuesday the 19th of January last—was born in St. Ninian’s in 1805—attended for four sessions the University of Glasgow, studying theology under the late Professor Taylor of Perth—was licensed, in connection with one of the branches of the Original Secession, in 1827—was ordained at Kennoway in the same year— was translated to Cumberland in 1836—joined the Established Church of Scotland, along with his congregation, in 1839—left the Establishment as a Disruption minister in 1843—and became pastor of the Free Church congregation of Grangemouth in 1844. In that sphere of ministerial labour he continued till his death.

Naturally endowed with talents which, if not brilliant, were vigorous and solid—trained by education to clear and comprehensive views in general knowledge, and especially in his favourite science of theology—and led, by Divine grace, to aim at God’s glory in the salvation of immortal souls—he addressed himself, from the very beginning of his ministry, to its sacred functions with intelligence, activity, and zeal. And yet, as he advanced in life, he “grew in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ;” and, in the prosecution of his course, he exemplified the truth that “the path of the just is like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

Among his many admirable qualities was the deference he paid to the Word of God. “What saith the Scripture?” and, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” are questions that habitually presented themselves to his meditative mind; and, in order to obtain a definite and satisfactory answer, he searched “the volume of the book”—that oracular Word which he recognized as “given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” To “the law and the testimony” he betook himself, as the guide of his personal conduct, and the standard of the doctrine in which he sought to instruct the people of his charge. What God said he cordially believed, what God commanded he earnestly endeavoured to perform; and so, those “promises which are all yea and amen in Christ” shed their “everlasting consolation and good hope” upon his heart. “The glorious gospel” his faith embraced with firm and tenacious grasp; and he “delighted in the law of God after the inward man.” In his case the psalmist’s words were realized: ”Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage;” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Knowing, believing, and loving the oracular truth of God, Mr. Cochrane proclaimed it to his people—and that not with cold indifference or stiff formality, but with unction, earnestness, and power. As a preacher, he arranged his thoughts with great clearness, expressing them with great precision, and delivering them with great fervour. Man as fallen by sin; Christ as working out an “eternal redemption” for sinners; faith as the instrument of justification; the renewal of the heart by the Holy Ghost as an essential element of salvation; God as “reconciling the world to himself;” love as “the fulfilling of the law;” and heaven as the believer’s purchased inheritance and home,—were among the subjects on which he was wont to expatiate in his own lively and impressive style. The sweetness of his voice, and the musical intonation which, in common with many of the old Seceders, he employed, enhanced the force and impression of his excellent discourses—many of which must have cost him hours of studious preparation. In other departments of pastoral labour he excelled. Many of his hours were devoted to domestic visitation. He considered it a duty, and he felt it a satisfaction, in private conference, to instruct the ignorant, to guide the perplexed, to comfort the sorrowful, to counsel the young to “remember their Creator,” and to admonish the old of their approaching end. In certain evangelistic movements lately carried on in Grangemouth he took a warm and active interest.

Mr. Cochrane was eminently a man of prayer. Instead of perplexing his mind with metaphysical speculations on the subject, he meekly complied with the divine command to be “instant” in that sacred exercise; and, while he thus held sweet and sublime communion with the Father-Spirit, he obtained, in his own experience, practical proofs that prayer “has power with God.” His congregation were witnesses of the fervour which was wont to characterize his public addresses to the Majesty of heaven; his family worship—with its Scripture lesson, its “grave, sweet melody,” and its short but earnest and comprehensive prayer—was a model for that fine domestic service; and “He that seeth in secret” was witness to his private orisons.

In ecclesiastical affairs Mr. Cochrane felt a lively interest. Modest and humble-hearted, he took no very prominent part in the discussions of our superior Church courts. But his Presbytery chose him, as a man of suitable qualifications, for the important and responsible office of their Clerk; and to the last he was true to the principles which led him, in common with so many of his brethren, to attach himself to our Disruption Church. His, however, was “the meekness of wisdom”—he was eminently free from that “wrath of man which worketh not the righteousness of God,” and his heart’s affections went out towards all the Christian brotherhood.

In domestic and social life he was a bright example. As a husband and a father, he was affectionate and faithful; as a counsellor, he was candid and judicious; and his sunny countenance, his kind converse, and his frank and genial manners, made him greatly valued as a companion and a friend.

As his life was placid, so his end was peaceful. About two years ago, his health, formerly robust, began to fail; but, till the beginning of this year, hopes were entertained that his strength would be restored, and that his ministerial labours—which were continued till the Christmas of 1868—would be lengthened out. But God had determined otherwise, and Mr. Cochrane, perceiving that his end was near, meekly bowed to his heavenly Father’s discipline; and, with earnest and hopeful spirit, anticipated the close of his earthly pilgrimage. In the course of the last few days of his life, though in a state of great bodily prostration, he expressed his firm reliance on the mediatorial work of Christ—quoted, with feeling almost amounting to rapture, those words of Jesus, “I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself;” and that saying of St. Paul, “To depart and be with Christ is far better”—repeated, with like fervour, the third and fourth verses of the Fifty-fourth Paraphrase, “I know that safe with Him remains,” &c—committed his family to God, beseeching them to cleave to Christ—prayed that his congregation might be provided with a minister whose labours among them should be more useful than, as he conceived, his own had been—and poured out his heart in praise to Him who had “guided him by his counsel,” and was now about to receive him to himself. Among the last whispers heard on his expiring breath were, “Glory,” and, “Praise the Lord.” At length “the silver cord was loosed and the golden bowl was broken.” On Monday, 25th January, his mortal remains were consigned to the cemetery of Stirling; and on the last day of that month, in accordance with a wish expressed by him a little before his death, Mr. Irving of Falkirk and Dr. Alexander S. Patterson of Glasgow occupied the pulpit from which he had passed away.

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REV. HUGH COBBAN, BRAEMAR

(Died June 23, 1870)
Author: R. S. Wyld, Esq., W.S.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, August 1, 1870, p.170


Mr. Cobban was born at Tain and educated in Aberdeen; and Braemar, where he was ordained in 1854, was his first and only charge. Not that he might not have occupied a more prominent place if he had chosen, for he was invited to fill, among others, the pulpit of Free St. John’s, Edinburgh. But he clung to his Highland home to the last, and he will be long remembered by many under his well-known distinguishing appellation of “Mr. Cobban of Braemar.” What makes his sudden death the more affecting is, that his new church, to whose erection he had given so much thought and time, was on the very eve of its completion.

It is only with his clerical and private life at Braemar as a Free Church minister that the writer has any acquaintance. The duties of a clergyman in such a locality must be interesting, or the reverse, just in proportion to what the man can make them. In a small isolated Highland village, near the upper waters of the Dee, and one of the highest inhabited places in Scotland, with a fixed population of not perhaps above 800 inhabitants, one-half of whom are Roman Catholics, and the other half divided between the adherents of the Established and the Free Churches, there were strong provocations to indolence, and perhaps many good men might have felt themselves sinking into mental and bodily apathy. Such was not the case with Mr. Cobban. His resident Braemar congregation was indeed small, but down the Dee valley and up almost every glen, and deep buried in the forests, there were hamlets and small villages, and to visit these on foot or on horseback, and to hold meetings, afforded work sufficient to tax the strength of the strongest man. To perform this work steadily implied a strong sense of duty, but to do it with the ardour and spirit which Mr. Cobban displayed, proved the possession of a Christian character of the highest order. In such wanderings many were his adventures and hair-breadth escapes, from the sudden storms and snow-drifts which, during six months of the year, prevail in this wildest district of the Highlands; but we have not space to enter upon any of these.

Mr. Cobban was the embodiment of energy — his tall athletic figure and quick elastic step indicated no ordinary amount of power; while his open animated expression at once assured the stranger that he had met a hearty friend, ready and able to help in more ways than one. In the summer months, when not engaged with clerical duties, when strangers were flocking into Braemar, he was everybody’s man, ready and willing to assist in whatever way assistance was needed. His manse was the recognized ultimate asylum of all unfortunates who, arriving late in the evening, found, as was often the case, every place literally full, and no alternative left them between lying down on the heather or leaving the pass of the Grampians in quest of a hotel fifteen miles off.

But it is his appearance as a preacher while occupying the Free Church pulpit at Braemar that will be chiefly remembered by a wide circle. Many are scattered over England, Scotland, Ireland, and America who will remember the Sundays spent in the pine-besprinkled Highland village, surrounded with noble heather hills, forming the centre of our great deer forests, and the humble Presbyterian church associated with it.
We would not characterize Mr. Cobban as a man of learning, nor as a man of commanding eloquence; but if the power of rivetting the attention, and exhibiting the living substance of the passage selected in all its practical bearings, in the clearest, briefest words, and in the most effective manner, is a merit, he possessed this power almost beyond any man we have met. Eminently sensible, affectionate, and impressive, few came away without having their better feelings stirred; and some, we doubt not, returned with better resolutions than they were conscious of when they entered the church. Orthodox in his own creed, he valued religious sincerity far above the most rigid uniformity. He never, so far as we have heard, entered into controversial discussion with the Roman Catholic population; but, if he could help the suffering, or encourage the lapsed to start on a better course, he grudged no toil, he stinted no effort. He has passed away beloved and regretted equally by all classes in his neighbourhood, and it will be difficult to find a man worthily to occupy his place. For many a year to come Braemar, without Mr. Cobban, will be like a house without its master.

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REV. DUNCAN COLVIN, AUCHTERARDER

(Died January 28, 1893)
Author: Rev. D. Colvin, Alves
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1893, Obituary, p.144


The subject of this sketch was born at Leys, near Inverness, in the year 1837. His father was a man of distinguished piety, and his uncle, the Rev. Duncan Grant, late of Forres, was a Disruption worthy of great gifts, and one of the most interesting and popular preachers in the north. In some respects, especially in keenness of temperament and power as a preacher, Mr. Colvin resembled his uncle.

Having received the greater part of his education at Inverness Academy, Mr. Colvin followed for several years agricultural pursuits; but when the great revival of 1860 spread over the land, he received religious impressions that issued in very thorough conversion to God.

He was awakened under an address delivered bv Mr. Alexander, of Free St. David’s, Edinburgh, at an open-air meeting held on the Lady Hill, Elgin. Almost immediately after his conversion he decided for the ministry, and by dint of hard work and great perseverance he was soon ready for the university. He studied at Aberdeen, and in 1867 finished his curriculum in arts there. After attending the Free Church College, Glasgow, he was licensed to preach the gospel. Thereafter he assisted Mr. Riddell in the Wynd Church for a short season, but was soon called to labour in his native town, Inverness, as minister of the Free West Church, where he laboured for a few years with great success, and among a people who became greatly attached to him. He received a call to the Gaelic Church, Renton, which he accepted. There also he was much beloved and eminently successful. The historic church of Auchterarder being vacant, sent him a unanimous call, which he saw it to be his duty to accept. In this important sphere he laboured with great zeal, and seems to have reached here the summit of his power and success. All round he was much sought after, and wherever he went he preached with true Celtic fire the glorious gospel he loved so much to proclaim.

He was a great favourite at social meetings, where he made good use of his well-known power of song. Breaking off in the middle of some racy address, he would sing some gospel melody, and scarcely ever did he fail to charm his audience by his beautiful singing. But his great power lay in preaching; and by his bright, loving, earnest way, lit up with flashes of genius, he was sure to interest and to win.

Bold, fearless, and outspoken, especially on the drink traffic, at which he dealt right heavy blows, he gave offence to more than one guilty soul; yet behind it all there beat a loving heart and burning desire for the salvation of souls, and even those who were offended could not but respect him.

At evangelistic meetings he was particularly happy and successful and in his element; and yet he was the evangelist everywhere, “knowing nothing among the people save Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

So devoted was he that outside the pulpit he was ever ready to deal personally with those he met about their souls, and his characteristic question, “Are you a Christian?” shot out somewhat impulsively at times, as some thought, and not always well received, was yet often blessed to the startling and awakening of the careless. He preached the word out of season as well as in season. Such was the blessing that attended his ministrations, such was the esteem and admiration in which he was held, that the news of his departure sent a thrill of real grief through many a Free Church congregation, and seldom has a congregation mourned so deeply and sincerely over the removal of their pastor as did the Auchterarder people when their beloved pastor and true friend was taken from them.

Mr. Colvin is survived by a widow and seven of a family—three sons and four daughters.

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REV. ALEXANDER COMRIE, CARNOUSTIE

(Died October 26, 1880)
Author: Rev. W. Nixon
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.17


“Dear Comrie,” as all his intimate friends in the ministry instinctively call him, has been unexpectedly taken from us, in the fifty-seventh year of his age, when, humanly speaking, he can be ill spared, and when years of efficient service were being still looked for at his hands. But whatever may be the designs and the results of such visitations to the more immediate sufferers and to the Church, sorrow for the loss of our departed brother may well be soothed by the assurance that, as to him to live was Christ, so to die has been indeed gain.

Born in St. Ninians in 1823, but early removed to the neighbourhood of our northern capital, he was educated at the grammar school of Musselburgh, and in his fourteenth year entered the University of Edinburgh. There he distinguished himself in all the classes, taking prizes session after session, winning the gold medal when a student in natural philosophy, and securing a bursary from the Town Council of Edinburgh by the reputation which he had achieved.

Licensed by the Presbytery of Linlithgow in 1845, he went south, and officiated for some weeks in London; and then, and at repeated visits subsequently, he helped to organize seven congregations in England, four of these in the great metropolis.

Settled in 1846 as minister at Carnoustie, from the outset of his pastoral work he made his mark on the congregation and neighbourhood. Year by year his gifts and graces, the genuineness and force of his character, the truthfulness and love of his nature, the depth of his piety, the pathos of his prayers, and the beauty, tenderness, and power of his preaching, as well as the aptness of his addresses to the young, and the active interest which he took in them, while telling habitually on the members and families, on the old and young of his special charge, caused his services to other congregations, and to children, to be desired and delighted in wherever they were secured.

Like most of our good and able Scottish ministers, Mr. Comrie was a man of “a public spirit.” In practical questions, in which his fidelity to truth and righteousness, and to his flock, was more immediately involved, and in others of a more general kind, he made up his mind with care, and proved firm as a rock in defence of what he deemed the right and the true. In regard to more purely Church interests, he had much of the thoughtfulness and the spirit of our old reformers, and resolutely stood for ancient landmarks, except when perverted to the maintenance of usurped and abused rights and privileges.

But his chief excellences came out most clearly in the more directly spiritual parts of his ministry. Besides the position which he gained and kept in his more ordinary walks as a minister, he was ever ready to aid in promising movements for the revival of religion, and in carrying the gospel to the lapsed masses. Again and again he took a laborious part in the work of the deputations to the mining districts, and had indeed again agreed to take his share of the same work, not knowing of the call which he was to get to other services in a better world.

Going out, in his sympathies, to other lands, Mr. Comrie made himself so intimately acquainted with our fields of labour on the Continent and in the colonies, as to make some of us not unfrequently to feel that had our Church been as able and accustomed, as it were desirable for her, to recognize and employ, for the best purposes, the gifts given to her ministers, Mr. Comrie would have had his extraordinary familiarity with the Continent and the colonies turned to better account in their service, and in the service of the Church.

As is usually noticeable in men qualified and ready for any work tending to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, Mr. Comrie proved not the less, but all the more, devoted to the duties, and capable of enjoying the happiness, of domestic life. He was nowhere more attractive than in the bosom of his family, where, surrounded by those who appreciated and reflected his virtues, he was full of brightness. He was happily married in 1848 to the second youngest daughter of our dear old friend, the Rev. Mr. Miller of Monikie, whose characteristic gifts and worth reappeared in a more developed form in his distinguished sons. Mr. Comrie had eight children; but his pleasant lot in that respect became time after time the occasion of his heaviest trials, in his being deprived of five of them by death. These successive bereavements pressed heavily on his spirit. In these afflictions, and in other trials incident to every faithful minister, he was indeed quieted and sustained by the holy activities of his official life, by the wedded love and filial affection that never failed him, and by the secret fellowship in which he found needed grace and strength. But still they led him to wish for the wings of a dove, that he might fly away and be at rest. He was chastened into a more entire surrender of himself to the divine will, and trained to a loftier trust in the divine love and faithfulness, and blessed with a more cherished and sustaining hope of that land, to which he has been taken, to see the King in his beauty.

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REV. JOHN CONNELL, DREGHORN

(Died May 1, 1895)
Author: Rev. David Landsborough, Kilmarnock
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, August, 1895, Obituary, p.195


The Rev. John Connell was intimately connected with Ayrshire, in which his very long ministry was spent. His father and forefathers had for many generations cultivated a farm in the neighbourhood of Galston; and though his father removed from Ayrshire, he settled at Lochwinnoch, in its immediate neighbourhood. Here he was an elder, first in the Established, and afterwards in the Free Church. Mr. Connell thus enjoyed the inestimable advantage of a godly upbringing. He was also favoured in having for his minister the Rev. Dr. Smith, a man of highest character, and also of excellent and popular pulpit gifts, who specially exercised a very great influence upon the young of his congregation, an almost unexampled number of them—more than a score—having become ministers.

At first Mr. Connell devoted himself to commerce, and served an apprenticeship at Paisley, where he so commended himself by his business talents that, when his apprenticeship was ended, the late Mr. Arthur, who became a millionaire, invited him to become his partner. But Mr. Connell had other views. He desired to become an ambassador of Christ, and therefore betook himself to college. When his studies were completed, the Church of Scotland was on the eve of the Disruption, and half of his trials before the presbytery for licence were concluded before the Disruption took place. Again worldly advantage presented itself to Mr. Connell, for at that time it would have been easy for such a man as he to obtain presentation to a parish; but a second time with Mr. Connell the spiritual outweighed the temporal, and he chose to become a minister of the then much tried and persecuted Free Church of Scotland. In the following year (February 1, 1844) he was settled as minister of Perceton and Dreghorn. Mr. Connell had allowed the cup of temporal prosperity to pass. He was now associated with those who in addition had faced imprisonment as ministers of Christ. In the famous Stewarton case, the Evangelical party in Irvine Presbytery had almost all the elders on their side (at the decisive vote 11 to 2), and were thus almost twice as numerous as their opponents. The Court of Session by this time had declared that should an interdict of their court against a presbytery be broken, the ministers who did so would be cast into jail. An interdict had been issued forbidding the Presbytery of Irvine to ordain the Rev. Mr. Arthur. On the 14th July 1842, the presbytery met at Stewarton, and defying this intrusion of a civil court into the spiritual affairs of the Church of Christ, had calmly proceeded with the ordination as if no such interdict had been served. The ministers were not imprisoned, but not from any want of will of the civil powers, but because it was so manifest that in giving such a command they were assuming a power that did not belong to them; that, like of old the chief priests and Pharisees, they were restrained by fear of the people. Sir James Graham declared this very year (1842), in the House of Commons, that “he would enforce the law against the Church of Scotland.” Mr. Campbell of Monzie replied he defied him to do it.

Mr. Connell commenced his ministry at a time when the unity, love, and enthusiasm of the Disruption were still in full tide, and like a great wave or an outbursting torrent was sweeping dangers and difficulties before it. Churches, manses, schools, were rising on all hands. Ministers were preaching the glorious gospel as they had never done before; and their fervour, enforced by their tested and now undoubted sincerity, by the blessing of God, caused the message to be received throughout the length and breadth of the country as it had not since the days of the martyrs one hundred and fifty years before. The voice of Jesus himself was heard in the land; hearts were opened; souls were saved; and God’s heritage was made glad.

Perceton, where Mr. Connell was settled, is but a hamlet. But there is an extensive mining district around, including several small villages, and Dreghorn, in the neighbourhood, is of considerable size.

The young minister devoted himself heart and soul to his work. Few ministers were more abundant in labours. He preached the whole truth of God, but specially delighted to set forth the doctrines of grace. He also commended himself much as a visitor of the sick, whom he was ready to see at all times, day or night, and without respect of denomination. Ever cheerful, and having an interesting way of communicating instruction, he was a favourite with the young, as at the examinations of the schools so long connected with the Free Church. How much he was appreciated appears in the erection of a new church and manse by the congregation at the cost of £4,300, and by the clearing of these entirely from debt. This was also seen by the enthusiasm of his jubilee, celebrated last year; and by the large sum of three hundred and fifty guineas—a very large sum for a country congregation—presented him on that occasion; as also by the address with which the presentation was accompanied; and by the fact that at the date of his death his congregation was four times as numerous as at his election.

Mr. Connell was very attentive to his presbyterial duties, being seldom absent from the stated meetings, which his urbanity did not a little to render pleasant; while his sympathy in word and deed with a suffering brother was ever very notable.

A widow, two sons, and two daughters mourn Mr. Connell’s removal.

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REV. JOHN C. CONNELL, THURSO

(Died November 24, 1891)
Author: Rev. James Macdonald, Reay
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, February, 1895, Obituary, p.43


Mr. Connell was born at the Free Manse of Perceton, where his father was minister, in 1846. He received his early education in the local Free Church School and at Irvine Academy. After leaving school he was for eighteen months engaged in business, and rather surprised his father on a home visit by announcing his intention of giving up excellent prospects and studying for the ministry. To this no objection was offered, but rather a cordial promise of assistance so far as the slender means of a Free Church equal dividend income could be stretched for that purpose. After this interview he entered the University of Glasgow, where he finished his arts course, taking divinity in the New College, Edinburgh.

During his college course he engaged in missionary work, and was, during the summer of 1871, employed at Springfield under the late Mr. Brodie of Monimail. On leaving Springfield he was presented with a beautiful pocket Bible which he ever after used, and the well-thumbed pages of which I had an opportunity of turning over after his death. That Bible was the dearest of all his possessions—it and an Italian New Testament with a somewhat similar history.

Licensed in 1872, he was successively assistant to Dr. Laird of Cupar, Dr. Julius Wood, Dumfries; Dr. Samuel Miller, Glasgow; and Dr. Macdougall, Florence. During this time he ministered for a brief period at the mission station of Park Road, Newcastle.

On his return from Italy, for which he always cherished a deep affection, he preached as a candidate in the West Free Church, Thurso, and was ordained colleague to the late Mr. Burn in 1876. When the latter heard of his candidature, at a period of great anxiety, he exclaimed, “It is the arrow of the Lord’s deliverance.” Mr. Connell entered on his work in Thurso with high hopes. He knew that in the north there was a thick rind of traditional usage, and that the introduction of more modern methods of work and ideas was like pouring new wine into old bottles. But he was not a man to be deterred or turned aside, and for eighteen years held on his way, fully persuaded that, if not in his time then after it, the views of church polity and practical Christian life which he held would prevail and be accepted by all. Somewhat conservative in theology, he represented the advanced wing on church polity, and did much to broaden men’s views on the questions which from time to time agitated the church. Even his opponents could not but admire his swift, rapier-like thrusts when such burning questions as disestablishment were under discussion. On one point only was his attitude a puzzle to his friends, and that was the Roman Catholic question. The Pope, popery, and priestcraft were to him the incarnation of Apocalyptic utterance, and he never lost an opportunity of having a thrust at Rome. This led him, ardent Liberal as he was, to separate himself from his friends on Home Rule and all other questions where Catholicism touches national life and administration.

For many years Mr. Connell was clerk of presbytery, and till health failed took an active part in general church work both on committees and otherwise.

Popular with all classes for his manly bearing and independence of character, he was specially loved by the poor. It was a touching sight to see old decrepit men asking the well-dressed crowd that stood round the grave to make way that they might have a last look at their friend’s coffin. For one such, an old man almost bent double, I managed to make way, and I shall never forget the intense earnestness of his thanks and gratitude.

During his last illness he was tenderly nursed by his sister and mother, his aged father too being with him. He bore a long and painful illness with Christian resignation and patience, and in full view of the approaching end waited in calm confidence. A few moments before he breathed his last, the hymn, “Jesus, Lover of my soul,” was repeated; when he feebly said, “I know it, I know it,” and so died.

This is not the place to estimate the permanent influence of such a life on public thought, but that he did an enduring work in Caithness is beyond question. Others will reap the reward of it; he had to bear the brunt, and he bore it manfully. “They rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.”

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ALEXANDER COOK, STRATHERRICK

The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, December 7, 1861


The death of the Rev. Alexander Cook of Stratherrick should not be allowed to pass without some public notice. The deceased was the son of the late Rev. Finlay Cook, Reay, a godly and devoted minister, an original, pithy spiritual, and experimental preacher. Trained up under the eye of such a father, he knew the Scriptures from a child. He was ordained to the charge of Stratherrick about ten years ago, and there the whole period of his ministry was passed. A call, addressed to him by the congregation at Reay after his father’s death, he did not see it his duty to accept.

As a preacher, Mr. Cook was clear, solid, faithful, experimental. From a weakness of constitution, and from his natural temperament, he never had much fire and animation in delivering his discourses; but his matter was invariably excellent, and his style always good, and often elegant. Though he was not a Disruption minister, there are few who have studied the principles of the Disruption more thoroughly, or who more faithfully and firmly maintained them. Anything like encroachment on the privileges of the Church of God he could not endure. All innovations and changes at variance with the Standards he thoroughly detested. He had a keen relish for the theology of the old divines, a result of his early training, and of the benefit which he derived from them to his own soul.

He used to say that some in these times preach but a mutilated gospel. “Come, come, come to Christ,” they say; “but they seldom or never touch on man’s inability or man’s responsibility.” His own preaching was distinguished by the full exhibition of the great truth, that as certainly as Christ was provided in the covenant of grace to work out redemption, the Holy Spirit was provided in the same covenant to make a saving application of that redemption to as many as the Father has given to the Son.

Mr. Cook possessed excellent parts, and his mind was richly stored with extensive reading. As a scholar and divine he was far above the average of his own age and standing. He was a man of a meek and humble spirit, naturally reserved in his manner, and extremely destitute of anything like flash or show. It was necessary to know him well before a right estimate of him could be formed; but of him it was eminently true that increasing acquaintance invariably endeared him to his friends more and more. He was greatly respected and beloved by his flock. His death, which took place at the age of thirty-eight, spread a gloom over the district in which he laboured, and the blank there made will not be soon filled up. In his last illness he often said that it was a solemn thing to enter into eternity, but he did not let go his hope. “The righteous hath hope in his death.”
Mr. Cook leaves no family, but a sorrowing widow mourns his loss.

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REV. J. A. COOKE, AUCHTERGAVEN

(Died February 9, 1893)
Author: Rev. Alex. Gordon, M.A., Lethendy
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1893, Obituary, p.145


John Adams Cooke was a native of Strabane, in the north of Ireland, where he was born seventy-five years ago. After prosecuting his theological studies at the Presbyterian College in Belfast, he acted for some time as tutor to a family in the neighbourhood of Dublin before taking license as a preacher. Coming over to Scotland soon after the Disruption, he occupied the pulpit of Mr. Macdonald of Blairgowrie (now Dr. Macdonald of North Leith) for six months, while the latter was engaged in advocating the Education Scheme of the Church. His brief ministry in Blairgowrie is still remembered, and not a few speak warmly of the lively evangelical preaching of the young Irish probationer. From Blairgowrie he removed to Auchtergaven, in the neighbouring Presbytery of Dunkeld, and after labouring for some months, and building up the new charge there, he was ordained as minister of that congregation on the 19th December, 1844.

Mr. Cooke was warmly attached to the Church of his adoption, the Free Church of Scotland, and took a hearty interest in all her work. He had a clear and vigorous mind, a considerable acquaintance with standard theology, and a firm hold of the doctrines of grace, which it was his delight to proclaim to his hearers. His preaching was characterized by much earnestness and solemnity. He was careful in his pulpit preparation, and his sermons were marked, not only by accuracy of composition and felicity of language, but also by great clearness of exposition, and earnest application of the truth to the heart and conscience. While firmly maintaining his own views of truth, he had much open-mindedness and catholicity of spirit.

The young of the flock had his peculiar care, and he took great pleasure in the work of his Bible-class. His knowledge of Church law, his clear intelligence, and his calm judgment and wisdom, made him much valued by his brethren in the Presbytery, who were wont to look to him for counsel and guidance in matters of difficulty. For some months during the illness of the then clerk of Presbytery he occupied that position, and would have been appointed permanently to the office, for which he was pre-eminently qualified, had he not declined the appointment.

After forty years’ labour in the vineyard Mr. Cooke’s health gave way, and in 1884 the Rev. G. P. McDougall was ordained as his colleague and successor. This settlement was greatly facilitated by the liberal way in which Mr. Cooke resigned all the emoluments of his office, including the manse, to the junior minister. He continued to live among his people, and seldom, we believe, has there been a more pleasant and harmonious colleagueship. Though in his latter years he was seldom able to occupy the pulpit, he usually took part in the communion services, and his visits to the sick and the dying, whom he seemed to look upon as his peculiar care, were much valued and much blessed. His friends had begun to look forward to his jubilee; but God had ordered it otherwise. And when the end came, it was such as those who knew him might have looked for. “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”

Mr. Cooke was twice married—first to Miss Barbara Gentle, a niece of the late Rev. Michael Stirling of Cargill, and afterwards to Miss Macdonald, by whom he is survived.

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REV. JAMES COOPER, ELLSRIDGEHILL

(Died November 30, 1898)
Author: Rev. J. A. Selbie, M.A., Maryculter
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1899, Obituary, p.66


Mr. Cooper was a native of Aberdeenshire, having been born in the parish of Old Deer on May 24, 1831. His boyhood thus witnessed the struggle which ended in the Disruption; and when he connected himself, about the year 1851, with the Free Church of Scotland, it was from deliberate choice and strong convictions. Shortly after becoming a member of St. Fergus congregation, he resolved to devote himself to the ministry. His studies were ultimately prosecuted at the Edinburgh University and the New College. His energy and indomitable perseverance, as well as his great spiritual fervour, strongly impressed his fellow-students. He threw himself with whole-hearted earnestness into mission work in the city, in connection with which he found in the late Rev. Sir Henry Moncrieff a warm friend and valued counsellor. The present writer, whose father was then minister of Maryculter, remembers well Mr. Cooper’s frequent visits to the manse, and his interesting details of student life. For a short time he taught in Maryculter Free Church School, at the same time taking a very active part in all movements tending to the mental and moral improvement of the inhabitants of the parish. As a student, Mr. Cooper worked hard and successfully. He was a good Latin and Hebrew scholar, and exceedingly well read in systematic theology. While by no means intolerant of other currents of thought, he found his models in those preachers and theologians whom Dr. Whyte, the present Moderator, so eloquently panegyrized at last Assembly.

It was Mr. Cooper’s lot to be called to labour at Ellsridgehill in the Presbytery of Biggar and Peebles. Ellsridgehill, then a station, was by his labours restored to the rank of a sanctioned charge, and he was ordained as minister in 1874. His services to that congregation will never be forgotten. It was through his efforts and very largely at his own expense that a handsome and commodious manse was erected, with other appurtenances, and the church edifice very considerably improved. For some twenty years he worked most assiduously as a member of the School Board, in the interests of education, and took his share of work also as a parish councillor. His preaching was characterized by fervour, directness, and simplicity. His sermons, which were carefully thought out, and generally delivered without notes, often reached a high degree of eloquence. In his pastoral work Mr. Cooper was unwearied, and was well-known and welcome in the homes of the sick and the sorrowing not only of his own flock but of many outside it. He not infrequently arranged and carried on with beneficial results evangelistic services. He was universally esteemed and respected, and his relations with his brethren both of the Church of Scotland and the United Presbyterian Church were always of the most cordial kind.

Towards the end of the year 1895, failing health compelled Mr. Cooper to apply for a colleague and successor, who was in due time chosen in the person of the Rev. A. Renwick, the present minister of the charge. Before leaving Ellsridgehill, Mr. Cooper was presented by the presbytery with an illuminated address, in token of their personal esteem and their high appreciation of his work.

Mr. Cooper was one of the most single-hearted and honourable men it has ever been the writer’s privilege to know. No one who came much in contact with him could fail to be impressed by his undeviating attachment to the truth in word and action alike, and his intense scorn for anything mean or dishonourable.

The last two years of Mr. Cooper’s life were passed at Cults, near Aberdeen, where, on the thirtieth of November last, after an illness of only an hour’s duration, he was called to his rest. His widow, who survives to mourn his loss, was a devoted helper of her husband in every good work, showing herself thus a true daughter of her father, the late A. Fairlie Bruce, Esq., of the Madras Civil Service, whose name is still held in grateful remembrance for his interest in, and munificent contributions to, the foreign mission schemes of the Free Church in the early days of her history.

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REV. JOHN GILLESPIE COOPER, NAGPUR, INDIA

(Died March 10, 1900)
Authors: Dr G. Smith, C.I.E., and A. H. L. Fraser, C.S.I.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July, 1900, Obituary, p.194


John G. Cooper, known all his working life as the saintly missionary of Nagpur, capital of the Central Provinces of India, was born at Kirkintilloch, on the twenty-fourth of March 1831. Afterwards, the family removed to Glasgow. Though the father retained his connection with the United Presbyterian Church, of which Mr. Burgess was minister, the children were brought up in Free St. George’s, under the ministry of the late Dr. Smith. Mr. Cooper frequently spoke of what he owed to his preaching, but still more to the late Mr. Maccallum of the Religious Institution Rooms, whose Bible Class he attended for years. He took his Arts course in Glasgow University, and his Theological in the New College, Edinburgh. He was licensed by the Free Presbytery of Glasgow, and immediately afterwards sailed for India. His father was a power-loom tenter, and he had three brothers, one of whom survives. Before his license, he did missionary work in Ayr in connection with the United Presbyterian congregation during the illness of the missionary. There he met with Miss Nicol, who afterwards became his wife, and a devoted missionary.

It was in the winter of 1851-2, when Mr. Cooper entered the New College, that I made his acquaintance. We met every Saturday night, and took part in the Myrtle Bank Conversations, held in the Trinity suburb of Edinburgh, at the house of the philanthropic publisher, James Gall. There the young student’s constitutional reserve wore off under the bright spiritual enthusiasm of our host, and he took a prominent part in the literary and Christian exercises. As a missionary, after being sent on from Madras to help Stephen Hislop and Robert Hunter, he was ever a quiet spiritual force, from whom, as from his wife, there radiated out only loving-kindness and self-denying service to all around, non-Christian and Christian alike. When invalided in 1890, he became a constant member of the Foreign Missions Committee till his death. He was a valued counsellor of the Church. He has left ten thousand rupees to the mission in which he spent his life. What he was may best be told by A. H. L. Eraser, Esq., Chief Commissioner of the Province, his life-long friend. In the presence of two members of the Viceroy’s council, the Hon. Messrs. Raleigh and Smeaton, he thus spoke at a memorial service held in the Scots Church, Nagpur, on the first of April last:—

“This morning the news has been received of the death of our old friend, the Rev. Mr. Cooper, and I have been asked to say a few words to you in regard to the deep sorrow under the shadow of which we meet together as a congregation. I should have liked to have refused to accede to this request, for reasons which many of you will easily understand. But it was impossible for me to refuse, for the very reasons which make it difficult for me to comply— the deep affection which I have for Mr. Cooper, the high estimate that I have formed of his work, and the great reverence which I entertain for his life and character.

“I need not say much to you, for many of you knew him as well as I, though my friendship for him was singularly intimate. He was among us a man intimately known and greatly beloved. Some of you owe him, under God, the greatest debt that one human being can owe another—the origin of spiritual life. He was your father in Christ Jesus; and many of us owe him much more perhaps than we fully realize, for help in the maintenance and progress of Christian character. How lovingly he presented the gospel of Christ, and raised us to a true conception of the Lord Jesus! He presented his Lord to us, not in cant phrases borrowed from the Scriptures, or from the writings of the old Fathers, but in words and in a life fully animated by the strong love of his heart for the Lord who died for us.

“What Mr. Cooper was to you, you know. I can only say a word or two as to what he was to me; and in doing this, I believe that I shall best also express your feelings. It is now just over twenty-five years since I first made his acquaintance, and from that time—from the very first—until the day he left us some years ago to return to Scotland on his retirement, he was my best friend in India. Mrs. Cooper and he were friends of rare value. I never went to their house without feeling that I was going to a home. I was sure of wise advice, of kindly sympathy, of deep affection. They were as a father and mother to me, as they were to many more.

“Mr. Cooper’s character was unassuming and unostentatious. So simple was he, and so natural was his goodness, that we were apt not to see fully the value of his work among us. I rejoice to-day, as the head of this Province, to be able to bear testimony to the incalculable obligation under which the Government and the people were placed by this devoted missionary. The kindly and elevating influence of his life and teaching has been felt by many young people now growing into elderly men, even among those who do not profess his Christian faith; and among the Christian community there are many who owe him all. He has left behind him results of his thirty years’ labour among us which are apparent to any who choose to see them, though probably none of us will fully appreciate them until the knowledge which is in part shall be done away, and that which is perfect is come. It is less, however, of Mr. Cooper’s great public service that we can think to-day—of his sound knowledge of the people, of his devotion to their best interests, of his readiness to advise in all that concerned them. We cannot think of these things to-day so much as of what this man was to each of us—the kindly friend and father. You could not look into his face, or even hear his voice, without knowing that he was full of unselfish love to others and of loyal devotion to Christ. He was always the same kind friend, for his life was rooted and grounded in love. It is years now since many of you said your last ‘ Goodbye ‘ to him when he went home to his well-earned rest. But he never forgot you; and it was one of the greatest pleasures of his life at home to give some of his time, and of his remaining energy, to the same missionary work which had engrossed his life in India. It was one of the greatest pleasures of my visits home to see Mr. Cooper and tell him about you all, and answer the questions he put to me, while his eye brightened with the old interest and affection.

“Mr. Cooper believed in prayer. He believed in it as a man believes to whom the Son has revealed the Father. It was no mere intellectual belief; it was part of his spiritual nature. I well remember how on one occasion I was anxious and harassed about something, and I had a talk with him about it. Our conversation ended somehow in my saying to him, ‘Well, Mr. Cooper, you will pray for me?’ Judge of my emotion when he said to me, ‘My dear Fraser, it is years now since Mrs. Cooper and I began to pray for you, and we have never once omitted your name from our prayers any morning or evening since.’ I thank God that this dear servant of His, who possessed in singular degree the mind and heart of Christ, loved me with a great affection. I mention this incident to you, for I know that I did not hold that love of his alone.

“In one of Mr. Cooper’s last letters to me, he wrote in answer to some remarks of mine: ‘It will be a great joy if the Lord permit us to meet again in this our old country; but our times are in His hands, and it is a great comfort for us to leave them there.’ His Lord’s will never came amiss to him; and surely it was never more loyally accepted than when it took the form of that old word, ‘Father, I will that he also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am.’ It is only a few months since Mrs. Cooper entered into rest; and now he who worked so long and so lovingly with her among us has followed. It is to his rest that he also has gone—rest which we cannot grudge him, though we mourn his loss together. As for him, he joys ‘before God, according to the joy in harvest.'”

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REV. DONALD CORBET, KINLOCHBERVIE

(Died May 31, 1880)
Author: Rev. M. MacGregor, Ferintosh
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.300


Mr. Corbet was not much known in the public work of the Church; but he was a man of thorough culture, of good scholarship, of great and varied information on all kinds of subjects, especially on the history of Highland families, and those eminent men in the North who witnessed and suffered for the cause of truth in the era before the Revolution, when prelacy was in the ascendant, and sought to overthrow the civil and religious liberties of Scotland.

On these, and on many other kindred topics relating chiefly to the Northern Highlands, he left a mass of manuscript containing most interesting and well-authenticated facts, which will form very valuable materials for local or general history at some future time, when the hour and the man to write it will appear on the scene. His memory was wonderfully retentive, and, like Hugh Miller in this respect, what he read, or was told him, if it had any interest or value, he never forgot. He was, moreover, a well-read and sound divine, thoroughly imbued with the theology of Calvin and the Puritans, of whom his special favourites were Owen and Howe; a man of deep and genuine piety, of fervent zeal, and unwearied in labour in the service of his Master.

He was born in the parish of Killearnan, on the 3rd April 1805. His elementary education and religious training were carried on under the care of his father, who was for fifty years teacher of a side school at Croft-na-crich, in said parish, and supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge in the Highlands and Islands. The father was a very godly man, and by his character as well as by his teaching exerted great moral and spiritual influence, and was held in high esteem in his day.

After this preliminary teaching at his father’s school, the subject of our notice went to the parish school, five miles away, to learn some Latin and Greek. Here he studied for two or three years, walking ten miles every day, wet or dry, with cheerful alacrity.

His school education was completed by two years’ attendance at the Royal Academy, Inverness, then in the heyday of its fame. He took the Arts course at King’s College, Aberdeen, and, it is said, passed through all the classes there with distinction and honour. When he had finished his literary course, he was elected parish schoolmaster of Ardnamurchan, in the year 1832. He held this situation till the Disruption, acting not only as teacher of the young, but as religious and spiritual instructor of young and old in that outlying and at that time dark and neglected region. During those years he completed his course at the Divinity Hall in Edinburgh.

At the memorable Disruption he was ready for license, though he still held the school, and, like many other brave and noble men at that time, he had the honour of being ejected from it. But his ejection added to his fame, for your Highlander is both loyal and chivalrous; and when the pupils saw their teacher turned out of his school by oppression, they resolved to stand by him at all hazards, with the cordial sanction of their parents. A friendly farmer offered his barn, and there, with prayer and thanksgiving, the ejected school was reopened with full numbers. And the impression of that day abides with many still. They speak of the flitting to the barn and the first school day being more like a prayer-meeting than a school. In the close of 1843 he was licensed by the Presbytery of Inverary; and during twenty years he laboured as a probationer in all parts of the Highlands, from the Mull of Cantire to Cape Wrath, and from the Butt of Lewis to Tarbatness, doing noble and valuable service to the cause of Christ in districts lying in the gloom of ignorance and spiritual death—a service, alas! often little thought of and ill requited.

In 1864 he was called to the pastoral charge of Kinlochbervie, in the Presbytery of Tongue; and here, when he was no longer young, he wrought for sixteen years in the Master’s service with fervent zeal, assiduity, and faithfulness, among a people widely scattered through the Reay Forest, or living in fishing villages or rural hamlets along the bold and romantic promontories that indent the coast-line in that region, and give it an aspect of picturesque grandeur that rivals, if it does not excel the far-famed Trosachs. His labours were very acceptable to his people at large, and there is every reason to believe much blessed in the conversion of souls. His wide district would range from thirty to forty miles in extent; yet over this wide area would the lithe, agile, muscular man—now beyond sixty, remember—walk from village to village, and from house to house, and visit all his people once a year. This is an achievement which should make some of us ashamed!

His life was a laborious and troublous one in many ways; but his greatest trouble and that which hastened his end came at the close. Kinlochbervie forms part of the civil parish of Eddrachillis, which, as to superficial area, is larger than many southern counties. In the Kinlochbervie section of it the Establishment has a quoad sacra church, but no people, save one or two besides officials. It happened that after the so-called Abolition of Patronage Act in 1874, this quoad sacra church became vacant. The factor of the duke, who is a very formidable power here, in league with one who had lately become a renegade from Free Church principles, formed a scheme to get Mr. Corbet with his congregation to enter in and take possession of the said quoad sacra church, and manse, and glebe, assuring them that they would be as free to hold their Free Church principles in their new position as the winds which blew around their storm-beaten shores, and there would be nothing to pay. Many of the congregation, under the potential pressure of the factor, and the milder persuasion of his ally, favoured the scheme, and signed a paper giving their consent to it. With this document the wily conspirators approached the minister, but here they found they had to deal with a man of a very different spirit from some whom it is needless to name. He repelled and repudiated their scheme with righteous indignation, he stood immovably to his principles, and by his brave and manly integrity the scheme of the factor was dashed in pieces.

This rude collision with high-handed oppression—this assault on his principles and the effort to seduce his people away from him, while he triumphed over it, gave such a shock to his nervous system as manifestly hastened his death. He was never the same man as before. He became subject to fits of fainting, which grew more severe as they recurred. During last winter he was very feeble, but continued his work less or more till the end of April. On the 5th May he wrote me, requesting that I would assist him at his communion on the 27th June, but before that time came round he had joined the communion of the Church above.

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REV. MURDOCH CORBET, TUMMEL BRIDGE

(Died July 20, 1894)
Author: Rev. John McCallum, Ardeonaig
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, February, 1895, Obituary, p.43


Mr. Corbet was born at Beauly in 1830. His father was a man of great worth, efficient in business, and, as a Christian, foremost in every good work. His tombstone, in the quiet churchyard, bears a beautiful inscription in Gaelic, stating that he feared God above many, that he was the first to start a Sabbath school in the parish, that he was most exemplary in his conduct, and took a deep interest in the spread of the gospel. He gave his four sons a first-rate education, and two of them came out as ministers of the gospel, and two adopted the medical profession.

Such was the moral and spiritual atmosphere in which Mr. Corbet was brought up. After he left the Parish School he was employed in various capacities as a teacher. Then he went to the University of Aberdeen, and at the close of his curriculum entered the New College, Edinburgh, meanwhile teaching one of the Ladies’ schools in the West Highlands during the summer vacation. It was while engaged in his studies in Edinburgh that the great change in his life took place, and he was made a new man in Christ Jesus. A severe attack of typhus fever was the means used by God to call him by his grace.

Finishing his studies in 1861, he was that same year licensed by the Presbytery of Elgin, and in 1868 he was called to and ordained by the Presbytery of Breadalbane over the double charge of Tummel Bridge and Rannoch. The two churches were seven miles apart, and the services were conducted in each on alternate Sabbaths. The congregation, though not large, was scattered over a very extensive district, stretching from the “Queen’s View” east of Loch Tummel, embracing the whole of Foss, Kinloch, the two sides of Loch Rannoch, and the Moor of Rannoch, to the borders of Argyleshire—a distance of about forty miles. In connection with the Established Church this district provides work for three ministers. Mr. Corbet had to face the difficulties and overcome their hardships single-handed, except that latterly, owing to the fact of Kinloch becoming so much a summer resort, the Home and Highland Committees sent him help during the busy part of the season.

His attention to his flock was unremitting. He visited them regularly once a year from house to house, and frequently at other times. In cases of sickness his services were given with the greatest good-will. In such visitations long distances were considered no difficulties.

As a preacher Mr. Corbet was very plain and simple; sententious rather than argumentative, preferring to place Christ before his hearers in the very words of Scripture rather than in any words of his own. He loved the old Confessional views of divine truth; they were the joy and rejoicing of his heart. And what he thus found so essential to his own spiritual life, he strove hard and did his very best to recommend to others. Nor was he unsuccessful in this. He had the satisfaction of knowing that the doctrines he preached were appreciated by his people. It was this appreciation of his teaching, and of his good character and self-denying labours in their behalf in every respect, along with their stanch adherence to Free Church principles, that made them keep together so nobly in the face of very considerable opposition. It is but the simple truth to say that Mr. Corbet succeeded in securing congregational and educational advantages to the district in circumstances that might make a more pretentious man utterly fail.

He was a member of the School Board since the adoption of the Act in 1872; and in their minute recording his death they say that he discharged his duties with great zeal and fidelity for the promotion of all educational objects in the district. The Sabbath school also received much of his attention, and he took great delight in deepening the interest of the children in the Word of God.

In company, when it was to his liking, he was extremely genial and full of kindly humour; and at meetings of presbytery there was no member whose presence was so welcome as that of Mr. Corbet.

Death found him in the fulness of his strength. Having completed the arrangement with the summer deputy who was to preach at Kinloch for July, he went north to Beauly on a visit to his brother, the medical practitioner of their native place. He was in his usual health; but while sitting at dinner on the 18th, he complained of severe pain about the region of the heart. He retired; the pain abated, but he grew weaker, and so, early on the 20th, slipped away without pain or struggle to be for ever with the Lord.

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REV. DAVID COUPER, D.D., BURNTISLAND

Author: Rev. D. Fergusson, Leven
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July 1, 1882, p.211


Dr. Couper was born in Dunfermline in 1809. His early years were spent amid the sanctities of a God-fearing household. After passing through a course of education in the schools of his native town, he entered the university in 1822. His career at St. Andrews was distinguished by a high moral bearing, and by the industry and success with which he prosecuted his studies in all departments of the Arts course, and was gracefully acknowledged by his alma mater, about ten years ago, when the honorary degree of doctor in divinity was awarded to him.

A student of moral philosophy under his life-long friend, Dr. Chalmers, and having shared in the remarkable stirring which was the fruit of that great man’s influence in the university, Mr. Couper followed Dr. Chalmers to Edinburgh, where he continued his studies until his course was ended and he was licensed to preach the gospel.

He continued to be a student all his life. His Hebrew Bible and his Greek Testament were his daily companions; nor did he neglect to keep up his acquaintance with the classic authors of Greece and Rome, which he had studied in his youth. But it was to his own professional science of theology, in its various departments, that his mind was specially devoted. He drank deep in the well of Puritan theological literature, and by its spirit was his whole ministerial teaching leavened.

Almost immediately after becoming a licentiate, he was appointed assistant to one of the ministers of his native town; but he was not long permitted to continue there, being soon after elected to be assistant and successor to that eminently accomplished and saintly man, Dr. Charles Watson of Burntisland, where he was ordained in 1834; and as Dr. Watson was, through physical infirmity, incapacitated for preaching, he soon after removed his residence to Edinburgh, and Mr. Couper was left in full charge of the parish and in the full enjoyment of the benefice.

He entered upon his ministerial duties with a high ideal of what a Christian minister should be, as was announced in my own hearing, and for my personal benefit, when he introduced me, nearly forty-five years ago, to my flock in Dunnichen; and few men pressed after the realization of the cherished ideal with more sustained consistency than he. Conscientiously faithful in fulfilling his pastoral and pulpit duties alike, he was regularly found in the homes of his people, while in his preparations for sanctuary duty he was most exact and painstaking. Few ministers prepared more sedulously for the pulpit, and his studies were steeped in prayer. It was a full, free gospel that was enunciated from Burntisland pulpit—the old, old story, but clothed in a fresh dress, which made Dr. Couper’s ministrations interesting and attractive not only to his own parishioners, but to the cultured visitors who frequented that favourite watering-place.

With qualifications like these, it was natural that his translation to a wider sphere should be frequently suggested; but, in the face of all proposals for his removal to influential city charges, he continued steadfastly faithful to his first love. And few men ever laboured in the same field for a lifetime with such unvarying acceptability and usefulness.

Dr. Couper was, in his character, acquirements, and habits of thought, a many-sided man; it might be perhaps more correct to say an all-rounded man. He knew something of almost everything,—of art in its various departments, of natural science in not a few of its fields. For a man of his position and profession, he travelled extensively at home and abroad; and he had an open, observant eye, taking note of what was remarkable not merely in the general features of the landscape through which he was passing, but also in the sentiments and social habits of the peoples among whom he was sojourning. In this way he accumulated stores of general information, which were ever available at his call, and which rendered him a most entertaining and profitable companion.

There was little of the demonstrative about him, and in general society he was somewhat reticent and most unobtrusive; but in the company of his intimate associates his powers had free play, and there was a dash of poetry and quiet humour in his nature which sparkled out in expression, lending a peculiar charm to his conversation. This peculiarity he possessed from his early years, and it ripened with his growing experience, although it was less frequently exercised towards the closing years of his life. The fascination wherewith he attracted myself, when, little more than a boy, I entered the university, is with me a fresh and fragrant memory after the lapse of more than half a century. Fortunately for me I was at once thrown into his society, and I cannot adequately express my sense of the pleasure and the profit which I derived from the life-long friendship which then commenced.

During the Ten Years’ Conflict he did yeoman service in his Presbytery and Synod. He assisted both at home and abroad in the work of upbuilding, and was always ready to perform his part loyally at every call of the Church. In the local Church courts his opinions were always well weighed and welcome. And although in the supreme Assembly of the Church his voice was seldom heard (I never heard him speak there but once), there was no man who would have filled the Moderator’s chair with more grace or dignity, had the honour been within his reach when he consciously possessed the physical strength that is needed for the discharge of its high duties.

Altogether he was a fine specimen of what the parish ministers of Disruption days were, —a workman not needing to be ashamed, honoured by his flock, indeed by the whole community, to the last day of his life, honoured by his Master, honoured by him in his life of nearly half a century of unbroken labour in his Lord’s service, and found watching and working until the Master’s coming.

His last Sabbath was spent in the earthly sanctuary where he had so long ministered: the next morning found him on the wing for the song and the service of the heavenly sanctuary! Not in his life only but in his death was he honoured by his Lord; it was less a death than a translation.

On the Sabbath morning before the change came he preached with more than ordinary warmth and acceptance—Moses-like, his eye seemed not dim or his pulpit energy abated.

Before six o’clock of next morring, from the door opened in heaven, the servant heard his Master calling, “Come up hither!” His work was done, and he entered on his rest and his reward. “I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may lest from their labours; and their works do follow them!”

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REV. WILLIAM COUSIN

(Died August 1, 1883)
Author: J. J. Bonar, D.D., Greenock
Source: The Free Church Monthly, January 1, 1884, Biographical Notices p.21


Rev. William Cousin was born at Leith in 1812; and all the elements of his beautiful character and great usefulness may be traced to a home where both parents sought to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. At an early period, too, the youths of this Christian family were imbued with that taste for literature which afterwards distinguished them all; though, perhaps they were indebted for this superiority chiefly to their mother, who, in the winter evenings, used to read aloud to her boys such books or stories as were calculated to unfold and cultivate their mind. Mr. Cousin’s primary education was begun in Leith, and completed at the Edinburgh Academy, which he joined at its foundation in 1824, and where he continued three years—always keeping the head of his class, and gaining the gold medal at the end of his course.

With his powers of mind well developed, large stores of information acquired, and expert both in the classics and in modern languages, Mr. Cousin left the Edinburgh Academy for the Edinburgh University in 1827, and having taken the usual curriculum, he earned the high esteem of his professors for marked excellence both in philosophy and science, carrying away, at the same time, the affectionate regard of his fellows for his manly, generous, and blameless demeanour. More important, however, to himself and the Church than his success at the university, it was at the end of this period Mr. Cousin was divinely changed; and having solemnly resolved to dedicate his life to Christ in the preaching of the gospel, he entered the Divinity Hall, with Chalmers as his teacher in theology and Welsh in Church history. Thoroughly trained at home, at school, and at college, and equipped in all branches of general scholarship, Mr. Cousin proceeded, with great advantages, to the study of divinity; and when he left the Hall, no one of his standing was better acquainted either with the erudition or the problems of theological science.

Having been licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh to preach the gospel in 1839, Mr. Cousin was employed for a short time as a missionary at Tranent. But a second church, – named Boston Church, in honour of the author of the ”Fourfold State,”—having been this time erected in Duns, Mr. Cousin was chosen in 1840 as its first minister. In this same “Boston Church of Duns” he was succeeded by two eminent servants of Christ, James Manson, formerly of the Dean; and John Fordyce, now at Simla,—and both these brethren bear testimony to the remarkable zeal with which Mr. Cousin wrought over all Berwickshire, so long as he remained there, and to the blessed effects which followed his devoted labours.

Known now as a successful minister and evangelist at Duns and in all the Merse, Mr. Cousin received a call in 1846 from the Presbyterian Church in Ranelagh (a suburb of Chelsea), the pastor of which was now unfit for duty by reason of age; and in this important sphere he served his Master for three years with conspicuous fidelity. It was at this date he was married to Miss Cundall, and in her he found a help-meet, gifted and saintly, like himself. Mr. Cousin was drawn to Duns in no small degree by his veneration for Boston, after whom his church there had been called; but in 1850 a new church was erected at Irvine, and his hallowed recollections of David Dickson, so famous of old in that town, led him to accept this charge when put within his reach. Nor was Mr. Cousin without like tokens of divine power at Irvine as David Dickson witnessed. The soil was stiff and cold; but he had noble coadjutors in two devoted elders, Mr. Paulin and Mr. Rankine, and the sower lost not his seed.

In 1859, the congregation at Melrose had to part with their esteemed minister, the Rev. Alexander Campbell, who had been called to a larger sphere at Geelong, Australia, and they at once fixed upon Mr. Cousin as his successor. Their invitation was accepted, and Mr. Cousin exchanged Irvine for Melrose, with every prospect of continued blessing and increased success. He was in the vigour of life, all his powers were at their best; and to win souls was more than ever his ambition and aim. At the same time, if he were as much the minister as ever, he was somewhat more the student—reading from the best libraries, investigating deep questions in philosophy, and sharpening the edge of all his mental powers. Church work, also, received a larger share of his attention than hitherto, and he took the deepest interest in the business both of the Jewish and Continental Committees. Occasionally his voice was heard in the General Assembly (as well as in his own Synod, in the affairs of which he always took an active part); and it was on his motion that Professor Smeaton was brought from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. At the outset of the controversy, Mr. Cousin was in favour of the “Union;” but seeing things differently afterwards, he opposed the movement in two very able pamphlets.

Hitherto Mr. Cousin had enjoyed uniform health. But about 1877 his strength began to give way, and he no longer found himself equal either to the pulpit or parochial work which were so long his delight. Acting under the best advice, and looking above for guidance with the simplicity of a child, he resigned his charge at Melrose, and removed to Edinburgh in 1878, nearly twenty years from the date of his settlement. We need not say that the ministry of that long period was signally owned. The William Cousin of Melrose was, for depth, and fervour, and result, the William Cousin of Duns; and his only theme was Christ, the wisdom of God, and the power of God unto salvation. Perhaps the flame that lighted up Berwickshire did not burn quite so intensely in Roxburghshire, but over all the district, at the gates of Abbotsford and under the shade of Dryburgh, he preached a full gospel, and many were saved, more perhaps were edified.

No one who was acquainted with Mr. Cousin failed to notice the magnanimity and grace with which he put off the robes of office and sat down to wait silently outside the world till his Lord should bid him ascend up higher. He might have wondered why he should be called from the field when older labourers were still left amid the furrows with their basket and plough, but he murmured not at all. He was grateful for the term of service he had had meted out to him; he kept his eye pointed to the crown of reward, when Jesus should come; and meanwhile, without a doubt of his Father’s love, he meekly said, “Thy will be done.” Even in his seclusion, however, a bitter trial was sent, and a son of whom he cherished the brightest hopes was drowned in the Mersey by an unhappy accident in August 1880. But, severe as was the blow, he kissed the rod and was pacified. Though he still pursued his literary studies in some measure, Mr. Cousin was not equal, as in former days, to the effort of composition; but being deeply interested in Miss Watson’s sketch of Dr. Andrew Thomson, he furnished that lady with a most graphic account of Dr. Thomson’s heroic movement in favour of the immediate termination of slavery, and the marvellous speech he delivered on that occasion, as heard by himself when a youth at college.

During last Assembly Mr. Cousin was not apparently losing strength, yet any one could see somehow that he was ripening fast. There was an air of solemnity and gentleness about him which gave a heavenly charm to all he said or looked or did. But the chariot of translation was at his side, though no one had descried it. In great peace, and full of hope, he left Edinburgh on the 4th of June to spend the summer at Aberfeldy, and from thence, on the first of August, he took his flight from earth. Neither at Duns, nor Chelsea, nor Irving, nor Melrose, the scenes of his manifold activity, nor in Edinburgh, which he so loved, but in a sequestered glen, far from all save his loved and loving wife and children, he was unclothed that he might be clothed upon. He is gone, and with him a rare combination of talent and worth and spirituality. He was an exact scholar and an acute reasoner, an invaluable friend and the most loved of relatives, a true apostle and a man of God, and let his memory be blessed. Notwithstand
ing his glowing eagerness, and palpable sincerity, and affluence of thought, his delivery in the pulpit lacked the ease which is essential to popular address, so that he was not always appreciated to the full extent of his gifts; but no minister of his period embodied more philosophical wisdom, and varied learning, and rich imagination in his discourses, whilst all over they breathed the sweetest love. Greater, perhaps, as a divine than a preacher, our Church has not recently lost one more fitted than Mr. Cousin to shed light on the questions which are perplexing so many in our day, and to assist in the settlement of those subtle controversies which are ever arising between unbelief and faith.

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REV. ROBERT COWE, ST. STEPHEN’S, GLASGOW

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, January 1, 1868


Mr. Cowe began his ministry in Berwick-upon-Tweed in the High Meeting there; from thence he was transferred to the United parish of Whitsome and Hilton in Berwickshire, which he left in 1843. Thereafter he became minister of the Free Church at Portobello. From this he removed to Manchester, in connection with the Presbyterian Church in England. And, finally, was inducted in 1850 as minister of Free St. Stephen’s, which charge he held till the time of his death.

He possessed a highly endowed and a richly accomplished mind. Both at school and college he was distinguished for his proficiency and success in his studies. All through life he read and thought much on subjects of general and theological literature, and kept himself thoroughly informed of the different phases of thought and opinion at present in vogue in the world and in the Church. He was a man of candid and independent mind, of generous and grateful disposition, of pure and honourable feelings, and of decided and upright conduct. As a Christian he was characterized by an enlightened and steadfast faith, humbly subject to the Word of God; by a truly devout spirit, maintained, as those who knew him best testify, by the conscientious and constant exercise of devotional habits; and by the general tenor of his life, ordered throughout in habitual conformity to his views of duty in all his relations. He studied to make full proof of his ministry. Few men have been more assiduous and painstaking in their preparations for the pulpit, and he approved himself an able and faithful preacher of the blessed gospel, especially to his own people, by whom his ministrations were highly appreciated. Nor was he less diligent in the more private duties of his office, being systematic in his visitation of his flock—so far as other engagements allowed—and particularly frequent and sympathizing in his attentions to them in seasons of their personal and domestic sorrow.

Mr. Cowe died in the faith and hope of that salvation which he preached to others. A few days before his death, on a brother having spoken of justice as the grand plea provided for sinners at the judgment, quoting in confirmation of it the words of Scripture that “in Christ God is just, and the justifier of the ungodly who believe in Jesus,” he replied with deep emotion, “That is a strong foundation. These are words worthy to be written in letters of gold.”

Mr. Cowe died in the sixty-third year of his age, and has left a widow and two children to mourn his loss.

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REV. JAMES COWIE, DENNY

(Died May 17, 1890)
Author: Rev. Finlay MacPherson, Larbert
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November, 1890, Obituary, p.341


The death of Mr. Cowie, which occurred in the afternoon of Saturday, 17th May last, by its suddenness, took his congregation and friends by surprise. Though for some months he had not been feeling well, he continued regularly to discharge his ministerial duties. On the morning of his death he took his usual exercise in the garden, but after entering his house and partaking of dinner, he suddenly fell from his chair and died. Mr. Cowie was born near the village of Plean, Stirlingshire, and had attained to sixty-four years of age. Having for a time followed the profession of a teacher, he was ordained to the ministry of Denny Free Church in 1854, as successor to the Rev. Mr. Maxwell, and colleague to the Rev. Mr. Dempster. Up till the period of his death Mr. Cowie laboured very diligently in the work of the ministry, being an earnest and faithful preacher of the gospel, and an affectionate pastor, greatly beloved by the members of his flock. His character was well expressed by the Rev. Mr. Chalmers of Stirling, when preaching his funeral sermon. He spoke as follows:—”I may say, for the brethren in the Presbytery, as well as for myself, that we all cherished towards him a most affectionate esteem and regard because of his high personal character, his honesty of purpose, and his devotion to duty. I always thought that, as a Christian man, he possessed in an eminent degree the qualities of godly sincerity, simplicity, and strength, combined with a modesty and kindliness of manner which won affection and reverence. These and other qualities bore the appearance of long and matured growth. A friend who knew him from his boyhood remarked to me in conversation that even at that early stage his character possessed an honesty and decision and a purity which seemed to indicate the presence of divine grace. The earnestness and fortitude, the devotion and singleness of mind, the simplicity of motive and tenacity of purpose, so manifest in him, were the fruits of a strong and unique individuality ‘rooted and built up in Christ.’ As a preacher, his sermons were of the Puritan type—solid, scriptural, evangelical, with a rich savour of Christ, and oftentimes mixed with those quaint but happy expressions which distinguished the old Scottish preachers. His gifts of presenting the truths and consolations of the gospel in plain and simple speech, his kindly and sympathetic bearing, made way for his words into the hearts of the sick and the sorrowful and the dying. In that respect he was to be envied and imitated by his brethren.” Besides attending to his strictly pastoral duties, Mr. Cowie took an active interest in social questions, more especially in promoting the cause of temperance in the community where his lot was cast. While the writer of this notice thoroughly agrees with what has been so well expressed by Mr. Chalmers as to the character of Mr. Cowie, both as a man and a minister, he cannot help adding his tribute to the high regard in which Mr. Cowie was always held by the neighbouring congregations where he occasionally preached, and to the kind and brotherly assistance he invariably rendered to his ministerial brethren. There could not have been a more true-hearted and devoted friend.

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REV. GEORGE CRAIG, SPROUSTON

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April 2, 1866, p.15


Another Disruption minister has been removed from this earthly scene. On the 17th of February last the mortal remains of Mr. George Craig, minister of Sprouston Church, Kelso, were deposited in their final resting-place.

Mr. Craig was a native of Glasgow, and received his school education there. As a student at the University of his native city, he was well known among his contemporaries, and distinguished. Having in due course been licensed to preach the gospel, he became, in 1835, after a short probation, minister of the parish of Sprouston, near Kelso, then vacant by the removal of Mr. Sym to Edinburgh. As minister of this entirely rural charge, he laboured on ably, faithfully, and acceptably during the momentous years and amid the important discussions which preceded the Disruption. In many of the members of the Presbytery to which he belonged he found men worthy of his friendship and esteem: in Mr. McCulloch of Kelso, one whom he could admire and honour, and sympathize with in all his views of ecclesiastical polity; but when the decisive step must at length be taken—the logical conclusion of the ten years’ controversy—the subject of our notice, at first it may be to his surprise, found himself standing alone, and far in advance of one who had even taught him Non-intrusion; but, nevertheless, went forward, with Mr. Bonar, of the North Church, Kelso, to the final issue, and truly sacrificed a position and an income, never again made up to him, which many others, as faithful no doubt as he, as the result proved, only parted with in name.

The parish of Sprouston being mainly in possession of the Duke of Roxburgh, and his Grace unwilling to permit the erection of a Free Church, Mr. Craig was constrained to seek an asylum in the town of Kelso, where the congregation which adhered to him, composed in part of the parishioners of Sprouston, and in part of persons belonging to the adjacent parishes, built soon a handsome and spacious place of worship, under the name of Sprouston Church, Kelso. Here Mr. Craig continued to minister up to the time of his death, to a congregation not at any time very large, but comprising many persons of a very superior order of intelligence. His mental qualities entitled him to a much more prominent and public position in the Church. Many men greatly inferior to him in capacity were far better known; but a nervous apprehension, which often distinguishes men of high sensibility, made him shrink from coming forward to debate questions of Church polity in any field more extended than that of the Presbytery to which he belonged.

It is now many years since Mr. Craig first manifested symptoms of failing health: from time to time he had to avail himself of the services of an assistant; and for the last three or four years chronic bronchitis had been gradually reducing his strength. He found it necessary to try the milder winter climate first of Devonshire, and then of Madeira. Two winters ago he officiated as minister of the Scotch congregation in that island; last winter he spent at home, in Kelso, able to do partial work. During the recent summer his condition did not improve. As winter drew near it seemed evident that he must seek a warmer clime. With very little hope on the part of those from whom he parted that they would ever see him again in this world, he left Kelso in the month of October, with Mrs. Craig, whose condition was perhaps more critical than his own. She did not live to reach their destination on the coast of Devon; death snatched her away as they sojourned in the house of her brother at Blackheath. The bereaved husband afterwards proceeded southward, but in vain: with presentiment of his approaching end, he retraced his steps: and at Brompton, on the 10th of February last, after lingering long in great weakness, he passed away, amid the Sabbath stillness on earth, into the unbroken calm of the Sabbath rest in heaven.

Mr. Craig was born in July 1805. In the October of that same year Principal Cunningham saw the light and of a like age is the present distinguished Principal of the New College, Edinburgh.

In person Mr. Craig was slender, spare, and erect; at one time springy and active; latterly he had become somewhat feeble and emaciated. In stature he was above the middle size. His appearance was striking and noble. In his dark, piercing eye and thickly-set, over-arching eye-brows there was an assurance of truth and a rebuke of insincerity; these features gave to his countenance even a look of sternness, with which, indeed, he regarded all that was not plain, open, and honest in the ways of men.

As a preacher he was much esteemed by his own people, and by those of other congregations. Not popular in the sense of being flowery, flash, noisy, and unmeaning, he was in a true sense one of the most popular preachers in the district to which he belonged. He was to many the very type of what a preacher ought to be. Exhaustive and textual, he was also clear and simple in his manner of handling Scripture truth; he was, in short, an able and faithful minister of the New Testament rightly dividing the word of God; and for direct and forcible appeals to the consciences of sinners, few men, perhaps, in modern days have been his equals.

His removal leaves in the mind a feeling similar to that with which the loss, one after another, of our older ministers is regarded, and the loss, indeed, of all the men of the Disruption; we feel as if the Free Church had been constructed of materials which do not now come to hand for the repairing of her breaches—materials so precious that no generation after that which witnessed the building can again supply their like.

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REV. ROBERT CLARK CRAIG, FENWICK

(Died July 3, 1889)
Author: Rev. J. Connell, Dreghorn
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November, 1889, Obituary, p.343


Mr. Craig was born at Eaglesham in 1822, but in his infancy he was brought by his parents to Glasgow, where he grew up. His father and mother were pious and godly, devoted to “the fear of the Lord,” and to the religious upbringing of their children. By reason of these things, perhaps, and also, it may be, influenced by the example and encouragement of an uncle, the late Rev. Robert Craig of Rothesay, both of their sons— Robert and James—chose for their life-work the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All their education tended towards this. Mr. Craig’s undergraduate course of study was prosecuted in Glasgow. In 1842, he was enrolled as a student of divinity in Edinburgh University, and completed that course of study in the Free Church Hall there, in 1847. In that same year he was licensed as a preacher of the gospel by the Free Presbytery of Dunoon and Inveraray. His probationary course was finished when, in July 1849, he was ordained by the Free Presbytery of Irvine to be minister of the congregation of Fenwick, where he fulfilled a ministry of forty years with all fidelity, and with acknowledged acceptance by the people of his charge. “Jesus Christ and him crucified” he preached unto them as the only foundation of hope to sinful men. During the years of his bodily vigour, and, more or less, even after his health and strength were “weakened in the way,” Mr. Craig was sedulously painstaking and diligent in his oversight of the flock, in pastoral visitation, as well as in pulpit ministrations. In a word, he was a faithful servant of Jesus Christ in the vineyard wherein he was placed by the Master and Owner to labour. For some years before his final retirement from an active ministry, he was under an affliction which so far disabled him from his wonted measure of work, and, five years ago, by the arrangement of the Church and his Presbytery, he gave over his charge to a colleague, the Rev. R. M. Wardrop.

The closing years of his life were spent in Rothesay, where he died on 3rd July last, as already indicated. He leaves a widow to mourn his loss.

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REV. JOHN E. CRAVEN, NEWHILLS

(Died December 2, 1897)
Author: Rev. Alex. Luke, Broxburn
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1898, Obituary, p.95


John Eldridge Craven was born at Dirleton, in East Lothian, in September 1817, and was for a considerable time under the earnest evangelical ministry of the late Dr. Ainslie, who was minister of that parish at the Disruption, and afterwards of St. Andrews. When seventeen years of age Mr. Craven was the subject of a deep work of the Spirit of God, and underwent a manifest saving change. His place on the Lord’s side was from the first very thorough and decided, and he at once solemnly devoted himself to God in the work of the gospel ministry. It was a time of much life and activity in the church. A great work of spiritual revival was going on in various parts of the country, specially in connection with the evangelistic labours of the apostolic Wm. C. Burns, afterwards the devoted missionary in China, and with the ministry of the saintly McCheyne of Dundee. Mr. Craven was deeply interested in that work. He got a friend in Dundee to send him all the information about it to he had, and he was greatly quickened and stimulated in his own soul when he heard of the eager crowds that nightly thronged St. Peter’s Church, and the deep sense of the presence of God that was felt, and the great spiritual power that accompanied the preaching of the word, and the large numbers that seemed to be truly converted to God. Mr. John Donaldson, afterwards minister at Ceres, Fife, was then tutor in a family near to Dirleton. He and Craven were kindred spirits, and soon became close and intimate friends. They were often together, and spent much of their time in Bible-reading and prayer. A friend who still survives speaks very warmly of the great spiritual good he derived from his intercourse with the two young students. He was about their own age, and had just begun to be in distress about his soul when he came to know them. He had no one he could freely speak to on the subject; but being early at Dr. Ainslie’s prayer-meeting one night, he found Mr. Craven walking on the road, waiting for the hour of meeting. He was much struck with his earnest and devout appearance, and he thought, “Surely this is one that I may well open my mind to with all confidence;” and making bold, he went straight up to him, and told him all that was in his heart. Mr. Craven received him with great kindness, and dealt with him in a most tender and affectionate manner, pointing him to Jesus, the almighty, loving Saviour of the lost, and thus helped him much in the Lord. He at once joined the two students in their meetings for reading and prayer, and as he lived three miles off, they sometimes met him halfway; and he says, “I well remember there was a haystack by the roadside which afforded us good shelter, and there in the moonlight we prayed, and asked the Lord to help the poor, persecuted Christians of Madagascar to be faithful unto death for Christ.” It was thus that Mr. Craven’s soul was nourished and strengthened and prepared for the work to which his after-life was to be devoted.

He had just finished his divinity course under Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Welsh in 1843, and had been licensed by the Presbytery of Haddington, when the Disruption took place. At once he allied himself with the probationers who joined the Free Church, and in December of that year he was ordained as minister of Maryton, in the Presbytery of Brechin. After two years of good and faithful service there, he was translated to Newhills, in the Presbytery of Aberdeen, where he laboured most devotedly and prayerfully in all the departments of ministerial work for thirty-four years, enjoying the warm affection and high esteem of his people, and with many evident tokens of the Lord’s presence and blessing in souls converted and saved. His preaching was eminently evangelical and spiritual. The great doctrines of grace, man’s ruin and Christ’s redemption, and the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work were ever prominently held forth. He could not preach to a promiscuous congregation as if they were all converted persons. He carefully discriminated between the saved and the unsaved, and spoke to the conscience and heart. His one great aim was the salvation of souls. He took a deep and lively interest in the great revival work of 1859-60, and had many evangelistic services among his own people, with the unspeakable joy of seeing not a few of them added unto the Lord. He had a high ideal of ministerial responsibility, and he was always and everywhere the spiritually-minded, prayerful man of God, the faithful, devoted minister of Christ. He retired to Edinburgh in 1879, and there, on December 2, 1897, he quietly fell asleep in Jesus.

Mr. Craven was twice married: first to Miss Helen Brown (daughter of Captain Walter Brown of Currie), who died in 1885; and afterwards to Mrs. Smith (widow of Mr. Smith, Newhills), who died in 1896. He had two sons by his first marriage— one the late Dr. John Craven of Thurso, and the other the Rev. James B. Craven of Kirkwall.

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REV. ANDREW CRICHTON, CHAPELSHADE, DUNDEE

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, September 2, 1867


Of the younger generation of Free Church ministers, Death could hardly have selected one that would have awakened more of deep and affectionate regret than Mr. Andrew Crichton. Mr. Crichton has ended his ministry at a time of life when most men are but beginning theirs, for he had barely completed his thirtieth year; yet during the short period of his active labour, he awakened an interest and gained an influence far beyond the average. The eldest son of an esteemed minister of the Free Church, his early career naturally created more interest in clerical circles than that of an ordinary student for the ministry, and the circumstance of his selection as colleague to one so well known and so much esteemed as Dr. Charles Brown, and of his occupying so prominent a pulpit for some years, drew on him many more eyes than are usually turned on a young minister. But neither of these circumstances, apart from special gifts and graces, would have accounted for the position which he obtained. His affectionate and simple nature was at an early period penetrated by Divine grace, and gave rise to a Christian character in which a union of mildness, honesty, and earnestness promised a steady and uniform growth both of beauty and of influence. With all the loyalty and devotedness of an evangelical divine, he was remarkable for a singular apprehension of the special wants of the age, grounded on his acquaintance with some of its most characteristic writings, and an insight into its deepest and truest feelings. His ministry was not of the sort that is equally adapted to the seventeenth and the nineteenth centuries: he made as faithful use as any of “the incorruptible seed that liveth and abideth for ever;” but he had a tact in applying it to present wants and feelings, so as to tell on persons that more powerful minds of an older age would not have equally impressed. What Mr. Matthew Arnold calls “the two noblest fruits of culture, sweetness and light,” were pre-eminent in Mr. Crichton. For what was angry, sharp, and bitter he had no affinity; “sweetness” was the natural element of his soul. And so also was “light.” And his skill in the use or disposition of light was one of his most characteristic gifts; for if he did not excogitate many new thoughts, he at least set them forth in a light of his own, causing them to awaken an interest and produce an impression similar to that of the familiar objects of nature when touched with the more rare and tender hues of the setting sun.

At an early period of his ministry, he saw that, for inquiring young men especially, some definite guidance was necessary over the fields of theological inquiry. Accordingly, while in the New North Church of Edinburgh, he delivered a course of Lectures for the Times, which were very numerously attended; and on the following winter he set himself with great energy to obtain the delivery of a similar course by ministers and professors of the city, the result of which was given to the public in the volume entitled “Christianity and Modern Speculations,” Mr. Crichton had the pen of the ready writer, and was fond of the labour of composition. He was a frequent and acceptable contributor to the Family Treasury, the Sunday Magazine, and other periodicals.

A tall and robust-like physical frame, joined to a somewhat still manner, prevented any one from seeing, during his Edinburgh ministry, that for these varied labours he was drawing unduly on his physical strength. Unknown to his friends, and unsuspected by himself, a fatal malady must have been rooting itself in his constitution for some time before any symptoms of it began to appear. About the beginning of last year he received a cordial call to the congregation of Chapelshade, Dundee, which he saw it to be his duty to accept. Notwithstanding that his health began to break down, his one year’s ministry in that town was a great success. He was enabled at least to sow much precious seed, not only in the midst of an attached and crowded congregation, but throughout a large section of the young men of Dundee. At the time of last General Assembly, his health fairly broke down. As he was found to be suffering from an abscess in the liver, an operation was performed successfully. But he never regained strength. He died on the evening of the 13th July, peacefully resting on the Saviour whom he loved.

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DR. DAVID CRICHTON, ARBROATH

(Died February 4, 1888)
Author: Rev. J. Moffat Scott, Arbroath
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.179


Dr. Crichton was born at Barncleuch Hill, Irongray, on March 20, 1801. His father was a small farmer, and a very worthy God-fearing man; his mother was a holy woman, who planted in his heart the principles of a living piety.

Manifesting at an early period superior mental abilities and a genuine love for learning, his parents sent him to the village school of Shawhead, then taught by an accomplished man of the name of Burnet. Afterwards he proceeded to Dumfries, where he obtained lessons from some notable private teachers, and attended the classes of the academy, with the object of preparing himself to enter college. At the age of sixteen he obtained a scholastic appointment at Dalbeattie, where he remained for two or three years, till he went to the University of Edinburgh. From thence, at the close of his third session, he proceeded to Anstruther, and succeeded in raising the school there, which was placed under his charge, to a position of such eminence, that he was invited by-and-by to occupy a post in the English School of St. Andrews. Here—in the Oxford of Scotland—he completed his professional studies, and received license. Instead, however, of at once devoting himself to preaching, he was induced to accept the appointment of English master in the Madras College, which had been lately established, and which he did much to raise to a first place among our Scottish schools.

Dr. Crichton was a resident in St. Andrews during that memorable period when Chalmers was filling the Chair of Moral Philosophy; and he, like so many others, felt the spell of his burning eloquence. We have heard the old gray-headed man tell with glowing eye and excited gesture how gloriously Chalmers laboured to permeate the university with evangelical fervour, and how strenuously he toiled to diffuse among the students and citizens information about foreign missions; and we have heard him tell, with pardonable pride, how he accompanied Duff, on a beautiful Sabbath morning, to Crail, and listened to his first sermon; and how he had the honour of presenting to the young missionary, in the name of the Ladies’ Society, the famous Bible which was saved from the wreck of the Lady Holland.

In 1838 a vacancy occurred in the quoad sacra parish of Inverbrothock, by the translation of Mr. (afterwards Professor) Lumsden to Barry. The patrons were the proprietors of the pews, and by this popular constituency Mr. Crichton was chosen from among a number of candidates. His ordination took place at the close of the same year, and he was introduced to his people by Principal Haldane. For long he occupied the foremost place in the town of Arbroath as a preacher of the gospel, and he always ministered to a large, influential congregation.

During the Ten Years’ Conflict he sided with the champions of evangelical religion, and fought valiantly for the crown rights of the Redeemer. On returning from the convocation of 1842, he received from all his elders, except one, the assurance of their hearty sympathy; and when the crisis came, he went out carrying with him almost his whole congregation.

Dr. Crichton toiled nobly for many years among the people of Free Inverbrothock, but he never ceased to interest himself in the cause of education. The inhabitants of Arbroath owe him a deep debt of gratitude; for he it was who mainly organized the Free Church schools, and also the Institution, which has rendered such inestimable service to the youth of the town.

Though a strong-minded man, Dr. Crichton was naturally shy and sensitive, and consequently he seldom appeared on public platforms; but in a quiet, earnest, practical way he served well the old monastic town in which he spent fifty years of his life, sympathizing with every good cause, and lending it his strong moral influence.

About twelve years ago the state of his health rendered it necessary to seek help, and he obtained an admirable colleague. But he continued to preach occasionally, and found pleasure in visiting.

Once and again the heavy stroke of sorrow fell upon him. In 1864 his youngest son David was suddenly cut down; three years later his eldest, Andrew (whose fine character and genius many well remember), was removed; next, in 1879, his wife (a daughter of Mr. Smith, parish teacher, St. Andrews) died; and last year his only remaining son, Dr. James Crichton, a Christian physician, was taken away.

At the close of January 1888 he was struck down with paralysis, and died in the beginning of the following month, leaving two daughters, both of them the wives of ministers,—Rev. G. Elder, Borgue, and Rev. W. McKilliam, Glasgow. Devout men carried him to his burial; and when the grave in the churchyard beneath the shadow of the hoary abbey closed over his remains, many an honest tear was shed by the assembled multitude.

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REV. EDWARD CROSS, M.A., MONIFIETH

(Died October 2, 1892)
Author: Rev. G. Elmslie Troup, M.A., Broughty Ferry
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1893, Obituary, p.18


Mr. Cross was born at Madras, where his father was stationed with his regiment, in the year 1819. As a student at St. Andrews he took a distinguished position, and after graduation entered the Divinity Hall of the Established Church there. Having pursued the usual curriculum, he applied for license; and it is a curious fact, which he was accustomed to state, that the necessary examination was in process of being carried through when the Disruption occurred, part of his discourses having been heard by the Established Church Presbytery, and the remainder by the newly-constituted Free Church Presbytery, of St. Andrews, from the latter of which he went out as a preacher.

Mr. Cross first served the Church as a licentiate in Wallacetown Free Church, Dundee; later, though only for a short time, I understand, he officiated at Richmond, near London, and at Ceres in Fifeshire, then a preaching station, but now a sanctioned charge. It was from Ceres, in the year 1815, that he was called and ordained to the pastoral charge of the congregation of Monifieth, rendered vacant by the removal of the late Dr. Samuel Miller to Glasgow. For the long period of forty-five years, till 1890, when he came to reside at Broughty-Ferry, he ministered, in spite of much personal affliction, but with singular faithfulness, to a people who appreciated his remarkable gifts, and honoured themselves by holding him in the highest esteem.

The story of Mr. Cross’s ministry at Monifieth forms, indeed, an interesting chapter in the history of the Free Church movement in the district; for his ordination took place, and for a considerable period the services were conducted, in a tent three miles distant from the village where the parish church is situated. The action of the notorious Lord Panmure in refusing a site necessitated this unfortunate arrangement. The difficulty, however, was in a large measure overcome through the generosity of a neighbouring proprietor, the late Mr. Arklay of Ethiebeaton; and with great enterprise Mr. Cross set himself to build, largely at his own cost, a church and a commodious manse, and to organize the work of the congregation. It soon became apparent that it was a most inconvenient and unsatisfactory arrangement to have no place of worship connected with the Free Church in the village of Monifieth, from which a large proportion of the congregation came; and, accordingly, when Fox Maule—who was as much interested in the Free Church as his father was opposed to it—succeeded to the Panmure estates, Mr. Cross made application to him for a site in the village, and a suitable one being immediately granted, made arrangements for building and carrying on a school there. In this school he was accustomed to hold regular services for the benefit of his members in Monifieth, and this effort became the nucleus of the present Free South congregation, now ministered to by the Rev. Crawford Smith. With his usual generosity, Mr. Cross not only rendered substantial help to this work—amongst other things he presented quite a large library—but he was the first to propose that, though greatly to his own loss, the congregation should be erected into a sanctioned charge. This change, together with the depopulation of the country district, naturally greatly reduced the numbers who waited on his ministry.

Mr. Cross’s labours thus came to be limited to the landward district of the parish, and he continued to prosecute them with that faithfulness, zeal, and interest in individuals which had always characterized him. His attachment to his small congregation was the more striking from his quite unusual gifts, but it was very deep. It manifested itself, in spite of his own weakness, in unwearied and affectionate pastoral care, and in the generous provision he made, by bequeathing all his means, to secure the permanence of the congregation. It is scarcely necessary to add that a ministry so faithful and generous drew from the people a reverent appreciation. Two years ago, on committing the charge to the care of Mr. Wiseman, his valued colleague, the members of the congregation gave substantial expression to the esteem in which they held Mr. Cross both as a minister and a friend.

It is difficult to convey to those who did not know him a just impression of Mr. Cross’s character. Of striking appearance and personality, of courtly demeanour, with a voice of wonderful sweetness and compass, endowed with great intellectual gifts, and an interest altogether unique in the higher reaches of literature, having acquired by wide reading and social position a versatile knowledge of men and things, he attracted those who differed widely in their views. Though strongly conservative in religion as in politics, he had a liberal mind and a large acquaintance with the movements of modern thought. His library, remarkable for the character, though not less for the number, of the works it contained, spoke of his solid interest in literary pursuits, and of his recognized authority in the matter especially of rare books and the less trodden paths of literature. And, in spite of his strong likes and dislikes, his vigorous independence of manner, and at times his blunt outspokenness, those who were privileged to be admitted to his close friendship knew well, as one of his oldest friends has expressed it, his “responsiveness to all gentle thought and action,” and “the pathos hidden in his strong spirit.” Disciplined by sorrow, alone in the world, without a single relative, he had his own times of sore depression; but there was a fine Christian chivalry in the way he bore his grief, the chivalry of one who could be genial and bright in spite of the too large meed of sorrow that seemed to have come to him. It is, however, as a preacher of great force that Mr. Cross will probably be most remembered— a man who brought the truth home to men’s minds with singular power, and who proclaimed the gospel of Christ with unerring sympathy and faithfulness.

Mr. Cross married Miss Baring Gordon, a gentle lady of great personal attractions, and a member of a family honourably known for their work and labour of love. Mrs. Cross died in 1886.

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REV. JAMES EWING CRUIKSHANK, INCHINNAN

The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, August 1, 1863, p.305


Another name falls to be added this month to the list of ministers in the West who have been removed by death. We allude to the Rev. J. E. Cruikshank of the Free Church of Inchinnan, in the Presbytery of Paisley. He was the son of Matthew Cruikshank, Esq. , a respected elder of Free St. George’s, Glasgow. From an early period he manifested a sedate and serious turn, which was quickened by the stirring events of the Disruption era, and fostered by the fatherly counsel and care of his excellent pastor, the late Rev. Dr. Smyth. He spent about seven years of his youth in a bank office; but all the while he cherished a secret desire for employment in the Church, and ultimately he was led in providence to devote himself to the work of the Christian ministry. His preparatory studies were prosecuted with much ardour and success, and he was licensed as a preacher in 1857. About two years afterwards he was ordained as the first minister of the Free Church congregation of Inchinnan.

It is well known that this church is mainly indebted for its origin and support to the liberality of Mr. Henderson of Park, who, though a member of another communion, kindly co-operated with the adherents of our cause in the parish of Inchinnan in promoting the erection of a church and manse, and in carrying forward and completing all the necessary ecclesiastical arrangements. Mr. Cruikshank was well fitted for the post he was called to occupy, and he has left to his attached flock a fragrant memory of his brief ministry among them. Mild in manner, gentlemanly in bearing, thoroughly sincere and consistent in all his conduct, he commended himself at once to rich and poor. His single-hearted devotedness in the discharge both of his public and private duties was conspicuous at all times, and was only restrained from a further development by the weakness of his physical frame.

A few weeks ago he took a voyage to the Mediterranean for the benefit of his health; but touching at Leghorn, and finding no improvement, he returned home. Thereafter his insidious malady made rapid progress, and it became evident to himself and to all his friends that his time on earth was drawing to a close. But he was calm and collected, and even cheerful to the last, leaning on the bosom of the blessed Jesus, and expressing his entire resignation to the will of his heaveuly Father. When a friend who came to visit him, two days before his death, was speaking with regret of his having left home and gone so far away in his weak condition of body, he replied, “Oh no, you should not say so. I never lived so near to Christ as during that last journey. I never felt Christ so precious and so near to me. It has been all well ordered.”

He died in the 37th year of his age, and the 4th of his ministry. He was married about eighteen months ago, and he leaves behind him a bereaved widow and an infant child. His loss is much felt by his brethren in the Free Presbytery of Paisley, by all of whom he was held in the highest affection and esteem. In accordance with the suggestion of Mr. Henderson, who, as well as his amiable lady, during all his illness had been so kind and considerate, and in compliance with the wishes of his flock, he was interred in the churchyard of that quiet country parish, where his ministry was exercised. May the Free Church long be favoured with a succession of men to occupy her pulpits who shall unite the courtesies of polished manners and the graces of intellectual refinement with the substantial qualities of ripe scholarship, sound theological attainments, and fervent and devoted piety.

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REV. ALEX. CUMMING, VICTORIA CHURCH, GLASGOW

(Died December 14, 1880)
Author: Rev. J.H. Wells, Bridge of Earn
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.43


Many both in the east and west of Scotland cherish the memory of this popular and well-known minister. He was born in Edinburgh in 1805, and, after being licensed, was engaged as assistant in Crieff. Soon after (in 1834) he was ordained as minister of Dunbarney parish, in the Presbytery of Perth, and immediately began to exercise a powerful influence by the evangelical tone of his preaching, which told strongly on the public mind, and was the occasion of a goodly number following their pastor at the Disruption. He preached for six months after that in a coal-shed, and the conversions that took place there are still spoken about. Many of the visitors who came in summer to enjoy the amenities of Pitcaithly Wells and Bridge of Earn were charmed with the lively and graphic style of his preaching. His illustrations were drawn from natural history and other sources, and both explained and adorned divine truth. His delineations of the Saviour’s sufferings at communion seasons were profound and impressive. His expositions of a continuous portion of Scripture were memorable, and especially his solemn opening up of the Book of Revelation. Readers of McCheyne’s Memoirs will remember how lovingly he speaks in his diary of his friend at Dunbarney. His influence was increased by the active co-operation of three elders, all men of mark in the district, who have predeceased him,—Dr. John Chalmers, Mr. Thomas Lennie, and Mr. Robert Edie.

He was translated in 1853 to Glasgow, where he became minister of East Gorbals. After filling this large church, he was deprived of it by the Established Church, to whom the building belonged. He then, with a mere fraction of his people, built a handsome structure at the south side of Glasgow, which he again speedily filled. After labouring in these two charges for twenty-one years, he retired into private life in 1874, and died in Edinburgh, leaving a widow and two daughters.

In Mr. Cumming evangelical zeal and literary grace formed an interesting combination, which alike edified the devout and attracted the careless. If he sometimes showed an error of judgment by an overstrained imagination or an excess of anecdote, it was readily forgiven to one who was so uniformly interesting and original, so spiritual and heavenly in his tone, and so earnest and persevering in his labours.

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REV. JAMES CUMMING, MELNESS

(Died June 9, 1894)
Author: William Mackay, Banker, Thurso
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1894, Obituary, p.265


Though not personally known to many in the south, Mr. Cumming’s figure was a familiar one at the annual May meetings in Edinburgh; but it was in the north, and especially in the two counties of Caithness and Sutherland, that his name and influence were best known.

He was born in 1821 at Honstry, in the parish of Latheron, his father being a crofter in that district. In these advanced days this hamlet now boasts of a Board school; but sixty years ago a boy must have had a burning desire for learning before he could make much headway, as the staff and equipment of such a school as then existed were of the most meagre and primitive description. Mr. Cumming’s boyhood was marked by much perseverance and ability as a student, and in his father’s house he had the advantages of the best Christian training and instruction.

The year of the Disruption found him opening into manhood, and occupying the sphere of a teacher. With great heartiness he cast in his lot with the Free Church, and for several years formed one of that band of self-denying men who for the minimum of remuneration manned the vacant schools in the Highlands, and helped to keep the rising generation loyal to the Free Church.

To many ministers in the Highlands he owed much, but of none did he speak with such fervour and thankfulness as of the Rev. John Macdonald, Helmsdale, whose ministry was much blessed to the young student.

With teaching he combined a course of university instruction, and in the year 1857 he became a licentiate of the Free Church. Three years thereafter, the congregation of Melness and Eriboll becoming vacant, he received a hearty call to it, where he laboured for over thirty years.

At the beginning of his ministry he was associated with such Disruption veterans as Mr. Mackenzie, Farr; Mr. Findlater, Durness; and Mr. Tulloch, Eddrachillis; but these were soon called home, and Mr. Cumming lived to see a change of ministry in every congregation in the presbytery, and in some more than one.

On the death of the Rev. George Mackay, Tongue, he was appointed clerk to the presbytery, which office he retained until shortly before his death.

As a minister of the gospel, not only in his own congregation, but in all the congregations of his presbytery, Mr. Cumming wielded much influence. Naturally of a philosophical turn of mind, his preaching had more of that element in it than is usually found in Highland pulpits. His philosophy was not dry, however, but clothed in language at once quaint and expressive, brightened with illustrations, sometimes historical, more often local and even domestic, and always full of gospel doctrine and exhortation. It found a lasting place in the minds and memories of his hearers.

His personal appearance added greatly to the weight of his discourses, and in the Gaelic language specially his pulpit appearance and preaching led one back in thought to the preachers of the previous century.

Mr. Cumming always had the courage of his convictions. Brought up among “the men,” he had the greatest regard for their memory, and was very jealous of any spurious imitations of these worthies.

“I loved the men,” he would say, “but I’ll have nothing to do with the apes;” and his denunciation of these, sometimes perhaps in rather a wholesale way, often brought him into a conflict with those who differed from him.

As a debater in ecclesiastical courts Mr. Cumming took a prominent place; and his speeches at synod and presbytery meetings were never tedious, always to the point, and generally both logical and racy.

But it was among his own people that Mr. Cumming was best known and loved. Nowhere did he appear to greater advantage than at his annual catechisings, and especially in dealing with the young. All the children were fond of him, and while he ever kept gospel instruction in the foreground, he had a store of old stories of the Reay country and of Highland folk-lore that made all his meetings with young and old especially interesting and instructive. He was a sagacious counsellor to his people in things temporal as well as spiritual, and most of his flock at some time or other in their history repaired to him for advice.

He held advanced views on the land laws, and was, he used to say, a disciple of Moses in that respect; but when the people exceeded in his opinion what was reasonable and practicable, he did not hesitate to tell them so. As a friend and neighbour Mr. Cumming had few equals.

His declining years were marked by much mellowness, and perhaps were the best of his ministry. His funeral gave evidence of the hold he had on his people. Every available man in the district followed the procession, and what was remarkable in such a remote locality, no less than ten ministers were present.

Mr. Cumming was married to a daughter of the late Mr. William Gow, Pulteneytown, who predeceased him, and who in every respect was a helpmeet for him. He is survived by four daughters.

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REV. DAVID CUNNINGHAM, KIRKINTILLOCH

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, January 1 1869, p.17


Mr. Cunningham was a native of Kilmarnock, and in early life sat under the ministry of the late Dr. McKinlay. Early brought under the influence of saving truth, his warmest desires were directed to the work of the ministry, and he entered the University of Glasgow, and prosecuted his studies with great diligence and success in preparation for the pastoral office. Mr. Cunningham was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow in 1844; and St. David’s Free Church, Kirkintilloch, having become vacant by the translation of the late Rev. Mr. Duncan to Lockerby, he received a call to that charge, and was ordained to the ministry the same year.

Although there were those at that period who, after making solemn professions and entering into public engagements to maintain the principles of the spiritual independence of the Church, and the crown rights of the Redeemer as her sole King and Head, resiled from them, Mr. Cunningham, then comparatively a young man, cherished these principles in an enlightened and conscientious manner, renounced without hesitation his connection with the Establishment, and joyfully took part with the Free Church in her difficulties and trials. His congregation cherished the highest esteem for his personal worth and ministerial usefulness; and his occasional services in other congregations were eminently appreciated for their ability and excellence. He was indefatigable in the discharge of his pastoral duties, and in his efforts to promote the spiritual interests of his own congregation and the surrounding district.

In the various relations of life, he approved himself a pattern of all that is amiable in disposition, elevated in character, honourable and upright in conduct, benevolent in spirit, and disinterested in principle. Those of his brethren who enjoyed his intimate friendship can bear testimony to his sincere piety, eminent talents, sound theological attainments, and enlightened steadfast adherence to the standards and distinctive principles of the Free Church. Although retiring in his disposition, yet, when called to public duties, he discharged them with eminent ability and success; and the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr tendered to him their thanks, and expressed their unanimous request that he would permit the discourse which he preached before them as Moderator to be published; which he kindly consented to do. Whilst faithful in maintaining the principles of the Free Church in their integrity, he was inferior to none in Christian liberality of sentiment, and in the cordiality with which he co-operated with brethren of other denominations in every good work.

Mr. Cunningham died in the fifty-fourth year of his age and twenty-fourth of his ministry.

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REV. ROBERT CUNNINGHAM, M.A.

(Died August 10, 1883)
Author: Rev. John Jamieson, Cairnryan
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.369


Mr. Cunningham was born at Stranraer, August 17, 1799. From his early days he seems to have been actuated by resolute Christian principle. Contemplating the profession of law, he entered an office in his native town, but after a time his engagement came to an end because of his declining to do work assigned to him on the Sabbath. At the same time his employer, esteeming his consistency and kindly interested in his welfare, promoted an arrangement by which he was able to maintain himself in Edinburgh and to attend the University, where he entered on the usual curriculum of study with a view to the ministry. When he was about nineteen he lost his father, who perished in a storm at sea, when crossing between Liverpool and the Isle of Man, and feeling that this unexpected bereavement devolved on him the duty of at once providing a home for his mother and the younger members of the family, he interrupted his theological studies, and became a candidate for the mastership of the parish school of Salton, which was then vacant. Having been selected to this office, he was enabled, under the now obsolete arrangement of “partial” sessions at the Divinity Hall, to complete his curriculum in the course of two or three winters, and become a licentiate of the Church of Scotland.

Although led by circumstances rather than by choice to adopt the scholastic profession, Mr. Cunningham gave his whole heart to his work, and he rose in the course of thirty years of arduous and enthusiastic labour to occupy a very conspicuous place among educationists in Scotland. His success in Salton having attracted attention, he was requested by the trustees to organize Stiell’s Hospital at Tranent, and was its first governor. In 1827 he was promoted from this office to occupy the governorship of George Watson’s Hospital, Edinburgh, a position awarded to him as the best out of forty eligible candidates, whose merits were tested by examination conducted by some of the professors in the University. During the five years for which he held this office Mr. Cunningham earned the esteem of the directors and the warm gratitude of the boys by the consistency and fearlessness with which he carried out the principle that the main end for which the hospital existed was the benefit of the boys committed to his care. In 1832 he resigned this post, in order that he might give himself to a very important educational enterprise in founding what has now for more than fifty years been favourably known as the Edinburgh Institution, originally in Hill Street and now in Queen Street. When compelled by impaired health to seek a complete change of scene, he visited America in 1837, and held the post of Professor of Ancient Languages and Vice-President in Lafayette College, Easton, Pa., until he returned to this country at the earnest invitation of the illustrious David Stow and other educationists, and became Rector of the Normal Seminary in Glasgow. From Glasgow he removed in 1841 to Polmont, where he founded the boarding school, which rapidly grew into distinction as Blairlodge Academy.

At Blairlodge Mr. Cunningham was privileged to render important service to the Free Church. As the time of the Disruption approached, he was counselled by some who seemed “to have knowledge of the times,” to forbear from committing himself to the party in the Church with which it was well-known that his sympathies lay, because, in their opinion, separation from the Established Church would involve the loss of all the patronage on which the success of his academy depended. He was not, however, to be moved by such considerations, and having made no secret of his convictions during the Ten Years’ Conflict, he acted upon them without hesitation when the day of trial came. He walked with much gladness in the memorable procession from St. Andrew’s Church to Tanfield Hall, on May 18, 1843; and, on the following Sabbath, he opened his largest school-room (capable of holding 300), as a place of worship for all in the parish of Polmont who adhered to the Free Church of Scotland, and continued from that time to preach regularly twice on the Sabbath, and conduct a prayer-meeting on the Thursday evenings. A congregation soon gathered around him, and he was ordained by the Free Church Presbytery of Linlithgow as their first minister—or rather as their evangelist, for although he actually did the work of a pastor, he declined to accept the responsibilities or receive a salary while his work in the academy demanded so large a proportion of his time. The Rev. James Boyd was the minister of their choice, and soon after his settlement the handsome church in which the congregation still worship was opened, Mr. Cunningham having himself paid (in addition to his original subscription) the sum of £500, in order that it might be opened free of debt. Under all the abounding labours of these years Mr. Cunningham continued to enjoy unabated health and vigour, and as to his worldly interests the warnings and forebodings by which timid friends had sought to deter him from avowing his sentiments were never realized. Prosperity and comfort increased until, after ten years of active work, he retired to Edinburgh in 1851. There he had the opportunity of rendering service both in Committees of the Free Church, and in a few of the philanthropic agencies in which Edinburgh abounds, besides labouring with fidelity and diligence as an elder in the congregation of his honoured friend and pastor, Dr. G.R. Davidson. He also spent some months in revisiting America in 1853, and again in 1854, and at the request of the Lebanon Schools Committee he spent some time in Palestine in 1856.

In 1859 he bought North-West Castle, Stranraer, and made it thenceforward his home; coming, as he pathetically said, “to end life where life began,” and having little expectation that his life was to be prolonged for twenty-four years—years filled up till near the end with active and useful work for Christ. His chief work for a number of years was the visitation and reclaiming of those in his native town, who by poverty or by negligence had become estranged from the ordinances of the sanctuary. Along with other gentlemen of all denominations he interested himself in these and in the case of all who were sick and destitute. With as much regularity and fidelity as if he had been an agent remunerated for his services, he gave his time to systematic visitation and other work of a missionary character, and often earned as his delightful recompense “the blessing of him that was ready to perish.”

When failing health obliged him reluctantly and gradually to withdraw from a more extended circle of regular duties, he continued to care, as strength allowed, for the fatherless and the widows, whose circumstances made his help and counsel welcome. He took a special pleasure in imparting at his own house instruction to young people, with a view to helping them on in life. For the last three years he was confined by paralysis to his room; the “outward man” failing, but the “inward man” graciously renewed from day to day. To those friends who occasionally saw him, and to the relatives whose unwearied attentions refreshed and prolonged his declining days, it was evident that he was ripening for the heavenly garner, to be gathered into it when it should please the Lord of the harvest, “as a shock of corn cometh in in his season.”

Mr. Cunningham is survived by his widow, one son, the Rev. J.G. Cunningham, Free St. Luke’s, Edinburgh, and two daughters, the younger of whom is married to the Rev. William Armstrong, East Free Church, Rutherglen.

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REV. ROBERT TENNENT CUNNINGHAM, M.A., BOWDEN

(Died September 10, 1888)
Author: Rev. David Purves, M.A., Gourock
Source: The Free Church Monthly, March, 1889, Obituary, p.87


Robert Tennent Cunningham was born at Dundee on 31st July 1852. His father was then a clerk in one of the largest firms in town, and a member of the Original Secession Church, which, during that year, was united with the Free Church. Having received his school education in Dundee, Mr. Cunningham entered the University of St. Andrews in 1869, where he ran a most distinguished career, winning the highest honours in classics and mathematics and the admiration of a rare circle of students for his literary culture. In 1876 Mr. Cunningham became a divinity student at the Free Church College, Glasgow; and at the close of the usual curriculum in theology, he left the hall the most distinguished student of the Free Church in any of her colleges. In the summer of 1881 Mr. Cunningham received license to preach the gospel; and, after a year and a half’s probation, during which he was my father’s assistant at Maxwelltown, Dumfries, he was ordained to the ministry of the Free Church at Inch, Stranraer, in December 1882. For four years and a half Mr. Cunningham laboured with much acceptance, though with very broken health, in his first charge; and in March 1887 was inducted to the English Presbyterian Church at Bowdon, Cheshire. A bright and hopeful ministry had little more than begun in this, his second charge, when, on 10th September 1888, while attending a meeting of Presbytery at Manchester, he was taken suddenly away by death.

A ministry of singular devotedness, and a life that held in it the promise of rich and varied work, have thus been suddenly cut short. In Mr. Cunningham there was a rare combination of gifts and graces. His friends will cherish the memory of his intellectual honesty and courage; his intense loving-kindness; his beautiful humour; his wide sympathies; his calm steady faith, that had come through many a strain of doubt, but could not be shaken more; his unaffected humility; his transparent simplicity and purity of heart. Those who were privileged to listen to Mr. Cunningham’s preaching will not soon forget the chaste and glowing style, so beautifully simple and clear, the quiet earnestness that sometimes became so solemn, and the pathetic tone of voice in which he delivered his Master’s message. And all to whom it was his privilege to minister will continue to feel the spell of his personal influence, that deep sympathy and genuine humanity that were in him and won for him a welcome in the home circles of his people. To very few men is it given to be so “greatly beloved” as Mr. Cunningham was. Great, therefore, is the regret with which many mourn his early death, and deep the sympathy felt for his venerable mother and his two devoted sisters. To all who knew and loved Robert Cunningham— and his friends were many—there will ever remain the memory of one “who moved lovingly and attractively among his fellowmen, who walked closely and constantly with God.”

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PRINCIPAL WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM, EDINBURGH

The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, December 29, 1861


We feel assured that our readers will not require any apology on our part for occupying some space with a notice of the great man who was a few days ago taken from the Church on earth. Among God’s dealings with us as a Church, the giving and the taking of such as he was, holds an eminent place. And he was so greatly honoured and so greatly loved, that his removal must have come with all the force of a personal bereavement, to many who never were on terms of intimacy or acquaintance with him.

Dr William Cunningham was born at Hamilton on the 2d October, 1805. He was early deprived of his father and his mother removed, when he was bout twelve years of ago, to the neighbourhood of Dunse, in Berwickshire, where several relatives resided. Dr.
Cunningham early manifested the promise of the qualities which afterwards enabled him to render such eminent service to the cause of truth. His surviving parent was able to appreciate and to foster his talents, and possessed the firmness and good sense needed in order to guide the progress of so vigorous a mind. In due time he proceeded to the university of Edinburgh, where he attained the highest distinction as a student, and here he formed some of his earliest and strongest friendships of most subsisted unbroken to his
able to say at what period Dr. Cunning-ifested the influence of divine truth upon; will dying day.

We are not able to say at what period Dr Cunningham first manifested the influence of divine truth on his heart. It will appear afterward that there is the best possible reason to think that this great change took place early. At all events, he early displayed a cordial sense of the importance of evangelical principles, and devoted himself to maintain and advance them. In the year 1830 he became assistant and successor to Dr Scott of Greenock, where he at once made a great impression by the vigour and ability of his preaching, and the force of his character. Here, also, he first apappeared in Church courts, where it immediately became plain that he was destined, if spared, to exercise an extraordinary influence in the counsels of the Church. It was not merely the force and vigour of his speaking as a debater, though in this he excelled from the very earliest opportunities which were afforded him. It was the extraordinary amount of his knowledge, and the accuracy of his thinking, which at once commanded the respect of those who listened to him. Both of these, it may be well to remark, had a strict connection with his strong conscientiousness; with the simplicity and truthfulness of his character. He had great intellectual gifts, but these were reinforced by moral qualities as great. He scorned to speak on any subject which he did not fully know, and hence to master every subject with which he had to deal, seemed to him nothing more than common honesty. He scorned to trifle with any important matter, hence he went right to the heart of the question he had in hand.

Dr. Cunningham was translated to Edinburgh in 1834. Unfortunately for his fame as a preacher, he was appointed to Trinity College Church. In Greenock he had ministered to an immense and earnest audience; but no vigour could secure a large congregation in that most discouraging of churches; and the fact, no doubt, reacted upon the preacher, and somewhat chilled that confidence in one’s audience which constitutes so large a part of pulpit success. But by this time the great conflict had begun, and Dr. Cunningham, from the first, was in the foremost rank. No man had a more perfect mastery of all the subjects under discussion, and no man rendered more important service to the Church in that great contest for her liberties. After the Disruption, Dr. Cunningham became Junior Professor of Theology, afterwards Professor of Church History, and, at the death of Dr. Chalmers, Principal of the New College; and here the immense stores of his knowledge, his command of those stores, his power as a thinker, reasoner, and judge of controversies, became more than ever apparent. No one who studied under him will ever lose the sense of profound respect for him as a master in theology and in the whole field of ecclesiastical learning; a sense which was deepened by every fresh lecture delivered by, and conversation held with him. And yet, perhaps, amid all this greatness, there were no occasions on which Dr. Cunningham was more impressive than when enforcing on his students some point of practical duty, obligatory upon them as Christians and as men who sought the ministry. There was a cogency in his calm dealing with the conscience not to be escaped or resisted. His last important public appearance, at the recent Conference on Missions, embodied his closing effort in this department. Surely that most solemn appeal to students and young ministers, to go and serve Christ wherever there is work for them to do, will not speak in vain, now that it is uttered, as it were, from his grave.

It would be very easy to enlarge on Dr. Cunningham’s services to the Free Church, and to the Church of Christ at large, and on the nobility of character, as well as force of mind, which came to light in all he said and all he did; but we feel this to be so superfluous, that it seems better to occupy the space at our disposal with a brief notice of his latter end. We are persuaded that this will be more welcome to all our readers than anything that could be substituted for it.

On Thursday the 5th of December, Dr. Cunningham was found by his medical attendant, who was visiting another member of the family, to be experiencing a fit of illness, which, however, gave no reason to apprehend any serious consequences. On Friday and Saturday he became much better. On Monday he insisted on proceeding to his class, and on his return did not seem to have suffered, but, on the contrary, assured his medical attendant that he had often felt more fatigued with less cause, appeared every way better, and spoke with great cheerfulness. On Tuesday, however, new symptoms appeared, which it was hoped would prove no more than local. On Wednesday there began to be much reason to apprehend that this hope might be disappointed; and besides, a slight pleuritic affection appeared. This, however, had no very great influence on the progress of the case, and was itself rather symptomatic, than a cause of important mischief. On Thursday his strength sank appreciably, and his breathing began to assume a panting character; and all these symptoms decidedly increased on Friday. The truth is, that inward paralysis, which had begun in the abdominal organs, was extending upwards, and was the immediate cause of his death. He died on Saturday morning, about twenty minutes past twelve.

His own feelings led him to entertain no apprehension of an unfavourable result, though he was, of course, aware that sickness always brings risk along with it. On Friday afternoon, however, it was plain to his medical attendants (Dr. Warburton Begbie and Dr. Begbie, senior, for the latter of whom, in particular, Dr. Cunningham expressed a peculiarly warm affection as an old and most kind friend) that no further hope remained. On the authority of the physicians this state of things was accordingly made known to Dr. Cunningham by Mr. Rainy, the minister of the congregation with which he worshipped, and of which he was an elder. The communication was made on Friday between four and
five o’clock in the afternoon. It was received with some surprise, but with the most remarkable calmness and self-possession. When clearly aware of what was meant his immediate response was, “Thank you! thank you!” After this he asked the grounds of the medical opinion, and stated in his own words how he supposed they viewed the case. From this moment and during the eight hours that remained before he died, it was clear that he had at once accepted and realized his situation; and it is difficult to convey an idea of the simple and natural way in which he seemed at once to adjust himself to his position – employing his little remaining time with a singularly comprehensive regard to all that was desirable, not for himself only, but for those whom he was leaving.

At the interview, during which his approaching end was made known to him, no great amount of conversation took place, the time being chiefly occupied in prayer. After an expression of his hope in Christ, he observed that he was too weak to converse then, having been obliged to occupy himself much during the day with some necessary business which had exhausted his strength. With marked kindness of manner he gave Mr. Rainy his blessing, and he was then left with the members of his family in attendance. An hour or two afterwards, however, hearing that Mr. Rainy was in the house, he sent for him, desiring to be with him alone. On Mr. Rainy entering the room, he observed that he was still too weak to say much, though he would gladly listen, and had just been listening to Mrs. Cunningham reading some of the Olney hymns. He went on to say, that he would be glad to know whether Mr Rainy had heard anything which would give him an idea how long he had to live. Mr. Rainy having mentioned that his medical men feared he would not survive that night, he seemed interested, but perfectly calm, saying, ”I believe that, according to all human probability, I must take it not only that my end is approaching but that it is very near.” It was remarked that the foundation of the hope was adequate to all emergencies, and that the love which had provided it could and would supply all wants. To this he gave a cordial assent. It may be remarked that, notwithstanding his weakness and the panting utterance which had begun to characterize his speech, there was an emphatic earnestness about all the expressions he used in this interview which it is impossible to convey. It was as if the whole man responded gladly to every statement of the simple gospel of grace. During the whole of it, also, his mind was as clear and his sentences, when he had occasion to enlarge on any point, as rounded and precise as ever they had been at any period of his life.

Various texts were repeated. One, suggested by some reference to his situation, was, “He died for us that whether we wake or sleep we might live together with Him.” Dr. Cunningham, as it were, took the last clause out of the speaker’s mouth—” Together with Him! Together with Him!” Another was, “He died for us, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” He struck in with, “The just for the unjust – a complete salvation—finished—perfect—secure. The hymn was repeated,—

“There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.”

He said: “All their stains—many a one they have.”

“The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there have I, as vile as he,
Washed all my sins away.”

“Dear dying Lamb! Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more.”

At the end of each of these verses, he took the word out of the speaker’s mouth, or said with great emphasis, “That’s it!” adding some remark in the way of strong assertion of the truth and preciousness of the gospel. It was observed that when the body was weak, and the mind possibly sharing in its weakness, we might feel less than ever able to lay hold of Christ and the promises to our sensible comfort; but that Christ was able both to take hold and keep hold of us. Dr. Cunningham replied with uncommon energy and animation, “Oh, yes atonce!—at a dash!—at a word!” There is no doubt that he was adverting mentally to his own wish, if it had been the Lord’s will, to have had a longer time to look forward to death, and to dwell advisedly on the truth in the prospect of it; and that his meaning was that however desirable this might be,the Lord could at once, without such preparation, put him in full and comfortable possession of all that could be attained in that way. In a similar strain he remarked to Dr. Begbie, at a later period of the evening, “I could wish to have had two or three days to call up more vividly the great truths upon which I have rested my faith – the great realities of eternity; but God, by a single glance, can do this for me.” Dr. Begbie replied, “And he will do it, Dr. Cunningham;” to which he answered, “He has done it.”

After the remark quoted a little ago he went on to say to Dr Rainy that many years ago, when very ill of fever, he had been given up as a dying man; and on that occasion he had been almost past the use of his senses before he was aware of his condition. He had been much impressed with this, and had thought much of it during his convalescence, with the feeling that it was a somewhat dangerous experiment to have passed through. His hope and prayer had been that the Lord would not so deal with him again. Now he said, though not quite in such circumstances as on that occasion, his own wish would certainly have been for “much fuller, deeper, ampler warning”, that he might have been able deliberately to consider his readiness for a change. As it was, however, he felt that he must just cast himself at once entirely on Christ. From his manner it was probable that he was about to say that he could do so unreservedly, but at this point the interview was interrupted by the arrival of two dear friends (Drs. Buchanan and Bannerman), whom he desired at once to see while he had still strength to converse with them. With them he conversed at length, not only referring in most touching terms to his long and intimate friendship with them, but conveying to them his wishes on various matters, including the disposal of his literary remains, and details of college business which he judged it needful to explain. In the course of this conversation he resumed the subject on which he had been speaking to Mr. Rainy, and remarked that the warning was short, but that the ground on which he rested was, he believed, secure. One of his colleagues remarked that he had no doubt he (Dr. Cunningham) had settled that question long ago. He replied, “Yes; I believe that early in life I was enabled to give myself up to God;” and he then went on, at some length, and with remarkable strength of expression, to say that, though he deeply felt he was a great sinner, compassed with infirmities, and that he had, as he said, often yielded to evil passions, which should have been controlled, he yet did feel that what he had mainly desired and sought had been to do the will of God, and to glorify his name. He was asked whether he had any message to leave for the students. He said that he had nothing in particular to say, except his desire that they should in the first place give themselves to God, and that many of them might turn out able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter which killeth, but of the Spirit which giveth life. After bidding his colleagues farewell, and as they were leaving the room, he said—

“A few short years of evil past,
We reach the happy shore;
When death-divided friends at last
Shall meet to part no more.”

Between two and three hours before his end, his medical attendants returned. He was then, as he had been all along, perfectly composed and collected. He said to Dr. Begbie when he greeted him as he entered the room, “Thank you, my dear friend, for your kind and honourable message sent to me by the hand of God’s servant;” and on Dr. Begbie intimating the pain it gave him, as an old and attached friend, to make such a communication, he very emphatically repeated the same words. He followed this up by the remark as to the state of his mind already reported. At the close of their visit he desired that he might be left alone with his family, and that the house might be “shut up at ten o’clock.” It was then almost ten. Dr. Warburton Begbie, however, obtained leave to remain in another apartment, that if his services should be required, he might be at hand.

In the course of the evening an incident took place which deserves to be recorded. He asked to have the Bible which he was in the habit of using brought to him from his study; and shortly after asked also for the Confession of Faith and the Olney Hymns, and desired
them all to be placed where he could put his hand upon them. He lay thus for some time with his hand resting on the books. Mrs. Cunningham having entered the room, feared he might be about to endeavour to use the books, an effort for which she was sure he was unfit, and said to him that she thought they had better be taken away. With his usual willingness to comply with whatever she desired he at once assented.

During the interval between the interviews above referred to, Dr. Cunningham had much intercourse with his own family individually and together, and said much which it would be, of course, out of place to make public. One or two of his sayings may, however, be reported. He spoke of his mother, how wisely she had brought up her fatherless children, and how remarkably they had been all spared to her to the end of her long life. He was reminded of the honourable position he had himself occupied, which had been a comfort to his mother, and a reward of her solicitude. He replied, “Yes, I can’t deny that; but I had nothing but what I have received; God has no need of any of us; he can easily raise up men to do his work.” At another period he said, “‘My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Greater weakness than mine could not be; but perfect thy strength in my weakness, and save me with an everlasting salvation.” The hymn was repeated, “Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire;” on which he said, “Lord, grant that I may enter the portals with prayer!” The hymn, “Servant of God, well done!” being repeated, he said, “That is one of the finest things I know; you must read that to me once more before I die.” At another time he said, “Hosts of heavenly mansions” (an expression he frequently recurred to)—”that is the terminus ad quem; ay, that is it.”

He said again, “You know it is said, ‘Through much tribulation we enter the kingdom;’ but I think God is going to give me the kingdom without much tribulation. We have had our trials, but we cannot say much tribulation.”

He said, “I have done with all controversies and all fightings now.” He then said twice, raising his hand with much earnestness, “From the rage of theologians, good Lord, deliver us!” It was said to him, “You are at rest now.” He replied, “I am at rest for ever.” He also asked if it was near midnight, believing that all would be over then.

All this time his mind was clear and calm. Every one who entered his room must have been impressed with the command of thought and language which he maintained almost to the end; but still more with the beautiful fitness of every thought and feeling. To the earth and the things of it he gave as much thought as was necessary in order to discharge fully his duty to those whom he was leaving, and especially, in order to benefit and soothe those whom he loved best. For the rest, no descriptions can adequately convey the ready simplicity with which he took his ground as a sinful man, but yet a believing one, going home under a somewhat sudden call.

For about an hour before his death there was the wandering which usually accompanies great weakness. For part of the time his expressions, so far as could be gathered, indicated that his mind was moving among the events of the Reformation. The only persons whom he named were Melancthon and Zwinglius; but nothing was said sufficiently coherent to enable a connected meaning to be gathered from it. His last articulate sentence was, “I am going quietly home.”

The members of our Church, and not of ours alone, have had many an opportunity of witnessing the power of Dr. Cunningham’s mind, his breadth of view, his force of argument, his justness of perception, his extent of knowledge. Along with these, and not less than these,—his greatness of heart, his honesty, transparency of character, kindliness, and unconscious modesty, left their witness on the minds of all who had even the slightest knowledge of him. Nor were any of these features absent in the closing scene. Perhaps every element which combined to constitute the natural power of the man could be illustrated from some circumstance of those closing hours,—for never was he more truly himself. But, after all, the impressive and truly great feature of the scene was, the simplicity with which he took his place at the foot of the cross—thankful to be there; with all his heart rejoicing to be there—responding to those simplest statements of the gospel which are level to the capacity of a child. To those who witnessed it, it was peculiarly elevating, instructive, and encouraging. It is hoped it fill not fail to be so in some degree to those who read this imperfect account of it. “His faith let us follow, remembering the end of his conversation.”

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REV. WILLIAM BRUCE CUNNINGHAM, PRESTONPANS

(Died August 2, 1878)
Author: Rev. James Dodds, Dunbar
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1878, Biographical Notices, p.239


Death has once more deprived the Free Church of an honoured Disruption minister. The Rev. W. Bruce Cunningham, after an illness lasting over several months, died in his manse at Prestonpans on the 2nd of August last. In him the Free Church has lost a man who, both before and after the Disruption of 1843, rendered good service to the cause of Christ in the land. Mr. Cunningham was possessed of strong individuality of character and remarkable intellectual endowments. He was thus, by the influence of divine grace, well fitted to make a decided stand in critical times, and to lift up, in the face of all opposition, a bold testimony to the truth of those great doctrines which led to the formation of the Free Church of Scotland.

Mr. Cunningham was born in 1806, at Musselburgh, where his father, a captain in a militia regiment, was quartered at the time. His mother having died six weeks after his birth, he was removed to the neighbouring town of Prestonpans, where he spent his early infancy. An old woman still living remembers seeing him as a child in the very place where he afterwards laboured forty-five years as a minister of the gospel. He received his early education at North Berwick, where he lived with his maternal grandfather, Dr. Oliver, a medical practitioner in that place. At the age of sixteen he went to the University of Glasgow, where he pursued his studies for four years. He then proceeded to Edinburgh as a student of divinity, and attended the Theological Hall during five successive years. He was the first student enrolled by Dr. Chalmers in the first year of his professorship at Edinburgh; and he immediately attracted the attention of that eminent man, who ever after honoured him with his friendship. When studying theology, he became a member of various academic societies, among others, the Plinian Natural History Society, which no longer exists. At this time he formed the acquaintance of Professor Balfour, Dr. Allen Thomson, and other eminent scientific men who still survive. Thus early he manifested a strong taste for various branches of natural science, which he afterwards cultivated with success, and which ranked among the favourite private studies of his life.

Mr. Cunningham was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Nairn in 1831, and in the spring of 1833 he was presented to the parish of Prestonpans, where he was ordained in the following July. He entered upon the work of a parish minister with great ardour, and soon introduced among his flock new methods of religious instruction. He found much need for improvement in his parish, and as an earnest evangelical minister he laboured to promote the spiritual benefit of old and young. From the first he belonged to the reforming party of the Church of Scotland, and took his place beside Chalmers, Cunningham, Candlish, Dunlop, and other eminent leaders who directed the Non-Intrusion movement, and were afterwards ornaments and guides of the Free Church. With Principal Cunningham, in particular, he was very intimate; and the warm friendship between the two men was only terminated by the death of the great Free Church leader. As the controversy which ended in the Disruption grew warmer and wider, Mr. Cunningham joined many of his brethren in traversing various parts of the country to enlighten the people in regard to the rights and privileges of the Church, then endangered by the decisions of the civil courts.

When the Disruption occurred, Mr. Cunningham took his place among the foremost of his brethren who helped to form and mould the Free Church. A new church was speedily built for the congregation that adhered to him, and he was among the first of his brethren in the Free Presbytery of Haddington to inhabit a Free Church manse, built for him mainly, if not entirely, by the liberality of one of his elders, an excellent man who rendered great service to the cause of the Free Church in the district. Soon after the Disruption, the congregation of Prestonpans, at Mr. Cunningham’s request, was joined to the Presbytery of Dalkeith; but at a subsequent period it was found desirable to have it reunited to the Presbytery of Haddington and Dunbar.

As a Free Church minister, Mr. Cunningham felt a lively interest in the government of the Church and the direction of its policy. Along with his relative, the late Professor Bannerman, he took a rather prominent part in the college controversy; and he published a pamphlet on the subject. One winter he delivered, at the request of the College Committee, a course of lectures on natural science, in the New College, Edinburgh. The lectures were excellent in substance, and full of a fine enthusiastic spirit; but the style of the lecturer, according to some, was too much coloured by a peculiarly rich and somewhat sombre imagination. Mr. Cunningham was well versed in literature, as well as in various branches of science. He was one of the first projectors of the Presbyterian Review, a periodical that for a considerable time rendered good service to the cause of true religion in Scotland. He also contributed to the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, when it was under the editorial management of Principal Cunningham. His friends often thought that he might have signalized himself more in the field of religious and scientific literature; but the very multifariousness of his studies and variety of his acquirements seemed to prevent him from concentrating his powers on one elaborate work. He was one of those men who fail to fulfil the expectations of their friends, and never do full justice to their undoubted powers.

The leading writers of the present century, especially such men as Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Carlyle, Mr. Cunningham highly appreciated, though he was by no means blind to their faults and deficiencies. He became also, in the course of his life, well acquainted with the late Archdeacon Hare, the Rev. F.D. Maurice, and various members of the families of these distinguished men. But while able to appreciate the fine qualities that adorned these leaders of a well-known school in the Church of England, he never wavered in his attachment to evangelical doctrine, and all the peculiarities of Scottish orthodoxy. As a preacher, he was peculiarly solemn and impressive. Reverence and spirituality chiefly marked his style and manner in the pulpit. At times his discourses abounded in richness of doctrinal statement, and few could speak with such deep veneration of the person and character of the Saviour. His style of preaching was by no means monotonous, but was varied according to the nature of the subject and the mood in which he had made his preparations. Many profited greatly by his ministry, and had reason to cherish towards him the deepest gratitude. In visiting the sick and the afflicted he displayed great diligence and faithfulness. His knowledge of the gospel and of the human heart enabled him to minister exhortation, reproof, and comfort with singular success. In private life he was one of the most engaging and attractive of men. His conversation displayed the rare variety of his intellectual powers, and was flavoured with a vein of quaint and original humour. All who knew him felt that his was an unique character, and they now feel that there is none like him among their surviving friends.

Mr. Cunningham was married in 1834 to Miss Douglas, eldest daughter of David Douglas, Esq., who was one of the judges of the Court of Session, under the title of Lord Reston. Mr. Douglas was first cousin, once removed, of Adam Smith, the great political economist, and inherited his splendid library, which came to be divided between his two daughters, Mrs. Cunningham, and Mrs. Bannerman, widow of the late Professor Bannerman. Mr. Cunningham has left, with his widow, three sons and two daughters. All his sons have successfully studied medicine. His eldest, Dr. R.O. Cunningham, is a distinguished naturalist, and is Professor of Natural History in Queen’s College, Belfast; his second, David, holds a high position in the medical department of the Indian army; while the youngest, James, has just entered on the duties of a medical practitioner in this country.

Any sketch of this remarkable man would be imperfect were no allusion made in it to the sanctities of his domestic life. As a husband and a father he was singularly loving and beloved. With a partner in every way worthy of him, and with children like their parents in character and spirit, he lived in the exercise of as much pure affection, and in the enjoyment of as much tranquil happiness, as can well fall to the lot of that happiest and most useful of men, a true minister of the gospel.

The great-great-grandfather of Mr. Cunningham, Mr. Robert Horsburgh, was minister of Prestonpans at the beginning of last century, and died in 1724. On the 6th of August, the remains of the subject of this sketch were reverently laid in his ancestor’s grave.

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REV. ALEXANDER CUSIN, M.A., LADY GLENORCHY’S, EDINBURGH

(Died March 21, 1890)
Author: Professor James S. Candlish, D.D., Glasgow
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September, 1890, Obituary, p.278


The name of Alexander Cusin will ever remain as a sweet and precious memory in the hearts of many friends who are, in various fields, fellow-workers for the kingdom of God, as well as of an attached and grateful congregation; and though it was the Master’s will that for many years delicate health should greatly limit his activity, and that he should be called hence, as it seems to us, prematurely, amid opening prospects of higher and wider usefulness, none who knew him will doubt that a tribute of admiration and gratitude is due to what far exceeded the amount of service he was permitted to render to Christ and his Church—the pure and lovable character of the man, his intellectual gifts and accomplishments, and the devotion with which these were consecrated to the service of the Saviour. In attempting to offer such a tribute to his memory, I gratefully avail myself of the help of a memorial sketch by Sir Thomas Clark on the cover of the Free Church Monthly for Lady Glenorchy’s Free Church for April, in which his early life is thus described: —
”Mr. Cusin was born in 1835 in Pathhead, Kirkcaldy, and was educated at Kirkcaldy Burgh School under its eminent headmaster, Dr. Lockhart, who looked upon him as one of his most distinguished scholars, and ever afterwards took a deep interest in his career. At an early age he became a decided Christian, under the ministry of Mr. Jamieson of the Free Church, and the happy influence of his own excellent parents. He afterwards entered the University of Edinburgh, and soon took a distinguished place, gaining during his course the gold medal in the Humanity class, and many other distinctions. He was also a prominent member of the Dialectic Society of the University. He was recognized by his fellow-students as a man of the highest promise sure to succeed in any department he might enter. But his heart was in the ministry, and his desire was to work for Christ. He accordingly entered the Divinity Hall of the Free Church, and pursue his theological studies under Principal Cunningham and Professors Buchanan, Bannerman, Duncan, and Smeaton.”

Here he gained the high opinion of his professors and endeared himself to his fellow-students by his genial, true, and frank nature, as well as by his ability and culture. Among his class-fellows, along with myself, were Mr. Wells of Glasgow, Robert A. Mitchell of Aberdeen, and George Morice of Napier, New Zealand, whose untimely death was sadly mourned by him and all his friends; and, among others in the classes before and after, William Miller of Madras, John. M. Sloan, David Somerville, and Andrew Melville, were very closely associated in friendly and studious fellowship. In that loving circle of variously gifted young men, Mr. Cusin was distinguished by a certain refinement and delicacy of thought and feeling, joined with decision and firmness in his opinions. The genuineness and reality of his religious sentiments also impressed us all; and while engaging in frank and eager discussion of the problems of theology, his conviction of the essential truths of the gospel and the doctrines of grace was seen to be not only intelligent, but grounded on personal religious experience. After two sessions at the New College, he went to Germany, and spent a year and a half at the Universities of Bonn and Berlin, where he acquired a thorough acquaintance with the German language and theology, and also an appreciation of the religious life of that land and its rich store of hymns, in which he took great delight. He returned to complete his theological course in Edinburgh, with his mind enriched and views enlarged, but with his faith unshaken and more firmly established than ever. He had been inclined to think that the clear-cut theological systems of the seventeenth century took too little account of the mystery of divine things which we can only see through a glass darkly; but the discussion of these themes in the freest possible way led him to hold the more firmly, through all mystery, the substance of the old Reformation doctrines.

After being licensed, he was appointed in 1862 assistant to the Rev. Dr. Thompson of the English Presbyterian Church, Woolwich, and afterwards called and ordained as his colleague. Here his ministrations were much appreciated, not only by the senior pastor and the ordinary congregation, but by many officers and soldiers of the Scottish regiments who worshipped there. In 1865 he received and accepted a unanimous call to be colleague to Dr. Davidson of Lady Glenorchy’s Free Church, Edinburgh.

In this position for twenty-five years he faithfully discharged the duties of the ministry, and endeared himself more and more to the congregation by his fresh, thoughtful, and earnest presentation of gospel truth, and by affectionateness and sympathy in private and pastoral intercourse. In token of their appreciation of his ministry his congregation presented him with a testimonial, on the completion of twenty-five years of his labour among them, on New-year’s day last, little imagining that the pastorate was so near its final close. At that time, indeed, his friends’ anticipations of his being spared for prolonged and more extensive usefulness were stronger than they had been for many years before. For Mr. Cusin had been tried sorely by a long period of delicate health, which sadly hampered his active spirit, and prevented the exercise of his sanctified powers and scholarship in fields of wider service in the cause of Christ. This ill health necessitated repeated residences abroad, and often kept him from going about among his people so much as he would wish; yet it was never suffered to sour his genial spirit, but was borne with patient submission and cheerfulness. Though unable at that time to take much part in the general business of the Church or her courts, he took a lively and intelligent concern in all her work and discussions, and he was specially interested in the Continental Churches, and well acquainted with their condition and needs. To his accurate and elegant pen we owe excellent translations of many valuable French and German works, particularly by Godet and Delitzsch, with whose spirit and views in regard to present-day questions of Biblical criticism he had probably most sympathy.

Latterly Mr. Cusin’s friends were glad and thankful to know that his health was so far recovered as to enable him to employ his eminent gifts more actively and on a wider field than his own congregation; and the esteem and confidence which he had gained from the Church in general was shown by his being appointed, in succession to Dr. Goold, Convener of the College Committee, an office for which his gifts and character specially fitted him, and in which he gave particular attention to means for promoting the practical training of students.

He was also himself sympathetic and active in the home evangelistic work of the Church; and when the college session of 1889-90 began, he was engaged as a deputy from the Assembly in visiting the congregations on the south side of Glasgow in connection with the Committee on Religion and Morals. From the midst of that work he came to the college to be present at the delivery of the opening lecture by Dr. Bruce; and it is a sad and solemn coincidence that on the very day when that session was closed his remains were consigned to the grave. At that time no one had any foreboding that the end was so near; but his friends and the Church rejoiced when his appointment, in March 1890, to the Cunningham Lectureship seemed to afford a most appropriate opportunity for him to use his rare gifts in the defence and exposition of the gospel of Christ. He gladly accepted the appointment, as giving him a congenial work, and had selected as his subject one of vital present importance, for which he was specially adapted, “The identity of the Synoptic, Johannine, and Pauline Christ.”

His last sermon, preached on the 16th of February, from 2 Tim. 1:10, as suggested by the death of an elder in the congregation, set forth that Saviour as the victor over sin and death, and expressed the believer’s triumphant hope of eternal life. Not long after that he had a slight attack of influenza, which was followed by pleurisy; and though he recovered in some degree from this, and was able to go to Bridge of Allan, he had a relapse there which ended in congestion of the lungs. He sank so rapidly that by the time danger was apprehended he had become unconscious, and continued so till the end. In the wandering of his mind his thoughts were ever busy with some part or other of the Christian work he loved so much, until he entered into rest on the 21st of March.

To his mourning friends it may seem as if he had been taken away prematurely, at a time when such gifts as his are much needed by the Church and cause of Christ. But he has not lived in vain; his faithful work will bear fruit, and his memory will be a stimulus and encouragement to many. Our Lord often seems to be prodigal of his servants’ powers, giving many not to be used to the utmost here. Instead of giving way to discouraging regret, let us rather adore and trust his infinite resources, knowing that he has an eternity of blessedness and service in store for his servants.

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