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REV. JAMES DALGARNO, PETER-CULTER

(Died October 28, 1888)
Author: Rev. William Selbie, Maryculter
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February, 1889, Obituary, p.56


Mr. Dalgarno was born in the parish of Logie-Buchan on the 14th February 1816, and was ordained to the ministry at Peterculter on the 19th March 1846.

He was educated in Aberdeen. He attended the Grammar School under Dr. Melvin, and studied for four years at Marischal College and University. He held a good place in his classes throughout, and took the degree of A.M. in 1841. Among his class-fellows were the Rev. Dr. Walter C. Smith, Edinburgh, Dr. Hunter, formerly of Nagpoor, and James Sutherland, Free Church, Turriff. He had attended the Divinity Hall of the Established Church at Aberdeen two sessions when the Disruption took place. The time was a testing one, and not a little trying for students of divinity as well as for ministers. Mr. Sutherland, his old class-fellow, says, “However some divinity students might waver for a season, there was no doubt about Mr. Dalgarno—he at once joined the Free Church.” He continued his divinity studies for other two years under the late Rev. Drs. Bryce and Davidson of Aberdeen, who had been appointed to act for a time as professors. He was licensed as a preacher of the gospel by the Free Church Presbytery of Garioch in 1845.

At the Disruption, the Rev. Robert Thomson, minister of Peterculter, came out accompanied by a large majority of the congregation, and a church was speedily built for about a thousand people. He died in 1845, leaving a flourishing congregation, and one much larger than most country congregations of the Free Church. Mr. Dalgarno was soon after ordained as minister of this congregation, the Rev. James Stewart, his former minister, conducting the services. Here he laboured most devotedly for upwards of forty years, and in the course of that time declined two proffered calls.

Mr. Dalgarno was of a retiring disposition, he never took an active part in the business of the Church courts; but he was exemplary in his attendance, and always ready to vote in support of what he deemed right and expedient, and was held in high esteem by his brethren. He was careful in his preparations for the pulpit, and his services were always solemn and impressive. His preaching was unmistakably evangelical. He seldom or never preached a sermon of which it could be said, as a worthy elder said of an elaborate discourse on “Christianity as an Education,” in which the atonement of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit were ignored, “It wanted the mainspring.” It was, however, by his pastoral visits among old and young, in health and in sickness, that his ministry was most particularly distinguished, and we may add by cottage or kitchen meetings. To use the words of his young successor, “So far as I can learn, greatness of Mr. Dalgarno—and he was great there —lay in his earnest pastoral work.”

When he was ordained at Peterculter, there was no other Free Church charge along the north side of the Dee between Aberdeen and Banchory-Ternan for some eighteen miles. His large congregation was thus drawn from a wide area, and much labour was required to overtake the pastoral work of such an extended charge. He visited regularly, and held meetings frequently in the outlying parts of the district. These services were much appreciated and, there is reason to believe, blessed to many. But the church at Peterculter could not satisfy requirements of so large and populous a district, ultimately there were formed, one after another three additional congregations. It can hardly be doubted that sometimes he felt a little discouraged at the effect on the attendance at his church; but he continued to labour as before, and devoted all the greater attention to his more limited charge. He rendered service also as a member for some time both of the parochial board and of the school board and was for a period the chairman of the latter. He was favoured with one or two seasons of marked blessing in the course of his ministry.

At length failing health constrained him to ask for help, and the General Assembly of 1886 sanctioned arrangements for his obtaining a colleague. On the 30th November of that year the Rev. Alexander McMillan was ordained and inducted to the charge. Mr. Dalgarno retired, and took pu] residence in Aberdeen. His people had oftener than once presented him with testimonials of their appreciation of his services and of their desire to aid him in the work; and at his retirement both he and his wife were presented with a testimonial expressive of appreciation of past services and of a desire for their comfort during the remainder of their time which, alas! was but short.

On 14th December 1887, Mr. Dalgarno met a sore bereavement by the death of his wife, daughter of the late Mr. Young, Mount Pleasant, near Peterhead, who had been an help-meet for him for upwards of thirty-one years. He was consciously sustained and enabled to submit with mature Christian resignation.

During his retirement in Aberdeen he was always at the work. He preached not unfrequently in prayer meeting, found out infirm and aged, whom he regularly visited, ug turn patients in the Hospital for incurables.

In September he went on a visit to an old friend, the Rev. Alexander J. Pirie, United Presbyterian minister in Rousay, Orkney, whose father had been a member of his congregation. He remained thereabout six weeks and preached several times, and gave a table address at the communion. He returned early in the morning of Thursday, 25th October, much fatigued. The next two days he was not well, but no alarming symptom appeared till Saturday evening. On Sabbath morning he fell into a state of unconsciousness, and gently passed away in the evening. He had been suffering under an internal ailment for some years, but he could never be persuaded to spare himself. And one of the things most worthy of notice regarding him was the way in which he laboured to the last, up to and often beyond his strength; and all this evidently from love to the Master and his work and to souls.

His old fellow-student before named says, “His great characteristic both in college days and in after-life was his conscientious devotedness to his Master’s work.” Surely such a life was worth living. He now rests from his labours, and his works do follow him.

Mr. Dalgarno had all his family spared to him— three sons and a daughter, who is married. His eldest son is a solicitor in Arbroath, the other two are in medical practice—the one in Aberdeen and the other in Stranraer.

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REV. ALEXANDER DAVIDSON, HARRIS

(Died July 15, 1892)
Author: Rev. John McLean, Tarbert
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1892, Obituary, p.302


Mr. Davidson was born in Moy, Inverness-shire, in the year 1812. His father, William Davidson, was tenant of a farm in that parish. He had the great privilege of being reared in a Christian family, and in his early years sat under the ministry of Rev. James McLauchlan, minister of Moy. Though he could not remember a time that he was without religious impressions, and that he did not bend the knee in prayer, it was in the year 1826, when about fourteen years of age, that he believed he became the subject of a saving change. He was at a meeting conducted by James McKenzie, the catechist of his native district, and when listening to that worthy man’s exposition of the character of Gideon in the sixth chapter of Judges he was awakened to a sense of his lost state. He saw the depravity of his heart and his exceeding sinfulness before God. He then betook him to the earnest reading of the Scriptures, and of the writings of religious authors such as Bunyan; and when so exercised, light broke in upon him, and he had a clear view of the way of salvation—how God is just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. He has left on record that the portion of truth in 2 Cor. 5:18-21 was made specially helpful to him.

For his early education he attended the parish school of Moy. From there he went to the Inverness Academy; and in 1836 he entered King’s College, Aberdeen. After the usual curriculum of four years, he took his degree of Master of Arts. He was a diligent and successful student, and gained a competition bursary as well as several prizes; and so exemplary was he in his attendance that he only missed one hour during his whole college course. He entered the Divinity Hall in 1841. Then came the Disruption with all its changes and stirring events. Mr. Davidson cast in his lot with those who “came out,” and for two sessions attended the New College, Edinburgh, and had the privilege of studying under Drs. Chalmers, Welsh, Duncan, Cunningham, and Buchanan.

After finishing his theological course, he was licensed by the Presbytery of Dalkeith in October 1846. His first work as probationer was among the railway labourers at Bonnyrigg, near Dalkeith. Afterwards he laboured among his countrymen in various parts of the Highlands, and in 1848 he was sent by the Highland Committee to Harris. With the exception of one year, the remainder of his life was devoted to that extensive and difficult field of labour. Harris was sanctioned as a ministerial charge in 1849, and in 1852 Mr. Davidson was unanimously called as the first pastor of the congregation. For ten years he laboured alone in this charge, going from township to township preaching the gospel of the grace of God, and extending his visits to the neighbouring islands of Scalpay, Scarp, and Toronsay, with an occasional visit to remote St. Kilda. It was a wonder to many how any human frame could stand the strain of fatigue and exposure that Mr. Davidson had to endure. From want of roads he had to perform his journeys on foot, and it was no uncommon thing with him on a Sabbath day to walk twelve miles or more through bogs and streams, then, having wrung his stockings and put them on again, to preach to the people, and afterwards to walk back to his home. Yet during his forty-two years of constant labour he was never known to have missed an appointment; nor had he a day’s illness until a few days before his death. He was relieved of a considerable part of his burden when in 1862 the late venerable Dr. Mackintosh McKay was settled at Tarbert in North Harris.

Though he seldom left his island home, and did not take any prominent part in church courts, he took a lively and intelligent interest in all public matters, and was always found on the liberal side in questions political and ecclesiastical. As a pastor he did not spare himself. He was a friend to his people, and showed his sympathy in many ways; and even little children were attracted by his kindly ways with them.

At his communion on the last Sabbath of June he appeared in his usual health and vigour. But a few days after he became suddenly ill. He rallied for a day or two, and was able to perform the service on the occasion of his daughter’s marriage to the Rev. Mr. McKay, Tiree. This was his last public duty, and he departed peacefully on the 15th of July, in the eightieth year of his age.

Mr. Davidson had a family of fourteen children, and his widow, with eleven of their children, survives him.

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REV. A.D. DAVIDSON, D.D., ABERDEEN

(Died April 27, 1872)
Author: W. G. Blaikie, D.D., LL.D.
The Free Church Monthly Record, June 1, 1872, p.125


Dr. Alexander Dyce Davidson was born at Aberdeen on the 8th May 1807, and resided during his whole life within half a mile of the same spot. The circumstances of his family required him to begin the struggles of life at an unusually early period; and while a mere boy of not more, we think, than sixteen or seventeen, he was supporting himself by teaching, very poorly remunerated, and at the same time prosecuting his college studies. An enthusiastic and most successful student, he worked far too hard, enfeebling, it is to be feared, his constitution, which very nearly broke down soon after his entrance on the ministry, and probably never altogether threw off the effects of the intensity of his application. The remarkable amiableness of his character, the excellence of his scholarship, his real delight in tuition, and his great pleasure in dealing with the young, combined to make him one of the most successful of tutors. All through life, he cultivated his scholarly tastes, and no man was more in his element in any work in which scholarship was required. His Bible-classes were found by all who attended them to be singularly profitable, both for the amount and quality of the instruction communicated aud the degree of interest which he succeeded in inspiring.

Mr. Davidson, while a student, attended the ministry of the late Rev. William Leith, of the South Church, a young minister of very pure, lofty, and devoted character, who, like McCheyne of Dundee, was called away soon after commencing his singularly earnest and rousing ministry. The congregation, which had just entered their handsome new church in Belmont Street, was one of the largest in Aberdeen; and from the high character of its previous occupants the pulpit was not easy to fill. Mr. Davidson had been appointed by the session to preach during the vacancy, and such was the appreciation of his services, that, though quite inexperienced and only in his 25th year, he received a unanimous call from the congregation. He continued to fill that charge with the greatest acceptance till 1836, when, on the resignation of the late Professor Glennie, minister of the West Parish, the Town Council, at the instance of the late Provost James Blaikie, issued a presentation to him as his successor. From the very opposite cause, this pulpit, too, presented great difficulties. It had been a stronghold of Aberdonian Moderatism, and the congregation, mostly of the upper class, were generally impregnated with an anti-evangelical spirit. By his amiableness, his attractive manner, and most admirable preaching, Mr. Davidson, without compromising his message, succeeded wonderfully in overcoming the difficulties of his position. To many hearers, he was the savour of life unto life; and when the Disruption took place in 1843, a large and influential portion of his congregation followed him; and those who remained behind could not but feel that the want of his preaching left a blank which was not to be filled up.

From 1843, Mr. Davidson was minister of the Free West congregation, first in the church which forms one of the group of three at the end of Belmont Street, and latterly in the elegant building recently erected in Union Street. But it was not for want of offers that he continued so long in the same charge. The congregation of Free St. George’s, Edinburgh, made overtures to him in 1848, when Dr. Candlish was appointed to the chair which he afterwards resigned. The Church would have been delighted to have him as a professor in the Free Church College, Aberdeen, the duties of which, indeed, he performed one winter in a very admirable manner. All overtures of this kind, however, he peremptorily refused.

His great sphere was the pulpit. There, in the North of Scotland, he reigned as a sort of king. His preaching was enjoyed by a wonderful variety of persons. Judges and lawyers on the circuit rejoiced in the opportunity of hearing him for a single day. Many students attended his ministry. His services were eagerly sought on every hand, and his sermons were treasured wherever they were preached. Besides doing good to individuals, he contributed more probably, than any other preacher in securing for evangelical doctrine that predominance in the northern pulpit which was so stoutly refused to it in many quarters in his younger days.

The superiority of his preaching did not arise from the lustre of any single quality so much as from the happy combination of many. For substance, it always kept close to the great central truths of divine revelation. It was always Biblical and practical, plain and pointed. He had not an original mind, did not originate thought, but had a singular power of exposition. The fervour and free outflow of his feelings were remarkable. This was not checked by his habit of reading his discourses, for he always threw his soul into them, and as he went on the glow of feeling deepened. There was a steady cumulative power about his preaching—the momentum was always growing. It was always plain what he would be at, and he went to his point with a firm, steady movement, carrying his audience with him. The uniform quality of his preaching was another excellence. On sacramental occasions he usually rose above his ordinary level, but the ordinary level was itself very high. Few men could have borne the mental strain that could, week after week for forty years, produce sermons of such solid excellence, and with an acceptance undiminished to the end. It is in the same degree that we must measure the responsibilitv of those who, week after week, were privileged to listen to them.

It is not easy for any public man to spend his whole in his native town without having his growth somewhat affected by the circumstance. Dr. Davidson was not a progressive man. There were other things that may have disposed him to those habits of retirement which latterly seemed to reach a morbid pitch. In early years his heart and his home were desolated by the death, first of his wife, and then of his only child; and though the radiance of his nature would not have suggested to a stranger any sense of loneliness, those who knew him intimately could readily see that his heart never recovered its withered bloom.

For many years Dr. Davidson had been subject to attacks of asthma, which often prostrated him greatly. The attack which has now cut him off commenced several weeks ago, gradually assuming a more and more aggravated form. During the last fortnight all hope of recovery may be said to have been given up. He bore his sufferings with great patience, and exemplified on his death-bed that peace which he had so often dwelt upon as the appropriate spirit of the dying Christian.

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REV. JOSEPH DAVIDSON, ROTHESAY

(Died September 20, 1877)
Author: Rev. Patrick W. Robertson, Edinburgh
The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1877, p.300


On the quay at Rothesay, on the morning of the 21st September, almost under the shadow of the home where we two “had taken sweet counsel together,” did I get the first intimation of the death at Edinburgh of my much loved friend and brother, Joseph Davidson. Though not surprised, being well aware what ravages fell disease had wrought on that manly, stalwart frame, I felt stunned and deeply solemnized. Born in 1824, at Collace, the parish favoured of God during the earnest ministry of Dr. Andrew Bonar, Mr. Davidson, although younger as a minister, was my senior only by four years; and who among us all could glory in his strength if not Joseph Davidson, with his keen, dark eye, quick with intelligent apprehension, his ruddy complexion, his vigorous physique, and his almost boyish heartiness and elasticity. “Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”

My acquaintance with him began at Hawick, exactly twenty years ago. We were both young ministers, sent by the Free Church Home Mission Committee to preach on the streets of Hawick. I hailed from Auchterarder, he from Saltcoats. We spent a happy, busy fortnight together, visiting the homes of those supposed to be careless, during the day, and preaching alternately every night. Street-preaching was not so common then, but Mr. Davidson’s musical voice, as we began our psalm of praise, acted as a capital call-bell, and every night we had an increasing audience and a heartier welcome. Our fortnight’s evangelistic mission ended with a scene on the Sabbath evening in the Tower-Knowe, which my friend and I often recalled with some exultation after we became co-presbyters. How the people of Hawick crowded the square, our usual place of meeting, to hear music from a regimental band on the evening of the Lord’s-day; how we stood our ground, beginning our service at the precise hour; how the devil outwitted himself; how the commanding officer stopped the music and listened to the service from the hotel window, as well as a large proportion of those in the streets who had come to hear the music — details of this I cannot give to the Record, but I bear this testimony that he was a brave, kindly fellow who stood by me in the crowd, “It is your turn to preach, Robertson; you will need all your wits about you; I’ll raise the tune;” and no sooner had I read the words of the paraphrase, “In streets and openings of the gates,” &c., than his fine ringing tones were heard above all the noise and confusion, and a solid mass of the well-disposed made a circle round us with the determination to uphold street-preaching versus street-playing on the Lord’s-day. “The barbarous people showed us no little kindness,” said my friend, in his own happy fashion; and this fortnight at Hawick proved, in God’s providence, the precursor of many years of intimate fellowship in evangelistic work, particularly in Ayrshire.

Mr. Davidson had been ordained at Saltcoats in 1855, and from the first he gave his whole attention to his ministerial work. He made careful preparation for the pulpit, his sermons being always distinguished by freshness of thought, force of diction, and evangelistic fervour. Both in public and in private I felt his influence to be edifying and stimulating. In my opinion, his evangelistic addresses were quite unique, Some ministers of what is called the evangelistic type, while particularly apt in addressing the careless, and stirring up inquirers after salvation, too often become very hazy and unsatisfactory when they come to explain to the awakened the instrumental means of salvation, — faith in Jesus Christ. Mr. Davidson often expressed his sense of the vital importance of faithful, judicious dealing with the anxious at this critical point, neither, on the one hand, to heal slightly the hurt conscience, nor, on the other, to distress those honest, true hearts whom the Lord would have bound up and comforted. If my departed friend was singularly felicitous and singularly blessed in addressing anxious souls, I believe it was because he refrained from much of mere human experiences, and kept strictly to the exposition and application of the Word of God. He himself was converted in a time of revival at Collace about his sixteenth or seventeenth year; and whenever the Lord’s work appeared in Ulster in 1859, Mr. Davidson crossed the channel to see and judge of the movement for himself. His own spirit received a baptism of fire; and in the end of the summer, Ardrossan and Saltcoats, and after them most churches in Ayrshire, were stirred from indifference, and hundreds of all ages and of every rank were anxiously inquiring after the way of salvation. It was a most wonderful and blessed Revival. How sweet its memory still! But though in all our congregations many were awakened and gathered in to the Church of Christ, there is no doubt that Saltcoats or Ardrossan was the focus of the movement. Mr. Davidson laboured incessantly in his own district and throughout the Presbytery, that the heavenly visitation might be adequately improved. I was intimately associated with him at this time; and I recall with admiration the combination of devout dependence on God’s Spirit, the indefatigable activity he showed in using all means of grace, the fervour and solemnity of his own soul, and the tact, judgment, and common sense which repressed mere animal excitement. His Bible-classes, open-air meetings, &c., were multiplied as God enabled him to supply them; and I believe that during all the rest of his ministry in Saltcoats he was privileged to reap the fruits of that blessed, solemn time.
When the Free Parish Church of Rothesay became vacant by the translation of Mr. Balfour to Edinburgh, the choice of the people fell on Mr. Davidson, and he was inducted to the charge on the 20th March 1867. Though he had no hesitation in accepting the call to Rothesay, his associations with Saltcoats had been too tender and too hallowed to be broken without a pang; and when he stood up in the church at Stevenston, where the Presbytery met, to declare his acceptance of the call, I remember his voice trembled with emotion, and the tears were on his cheeks. At Rothesay his ministry was most acceptable, not only to his own flock, but also to the many strangers who resort to the Scottish Brighton for the sake of health. I thoroughly agree with Mr. Ross of Rothesay in an appreciative tribute to his memory written for the local paper: “As an expositor of Scripture, Mr. Davidson was in some respects unrivalled, while his sermons were characterized by earnestness and unction and full statement of gospel truth.” His style was vigorous and telling; his words came from the heart and went to the heart. The godly, serious people liked to hear him, and so did the thoughtless; for there was a tenderness and courtesy mingled with his faithfulness, while his commanding presence and fine voice won the attention of all. As he was one of the most lovable and affectionate of men, so I considered him among the ablest ministers and the most effective preachers of my own standing in the Free Church. It was not only as a preacher that Mr. Davidson excelled – he took a deep interest in all that could elevate and ennoble character. The education of the young was his special care; and having a great love for them, he was always successful in gaining their ears and their affections. As a member of the School Board at Rothesay he did effective service for education there.

It was in the spring of 1875 that he left home for rest, hoping thereby to relieve the pressure on the brain which was beginning to show itself. Alas! little did he foresee that never again was he to be privileged to break the bread of life to his people. Seeking health at home and abroad was the burden of the two following years, and seeking it in vain. From the nature of his disease he was more and more unfit, as the days went on, for any mental or spiritual exercise; and except his pathetic patience and contentment, nothing can be noted of these last trying months. At Cannes he received the news of the tragedy on the railway at Shipton, which caused the death of his old pupil and stanch friend, T. Mure Macredie, of Perceton. This great sorrow affected him beyond the power of his weakened frame to bear, and gradually he became more and more prostrate, till he passed quietly away in apparent peace. No deathbed testimony was needed from Joseph Davidson. His life and his ministry testified for Christ. The Lord raise up many more of a like spirit, — scholarly, cultured, fervid ministers, sound in the faith and apt to teach. Let me crave the sympathy and prayers of the Church for Mr. Davidson’s affectionate, devoted widow, — herself very nearly related to eminent ministers, — now left desolate indeed by the loss of a husband beloved everywhere, but nowhere so lovable as at home.

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REV. PETER DAVIDSON, KILBRIDE

(Died April 14,1875)
The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1875, p.228


At Clachan, the 30th April 1875, the Presbytery of Kintyre being met and constituted, inter alia,

“The Presbytery desire to record their deep sense of the loss sustained by the cause of truth and holiness within their bounds in the death of the Rev. Peter Davidson of Kilbride.

“Mr. Davidson was a member of the Presbytery for thirty-two years, and during all that time laboured faithfully in the vineyard, preaching Christ as the only Saviour, and unsparingly denouncing sin in every form and error in every phase.

“He was a man deeply imbued with a sense of the awful sovereignty of God, both in saving sinners and in passing by whomsoever he will; but he was also a most earnest and impressive preacher of a free salvation to every sinner who came within the sound of his voice, often, even after he had exceeded the age of eighty years, with tears streaming down his furrowed cheeks, pleading with them to close with Christ with an urgency that seemed as if it would take no denial. His end was peace. To a member of his family he expressed, a few days before his death, his earnest wish to have one other opportunity of telling his people of the love of Christ.

“The Presbytery, while mourning their loss, would, at the same time, express their thankfulness to God for sparing him among them, as a witness for the truth, to the advanced age of eighty-seven.

“They, moreover, desire to express their sympathy with his family in their bereavement, and to cast them upon the care of Him who is ‘a Father to the fatherless.’

“Extracted from the Records of Presbytery by

“Duncan McNicol, Presb. Clerk”

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REV. THOMAS DAVIDSON, KILMALIE

(Died December 13, 1871)
Author: Rev. Charles Stewart of Fort-William
The Free Church Monthly Record, March 1, 1872, p.57


Another of our faithful Pre-Disruption ministers has passed away, at the ripe age of seventy-eight. He was descended of eminently godly parents in the parish of Daviot near Inverness, and after receiving the elements of a classical education at the Royal Academy of Inverness, he entered King’s College, Aberdeen, where, having finished his curriculum, he took his degree of M.A. During his attendance at the Divinity Hall at Glasgow, he acted as teacher of the parish school of Dores; but having been licensed by the Presbytery of Inverness, he officiated as missionary at Tarbert, Argyle-shire, for some years. Thereafter he was presented, by D. Cameron, Esq. of Lochiel, to the parish of Kilmalie, as successor to his relative and father-in-law, the late Rev. Donald McGillivray, who gave it as his decided opinion “that he was a man who feared God from his youth.”

From an unbroken friendship of thirty-one years, I feel myself in a good measure qualified to sketch the leading points of his character and ministry.

1. He was sound in the faith. Many in these days wander from the cardinal truths of our holy religion, but Thomas Davidson adhered to them most firmly all his days. He firmly believed three foundation truths: Ruin by the Fall, Redemption by Jesus Christ, and Regeneration by the Holy Spirit. These doctrines he found clearly recorded in his Bible, and he studied them with care and closeness, as the unmistakable marks of his constant use of his pocket-Bible clearly show; and being firmly persuaded of them, he held them forth in his preaching from Sabbath to Sabbath. But the theme above all others on which he delighted to expatiate was the love of God in redemption. His church often resounded with his full and melodious voice, while he enlarged on this interesting theme.

2. He was firm in his adherence to what he considered duty. In illustration of this trait of his character, I shall only refer to the sufferings which he underwent at and about the time of the Disruption. Both he and his partner in life were delicate in health, and their only son quite a child; yet at the call of God and conscience he resigned one of the best livings in the Highlands, and cast himself upon the providence of God. He and his people worshipped first in the churchyard, thinking that they might worship on the graves of their forefathers. When driven from that place, they worshipped on the sea-shore and within high-water mark, until kind friends sent them a canvas tent, which sheltered them until it was torn to shreds by the inclemency of the weather; when they put up a plain wooden tent, under which they remained till a site was obtained for a church, and a shell of a church was put up. And in lieu of the manse he had left, he wandered about from place to place, both within and without the parish, before he got a house which he could call his own. These were sacrifices—sacrifices that hastened the death of his partner in life, and brought upon himself a severe illness, from which he never thoroughly recovered. And yet I, who knew him most intimately in the midst of these trying scenes, solemnly declare that I never heard him regret the sacrifices he had made. He made them at the call of God and conscience, and he did not repent.

3. He was strongly attached to his congregation. In proof of this I shall, instead of many, state two things: — First, that he left behind him excellent ecclesiastical buildings. These were mainly erected by means of the long and laborious exertions which he made personally, and by correspondence with kind and liberal friends of the Free Church, who deeply sympathized with him and his people in their distress. Second, that his labours iu his extensive parish were great, until the infirmities of age obliged him to desist from now visiting, now catechising, now preaching in one district or another. And besides his own labours, he readily availed himself of the services of others to proclaim the great salvation. In connection with this, let me mention the very deep interest he felt in the revival which took place in the midst of us some years ago. Either in his own church or at Fort-William, night after night for several weeks, he was present to take part in the services; and oh, with what joy did his countenance beam when he saw or heard that any had been awakened to a sense of their danger, and persuaded to flee to Jesus.

4. He was liberal of his means, and very gentle in his address. Of his liberality, his people had many and substantial proofs; and there were few appeals from any quarter of the world to which he did not respond. As for his gentleness, I may well say that “on his tongue was the law of kindness.” How affectionately did he use to speak to all, but in a special manner to the young. Wherever he met them, he spoke to them with love beaming in his countenance. And what New Year came round when he did not call them together that he might exhort them to “remember their Creator in the days of their youth,” and enforce his exhortation by imparting to them something to refresh their bodies as well as their souls?

5. He was powerful in prayer. This was an exercise in which he greatly delighted and abounded. Besides the ordinary seasons of prayer in the closet and around the family altar, he had extraordinary seasons, in which he availed himself of the privilege every day. Prayer was also an exercise in which he enjoyed great freedom and enlargement of heart. Here he excelled in the humility of his attitude, in the melody of his voice, and in the fervour of his petitions. It was his last exercise on earth. Those who were present at his bed-side on the last night of his life, have assured me that they never heard him pray so earnestly as he did then; how he committed his congregation over and over for hours to the care of the Chief Shepherd, when he himself could care for them no longer. Such was the exercise in which he was engaged until, by the grace of God, his prayers were turned into praises, and he began to sing, as he never could do before, “Unto him who hath loved and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father—to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Mr. Davidson was twice married: first to the eldest daughter of the Rev. Donald McGillivray, by whom he leaves one son, a doctor in the Royal Horse Artillery; second, to Miss Milne, youngest daughter of A. Milne, Esq., Borrowstounness, who survives to deplore his loss.

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REV. WALTER DAVIDSON, PERTH

(Died December 2,1873)
Author: Rev. R. Stevenson, Abernethy
The Free Church Monthly, May 1, 1874, p.104


Mr. Davidson was born at Dunfermline in the year 1821. He completed his literary and theological studies in Edinburgh, and was licensed by the Presbytery of Meigle in 1854. He was early brought to a saving knowledge of Christ through the instrumentality of the saintly McCheyne, and became a member of the Rev. A. Moody Stuart’s congregation, Edinburgh, in connection with which he continued a devoted and consistent member, and latterly a useful officebearer, till he left Edinburgh for Blairgowrie.

Dr. Robert McDonald can testify how highly Mr. Davidson was esteemed, and how zealously he laboured in the mission work at Craigmill, in that locality.

At the request of a committee of Christian friends in Perth who were deeply interested in home mission work, he came to that city to take charge of the Free Church Territorial Mission. That mission had been begun before he came to Perth, but was so little in a nourishing state at the time of his arrival, that on the second Sabbath of July 1854 Mr. Davidson began his labours in a school-room in the Meal Vennel, with only five individuals as his audience. This beginning might have proved discouraging to many, but not so to him; it only brought into earnest action the motto of his ministry, “I must be about my Father’s business.”

He was told by his friends that there was a large field of labour before him, and he believed it; and with remarkable unreservedness he was enabled to consecrate himself to the service of his Lord and Master in the mission work to which he had been called.

By the blessing of God on his faithful and affectionate preaching, his frank, straightforward, and kindly manner, and his unwearied labours, he increased the little company to a large congregation, which assembles in a substantial church in South Street, entirely free of debt, with a full staff of elders and deacons, a comfortable manse, a flourishing day-school and Sabbath-school, and other agencies for carrying on the Lord’s work. In looking back to the small beginning of Knox’s Free Church, Mr. Davidson often said, “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.”

After two or three years’ successful labour as missionary, the Territorial Station was sanctioned by the General Assembly as a regular charge, and Mr. Davidson was unanimously called to be the pastor.

The day of his ordination was a very solemn and interesting one both to pastor and people. They had hopefully looked forward to it as the beginning of still brighter and better days of blessing. The pious and learned Dr. Duncan — “Rabbi Duncan” — found his way to Perth that day. He had been Mr. Davidson’s professor and also brother office-bearer in Free St. Luke’s, Edinburgh. The Presbytery felt it an honour to have him associated with them on the occasion. He appeared to be deeply interested in the services; and when the ordination prayer was about to be offered, he was seen pressing forward to where the youthful minister elect knelt, and was heard saying, in his emphatic way, “I must lay my hand on the head of the lad.”

With the exception of a short period when Mr. Davidson was laid aside in consequence of a fall from a vehicle, his labours from first to last were indeed abundant. He did the work of an evangelist, and made full proof of his ministry. Many through his instrumentality were brought, not only to attend the house of God, but to embrace Christ, and who shall be to him a crown of joy and rejoicing in the day of the Lord.

During the latter portion of his life there was a very visible growth in grace — a rapid ripening for the reaper’s sickle. He was in the world, but not of it. There was nothing, however, of the sour ascetic in his spirit or conduct, but, on the contrary, there was a fine playfulness blended with his fervent piety. He was beloved by all his brethren. His sorrowing widow and family, his bereaved flock, his brethren in the ministry, and the city of Perth, have sustained a great loss in his removal from their midst. But let us comfort ourselves with the sure thought that his is the great gain. His latter end was perfect peace. On the 2nd December he fell asleep in Jesus. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.”

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REV. WILLIAM DAVIDSON, M.A., DALLAS

(Died November 20, 1895)
Author: Rev. William Winter, D.D., Dyke
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1896, Obituary, p.280


A variety of circumstances has led to delay in the preparation of this notice; but it is now offered to the readers of the Monthly, as a tribute to the memory of a life of singular meekness and gentleness, and a ministry of earnest though quiet activity, which have passed from among us.

Mr. William Davidson was born May 2, 1815, at Phorp, on the ground of Altyre: his father being a tenant of Sir William G. G. Cumming. Altyre was, at one time, a distinct parish, under the charge of the minister of Dallas; but, for a long period back, it had formed part of Rafford, where, in the year 1816, Dr. George Mackay began a long and faithful ministry. To Dr. Mackay’s evangelical teaching, as well as to the moral and spiritual discipline of home, the future minister of Dallas owed many Christian advantages. His school education he had in Rafford and Forres, and his university training at Aberdeen, where he matriculated in 1831 and graduated in 1836. In the course of his attendance at the university, and for some years after, he was employed in tuition. Having received licence, as a probationer, in 1843, from the Presbytery of Nairn, within whose bounds he had come to reside, he was engaged by the Presbytery of Forres, shortly thereafter, to preach to the Free Church congregations in the parishes of Dallas and Edinkillie, whose ministers had adhered to the establishment. On a unanimous call, he was ordained to the charge of the former of these congregations while, as yet, there was neither church nor manse nor any settled means of ministerial support. In this sphere, within a short distance from his birth-place, he continued actively discharging his duties till a few months before his death, with the exception of a temporary break from illness in the years 1853 and 1854; being throughout “an example of the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

With the help of this sketch of Mr. Davidson’s outward history, it may not be difficult to realize, further, the distinguishing features of his life and ministry. Quiet and unobtrusive in disposition and manner, he was, yet, not known to shrink from any opportunity of Christian work presented to him in Providence; nor, in the prosecution of such work, did he seem to regard any difficulty, or think any cost too great. Gentle towards all—so much so, that the writer does not remember hearing him utter a harsh word to or of any person—he was, yet, firm and fearless in his advocacy of Christian principles, and strict and uncompromising in regard to the practice by church members of Christian duty, including the observance of family worship and of the sanctity of the Lord’s day. He had a clear apprehension and firm grasp of the system of saving truth, as well as an extensive and minute acquaintance with Scripture. His discourses cast much light on the meaning and application of particular texts, while they were marked by originality of thought and occasional quaintness of expression. His purpose, in preaching, appeared to be to humble men in their own esteem, in order that they might exalt “the God of all grace:” or (in the language of a discourse of his on the Priesthood of Christ, published by request), “that we should be intent upon seeing our need of Christ and His sufficiency for us, and then trust Him; that we should admire the love of God, who, without any application from us, hath helped us so marvellously in our greatest emergency; and that we should study to show our thankfulness to Christ, by serving with our bodies and spirits Him who hath purchased us at so great a price;” remembering that “the Holy Spirit alone can teach and enable us to do these things.”

An interesting memorial of Mr. Davidson has been preserved in the report of the proceedings of the General Assembly of 1859, when Mr. Brownlow North was welcomed by them “as a friend of the Saviour, whom He had eminently qualified for addressing his fellow-sinners on the things which belong to their everlasting peace.” In addressing the Assembly on that occasion, Mr. North referred to his intercourse with Mr. Davidson after his conversion, and mentioned that Mr. Davidson was the first minister that ever asked him to speak in his church.

During the last six months of his life, Mr. Davidson was laid aside by catarrh of the stomach, contracted through exposure to the severe weather of the spring of 1895. Amid the suffering and weakness which resulted from this, his assurance of his personal relation to the Saviour remained clear and unshaken. Yet he expressed to the writer, on one occasion, his great darkness with respect to the condition and prospects of the church; for the cause of the Master ever was in his heart.

Mr. Davidson married in 1861, his wife being the daughter of Commander Wilkinson, R.N. One of their children died in early life; the others, three sons and three daughters, with their mother, survive. The two youngest sons have nearly finished their studies for the ministry.

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REV. WALTER DEMPSTER, RENTON

(Died August 3, 1891)
Author: Rev. Henry Anderson, Partick
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1892, Obituary, p.96


Born on 30th August 1815, in Arbroath, Mr. Dempster had attained some ripeness of mind when he was licensed on 30th January 1847. He used to call himself the Benjamin of his family, being the youngest of eleven children. His parents having removed to Dundee, his earlier years were spent there.

He often spoke of the times of blessing under the late Robert Murray McCheyne, and such fruits of that ministry as seen in the boy James Laing, whose memoir was written by Mr. McCheyne. The memory of these awakening times under Mr. William Burns also seemed always to set his soul on fire. He was made a partaker of the heavenly calling at that time, and then, in the spirit of Paul, who said, “Whose I am, and whom I serve,” when his heart was drawn to Christ, Mr. Dempster wished to consecrate himself to the Christian ministry.

He studied at St. Andrews, and completed his theological curriculum at the New College, Edinburgh. He was ordained to Renton Free Church on 24th February 1848. He brought into his pastoral work all his evangelistic experiences and tastes, and took advantage of every evangelistic opportunity as a sower to go forth to sow. Specially during the great religious awakening and revival of 1859 and 1860, he rendered valuable service to the movement in his own locality, and in the neighbouring town of Dumbarton.

There was a simplicity, and plainness, and unction, and practical power in Mr. Dempster’s preaching, and he aimed at reaching every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And he knew that his ministry was blessed in the conversion of souls. He had also a sound judgment and tact in meeting difficulties, either in the church courts or in private circles. His wise advice when it was removed was missed by all who knew him.

When his health gave way, he left Renton, and the beautifully-situated manse in the Vale of Leven and made room for his colleague and successor, the Rev. Mr. Blades. The paralysis which affected him prevented the undertaking of any public duty. His frail body at last gave way, and he departed at Whiteinch, where he resided, leaving a widow, and daughter, and two stepsons, and one surviving sister in Dundee, to mourn his loss. A brother was minister of the Free Church in Bo’ness, who died in 1854. “The memory of the just is blessed.”

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REV. DAVID DEWAR, FOCHABERS

(Died May 5, 1885)
Author: Rev. W. Burnet, Huntly
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September 1, 1885, Biographical Notice, p.278


The Rev. David Dewar was born at Markinch in August 1796. He was educated at the Universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. He came to Fochabers in 1831 to be chaplain to Her Grace the good Duchess of Gordon. And on the recommendation of Her Grace he was presented by the Duke of Richmond to the parish church of Fochabers in the year 1837.

When the Non-Intrusion Question came to its crisis, in the memorable Marnoch case, Mr. Dewar was Moderator of the Presbytery of Strathbogie. This was most fortunate fur the cause with which he had so heartily identified himself; for by the wisdom, the fidelity, and the courage with which he held and managed his position, he baffled the will and successfully withstood the fierce assaults of the gross and bitter Erastianism which he had to encounter. No one can study the history of those contendings without being convinced that Mr. Dewar in many ways did noble service, not only to the Free Church, but to all Churches that value spiritual independence. Very quietly, but very resolutely, in peculiarly trying circumstances, he fought anew the old battle for Christ’s crown rights against great odds, and with many sacrifices.

As the conflict proceeded it lay very much on Mr. Dewar to see that the gospel was preached in the parishes of the seven ministers who had so foully betrayed the principles of the historical Church of Scotland. The people, feeling like sheep without a shepherd, and having been stirred with some measure of desire for the pure gospel, turned instinctively to Mr. Dewar for help. Demands for preaching poured in upon him from all sides, and most gladly to the full measure of his time and strength he responded to them. Many a time he walked ten or even twenty miles, preached, and walked home again the same night. The amount of work he was enabled to do, the fatigue, and even hardship, he endured in those days are simply amazing. If ever that word, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be,” was fulfilled in the experience of any man, it certainly was in his.

As the parishes around got settled ministers, and the claims upon him from other districts became fewer, he gave himself most assiduously to his regular congregational work. During the whole course of his protracted ministry his single desire was to preach Christ and him crucified. Few men entered more deeply into the feeling of the apostle when he said, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” In the pulpit he was simple, faithful, tender. In the homes of his people he was ever kindly and full of sympathy. The poor, the burdened, the anxious, the afflicted, the bereaved, ever found in him one who entered feelingly into every variety of case, and whose words and prayers often brought help and healing to their troubled spirits. He had no other thought than to spend and be spent in his Master’s service. In no ordinary sense it may be said of him, “He watched for souls as one who must give account.”

All through his ministry the young of the flock were specially dear to him, and when no longer able to minister from the pulpit he was to be found regularly in the Sabbath school, glad of the opportunity of saying a few loving words to the little ones; while they showed by their attention and tenderness how warmly they returned the love which he so lavishly bestowed on them.

To be in his own home—to be in the midst of his own family—was a sort of passion with Mr. Dewar. Many a time after an evening meeting he has walked ten or fifteen miles— it mattered not though it took him to midnight or even well into the morning, it was enough if he got home. What he was to his own family no one outside that circle can tell. There his cheerful, gentle, affectionate nature was seen at its best; there it ever had its freest, freshest, happiest outgoings; there and then the bands were ever being strengthened that bound the members of that inner circle so tenderly to one another.

The Lord granted to Mr. Dewar that which many a man of God has sought and has not had granted to him—a quiet and restful evening to his days, a sort of sabbatism here below. To this be was greatly helped by having had for the last eight or nine years a true yoke-fellow in Mr. Gray, his colleague, who so willingly bore the main part of the burden of the congregation, and gladdened the heart of the aged pastor with the conviction, that though his own end was drawing near, his beloved flock had the prospect of being well fed and faithfully tended in the days to come.

And when the end did come, it came as he often wished it would come. It was “sudden death, sudden glory.” “He was not, for God took him.” As he was wont to do, he went to his garden after dinner on Monday the 4th day of May, was brought in unconscious, in which state he continued till the following morning, when peacefully he entered on the rest that remaineth for the people of God, in the 89th year of his age.

The good Duchess of Gordon often bore cordial testimony to Mr. Dewar’s piety, devotedness, usefulness in the ministry; also to his Nathanael-like meekness and freedom from guile,—a testimony which in all its parts his co-presbyters and all who knew him were ever forward to confirm. Indeed few men have left behind them a record so pure and so universally certified. Look into it at what point you may, and you find him doing the duties of the hour with a singleness of mind and an earnestness of purpose that have rarely been surpassed.

Mr. Dewar was a very retiring man. It not only took time, but it needed special occasions to know him. He combined qualities that are sometimes thought inconsistent with each other. There was no self-assertion about him, and he was singularly charitable in his judgment of those who differed from him, indeed it seemed hardly possible for him to think ill of any one; and yet he held very decided opinions, and had a fast hold of great principles. What he knew to be truth he held as with an iron grasp, and when duty called him to make a stand, he could stand firm as a rock.

It were well that our young poople studied, much more than most of them do, the history of our Church’s contendings—it is a history well worthy of their study—and that they understood clearly the great principles that were at stake in those contendings. They may seem to be out of date, to have lost interest and value. Times change, principles abide. Yet as times change, certain principles may pass very much out of sight; but as times continue to change these principles come again to the front. The distinctive principles that fashioned the Disruption have never ceased to be important factors in the history of the true historical Church of Scotland. They are operating now, and many thoughtful men believe they will work yet more powerfully and fruitfully in the days to come. And the men shall be best prepared to lead in that future who have most fully mastered that history, and have the firmest grasp of these principles.

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REV. JAMES DEWAR, COCKBURNSPATH

(Died May 19, 1879)
Author: Rev. John Jackson, Crail
Source: The Free Church Monthly, March 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.68


James Dewar was born in Dundee, where he received his education, and where also he served as a pupil teacher. He went through his Arts course at St. Andrews University. While doing so, he acted as tutor in the Abbey Park Institution, then under the management of the late Mr. Smieton, in which capacity Mr. Dewar’s services were much prized. And it was during his St. Andrews residence that he received those deep impressions and underwent that change of heart which led him to devote himself to the work of the ministry. He attended the classes at the New College, and received license from the Edinburgh Presbytery.

Though constitutionally delicate, Mr. Dewar chose to begin ministerial life in mission work in one of the lowest districts of his native town, where he laboured most devotedly. He afterwards filled several assistantships with much acceptance; letters written since his lamented departure by friends connected with the congregations of Bucklyvie, Thurso, and St. John’s, Montrose, testify to the high regard in which he was held, and to the blessing which resulted from his work in these charges.

In 1874 he received two simultaneous calls,—to Catrine and to Cockburnspath. A recent though not severe illness having told somewhat on his health, never robust at the best, he thought it prudent to accept the latter, being the lighter charge. A sore trial awaited him on entrance sufficient to unnerve most men. The early morning of that very Sabbath Dr. Wilson was to introduce him to his new flock he was seized with a violent spitting of blood. Bravely he held out, informing no one, not even his mother and sister, and in much weakness preached the discourse he had prepared, with the sad presentiment that his ministry this day begun was soon to end. His grief was great when, on taking medical advice during the week, he was counselled to give up preaching for a time. But the cloud partially cleared away. He saw he had to deal with a kind-hearted, sympathetic people. A short respite granted him, he returned feeling stronger than he had done for some time; and the sense of devout gratitude to God which was always a marked feature of his spiritual life became unbounded when he found he could now feed the flock. He preached with all the zest and fire of a man conscious of having got a new lease of life. He regarded his work as an unspeakable privilege.
Never did one labour more under the conviction of the necessity to “work while it is called to-day.” The night for him, alas! was soon to come. The old symptoms now and again returned, and, unavailingly battling with it for two years, his disease reached that stage when the only hope of recovery was a change to a warmer climate. By the kindness of the congregation and of other friends his pulpit was supplied whilst he sojourned for six months at Ventnor, Isle of Wight. But the change did not profit him. He returned home to Dundee with his mother, who had been anxiously tending him, his first act being to relieve his mind of a load which had been becoming increasingly burdensome, by resigning his pastorate—a severance, however, which left untouched the undying affection he had for his flock. He lingered on for about a year, passing away at length firm in the faith and assured in the hope of the gospel he loved to proclaim.

Mr. Dewar was a man of great promise. His preaching, uniting the evangelical with the thoughtful, was much relished by those who had the privilege to listen to him; and short as his ministry lasted, he was cheered by some most manifest proofs that he had not wrought in vain.

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REV. MATTHEW DICKIE, BEITH

The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, November 2, 1863, p.378


Another of the Disruption worthies has been gathered to his rest. We refer to Mr. Dickie of Beith, who died at Arran on the 21st September, in the sixty-fourth year of hs age and thirty-fifth of his ministry.

He was a native of Kilmarnock, sprung from pious parents, by whom he was dedicated to the work of the Lord, and who had the happiness in the day of their old age, not only to see him labouring in the vineyard, but to receive from him those filial attentions which formed so beautiful a feature of his character.

His first charge was in Limerick, from which, after five years’ labour, he was translated to the parish of Dunlop, where he not only proved himself a faithful minister of Christ, but rendered very signal service in helping to fight the battle of the Ten Years’ Conflict. In that struggle, the Stewarton case occupied an important position; for it raised the question of the right of the quoad sacra ministers to sit and vote in our Church Courts. The right management of the case required both firmness and prudence; and, as a member of the Presbytery of Irvine, Mr. Dickie brought both of these qualities to bear upon it in no ordinary measure. It was a time of great defection in the ranks of the Evangelical party; and when those who had been accustomed to lead passed over to the ranks of the Moderate party, Mr. Dickie stood manfully forward, lifted the standard as it fell, and, for several years preceding the Disruption, acted as the leader in the cause. For this he was eminently adapted by his clear perception, sound judgment, perfect knowledge of the forms of Church Courts, and great aptitude for business. Many a stormy day did he make his way to the Presbytery, when his health would have required him to remain at home, lest the enemy should steal a march, or the waverers make a retrograde movement.

On one memorable occasion in the Presbytery, he rendered special service by his promptitude on the day when the Commissioners to the Assembly were to be chosen. The Moderate party refused to allow the roll to be called unless the names of the quoad sacra ministers were struck off. Finding themselves in a minority, they rose, and, with their Moderator (Dr. McLeod, now of the Barony), marched off to another place of meeting, intending to leave the rest defunct. Mr. Dickie rose and moved Dr. Landsborough into the chair, which was filled almost as soon as vacated; so that ere they had left the place of meeting, the Presbytery, though disrupted, had its Moderator at its head. The testimony of such a man as Mr. Dickie to Disruption principles was of very great value. He had every inducement to make him desirous of retaining his position in the Establishment. He had reached the meridian of life; he had none of the fiery impetuosity of youth, for his temperament was the reverse of impulsive; he was settled in a quiet country parish, with one of the better class of stipends and a comfortable manse, in which he had no doubt reckoned on spending the remainder of his days. And though he saw no prospect before him but to quit the scene of his ministry altogether from the scantiness of the population, yet never for one moment did he hesitate. No one cast in his lot more cheerfully, as few surrendered more than he; for, taking the difference of his former and after stipend, he sacrificed not less than £150 a year for the cause; and if the sum be reckoned up for the twenty years that have followed, it gives £3000 as the contribution of one man. Yet no one ever heard him complain, and never did one feeling of regret take possession of his mind.

At the Disruption he was translated to Beith, where he continued to labour with diligence and fidelity till his death. Though he had been visibly failing for the last two years, yet his end was sudden and unexpected. He had gone to Arran with his family to spend the month of September in needful relaxation. Accidentally he sprained his foot, which occasioned him severe pain; but in a few days he seemed much relieved. Erisypelas, however, supervened. His mind began immediately to wander. In this state he lingered on for ten days, and then gently fell asleep. Once or twice there seemed to be lucid intervals, in one of which, when his wife spoke to him of the love of God, he said he desired to lay himself entirely at the foot of the Cross. But no death-bed testimony was needed to convey the assurance to all who knew him, that for him to depart was to be with Christ, and therefore far better.

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REV. JAMES JOHN DISHINGTON-SMITH, FETLAR

(Died April 10, 1892)
Author: Rev. W. R0gers0n, Lerwick
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May, 1893, Obituary, p.121


Mr. Smith was born, January 1838, at Uyasound, Unst, where his father, Dr. James Smith, practised as the good physician of the North Isles of Shetland for many years. His mother was a daughter of the late Rev. James Ingram, D.D., of Unst. His early education was conducted at home, under his father’s eye; and the progress he then made in Greek, Latin, and French gave the highest promise of superior mental capacity. In his seventeenth year he was sent to Glasgow University, where he continued the study of the classic languages; but the next year he removed to Edinburgh, and took his place under Professor Blackie, where he divided the first prize in the class with another student of great distinction. After his literary course, in which he maintained a high level in all subjects, was finished, he passed to the New College, Edinburgh, for his theological curriculum, where he again attracted the eyes of his professors as being a young man of very great intelligence and application. In June 1864, he was duly licensed to preach the gospel by his native presbytery—his grandfather, Dr. Ingram, then in his eighty-ninth year, occupying the moderator’s chair on the occasion, and giving the young licentiate “a tender and suitable address.”

Like many other capable men, Mr. Smith was in no hurry to find out a permanent field of labour. He stood high in the estimation of several congregations in Scotland, but his health was unsatisfactory at the time, and he does not seem to have been anxious to settle down with any one of them. Indeed the cultured young Shetlander, so strong in theological and scientific attainments, and able to read French as easily as English, had a strong preference in his own mind for a charge in his native isles, if the providence of God should open the way. Accordingly, in the spring of 1873, the congregation of Fetlar, having become vacant by the translation of Rev. James Doull to a colonial charge in New Zealand, offered him a unanimous call, which he was able to accept; and his ordination took place on the 24th April, his uncle, the late Rev. John Ingram, presiding, and conducting the entire service.

Mr. Smith continued to labour among the people of this island for nearly nineteen years, with a zeal that secured for him the utmost confidence and respect of the entire population, irrespective of their Church connection. Being the son of an able medical practitioner, and having a natural taste for medical studies, he had acquired considerable knowledge in the healing art; and, there being no medical doctor resident in Fetlar, he was called upon constantly to minister to the people’s bodily ailments as well as their spiritual, which he did most cheerfully and successfully, without, of course, receiving any other recompense than the pleasure of being useful. This made him eminently suitable for his position in one of the most inaccessible corners of the empire.

The difficulty of getting out of Fetlar, and the uncertainty of getting back again when once out, made it almost impossible for Mr. Smith to appear often at the local presbytery meetings. This was much regretted by his brethren, who, on account of it, had but few opportunities of cultivating so close a friendship with him as they would have liked; but his ministerial work in his congregation was all the better attended to. Thorough house-to-house visitation was carefully kept up. His preaching gifts were quite above the average, his sermons being carefully prepared, and full of clear, sound thinking of the robust type—probably in some respects far above the heads of his audience. The good work he had done, and the respect in which he was held, came out clearly towards the close of his ministry: when, owing to family circumstances, he found it necessary to make prolonged stays in the south, he proposed resigning his charge so that the congregation might not suffer from his absence, his people would not listen to any such proposal, but urged him rather to get leave of absence and stay away as long as he required. At last, however, his own health gave way, so that he found it impossible to continue in his ministerial charge longer, and he tendered his resignation, which was, in the end, accepted on the 10th February 1892.

In accepting his resignation, the presbytery regretted that the state of his health was such as to make that step necessary, but expressed the hope that he would soon recover so as to be able to serve the Master in some other way. But the Master had ordered it otherwise than the presbytery anticipated. A severe attack of influenza with pleurisy had weakened his constitution too much; and, although at one time he seemed to be regaining strength, he suddenly relapsed into the final affliction which carried him off, and he died at Trinity on the 10th April, exactly two months after being released from active ministry. His remains were conveyed north to the scene of his life’s work, and laid to rest in Fetlar churchyard beside his wife and daughter, who had predeceased him only a short time. Mrs. Smith was the daughter of Dr. Teviotdale, and niece of Mr. Thomas Dishington—Bailie Dishington, of Trinity, Leith, the last representative of an old and honourable Scottish family. She died in the spring of 1891.

Much might be said of Mr. Smith’s personal character and Christian tone, which charmed all who knew him well. His sincere faith in the gospel which he preached, and his loyalty to the Church which he served, could not be hid from his friends.

He is survived by a son and two daughters. The son, the eldest, and studious, as might be expected, is already preparing for the medical profession—a choice which family association on both sides has no doubt led him to make.

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REV. JAMES MAIN DIXON, MARTYRS’ CHURCH, PAISLEY

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September 1, 1865


Mr. Dixon was a native, we believe, of Carlisle. He had singular merit in the way in which he made his path to the ministry. He had been bred to the trade of a printer. When he came to Edinburgh to attend college, he obtained employment as a journeyman in the Witness office. There he worked “at case” to maintain himself while attending the classes. It need not be said that in such a workman Hugh Miller took a kindly interest. Both as a student of divinity and as a licentiate of the Free Church, he took an active and successful part in Home Missionary operations, in different parts of the country. Thus, in the providence of the Divine Head of the Church, he was being prepared for the ministerial charge, to which he was cordially called in 1850, and which, although in all respects an ordinary congregation, was also erected and maintained with a special view to carry out in the Western District of Paisley, what is generally understood by territorial missionary work.

Mr. Dixon was possessed of a frank address, an animated manner, and a peculiarly sunny temperament, and thus had not a few of the leading elements of pulpit and pastoral popularity. He was also distinguished for sincere piety, soundness in the faith, and consistency of walk and conversation. Eminently catholic and genial in his fellowships, he was ever ready to receive and to repay the pulpit services of the brethren of almost all religious denominations, without, at the same time, ceasing to be warmly attached to the doctrine, discipline, and government of the Church of which he was a minister. With the brethren of the Presbytery and the Church generally, he lived on affectionate terms, and his removal, in comparatively early life, is much regretted by all of them. To the young and the sick of his own flock he peculiarly endeared himself by his affability, sympathy, and attention. During his brief pastorate a manse has been built for the minister, in virtue, to no small extent, of the exertions of the Rev. Mr. Thomson; and the heavy debt that was an incubus on the people has been likewise greatly reduced, and both results, going beyond, as they did, the limited resources of the congregation, were reached by the regard which the religious public, at home and elsewhere, felt for the welfare of Mr. Dixon and his family. The sickness under which Mr. Dixon laboured was severe and protracted, and throughout he bore it meekly and submissively, his chief anxieties during his illness being for his flock and family. His latter end was peace.

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REV. GEORGE THEOPHILUS DODDS

(Died September 9, 1882)
Author: Rev. Charles E. Greig, Paris
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February 1, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.52


At the close of the college session 1875-76 three men stood at the head of the list: Peter Thomson, Georgeson, and Dodds. Within a little over six years all three have gone to their rest, leaving behind them reputations that will not soon die, from the memories at least of their fellow-students, for scholarship home piety, and missionary zeal.

George Dodds was born in the Free Church Manse of Lochee on the 2nd of June, 1850. He was the eldest son of the Rev. T. B. Dodds, minister of the Free Church, Lochee. His mother was a daughter of the Rev. John Dickson, missionary in Astrakan, and translator of the Bible into the Tartar-Turkish language. He studied at the Dundee High School and at the University St. Andrews, taking everywhere good, in some cases very good, places. As an Arts student he distinguished himself especially in the class-rooms of Greek and of moral philosophy, but an illness brought on by overwork prevented his completing his degree. An oldad school and college friend writes: “He had not at that time the sort of nervous energy that enables a man to stand high in examinations, and did not care for competition. His remarkable linguistic faculty, I think, developed gradually. He read very largely, chiefly in moral philosophy, philology, and aesthetics. He was a great devourer of such books as Ruskin’s ‘Modern Painters’ and ‘Seven Lamps,’ and he had an artistic faculty which might have been developed had he so chosen.

From St. Andrews Mr. Dodds passed, after an interval of rest spent as a tutor near Liverpool, to the New College, Edinburgh. Of his work while there one who knew him well writes: “He worked as much, perhaps fully more, for the classes as most men of his years. But he used often to say that after a long course of class work at school, and four years of the same at the university, a further continuation of it was very irksome, and that he liked to be left to occupy his thoughts with those studies which were most congenial to his own mind. This was not a mere ingeniously expressed excuse for doing nothing, for all the day and all the year his energies were fully employed. He attended Aufrechts Sanskrit class at the University, and, if I remember rightly, took a prize in it. During his theological course he devoted himself much to French and German, and read a good deal of theology in both languages. He spent a great deal of labour on his Gothic studies and his Ulphilas, which received high commendation from Dr. Rainy, cost him no little effort.”

Even before leaving college, Mr. Dodds had accepted the post of missionary in the Causewayside. under the direction of Dr. H. Bonar, whose eldest daughter he subsequently married. In 1878 he paid his first visit to Paris, and was led to visit Miss de Broën’s iron room at Belleville, where he spoke, at first by translation, then alone. His experience gained at this time resulted in his going there permanently the following year, but this time as colleague to the Rev. R.W. McAll, whose wonderful mission to the working-men of France was beginning to claim attention in Scotland. With his wife and child, now the eldest of five, he arrived one winter night at the Rue des Fêtes, Belleville, was welcomed with warm affection by Mr. and Mrs. McAll, and immediately plunged into the work. At his arrival, the mission numbered twenty stations, all within the walls of Paris: five years later it had increased to sixty-one, scattered all over France. When he joined it no auxiliary association existed; now we have at least twelve in England and Scotland alone, and as many in America, in the founding of almost all of which he was directly concerned. These facts alone would show how invaluable he was to the work, as the two thousand mourners at his funeral, almost all working people, testify to the affection felt for him by his hearers; but in point of fact nothing was done during these years in which his hand and his counsel were not manifest. If in boldness of conception and in intensity of effort he came behind his leader and chief, Mr. McAll, the no less important tasks of organization and deepening of existent work owe largely to him. The first piece of work which fell into his hands was the arrangement of the tract and book department; and the difference between the chaotic heap of tracts in one corner of a room, from which every one took as he pleased, and the large, well-ordered mission office, from whose well-laden shelves some two hundred parcels go out every month over Paris and France, shows how efficiently it was done.

Then came the International Exhibition of 1878, when he took his part in the three meetings held daily in the Salle Evangelique attached to the vast building. At the close of the year a branch mission was founded in Lyons. To this Mr. Dodds was sent soon after its opening. The work was particularly hard, for both pastors and laics had to be trained to the particular form of evangelization adopted by the mission, and a lawless and bigoted population had to be conciliated to the gospel, and all this in a place whose climate was very ill adapted to his constitution. But he did not flinch, and the tearful letter of one of his converts, now a zealous labourer in the mission, shows what a hold over the French character one year’s experience had given him.

He returned to devote himself with renewed energy to the preaching of Christ in Paris itself. The work of the mission consists mainly in this announcement of the gospel in halls scattered all over Paris and the other centres where its branches have been founded. Meetings for adults are held, with few exceptions, at 8 p.m., but those for children in the afternoon, sometimes even the morning, so that Mr. Dodds would often have eleven or even twelve meetings a week, besides not infrequently taking a pulpit service for one of his brethren. To some of his stations, such as Grenelle or Versailles, he went regularly once a week, others he visited at longer intervals, and, as far as possible, he followed up his public appeals by private talks or home visits.

In the early summer of 1879 he spent two months in Scotland, and was ordained to the work of evangelization in France by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, Dr. H. Bonar presiding. In the autumn of the same year he was sent to strengthen and fortify the newly established branch at Bordeaux; and in December he paid the first of several visits to Scotland and England for the purpose of founding auxiliary societies. March found him again at Lyons, after which the whole summer of 1880 was spent in steady work in Paris, with the exception of one flying visit home.

In September he was sent, along with Mons. E. Réveillaud, as delegate from the French Protestant Churches to America, and during the three months that he spent there gave quite a new impulse to the cause of evangelical work on the Continent. He brought back with him not only the personal affection of many of the most prominent men in America, but also a strong interest in the work whose cause he had so ably pleaded. He returned to Paris in January 1881, and was soon sent off to found a new and very important branch at Roubaix, a large manufacturing town in the north, on his return from which he went off at once to Scotland, not to get a hard-earned rest, but to stir up fresh interest and zeal in the work. During the intensely hot summer that followed, he made several short excursions with friends to outlying villages in the neighbourhood of Paris, announcing in them also the word of life.

His so-called holiday in September was spent in exploring, with his friend M. Réveillaud, the historic fastnesses of the French Alps, rendered memorable alike by the sufferings of the Vaudois and by the labours of Felix Neff, and in founding a branch of the mission at Clermont-Ferrand, the capital of Auvergne.

Then followed a long period of earnest work in his Paris stations, broken only by visits home to confer with Mr. Moody, or on other business,—a period which will for ever remain memorable in the history of many a converted soul. The spiritual needs of the now vast mission deeply impressed him, and he became the director and one of the chief workers of the Societes Fraternelles, a kind of conversational, more familiar gathering, where the converts could expose their difficulties, ask counsel, and exchange experiences. And with all this happy gospel work, it must never be forgotten that Mr. Dodds had innumerable other calls on his time: his brethren, French or English, claimed his help on innumerable committees; two or three hours every day were devoted to the internal administration of the mission; individual friends or the secretaries of auxiliary committees required information on the progress of the work; letters or articles had to be written for home or foreign papers. And in the midst of it all he was genial, cheerful, obliging, always ready to give counsel or sympathy, always the first to take blame to himself.

The summer of 1882 was a severe one. His strength, already overtaxed, failed him more than once, and he would be laid aside a day or two with headache or low fever, only to resume again with more concentrated energy; for two of his colleagues were absent, the funds of the mission were low, and all the responsibility fell upon him alone. At last the end of August came in sight; he preached his last sermon on, ”I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course,” made the last arrangements with Mr. McAll for the winter campaign, and went off with his wife and children to a farm-house near Salbris, in the department of the Loir-et-Cher. One fortnight after, the nurse and two eldest children brought back the dreadful news that he was beyond all hope, and the next day the telegraph quenched its last glimmer. Through some mistake the family had eaten mushrooms of an injurious kind; and though the others recovered, he, owing to his previous weak and prostrate state, never rallied. Neither medical skill nor devoted nursing could save our brother, who fell quietly asleep on Saturday, the 9th September. “It is a soldier fallen at the breach,” said the French doctor who attended him; and in very truth it was so, a breach long and wide made by the might of the Lord in the stubborn wall of human infidelity and pride. “But,” writes a friend, “a man with a tenderer heart, with a greater depth of sympathy, a nobler candour, a more generous appreciation of what he deemed good in the characters and labours of others, I never knew. Beautifully reverent in his devoutness, there was ever about him the air of true manliness; and while there was a great deal of happy playfulness in his nature, there was neither weak childishness nor silly levity.” Few men, dying after five years of work, have been so widely or so sincerely mourned. From the poor rag-pickers of the Gare d’Ivry, who contributed their sous to raise a monument to their beloved teacher, up to the popular clergymen and merchant princes of London or Philadelphia, all mourned the bright young life cut down in the prime of its glory. But God saw that he had worked enough, and removed him in his own good time to the rest above.

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REV. JAMES DODDS, DUNBAR

(Died September 3, 1885)
Author: Rev. James Matthew, B.D., Haddington
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February 1, 1886, Biographical Notice, p.50


Mr. James Dodds was a Dumfriesshire man, having been born in the neighbourhood of Annan in the year 1812. He was educated at the parish school of Ruthwell, and studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he displayed the same healthy activity and conscientious diligence which characterized him in after years, and manifested those scholarly and literary tastes which he cultivated till the close of life. He is referred to by the late Sir Alexander Grant in his “Story of the University of Edinburgh,” in connection with the students’ societies of those days.

Having studied for the ministry of the Church of Scotland, and having been duly licensed by the Presbytery of Annan, Mr. Dodds was appointed assistant to the Rev. Dr. Moodie of Inveresk in the year 1839. In 1841 he was ordained as colleague and successor to the Rev. Mr. Macfarlane of Humbie, a rural parish in the south-west of East Lothian. These were the days of the Ten Years’ Conflict, when a marked distinction was in many ways apparent between the Evangelical and Moderate sections of the Church. The Presbytery of Haddington was then, as in the Established Church it still is, distinct from the Presbytery of Dunbar. The county was one of the strongholds of Moderatism, and of the Moderate ministers in the Presbytery of Haddington, Macfarlane of Humbie was perhaps the chief. So long had the people been accustomed to Moderate preaching and its deadening influence, that to most of them Evangelical preaching was altogether new. Mr. Dodds was thoroughly Evangelical, and the effect of his preaching was well illustrated in the number that, after so short a period, followed him at the Disruption of 1843, when he, without hesitation, cast in his lot with the Free Church of Scotland.

In 1843, but prior to the Disruption, he had married Barbara Anne, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Duncan of Ruthwell, a man of historic fame, and in whose family Mr. Dodds had been tutor. As might be supposed, Mrs. Dodds was like-minded with her husband and father in the stirring events of those days, and she was ever after a true help-meet for and active co-worker with her husband, whom she still survives.

The Disruption experiences of Mr. Dodds were of a kind all too common. All the heritors and most of the farmers were against the Free Church, and hence there was great difficulty in procuring a site for a new church. And yet at length—the influence of friends having been brought to bear—”we got,” says Mr. Dodds, as quoted in the “Annals of the Disruption,” ” a site for a church against the judgment and wish both of the proprietor of the ground and the person who exercised the rights and authority of tenant—a case, perhaps, unparalleled in the Free Church.” At first there was even some difficulty in getting a place to preach in; but ultimately, and until the new church was ready, there was tent-preaching in Humbie Dean, a secluded and romantic but most convenient place. Even the Sabbath school was held in the open air, and it would interest readers to turn to the paper in The Free Church Monthly for January 1883, entitled, “A Country Sabbath School in 1843,” which gives an interesting reminiscence of those days from the pen of Mr. Dodds himself.

In 1844 Mr. Dodds was translated to Belhaven, which had been a quoad sacra parish to Dunbar. A few years after, the Belhaven and other quoad sacra churches were taken from the Free Church and given to the Established Church, which had claimed them, though for some of them she had no use. Accordingly the Free Church congregation built a church and manse in Dunbar, and there Mr. Dodds continued to minister to the time of his death, in September 1885.

About a year before his death he was disabled from preaching owing to a paralytic attack. Though unfit for pulpit work, he was still able for other pastoral duties. His interest in all his work still continued. Occasionally he was able to address a meeting; and on the Sabbath before his death, being the communion Sabbath in his own church, he gave a table address with wonderful facility and power. Next day he visited amongst his people, became seriously ill on Tuesday, and died on Thursday. At last General Assembly leave was given to the congregation of Dunbar to obtain a colleague and successor for Mr. Dodds, and this matter was engaging attention, and had made some progress, when his death took place.

Such are the outstanding facts chronologically considered in the life of the late Mr. Dodds of Dunbar. But a mere statement of these would give a very imperfect idea of the activity and influence of this highly gifted and cultured servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His first services were given, as a matter of course, to his own congregation; and how thoroughly devoted he was to their interests, and how unweariedly he laboured in all the departments of work that lie to the hand of a minister, all who knew him can testify. He had regard to the apostolic precept, “Take heed to thyself;” and hence, by grace, there was nothing about himself or his own personal bearing that could hinder his influence for good as a faithful minister of the word and a highly evangelical preacher of the gospel. All the departments of work in a well-organized congregation were vigorously carried on, and he kept an attached and influential people about him to the last. There was a fine continuity as well as a growing mellowness in his work as a preacher and pastor, all along from before the days of the tent preaching in Humbie Dean of happy memory to the close of his long ministry of forty years and more in Dunbar. Moreover, he saw of the fruits of his labours. How thoroughly and systematically he did his work may be indicated by the fact that he carefully registered all he did in a kind of year-book, the visits paid daily amongst his people being duly entered and numbered every evening, even up to and inclusive of the Monday before he died.

His service was not confined to his own people; all that concerned the welfare of the community of Dunbar, with which his name was associated more than that of any other man, had his warm sympathy and help. As an illustration of this, it may be mentioned that the fact of an agent of the Scottish Coast Mission being located in Dunbar, was mainly due to his influence. What he approved of had the help of his facile pen as well, and in zeal for the good cause of this mission he wrote, in 1862, the volume entitled, “Coast Missions: a Memoir of the Rev. Thomas Rosie,” who was the first missionary in Dunbar under these auspices.

As a Free Churchman, Mr. Dodds was a man of strong convictions, steadfast loyalty, and untiring devotion, ever jealous of the credit and honour of the Church to which he belonged. In his own Presbytery of Haddington and Dunbar, he was a “leader;” he took an active part in the business of the Church Courts, Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly; he was an active member of the leading committees of the Church, including the College Committee and the Cunningham Lectureship Council; he was a man of strong good sense and large experience, and so was a respected and trusted counsellor. He officiated at various of the Continental stations, reflecting honour on the Church that sent him; and he was ready indeed for any service the Church he loved could ask or require at his hand. In the death of Mr. Dodds the Free Church has lost one of her best known and most respected and honoured ministers. At the same time Mr. Dodds was no mere sectarian. Neither his Free Churchism nor his Presbyterianism cramped his Christian catholicity. It may be sufficient for illustration of this to refer to a paper by him in The Free Church Monthly for February 1884 on the “Relations of the Free Church to other Churches in Scotland.”

As a man, Mr. Dodds was a fine specimen of the cultured Christian gentleman. He was a most sociable and genial companion, his talk and conversation were never small or frivolous, and he was ever ready with an apt quotation from the Latin or English poets, marking a training and scholarship and continued self-culture of a kind not so common perhaps as once it was. He had travelled much, and he was ever ready, by pen and voice, in private and in public, to give to others the benefit he had derived therefrom. To the last he had a youthful freshness, liberality, and sympathy about him. He was a most diligent and active member of a Presbyterial Clerical Club, formed only a few years ago, of which all the other members were younger than himself, most of them very much so. He had great sympathy with fresh modes of thought, and had no fear of scientific research, though he was sternly opposed to all that interferes with the authority of the Word of God or the fundamental doctrines of the gospel; while he was ever jealous, nay increasingly so, of the thoroughly evangelical character of the Church he loved, and of the younger ministers who were coming forward in her service.

As an author, Mr. Dodds never set himself to any work of outstanding magnitude, and to which his intellectual ability and other gifts would in the opinion of many have been equal. Nevertheless he had a ready pen and made excellent use of it. He was a frequent contributor to various newspapers and magazines. Any useful information he had gained he could scarcely keep to himself, but ever wished to make it known for the benefit of others. He contributed useful and interesting papers, some of them prepared for more strictly professional purposes, to such periodicals as the London Weekly Review, the Christian Church, the Family Treasury, the Christian Treasury, the Leisure Hour, the Sunday at Home, the Free Church Children’s Record, and the Free Church of Scotland Monthly, his last contribution to the Monthly appearing in October last and subsequent to his death. He wrote various memoirs, as for example a biographical sketch of the late Principal Fairbairn prefixed to that author’s posthumously published volume on “Pastoral Theology,” and a still more lengthened “Memoir of James Dodds,” author of the “Lays of the Covenanters,” prefixed to a handsome edition of these poems, the author of which was a relative of his own. A Dumfriesshire man, Mr. Dodds always maintained a warm interest in his native county; he wrote the “Eminent Men of Dumfriesshire,” and frequently contributed articles and reviews to the Dumfriesshire Standard. He likewise published “A Century of Scottish Church History,” and in 1876 the volume entitled “Jeanie Wilson, the Lily of Lammermoor,” breathing of Disruption days and Humbie Dean.

Altogether Mr. Dodds was a man of many and varied accomplishments, a cultured gentleman, a model minister, a zealous labourer, and a faithful servant of the Lord Christ. Now he rests from his many labours. His death has made a large blank in the town of Dunbar, in the county of Haddington, and in the Free Church of Scotland. His talents were all put out unsparingly in the Master’s service. He was struck down in the midst of what seemed to many a large measure of health and vigour, promising years of work and usefulness. But all must strive to say, “It is well.” “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

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REV. THOMAS B. DODDS, LOCHEE

(Died January 5, 1889)
Author: Rev. Thomas Hill, Dundee
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April, 1889, Obituary, p.117


Dodds was born in the parish of Edrom, Berwickshire, on the 11th of April 1817. Those who knew him in his boyhood bear testimony to his blameless conduct, to his filial obedience, and to his close attention to early lessons. From session 1833-34 to 1838-39 he was a student in the University of Edinburgh, where he had for class-fellows and friends the well-known and much-revered Dr. Cairns of the United Presbyterian Church, and Dr. MacDuff of the Established Church. At the close of his university course he entered the Divinity Hall, and enjoyed the instruction of Dr. Chalmers. I have heard him refer to this period of his life as that in which he received a higher kind of instruction than school or college can impart — the instruction which proceeds from the enlightening and renewing Spirit of God, and without which no man is qualified to be a minister of Christ, or is capable of dealing with the souls of men.

In November 1842 Mr. Dodds was licensed to preach the gospel by the Established Presbytery of Chirnside. Six months afterwards he cast in his lot with the men of the Disruption, from genuine love to the principles for which they then contended, and which he held unchanged till his dying day.

In February 1844 he was settled in the congregation of Lochee, and proved himself to be a true, sterling man, honest in thought, purpose, and action; outspoken in behalf of what he believed to be scriptural truth, and ready to defend it with a somewhat blunt zeal. Though shy by nature and very reserved to strangers, he was a loving friend, a faithful brother, manly and independent in spirit, unbending in principle, and sincere in heart. “Integrity and uprightness preserved him.”

As a minister he was diligent and unremitting in his work, faithful to his trust, and earnest in pressing his message upon the souls and consciences of men, ever glorying in the cross of Christ and in holding up the crucified One as the hope and help of sinners, as made of God unto those who believe “wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”

In his preparations for the pulpit, in the teaching of his Bible-class, and in the visiting of the aged, the sick, and the dying, he showed special care and attention. His life and his labours were, in short, consecrated to his Lord, and he magnified his office by the unwearied and earnest discharge of its duties, and numbers of souls were given him for his hire.

I have heard him say of late years that he felt increasing pleasure in his blessed work, so that when failing health forced him to retire and place it in the hands of his excellent young colleague, his soul was borne down under the trial, although he resignedly submitted to his Master’s will.

Mr. Dodds passed through much tribulation during the last six or seven years of his life. The death of his amiable and excellent partner in life, and that of his well-known and accomplished son, the Rev. George Theophilus Dodds, who did such noble and successful service in connection with the McAll Mission, and who was cut off in such a sudden and tragic way, were shocks from which he never completely recovered. Disease at length laid its hand upon him, and during the last three years and a half of his life he passed through much suffering; but he knew that all this was the gracious appointment of his redeeming God—the token of his love, the precious gift of his covenant—meant to enrich his soul with grace and make it meet for glory. That was the effect of God’s discipline in the case of his departing minister; and as the friends who visited him towards the end of his life saw the ripening and mellowing influences at work, they felt that the day of harvest and home-gathering was not far off.

The devoutness and faithfulness of the departed are manifested in the entries made from time to time in his note book. “This chapter” (Rom. 8) “is precious to my soul,” he writes. “A very refreshing communion this has been to me,” “Enjoyed this sacramental season greatly. Very earnest with young communicants, and felt constrained to keep a few back.” Yes; and he suffered much odium for his fidelity.

In my conversations with him he once and again expressed his entire confidence in the Saviour whom he had so long preached, and in his atoning sacrifice and his perfect righteousness he founded his hope for acquittal at the judgment-seat and for entrance into the assembly of “just men made perfect.”

“In looking,” said he, “to my past unprofitableness and to my future account, my sole trust is in the cleansing blood of the Lamb slain.” Shortly afterwards he “entered into peace.” “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth.”

Mr. Dodds has left a grown-up family—one son and two daughters.

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REV. THOMAS DOIG, TORRYBURN

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, November 1, 1866, p.19


The Rev. Thomas Doig, of Torryburn, died at his manse there on the afternoon of Wednesday the 26th of September. Mr. Doig was in his usual health on Tuesday afternoon. He preached with his wonted animation to his own people on the previous Sabbath. On Monday he attended the funeral of an old neighbour. After dinner on Tuesday he retired to his study, and was shortly afterwards found by one of his family in a fainting state. Insensibility speedily followed, from which he never rallied—death taking place about twenty-four hours afterwards. In the death of Mr. Doig we have lost one of the links which connects us with the past, and his congregation have lost an intrepid and faithful minister of the word. Never had a Church a more devoted son. He was proud of his Presbyterianism. He loved to think of the Church in which he died as the true representative of the Reformed Church of Scotland —the inheritor of the faith of the old Culdees. He held fast by the Evangelical doctrines of the Westminster Confession, and in these, which he faithfully preached, he found peace and rest for himself. Born at Aberdeen towards the close of the last century—a child of the manse— he was ordained at Arbroath to the second charge of that parish when only twenty-two years of age. A few years thereafter, he was translated to the parish of Torryburn, in which he continued to labour till his death.

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REV. ANDREW DONALD, M.A., BLACKFORD

(Died July 19, 1898)
Author: Rev. John Tainsh, Free Tron Church, Glasgow
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1899, Obituary, p.16


Mr. Donald was born at Aberdeen in 1820. He received his education at the grammar school of his native city, under the famous Melvin, and at Marischal College, where he had as his contemporaries Professor Masson, Dr. George Philip, etc. After he was licensed to preach, soon after the Disruption, Mr. Donald supplied various places for short periods, and in 1845 he was settled at Blackford as the first minister of the congregation. He received a call to St. Fergus, in Aberdeenshire, at the same time, but preferred to go to Blackford.

Mr. Donald was minister at Blackford for the long period of forty-six years, when failing health obliged him to retire from active duty and seek the assistance of a colleague and successor. Since 18111, when the Rev. D. S. McLachlan, M.A., was appointed colleague, Mr. Donald has resided in Edinburgh.

In 1895 his ministerial jubilee was celebrated with great enthusiasm by his congregation and friends, and public testimony was borne from many quarters to the high character of his ministry, and to the enduring fruit of his half century of loving and patient work.

Mr. Donald died at South Morningside, Edinburgh, on the nineteenth of July, after a lengthened illness, which he bore with Christian patience and resignation. He has left a widow, two daughters, and a son, Mr. A. W. Donald, M.A., LL.B., barrister, London.

Mr. Donald was one of the best of our country ministers; a good scholar, a thoughtful, devout, and earnest man, who for fifty years gave himself heart and soul to promote the highest interests, not only of his own congregation, but of the whole community. The estimation in which he was held by the people among whom he lived and laboured can be best expressed by an extract from the beautiful address presented to him on the occasion of his jubilee: “We offer you our sincere congratulations on the fiftieth anniversary of your ordination as our pastor. We gladly embrace the opportunity again gratefully to acknowledge the Lord’s goodness in sending you to us so soon after the Disruption, and in sparing and upholding you in your work among us. Your earnest and unsparing labours are spoken of as a pattern of true, chivalrous service to Christ, and will, in days to come, live as an inspiring influence for good. To your zeal and liberality we are greatly indebted for our admirable congregational buildings. Very specially we desire to thank you this day for your loving care of the flock, your diligent and friendly visiting of our homes, your kindly and generous ministries to the sick and the poor among us, in your tender care of our children, for your faithful testimony to Christ in the pulpit, and your witnessing of Him by your Christian life among us.” This is a high eulogium, and it could not be honestly spoken of many a man; but to those who knew Mr. Donald intimately, and the character of his ministry, it is the language of truth and soberness.”

Phillips Brooks, in his Lectures on Preaching, says that the sermon is the man plus the manuscript. Often the second is the more important, occasionally it is the first. In Mr. Donald’s case, while his preaching was always interesting, faithful, and earnest, the power that gave all he said such weight and influence was the nobility of character so manifest in the man. He was transparently simple and honest; his whole life was consecrated to his work; all he said and did was meant to promote “the ends of the ministry.” There was no service, however humble, which he was unwilling to render to the poorest. Not a few characteristic anecdotes of this kindliness, which so endeared him to the people of Blackford, are current. I may be allowed to refer to one. A gentleman, who now occupies a prominent position in the west of Scotland, told the writer that one day, when living near Blackford, he met Mr. Donald in the early morning carrying a large bundle to a poor woman who lived miles away in a lonely house among the hills. My informant was at that time personally unknown to Mr. Donald; but he told me that, for long after, that accidental meeting in the morning twilight helped not a little to make him feel the power of the gospel which he heard Mr. Donald preach. This incident was thoroughly characteristic of the man. He never regarded himself, or dwelt upon what was due to him. He was always on the outlook to do a kindly turn to anybody who needed it, irrespective of church connection; it was enough that they needed help and he could render it.

Much may be said for short ministries, both from the side of congregations and ministers; but, undoubtedly, given such a man as Andrew Donald, there can be no greater blessing to any district than that the people should have such an one among them for half a century; his influence for good becomes incalculable, and the gospel of Christ has a power on his lips which no merely eloquent preaching can ever give it.

Mr. Donald’s name in Blackford will be handed down as one who faithfully preached “Christ crucified,” and who cared for nothing except the glory of his Master and the salvation of men.

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REV. JOHN DONALDSON, CERES

(Died April 18, 1879)
Author: Rev. J.W. Taylor, Flisk and Creich
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.199


Mr. Donaldson has been withdrawn for so many years from the active duties of the ministry, that to some he may appear as one who has been long since dead. Yet it was only in April last that he died.

In 1818 he was born in Edinburgh. He was brought up in the High School, and under Dr. Carson acquired a love for Latin which was an enjoyment to him all through life. With many scholars, he felt that theological thought never appeared so grand as when presented in stately Latin. Herman Witsius of Leyden was his great favourite, and no occupation was more congenial to him than the translation of the writings of that “consummate theologian.” He published, in 1856, a translation of an inaugural oration by Witsius, ”On the Character of the True Divine,” to which Principal Cunningham contributed a prefatory note. In 1877 he prepared, mostly on a sick-bed, a translation of Witsius, ”On the Authorship of the Pentateuch by Moses.” The preface and annotations give indications of the minute erudition of Mr. Donaldson.

It was the wish of his parents that he should be educated for the ministry. But his own conscientiousness interposed. He felt that he wanted what was essential to the work, and that he was debarred by his previous life of indifference and ungodliness. But this bar was effectually taken out of the way. One day he was reading in the Greek Testament the third chapter of John’s Gospel. While engaged in reading, he got a sight of regeneration on its evangelical side. As he read he felt, That is the very thing for me; that is the true remedy for my godless heart and worldly life. The very possibility of his being born again gave him such joy, that he fell down on his knees and gave God thanks for a doctrine so gracious, being assured that “to be born again” was the only and the real cure of all his spiritual maladies. “Sae marvellouslie does our mynds and wills, by the virtue of God’s Spirit, concert in ane harmonie” with God’s will; and this doctrine of regeneration, against which the natural heart rises in hatred, becomes to a convinced soul as the very balm of Gilead.

In 1837 and 1838 he acted as tutor at Dirleton. While there a fellow-student of kindred feelings happened to be residing in the neighbourhood, and the two used almost daily to meet for prayer and the study of the Bible, judging this to be the fittest preparation for their divinity studies. He was privileged to have Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Welsh as his theological professors, and in 1839 he printed and circulated “An Appeal to Christians for Prayer on Behalf of Students.”

Mr. Donaldson was licensed by the Presbytery of Montrose while staying with his friend, Mr. Craven, minister at Maryton. For a time he acted as assistant to the Rev. Andrew Melville of Logie. The united congregations of Logie and Gauldry invited him to be their minister; but receiving at the same time a call from Ceres, he gave the preference to Ceres, as being the easier charge.

He entered on his ministry at Ceres under the most elevated impressions. He remembered that about a century and a half before, the godly Halyburton had preceded him in that ministry; and one of his first services was to print, for the benefit of his people, the first sermon which Halyburton had preached as minister of Ceres, under the title, “The Designs which a People should have in Calling a Minister to Labour among them.” He thought himself happy in getting Professor Dr. John Duncan to prefix a few weighty sentences by way of introducing the sermon.

His whole soul and strength were now thrown into his ministry, and his single-minded aim was to commend Christ as the alone and all-sufficient Saviour of sinners. He was well versed in all that a college curriculum communicates. In some departments his scholarship was exact. He had the widest knowledge of books, yet the Scriptures were to him the chief armoury from which he drew the weapons of his warfare. It was the vital principles of divine truth he dealt with in his preaching, —the vicarious atonement of Christ, the doctrines and efficiency of free grace, the covenant theology of Scotland, the free offer of the gospel, and the practical fruits of the gospel in daily life. Everything was full of promise. The congregation was good. There was an influential kirk-session. On Sabbath all were forced to admit the urgency of the preaching; and if from its very earnestness it sometimes lacked gentleness, the serious-minded and thoughtful only saw in this a proof of the preacher’s consuming zeal for the highest interests of his hearers.

No one will wonder if the constant pressure of ill-health imparted to Mr. Donaldson a certain appearance of severity, and even acerbity of manner. Strangers were apt to feel this; but when one got to know him, there was a real wealth of geniality in him, warmth of feeling, true kindliness, and, in his happier moods, enlivening wit and humour. His own remarks regarding Dr. Love of Glasgow apply most appropriately to himself. “There has always been,” he wrote to a friend, “too much suppression of all particulars of Dr. Love’s personal and social characteristics. Even in the ‘Letters’ almost all was kept out but what was purely spiritual. Hence an aspect of unapproachable austerity is supposed to have been his prevalent mood. The word ‘recreation’ occurs only once in all his sermons. I understand he was marked by the possession and exercise of a high degree of wit, and was most loving and lovable.” All this might be transferred to Mr. Donaldson himself.

To his congregation his kindliness showed itself in judicious and practical ways. He was ready to encourage and help young men in their studies. He advanced little loans to the poor on occasions when they had the opportunity of benefiting themselves, and small benefactions he extended to others, as his means allowed. Here is a testimony to true kindliness in another direction. A young gentleman writes: “Mr. Donaldson was the first friend who ever dealt closely with me on religious subjects.”

It was amid uncertain health and many break-downs that he carried on his ministry from the very beginning. Everything he could think of to enable him to go on he tried, for he was loath to give up his much-loved work. He took to a pony, that he might be able to overtake the visitation of the sick. Occasional pulpit help he got, and then frequent help; and as infirmity increased, he employed resident assistants, and these he at length exchanged for a colleague in 1861, when Mr. Geddie, now minister at Banff, was ordained to that office.

Ever since then, to use his own words, “he was sequestered in solitude.” His life has been a long illness. A great part of it has been spent in bed. Yet has he had what old Humphrey called “mitigations,” and these mitigations have been many. He enjoyed for eighteen years the watchful, friendly, skilful care of Dr. George Keith. He had the soothing companionship of his wife and daughter; he had his mechanical and literary tastes to entertain him; he had the constantly recurring summer change to Cockburnspath to cheer him.

All through he found that “strong meat” was needed for his high-set temperament and for his exercised spirit; and as his troubles grew it was in the trusted Word of God he got up-bearing. Increasingly, to the end, he found “this word of thine is my comfort in mine affliction.” Dr. Owen was a great favourite with him. “Owen on Communion with God,” “Owen on the 130th Psalm,” and on the “Glory of Christ,” formed part of his latest readings.

Congestion of the brain occurred on the 21st October 1878. This and the severe winter lowered the vital powers; the shattered nerves got weaker, and he became subject to what he called “panics.” While the panic lasted he felt forsaken, and could recall nothing on which to rest. It was during night, when darkness magnifies trouble, that these panics were most formidable. He knew that they were the manifestations of physical weakness, and he could generally anticipate their approach, when he fled at once for refuge to the faithful promises of God. It is worthy of being noted that it was in the same harbour where first he cast anchor that he found, amid his latest tossings, rest and quieting. It was to Ezekiel 36:26 and 27, where the promise of regeneration, “A new heart also will I give you,” is displayed, that he betook himself in the extremity of his panics, and this passage often brought him light, and saving strength, and deliverance.

God was pleased to grant him his desire, that in his dying hours he might be spared suffering. He was seized with apoplexy on April 14, and in a state of unconsciousness passed away on the evening of the same day from all his afflictions into the saints’ everlasting rest.

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REV. WILLIAM DOUGALL, STONEHAVEN

(Died October 21, 1889)
Author: Rev. George Anderson, St. Cyrus
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1890, Obituary, p.180


William Dougall was a native of Auchterarder, and was a fruit of the Disruption. His earnest character and his resolve to study for the Church were the result of those stirring times, when so many young men received the quickening of the “Spirit,” and were led to turn their thoughts to the ministry of Christ. He spent his student days in Edinburgh, first at the University, and afterwards at the New College; and he is remembered by those who were his associates at the Hall as one who was possessed of a singularly modest and amiable disposition.

After receiving license, he laboured for some time at Tarland and Crathie, where his services were much appreciated, and where he did good and enduring work. He was ordained as minister of the congregation in Stonehaven in 1858, and wrought happily and successfully there till his retirement through severe and incurable sickness in 1886. The congregation continued united and hearty under his charge, and prospered very considerably in numbers and in finance. A beautiful new church was built and cleared of debt through his instrumentality and the co-operation of a willing people.

Mr. Dougall was a faithful preacher of the gospel, and a diligent pastor, who set before him as his high aim in all that he did the bringing of souls to Christ, and who had deeply at heart the spiritual well-being of old and young. His affectionate nature and wise and kindly ways, and his evident sincerity and devoutness, drew to him all hearts, and made him universally esteemed. He was the friend of all, and his death was lamented by the whole community. As a proof of the regard in which he was held by his own people, the congregation, considering its size and its resources, made a most generous provision for him on his retirement, and gave an example of liberality which might well be followed by others in similar circumstances. He did not live long to enjoy it. His death came suddenly at last, but it did not take him unawares. He had often said that he felt weary, and longed to be at rest. Death had no terrors for one who clung so simply to Christ, and whose life had been such a beautiful exemplification of Christian consistency and love. Mr. Dougall was predeceased by his wife a good many years before, and is survived by a grown-up daughter and two sons, who have the sweet memory of a gracious and loving father to cheer their bereavement.

Mr. Dougall died at Auchterarder, to which place he had removed his home in the spring of 1888; and his remains were laid beside those of his wife in the picturesque churchyard of Fetteresso. Most truly may it be said of this humble and good minister of Jesus Christ—”Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord: for they rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

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REV. CARSTAIRS DOUGLAS, M.A., LL.D.

(Died July 26, 1877)
Author: John M. Douglas, Esq., London
The Free Church Monthly, November 1, 1877, p.274


Carstairs Douglas was born at Kilbarchan Manse, Renfrewshire, 27th December 1830, the youngest of a large family, another son being the Rev. George C.M. Douglas, D.D., Principal of the Free Church (Divinity) College, Glasgow, and all the other survivors being workers in the Church. Their father, the Rev. Robert Douglas, passed a long and useful life as minister of that parish; a man of learning as multifarious and extensive as his library, which not only filled two rooms appropriated to it, but overflowed the whole house. His thoughtful conversation constantly and pleasantly distilled his knowledge into the minds of those around him, especially the young, to whom he loved to expound his ripe conclusions in amusing forms which were never forgotten. His sons were educated by himself, at home, during their younger years, in which he was efficiently aided by his good and wise wife. She was descended from a long line of ministers, and made full and profitable use of the library which surrounded her. Left a widow in 1817, she joyfully encouraged Carstairs in giving himself to China, and watched his every movement there. Her house was his home in all his holidays as a student, and his furloughs as a missionary. She greatly contributed to form his active, accurate, decided habits. And he tenderly returned her love and care. During all his wanderings he never once missed writing to her by the homeward mail. She died about ten days after he last set out for China.

He played as a child and learned as a boy amid the paternal wilderness of literature, from which he extracted much enjoyment and varied knowledge, being a great reader and digester of books, without being a bookworm. When old enough he went to the University of Glasgow, as his five brothers had previously done. There he studied from October 1845 till April 1851, and at the end of each of these six yearly sessions he received prizes, including at least two first and two second “class” prizes, some first special competition prizes, and various special prizes. These distinctions were earned in every department of study, but chiefly in the later years, and in logic, mathematics, and natural philosophy, ending by taking the degree of M.A., with honours. His University long afterwards recognized his learning by bestowing on him the degree of LL.D.

While a student at Glasgow he was much under the ministry of the late Rev. William Arnot, whose great acquirements, genial kindness, and manly practical wisdom, had singular influence among young men; and he benefited much by a weekly Greek Testament class which Mr. Arnot taught.

While a student he was fortunate in enjoying the close friendship of various young men who have since been eminent, and it was his habit to learn something from everybody. Two of these, who have since become Professor Sir William Thomson and Professor James Thomson, with their able father, were among the early disciples of phonography, then newly invented. Carstairs caught their enthusiasm for it, and cultivated it to the last, holding it in high esteem as a means of learning, and finding its principles of special value for catching and recording the Chinese sounds, which vary in singular ways, and which need to be much more accurately known than in Western languages, where a word can generally be understood, and bears the same meaning, though pronounced in every variety of tone; while, on the contrary, the same Chinese word is made to express several entirely distinct meanings, according to the tone employed in pronouncing it.

He studied divinity at the Free Church College, Edinburgh, for the required course of four years (sessions 1851-55), where, besides paying close attention to the ordinary studies, he devoted much time and thought to three special subjects. The first was temperance (that is, total abstinence from intoxicating liquors, unless medicinally), whose principles he studied closely, and perseveringly carried out ever after, with full conviction of great personal comfort and advantage; and he laboured hard to disseminate them among his fellow-students, organizing a strong society among them and another in the University, which were of great use. He kept up his temperance reading to the end of his life, supplying himself with new publications of mark on its various aspects, and did what he could for the cause, publicly and privately, in Europe and in China. Probably the last temperance meeting he addressed was at Shanghai, just two months before his death, when he spoke very earnestly on the subject. The second subject was elocution, in which he took regular lessons for years, and carefully put them in practice, making his reading and speaking singularly clear and effective, though quiet. The third subject was public speaking, for which he became a member of the Speculative Society, an Edinburgh debating club, celebrated for generations as a training school for speakers, many historic names being on its rolls. It then was — and probably still is — occasionally attended by some of the leading counsel of the day, and even sometimes by a judge of the Supreme Court, which keeps up its tone. Most of the members were young counsel. For its frequent meetings he carefully prepared, and constantly took part in the debates, gaining thereby readiness, accuracy, and clearness in extempore statement. All these acquirements were so thoroughly made his own that they seemed to be natural to him, whereas they were really the results of skilful and persevering cultivation.

While in Edinburgh he took part in a great many meetings, both evangelistic and temperance, and taught in Sunday schools for the roughest class of boys. He did this not only for the sake of the good to be done by them, but with a direct view to the great good to be got by himself from them, judging that to win and keep the attention of miscellaneous meetings (where the audience were not restrained by the conventionalities and solemnity of a church), and of street Arabs, was a sure training for success with congregations at home or with heathens abroad. The temperance meetings he very specially valued in this point of view, and used to speak of the advantage of seeing others better received than himself; of so learning his defects and getting over them. There he learned to use that pellucid arrangement of simple and generally Saxon words which the common people understand, and which every audience loves, because the meaning of the speaker is fully apprehended without effort. For few things had he a greater contempt than the use of scholastic words in preaching, however useful they are in study.

He was a member, during his later sessions at Glasgow, of the Free Church Students’ Missionary Society, and in Edinburgh of the similar society connected with his college. In these he took a very deep interest, and they doubtless cherished and intensified the missionary (or aggressive) spirit which was to rule his after life. The students’ Saturday prayer-meetings, suggested by Dr. Duncan, were greatly enjoyed by him. “Even then,” writes his fellow-student and friend, the Rev. D. MacCoIl, now of Kensington, for many years one of the most laborious and successful home missionaries, “the devotional element was a very marked feature in his character. With all his boyish love of harmless mirth there was a deep under-current of devotion that never got long out of sight. This ceaseless happy godliness was doubtless at the root of a rare and beautiful characteristic, his shrinking, with what seemed a physical sensitiveness, from any gossip, and his almost girlish modesty and purity of mind.”

During his vacations he spent a good deal of time abroad and elsewhere from home, partly as a tutor in families, always widening his knowledge, and cultivating personal tact and address, on which he set great value, as instruments of usefulness too often awanting.

He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Glasgow on the 7th February 1855, and ordained a fortnight later in St. Matthew’s Free Church there by his friend Mr. Arnot, two or three months being abated from his last session to allow of his sailing for China in March 1855 with the Rev. W.C. Burns.

When young he learned a little music, and while a student in Edinburgh he, with some fellow-students, attended a class for singing church music, which was then beginning to receive more care than formerly; and, under the skilful direction of Mr. Hately and others, he not only learned to sing with correctness, but to understand the principles of the best congregational psalmody. He took with him to China a good concertina, selecting it as a portable instrument, on which he played well. And while in China he caused endless supplies of sacred music-books and hymn-books to be sent him, in every good edition he could hear of, and also procured an American organ, in which he delighted. The Chinese service of song was the object of these studies, which he had much at heart. He took part in composing a Chinese hymn-book, which is popular among the converts, and was the joint work of several missions. And he got up a sol-fa music-book for it, adapting good tunes to the native voice, which does not easily sound semi-tones. From this book, when time allowed him, he taught not only the students in the Training Institutions, but the children in the juvenile schools, with much success, and with enjoyment to himself as well as to the receivers of a musical education so novel, and so much in advance of their national music. He thought the choice of good hymns and music, and the good singing of them, was most important, not only for attracting and instructing men, but for glorifying God; and though, like life, it must sometimes be sad, he thought it should mainly be cheerful, vigorous, stirring, and even joyful, as a Christian’s life should be. His own feelings were kept under great control, but they came out strongly when singing by himself, as he might often be heard to do, from the endless stores in his memory. The “Book of Praise,” so carefully compiled by Sir Roundell Palmer (Lord Selborne), was his special favourite.

He was able to accomplish all these things and many others, by habits of incessant activity and self-discipline. He used up every fragment of time, enjoying life amazingly, with a keen zest for society, in which his genial cheerfulness made him always welcome to old and young; and he had a strong appreciation of the beautiful in nature and art. But he allowed nothing to turn him aside from whatever tasks he allotted himself for the day, all of which were minutely prearranged in his mind, just as his routes were in the maps which he accumulated wherever he went, and which he mastered like a Prussian staff-officer. One of his last letters, received some weeks after his death, asks for two good, modern maps of the seats of war in Bulgaria and Armenia to be sent him at once. During his last furlough he was busy on his dictionary, the huge manuscript folios of which accompanied him on each of his many journeys to visit the churches and plead the cause of China from Cornwall to Caithness. No week-day passed without work upon it. When with his relations he gave eight hours daily to it, whatever else might be in hand. And when the last sheet had passed through the printing-press he at once bade farewell to those he loved at home, and started for his beloved China. The dictionary was published in 1873 by Trübner & Co., of London, a royal octavo of 612 pages.

Amid all his mental activity he was studiously careful of bodily health. He loved exercise, especially walking, rowing, and swimming, and never omitted to secure a large daily share of it. His walks were remarkable for their length and quickness. Always pale in colour, and somewhat spare in form, his activity and vitality were unfailing, and his health, like his good temper, was absolutely unbroken from childhood till he went to China. And it remained good generally down to his short fatal illness, except what he suffered from those diseases of climate which assail most Europeans under the sun of South China, and which, with his incessant labours, had undoubtedly weakened his constitution, and prepared him to succumb more readily to the final attack. In China, as elsewhere, he kept up his habits of exercise and temperance, and many were his long marches over its hills and valleys, often twenty miles and more by moonlight.

Others may speak of his life-work as a missionary preacher of the gospel, but this notice is designed to show what manner of man he was, and how he became, or rather made himself, what he was, so fitted to be specially useful, by special preparation and preservation of every faculty of body and mind. If he excelled, it was greatly through this completeness. And any young man who has energy and perseverance to use the same means may attain to many of the same excellences. It is remembered of him that when a student he used to hold up the example of the careful Jesuit training, and the consequent Jesuit success, and to maintain that our good cause much better deserved such training, and, however good in itself, could not expect to succeed by agents who are merely taught intellectually, but not trained for their special work.

He was a Presbyterian minister, always ready to uphold Presbyterianism as the best combination of freedom and order, besides being most ancient and Scriptural; and nothing delighted him more than to explain to occasional objectors of other denominations, who had never looked outside of their own Church, that their systems were local and single-tongued, while his was naturally polyglot, and indigenous throughout the Protestant world. But no one was less bigoted or less ecclesiastic; none was more ready in cooperation and fellowship with other Christians of all Churches — English, American, and foreign — undeterred by differences of form, provided they held the Head.

The iniquities, oppressions, cruelties, and wrongs of Chinese rule grieved him to the heart, inflicted and initiated and maintained as these are, not only by the State and the great officers, but by every official, down to the pettiest tipstaff or beadle, because wrong produces direct profit to all and each in turn; whereas if right ruled, they would be told, as John told the soldiers, “to be content with their wages,” a text of which he often said mere European life could not show the meaning. His life so often among the natives let him see these things in their sad though often grotesque detail. And he grieved to mark the progressive decay of a once great people, dying of the corruption that pervades, or rather constitutes, its political and social life. But withal he trusted that Christ’s righteousness would exalt the Chinese nation, great not only in number, but in physical and intellectual qualities, to its proper high place among the nations of the earth.

All his work, from an early age to the end, was vivified by a strong and steady faith, which gave present substance and constant power to the things not seen as yet, and diffused itself as a joyous life through his whole existence. He heartily adopted the common-sense argument of Paul, that without a sure faith their missionary life would have been folly; but, knowing Him whom they believed, it was the highest wisdom and the greatest happiness.

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REV. HENRY M. DOUGLAS, KIRKCALDY

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, December 1, 1866, p.19


It is impossible, within the brief space at our command, to do anything like justice, to the character, talents, and attainments of this remarkable and much-lamented young minister. This, however, is the less to be regretted, as it is in contemplation, we understand, to publish a memorial volume, containing selections from his manuscripts and a sketch of his life.

Mr. Douglas was born and educated in Edinburgh; and for some time he studied in the University of Berlin. He was ordained to the office of the ministry at Bonhill in 1857, and translated to Kirkcaldy in 1860. In the latter sphere he laboured precisely six years, and, after a very short illness, during which he gave clear and comforting expression of his faith and hope, he died on the 22nd ult., aged thirty-four years.

Mr. Douglas was possessed of very high endowments. His mind was eminently a sound and healthy one. His clearness and force of intellect enabled him to present truth to the understanding and the conscience apparently without effort, and yet with singular effectiveness. His views of the gospel system, while thoroughly accordant with the standards of the Church, were stated with a freshness and directness which showed that they had not been taken up at second hand, but carefully elaborated in his own mind. For his years, he had not only reflected deeply but read extensively; and his stores of literary, philosophical, and theological knowledge, contributed materially to the charm of his preaching and his conversation. With the processes and the results of German thinking he was unusually well acquainted; and, in his case, this attainment was not marred by a vain philosophy that lures the mind away from “the simplicity that is in Christ.” Then he had a resolute courageous spirit. He was not afraid to grapple with error, and he was not afraid to state openly and directly what he believed and felt to be the truth. Such a man, had his life been prolonged, would have proved a champion of no common mark, and would have done much valuable service in the warfare with rationalism and infidelity.

But it was the will of the Almighty Disposer that he should be cut down in his prime. His large and important congregation mourn the loss they have sustained. Throughout the community to which lie belonged, there is deep respect for the memory of one who, while most genial in social intercourse, was not sparing of his testimony against prevailing evils; and his private friends, though not blind to his failings—and these were such as are almost inseparable from a frank and fearless temperament—will long feel the blank which his removal has occasioned, and often revert with mingled delight and sadness to the happy and profitable hours which they spent in his society.

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REV. WILLIAM DOUGLAS, MUTHILL

(Died February 22, 1874)
Author: Rev. John R. Omond, Monzie
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, Record, June 1, 1874, p.127


Mr. Douglas was born in the parish of Inch in 1807; attended the University of Glasgow; was licensed by the Presbytery of Stranraer in 1833; and after ten years’ service as a probationer in Birmingham and Bolton, in the House of Refuge, Edinburgh, and in Perth, he became, in the summer of the Disruption, minister of the Free Church congregation of Muthill. He had special difficulties to encounter and try his patience; these he met in faith and successfully, and ere long a large and attached flock gathered around him. Careful in his preparations for the pulpit, and sedulous in visiting the congregation, and most attentive to the sick and the aged, so long as health and strength were his, he retained to the last the confidence and affection of his people, whose sympathy and kindness, during the last two years of his life, when weighed down by increasing infirmities, soothed and greatly cheered him; and — fitting termination to a course like his — it was when the congregation were seated around the table of their Lord, on a communion Sabbath, that the Master came to the manse, and gently called his “good and faithful servant” home to his reward. Mr Douglas leaves a widow to lament his loss.

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PROFESSOR HENRY DRUMMOND

(Died March 11, 1897)
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, July, 1897, Obituary, p.172


In submitting to the General Assembly the report of the College Committee, Dr. Stalker spoke as follows in reference to Professor Drummond:—

“In his latest writings Professor Drummond’s position was similar to that of any of us who, seeing a keen young intellect about to commence the study of theology at the present time, might consider it wise to acquaint him beforehand with the views of the Higher Criticism, lest these should come upon him too suddenly, or be heard for the first time from those who use them to undermine the authority of the Bible. Such an inoculation may render the attack of doubt, when it comes, slight and harmless. Professor Drummond believed that the church must accept evolution; but he wished it to learn the facts from one who, while accepting them, had an enthusiastic faith in the Son of God. This I know to have been his deliberate intention; and it is well worth thinking of. We have not done with evolution yet—we have scarcely begun; apologetic science approaches it with timid tread, but it must come to much closer quarters; and theology has no more important work in the present generation. Professor Drummond never reached the heart of the difficulty, which is, how to reconcile with evolution the Christian doctrines of sin and redemption; he was approaching this great question, but he did not live to reach it. Some may think that he lacked the philosophical and theological equipment necessary for such a task; but, on the other hand, he had in an unusual degree the gifts of philosophical imagination and intuition, which, in such a case, may far outrun mere knowledge. At all events, it is certain he would never have believed that he had solved the difficulty by merely explaining away the testimony to sin of the conscience of the individual and the conscience of the race.

“As for his evangelistic work, we shall chiefly miss his rare power of obtaining access to inaccessible classes. Christianity has a debt to pay to the Greek and to the barbarian, to the wise and to the unwise. It may be thought that it is easier to pay the debt to the Greek than to the barbarian, to the wise than to the unwise; but this is not the case. At present I have a hundred men who can deliver the message of the gospel to the barbarian and the unwise and one who can win for it the attention of the Greek and the wise. Yet the noble and the scholar need salvation quite as much as the peasant or even the Magdalene. To make the life of a great university reverent and pure is not every one’s work, and it may be long before it is done again in the way in which Professor Drummond did it in Edinburgh. “I am not forgetting that there may be differences opinion among us as to the value of his work; but at all events there is no difference of opinion as to his character. On the evening of the funeral I wrote to America, to Mr. D. L. Moody the evangelist, to describe the last scenes; and I should like to read a few sentences of his reply:— “‘When the news was brought to me, I was in Cincinnati; and I said publicly that of all the men I had ever met, Henry Drummond was the most Christlike, and that, outside of my two sons, I have never loved a man as I have him. No man has ever been with me for any length of time but could see some things in him that were unlike Christ, and I often see them in myself, but I never saw them in Henry Drummond. All the time we worked together he was a Christlike man, and often a rebuke to me. I am looking forward to meet him in a land where there will be no misunderstanding, but all will be joy and love; and my prayer is that God may make us more like him in our private life.'”

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REV. JAMES DRUMMOND, MILLPORT

The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, February 15, 1862


Died at Millport, on the 28th ult., the Rev. James Drummond, Senior Minister of the Free Church congregation there. Mr Drummond had reached the age of 83. He came to Millport about the year 1823 and acted for eight years as assistant, before he became sole minister of the parish. After labouring faithfully, preaching a pure gospel, he cast in his lot at the Disruption with the Free Church. About ten years ago, his memory began to fail, and a colleague was appointed to him. He continued, however, still to go in and out amongst his people, his visits being highly prized by the sick and the aged. In January 1860 a stroke of paralysis partially disabled him, and since then he has been confined almost constantly to his room.

Mr. Drummond was deservedly esteemed in Millport as a faithful preacher of the word. The old people who remember the earlier years of his ministry, cherish for him a very warm regard. No one could be long with him, without being struck by his thorough straightforwardness, and still more by his simple, unfeigned piety. His friends will think, and his people speak of him, as a “good and faithful servant” of the Lord.

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REV. JAMES DRUMMOND, FORGANDENNY

(Died September 14, 1885)
Author: Rev. R. Stevenson, Abernethy
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November 2, 1885, Biographical Notices, p.341


Mr. Drummond, who was born at Saline in 1799, was early led to consecrate himself to Christ’s service. In the year 1818 he entered the University of Edinburgh, where he completed his literary and theological curriculum, and where he appears to have been a diligent and devoted student, respected and loved by all who knew him. In 1826, almost as soon as licensed, he was chosen to be assistant to the Rev. Mr. Laing of Crieff, with whom he laboured for two years, and not without some fruit of his labour. In 1828 he accepted the presentation to the parish of Forgandenny, and was ordained by the Presbytery of Perth, being cordially welcomed as a worthy successor to the Rev. Mr. Willison of pious memory.

Not long after this harmonious settlement, Mr. Drummond was happily united in marriage to Miss Hogg of Valleyfield, who proved to him in every respect an helpmate indeed; but he was called to mourn her losss in October 1853. This was not only a sore trial to him, but one of a peculiarly touching and tender nature.

During those fifteen years prior to the Disruption period, Mr. Drummond laboured assiduously, faithfully, and systematically in his parish. By a diligent study of the Word of God—especially the New Testament in the original, with which he was intimately acquainted—by a wide and wisely selected reading of literature, along with an intelligent and keenly observant eye, he was always accumulating fresh stores of material for his ministerial work, so that as a scribe he was well instructed in the things of the kingdom of God, and as a wise householder was able to bring out of his treasures things new and old. Those who were privileged to hear him preach were struck with his earnest manner, his clear and powerful voice, the perspicuity of his style, the solidity of his thoughts, and the rich unction of his spirit. They felt that he spoke because he believed; wherever he preached his services were highly appreciated.

Mr. Drummond approved himself not only an able evangelical preacher, but also as peculiarly assiduous in the fulfilment of all other duties as a pastor,—in visiting from house to house, in catechising the young, in relieving the poor, in ministering by the bedside of the sick and dying. In the discharge of these duties he was remarkably painstaking and successful.

When the Disruption took place, it is well known the noble stand which he made for principles which he regarded as involving Christ’s crown rights and the liberties of the Christian people.

For these principles he sacrificed and suffered much. Into the details of the powerful and persistent attempts that were made to prevent the Free Church from getting a footing in Forgandenny we do not here enter; a record of some of them will be found in Mr. Drummond’s own words as published in “The Annals of the Disruption;” but this must be said, that to the principles of the Free Church, as embodied in the Protest and Claim of Right, in all their integrity, and as expounded and advocated by the noble band of leaders at the Disruption period, Mr. Drummond steadfastly adhered to the very last. He was a man of strong, stern, unbending principle, a man not given to change.

Twenty years after the Disruption, on the occasion of a vacancy in the parish church, a proposal was made to Mr. Drummond that he should accept the presentation and return to his former position. The offer was made, perhaps, from kind intentions on the part of the patron, but was of course politely yet firmly and decidedly refused.

Mr. Drummond’s health suffered considerably from the long and trying experience through which he had been called to pass, and a change of climate and scenery was considered advisable. Accordingly, in January 1854 he was sent by the Colonial Committee of the Free Church to take charge of and minister to our important Presbyterian congregation at Gibraltar. He remained there five months, and was much esteemed for his consistent Christian character, his kind and gentlemanly manner, and his earnest evangelical preaching. His services were so highly appreciated that it was proposed an effort should be made to retain him as their permanent minister at Gibraltar. His translation had been desired by other congregations, but he would listen to no proposal to separate him from his own people.

He returned much benefited by the change, to resume at Forgandenny his labours, which were not in vain in the Lord. To many they have been blessed, and who will be to him a crown of joy and rejoicing.

For several years previous to his death, Mr. Drummond required the aid of a colleague, being laid aside from preaching by an affection of the heart, which caused him occasionally great suffering, but which he endured with truly Christian patience and resignation. He seemed afraid lest at any time he should murmur or complain under the Lord’s chastening hand. As his affliction abounded, so also did his consolation. He was much engaged in prayer and meditation. There was during the latter months of his earthly life a rapid ripening for glory. His heavenly-mindedness was increasingly visible. There was no ostentatious display of piety. To anything of this nature he had an utter aversion; but his whole spirit and manner showed plainly that out of the abundance of his heart he spoke—that his affections were set on things above. “I have been thinking,” said he, “a great deal about the unspeakable blessedness I shall enjoy in seeing Christ as he is.”

He had not long to wait for this, the desire of his soul. On the morning of 14th September he departed this life in perfect peace, and entered into the rest which remains for the people of God. By those who knew Mr. Drummond intimately he was greatly beloved, and by the entire community he was highly respected. The Rev. Robert Cowan, of Free High Church, Elgin, and formerly of Perth, writes:—”I feel thankful to God that from the beginning of my ministry I had the example in the Presbytery of such a father in the work of the gospel. He did us all good. We thought of his approval in the steps we took and way we conducted ourselves; and we had in memory his faithfulness amid unusual trials, as that of one who would be ‘faithful unto death,’ and of whom we are sure now that he has obtained the crown of life.”

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REV. JAMES DRYSDALE, TOLLCROSS

(Died March 19, 1892)
Author: Rev. D. M. Connell, Govan
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, June, 1892, Obituary, p.150


Mr. Drysdale was born in Fortingall, Perthshire, in 1830. His father was one of the many admirers and followers of the late Rev. William C. Burns. His mother was long noted in the district for piety and zeal in the Redeemer’s cause. She was a true Christian worker and tract-distributer, particularly at markets and public gatherings, and that at a time and in a locality where such efforts in Christian work “were few and far between.” Having resolved to consecrate himself to the Master’s service, Mr. Drysdale pursued his studies with a view to the ministry of the Free Church in Glasgow. His public labours were begun at Tollcross, which was then a preaching-station. Here he laboured with commendable assiduity and earnestness for about four years previous to his ordination. Encountering many opposing obstacles which caused others to retreat from the sphere, he, by dint of perseverance and faithful discharge of duty, gathered and consolidated a congregation, composed principally of miners, over which the Presbytery of Glasgow ordained him in 1871. His previous experience as a teacher of youth stood him in good stead, giving him aptness in teaching, which soon attracted to his Bible-class about one hundred and fifty young people, who loved and esteemed him, and who became the force and stay of his constantly increasing congregation.

Mainly through his efforts, a commodious and comfortable church and manse were erected. The erection of these super-induced a heavy burden of debt. He resolved, by God’s blessing, to remove this burden. He succeeded in wiping it entirely off; and just when freed from this incubus, the Master whom he desired to honour in his service translated him to the Church triumphant. Before he was called hence, however, he had, by the blessing of God, the satisfaction of seeing his church practically filled with a devoted, affectionate, and attentive flock. The love cherished toward him, and the high esteem in which he was held, were made manifest by the very considerable number of office-bearers and others of his flock who accompanied his remains to Fortingall churchyard.

The following quotation is from a letter by a respected elder who laboured heart and hand along with him during his work of twenty-five years at Tollcross:—

“When Mr. Drysdale came to Tollcross, twenty-five years ago, the station was far from being very inviting. Several missionaries had been there, but gave up the field as hopeless. Amid many discouragements he persevered in his labours, till he had the pleasure of seeing the work of the Lord prospering in his hands. His preaching was simple, natural, and unaffected, and left an impression not soon to be forgotten.

“One of the principal features of his ministry was his house-to-house visitation. Often was he seen at night calling on members of his flock after their labours for the day were over, and ministering words of lasting comfort and wise counsel. His mild and amiable manner made him a welcome visitor at all times, but particularly in times of sickness and death. His visits were not confined to his own congregation; he was always ready to give his services wherever they were asked. His ministry and daily life have left abiding fruits in our midst. Till about two months before his death he enjoyed good health. He began then to complain of failing strength, and did not preach for two Sabbaths. The third being communion Sabbath, he proposed to preach. I endeavoured to dissuade him from doing so, as he was far from well. Though weak, he got over the duties tolerably well. In closing his table address he exhorted his flock to be faithful unto death, remarking that at every communion he missed some who were present on the last occasion. But these only changed places. They were called to the table on high. Before pronouncing the benediction, he gave them, as was his wont, a portion of Scripture to take home. On this occasion it was Jude 24, 25.”
Shortly before his death, and with no faltering voice, he gave his brother the clearest and strongest indications that he was going to be with Jesus, whom he loved. Thus did Mr. Drysdale die in the full assurance of that faith which he preached with so much earnestness and unction to others. ”Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Amen.

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REV. ALEXANDER DUFF, D.D., LL.D.

(Died February 12, 1878)
Author: Thomas Smith, D.D., Cowgatehead
The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1878, p.95


The life of Dr. Duff has been so public a one, and his public proceedings have for the last thirty years been so minutely detailed in the Free Church Record, that a very short obituary notice is all that is required. All the more is a lengthened notice unnecessary, because the universal grief occasioned by Dr. Duff’s removal has already found expression in almost every Free Church pulpit throughout the land; and that expression has been extensively circulated by the periodical press. Moreover, it might have been taken for granted, even if it had not been announced — as it has been — that a detailed memoir of so distinguished a man would be produced. In this notice, therefore, I shall do little more than state a few facts and dates in the history of a man who has long been recognized as the most distinguished minister of our Church, the most fragrant of those “flowers of our forest” who are so rapidly being “weed away.”

Alexander Duff was born in 1806 at Auchnahyle, in the parish of Moulin in Perthshire. His parents, little imagining how precious a trust was committed to them, in respect of the influence which their son was to exercise upon the Churches of Christendom and the heathen world, yet recognized the sacredness of that trust, and earnestly sought the divine help in training their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Many a time have I heard Dr. Duff speak in general terms of the unspeakable obligation under which he lay to his Christian parents; but on this, as well as on all subjects relating to his personal history and private feelings, he was ever chary of entering into details. I never heard him speak much of his school-boy days; while he was full of reminiscences of St. Andrews, its architectural wonders, its professors, and his fellow-students. So constantly did I hear him and our beloved colleagues, Dr. Mackay and Dr. Ewart, dwell lovingly upon these reminiscences, that I used to say that I had a more intimate acquaintance with the professors and students of St. Andrews than with those of Edinburgh, and that I was in danger of being led to distrust my personal identity, or to suppose that in a previous birth I had studied under Dr. Hunter, and Dr. Duncan, and Dr. Jackson, and especially under the professor of Moral Philosophy at St. Andrews, rather than under the professor of Theology in Edinburgh.

From the constancy of his references to all the events of his college life and surroundings, as contrasted with his reticence respecting those of his school-boy days at Kirkmichael and Perth, I should infer that his mind made a rapid start on his transference from school to college. This is the case with many young students, and I could well believe that it would be so with him, on whose mind the traditions of the place, and the thousand associations connected with its buildings and its streets and its colleges, must have made a most profound impression, and must have called forth and developed, as no other influences could have done, the peculiar powers of his mind and the ardent emotions of his heart. His career at the university was a distinguished one. But the extra-academical influence of Dr. Chalmers, in leading him and others to take part in Christian work, and in encouraging their aspirations for the spread of the knowledge of the glorious gospel, was the main element that contributed to making him what he became. At the close of his curriculum he was licensed by the Presbytery of St. Andrews, and was immediately appointed by the Foreign Missions Committee as the first missionary of the Church of Scotland. On 30th July 1829 he married Miss Ann Scott Drysdale. On the 12th of August he was ordained to the office of the ministry; and in October he set sail for India. “The Wreck of the Lady Holland ” was, so far as I know, his first publication; and it is characterized by the same peculiarities of thought and language which distinguish his numerous public utterances through nearly half a century. His early doings in Calcutta are known to all in every land who take interest in the cause of Christ, and I must not — as I need not — dwell upon them here. It is very manifest that he “lighted the candle at both ends,” and entered upon his work with a zeal which no human body, and no human mind, could long sustain. But this was precisely what was needed at the time. His five years’ work in India, though followed by six years’ enforced cessation, accomplished more of what it was most important to have accomplished then, than could have been effected by the appliance of eleven years of more judiciously husbanded strength; and I am not sure but that those six years of absence from India were in reality the most efficacious of his life in promoting the cause of Indian evangelization. His address to the General Assembly of 1835 took the Church and the country by surprise. It was followed up by addresses in many places, and by various publications, all of which were means, in God’s hand, of leading Christian men to lay to heart what is involved in the profession of the Christian name — what is the legitimate outflow of God’s grace in the heart.

With scarcely recruited health, he returned to India in the beginning of 1840; and although he was continually lamenting that he was not able for the amount and kind of work that he had done before, yet he was indefatigable in the arduous routine work of carrying on the operations to which the more fiery vigour of his powers had been necessary to give the initial impulse. His work in the Institution was a wonderful union of the painstaking accuracy of the teacher with the burning zeal of the evangelist. The power that he wielded over the students, and the influence that he exerted over the natives of all classes, was immense, and was ever exerted for the promotion of their best and highest interests. Gradually, too, he gained, unsought, a most influential position in the European community, amongst whom he came to he regarded as the strongest connecting link between the governing and the governed races. In 1847, on the death of Dr. Chalmers, there was, as is well known, an almost universal desire that Dr. Duff should succeed him in the New College; and it was with the greatest difficulty that he was able to make up his mind as to the answer which he should return to this call. Having been in daily conference with him on this subject at the time, I can state with more authority than any man now living can, that his sole ground of hesitancy was not the desire to return to the native land which he loved with all the passionate fondness of the mountaineer, nor the ambition to occupy the place from which the greatest of Scotchmen had been removed; but simply and exclusively the somewhat morbid apprehension that his physical strength was breaking down, and that he was becoming incapable of realizing his ideal of what an Indian missionary ought to be and to do. If he had had his former strength, he would not have hesitated for an hour in deciding upon the rejection of a proposal to transfer him from Calcutta to any other position in the world. I think it was I that suggested to him the compromise which was eventually carried out, that he should return to this country for a time, with a view to the renovation of his strength, and should endeavour to give a fresh impulse to the missionary spirit. In order to prepare himself for a fuller accomplishment of the latter object, he made an extensive tour through India, from Cape Comorin to Lahore; visited almost every mission station in the south, east, and north; and then proceeded down the Indus to Bombay. In the course of this journey, he actually saw more of India than almost any one individual ever saw of it. His visit to this country was in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. The introduction of the system of collecting the funds for the mission by means of congregational “associations,” instead of annual collections, was itself a great step in the direction of enlarging the contributions and quickening the interest of our people in these missions. His visit to America, too, produced most blessed results, and laid the foundation of many friendships which were to him a source of great and lasting joy. He returned to India early in 1856. No one who was in India then will ever forget the awful period of 1857-58, when India passed through a dire crisis, when the boldest heart quaked with fear, and the strongest faith was sorely tried.

The ultimate failure of Dr. Duff’s health, and the necessity of making a permanent arrangement for the convenership of the Foreign Missions Committee, which had been held by the late Dr. Tweedie for fourteen years, led to his final recall. In 1864 he became convener of the Committee, and threw the whole of bis powers into the discharge of the duties of that office. In 1866 he was, by the unanimous voice of the General Assembly and of the Church, appointed Professor of Evangelistic Theology in the New College. The work that he went through would have taxed the unbroken strength of a strong man, yet he went through it under the pressure of severe chronic disease. In 1873 he was called, in specially difficult circumstances, to occupy for a second time the chair of the General Assembly, his previous moderatorship having been in 1851. The labour that the moderatorship entailed upon him was very great, and very painful to him was the necessity of refusing to undertake engagements which it brought upon him. He did not do half of what was asked of him, yet he did far more than double of what he ought to have done.
During the sitting of the Assembly of 1875, he met with a severe accident, from the effects of which I do not think he ever completely recovered. Shortly afterwards he had first one and then another attack of a choleraic character. In the summer of 1877 he was seized with jaundice. Relapse followed relapse; and although medical skill pronounced that, unless some complication should arise, recovery was not altogether hopeless, yet those of us who saw him from day to day either hoped not at all, or hoped against hope; and when I parted with him on the eve of his departure from Edinburgh, it was with the conviction that our next meeting should be inside the gates of pearl.
While he was reduced to the extremity of physical weakness, his mind and his heart were unchanged. He was as able to grapple with the details of a complicated case, and as able to conduct a continuous train of thought, as he ever was. And so he continued during the three months of his stay at Sidmouth. At last the exhausted body absolutely refused to obey the behests of the still vigorous mind and the still strong will. For two days and nights he was speechless, motionless, apparently without suffering or consciousness; and on the morning of the 12th February there ceased to beat as warm a heart as ever throbbed in the breast of fallen man.

The world knew him as the impassioned orator; numerous friends loved him for his homeliness and his simplicity, and those who knew him best invariably loved him most; the members of his family with an intensity of devotedness which only so strong a nature as his can inspire. His body, having been brought to Edinburgh, was laid in the house of a relative, and thence the procession started, which wound its solemn way through thousands of solemnized spectators to the Grange Cemetery, where, side by side with the dust of the wife of his youth, the sharer for forty years of his joys and sorrows, loving hands committed his mortal remains to the tomb.

Having had occasion, at the beginning of last winter, to give a sketch of Dr. Duff’s life and character, I may take the liberty of quoting a few sentences from the notes then prepared:

“I rejoice to have this opportunity of saying that the longer and the more intimately I have known him, I have proportionately admired and loved him. The world knows the vigour of his intellect, the glow of his fancy, the splendour of his imagination, the brilliancy of his genius. The world knows also what may be regarded as the shadow cast by so much brightness — the scarcely evitable tendency of such a character to be impatient of contradiction, and over-sensitive to opposition, perhaps more resolute than cold reason would dictate or justify that its own views shall be acquiesced in and adopted by others. But the world does not know all the nobleness and the generosity of the man, knows little of the womanly tenderness which mingles with the manly vigour of his character. The world sees and acknowledges his powers of impassioned eloquence; those who are brought into contact with him in the ordinary intercourse which his position as Convener of our Foreign Missions Committee necessitates, admire his clearness of apprehension, and his power of dealing with the practical details of administration. But only a comparatively small circle of very intimate friends have come to know the depths of human love, the ready sympathy with all human interests, which are essential parts of his natural character sanctified by grace. The world knows the fervour with which he throws his soul into the advocacy of God’s cause, and the burning eloquence with which he is ever ready to denounce all in the world that is opposed to that cause, and all in the Church that is indifferent to its success. But the world does not know the profound humility with which he is ever ready to acknowledge that it is of God’s unspeakable mercy that he himself has any part or portion in the kingdom of God. The spirit that breathes through his habitual communings with his most confidential friends, and which doubtless pervades his communings with the Father of his spirit, is that which finds fittest expression in the words of the great apostle of the Gentiles: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.’ ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.'”

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REV. ARCHIBALD DUNCAN, ORPHIR

(Died January 31, 1872)
Rev. W. Sinclair, Kirkwall
The Free Church Monthly Record, April 1, 1872, p.82


Died suddenly at Orphir, Orkney, on 31st January, while on the road to visit a sick person, the Rev. Archibald Duncan, minister of the Free Church there, in the 67th year of his age, and 28th of his ministry. He was a most faithful and laborious minister, greatly loved by his people, not less esteemed and loved by his brethren in the ministry, and highly respected by the whole community. He served with great success as missionary under Dr. Charles Brown, in Anderston, Glasgow; and often spoke of the wise counsels and kind encouragement he received from that eminent ainister. By the recommendation of the same, he came to Orkney in the end of 1840, where he acted with much acceptance as assistant to the late Rev. Mr. Petrie in an extension church in Kirkwall, steering his course with skill and quiet prudence amidst contending factions, till the Disruption. In May 1844, he was ordained over the Free Church at Orphir, where he devoted himself with unremitting zeal to his whole pastoral work; and with singleness of mind, declined all attempts to lure him to the sunny south.

He was a most affectionate and dutiful husband and father; and our affectionate sympathies and prayers are due to his bereaved partner and five children, the youngest of whom is but ten years of age.

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REV. JAMES DUNCAN, TEMPLE AND CARRINGTON

(Died December 11, 1879)
Author: Rev. John Wright (Emeritus), Lasswade
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.97


Mr. Duncan was born in Glasgow, it is understood, in the beginning of 1802, and was educated there at school and college. Mr. Nixon of Montrose, a school-fellow of seventy years back, was able to attend his funeral. He was ordained in the Burgher Secession Church at Kincardine-on-Forth in the spring of 1826. With the great majority of his brethren, he joined the Established Church in 1839, left the State connection at the Disruption of 1843, and in the beginning of 1844 was translated to the newly-formed congregation of Temple and Carrington. Mr. Duncan’s intimate friends at Kincardine were the late Dr. McFarlane, latterly of Clapham, London, and Dr. Gardener, now of Edinburgh, who, like Mr. Nixon, was present at the funeral. At his last interview with Dr. McFarlane he said, “I hope, Mr. Duncan, that our mansions in the Father’s house will be near each other.”

Mr. Duncan was in the habit for many years of taking an autumnal excursion, sometimes to the Continent. One year he visited the Waldenses, when one of the pastors said, “You seem to know as much, or more, about places, events, and persons in the Valleys than we do.”

On completion of the fiftieth year of Mr. Duncan’s ministry, his brethren of Dalkeith Presbytery presented him with a most respectful and loving address.

Mr. Duncan was twice married, but has left no children, an only child by the first marriage having died in infancy. For the last two or three years he was able to preach only partially, and at last not at all, being succeeded by Mr. Yule, who, with Mr. McAlpine, Gorebridge, and Mr. Smith, parish minister, showed the greatest attention and kindness to him on his death-bed.

Mr. Duncan was confined to bed only a fortnight, having left the house of the writer of this notice (a friend of fifty years’ standing) a few days before. He was a true friend, a genuine God-fearing man, and a laborious and faithful pastor. There was nothing flimsy in his preaching, as he never failed to bring forth stores, old and new, from a well-furnished mind. The late Dr. Gordon remarked, after hearing Mr. Duncan, that he had never listened to a better Synod sermon.

His latter end was peace. He was buried on Tuesday, 16th December, in the churchyard of Temple, much lamented by people of every denomination.

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REV. W. WALLACE DUNCAN, PEEBLES

The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, September 1, 1864, p.616


Another true man and faithful Disruption minister has fallen on the field. Mr. Wallace Duncan, the well-known and active Free Church minister of Peebles, after a short but severe illness, died in his own house on Saturday the 9th of July, to the great grief and loss, not only of his family and flock, but of the whole community in the midst of which he had laboured so devotedly for upwards of twenty years. On Sabbath, the 3d of July, he dispensed the communion to his congregation, and conducted the solemn services of the day with unusual vigour and impressiveness. In the evening he remarked that he had been greatly supported in discharging his duties, and that the people appeared to be more than usually solemnized. He soon afterwards became unwell, and retired early to rest. But he rose on Monday morning, and called on some friends in the town during the day. In the evening, oppressed and weart, he went to that bed from which he never rose. His illness turned out to be small-pox, and as the eruption did not come out, fatal symptoms speedily appeared. I spite of all that medical skill and the tenderest attentions of a beloved wife and daughter could do, he gradually lost strength, and at length expired at five o’clock on Saturday afternoon without any severe suffering or painful struggle. Thus he who had on one Sabbath partaken of the communion with his people, was removed, before another Sabbath dawned, to a higher banquet, even to the communion of the saints above. He retained to the last the use of his faculties; and when he felt that death was near, he gave free expression to his Christian faith and hope. Many sweet, simple, and precious words did he utter in the hearing of her who watched over him to the last with all the tenderness of a devoted wife. To his children, who, with one exception, were necessarily excluded from the house, he sent the short but comprehensive message,— “Tell them from me to love and serve the Lord.” One of the last things he said was, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Thus while lifting up a testimony to the unfailing love of his blessed Lord, he departed this life, and entered into his eternal rest.

Mr. Duncan was born, at Ruthwell Manse in the year 1809, and thus died in the fifty-fifth year of his age. He was the second son of the Rev. Dr. Henry Duncan of Ruthwell, the benevolent founder of Savings’ Banks, and distinguished for his literary and scientific attainments. Dr. Duncan paid great attention to the education of his children, and his son Wallace enjoyed every advantage in early life. Along with his elder brother, George, now Dr. George Duncan, clerk of the Synod of the English Presbyterian Church, he studied for the ministry at the Universities of Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Edinburgh. He was licensed to preach the gospel m 1829, and after filling various situations, he was ordained in 1836 as minister of the parish of Cleish, Kinross-shire. At Cleish he performed the duties of his office with rare fidelity, and proved himself a diligent and devoted pastor. He also employed his leisure in compiling a Hebrew Dictionary, which was published by a London firm, and was favourably received by the public. At the Disruption, along with his father, his brother, the Rev. Dr. George Duncan; and two brothers-in-law, the Rev. H. Bonar, Kelso, and the Rev. J. Dodds, Dunbar, he joined the Free Church. In the course of the same year he was called to Peebles, where he laboured with unwearied faithfulness and devotion till the period of his sudden and lamented death.

Mr. Duncan was a man of a frank and generous character, and of fine and varied accomplishments. In society he was singularly cheerful and joyous, though he always maintained the spirit of the gentleman and the Christian. As a minister of the gospel no man could be more earnest and conscientious. In the pulpit he fully declared the whole counsel of God, and most faithfully applied divine truth to the consciences of his hearers. He most diligently visited the sick, the poor, and the afflicted, not only of his own flock, but of all denominations. Wherever there was an open door of usefulness he was ready to administer counsel and comfort. He was also a practical philanthropist of no ordinary kind. As an ardent temperance reformer, as a promoter of Savings’ Banks and similar institutions, as a friend of popular enlightenment, as a determined opponent of Sabbath desecration, and every form of error or evil, he laboured with great zeal and no small success. He was, in the best sense, a public-spirited man, ever forward to engage in a good work, and to turn his varied talents to account in the cause of public improvement. No man in Peebles, or in the whole surrounding district, could be more missed than Mr. Duncan. Though not a few opposed him on public questions, all were constrained to admire his transparent honesty, his manly courage, and his Christian consistency.
Besides his Hebrew dictionary, Mr. Duncan published some years ago a little work on “Zeal,” and a work of larger size on “Gideon, the son of Joash.” He was also the author of various tracts and fugitive pieces, all bearing the impress of sincerity and practical benevolence. His taste for art was very strong and decided. He excelled in drawing, and had a peculiar faculty of sketching likenesses from memory. His dexterous pencil has more than once delineated to the life the leading members of the Free Assembly. But the best taste and the purest good nature inspired and pervaded all his productions of this kind. He sometimes also, in a leisure hour, handled the brush of the painter, and even the modelling instrument of the sculptor. But all such recreations he strictly subordinated to his higher duties as a minister of the gospel.

In private life, especially in his own house, and as a head of a family, Mr. Duncan displayed the finest and most amiable qualities. As a husband and father he was all that is tender, generous, and affectionate. He was eminently a lover of home and of domestic life, never happier than when among his children, ruling well his own house, and setting an example of quiet Christian happiness. What a blank his death has made in his delightful family circle, what a shadow it has flung on one of the happiest of homes, language cannot express. The desolation that has been made can only be brightened by Christian hope; but such an alleviation of deep sorrow has been abundantly given to her who mourns for the husband of her youth, and also to the children that have been bereaved of one of the noblest of fathers.

Mr. Duncan was first married to Mary Lundie, the memoir of whose life, written by her mother, Mrs. Lundie Duncan, has obtained such deserved popularity both in Britain and in America. He was afterwards married to Rachel, daughter of the late Professor Henry D. Hill of St. Andrews. Two children by the first, and six by the second marriage survive to mourn his loss, to revere his memory, and, we trust, to follow his example in following Christ. He was a good soldier of the Cross, faithful and true in the day of trial, ready to endure loss and hardship for his Master’s sake. He was not unworthy to stand in the front rank of that noble band of Disruption ministers which is rapidly diminishing in numbers, and must soon pass away from the scene of its testimony and its labours.

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REV. JOHN DURRAN, BOWER, CAITHNESS

(Died January 18, 1891)
Author: Rev. John C. Connell, Thurso
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1891, Obituary, p.340


John Durran was born in the parish of Olrig, the next-door parish to Bower, where for forty years he laboured. For generations the family has occupied the same farm. His parents were of the good old stock of Scottish Presbyterians, and his father was for long an elder of the church. Mr. Durran early showed himself possessed of a mind of studious bent, and his parents noting this encouraged him to study. From the parish school of Olrig he went to the University of Edinburgh. Before finishing his course he accepted an appointment to a grammar school in England, and there his success as an educationist was marked. A very inviting prospect opened up to him; but his desire was to enter the ministry. There was then, however, little encouragement in the Church of Scotland for any young man who really wished to do good.

Yet a change was at hand in the religious life of Scotland. Chalmers was rapidly gaining power and influence as the head of the Evangelical party, and Mr. Durran, greatly interested in his native county, by correspondence and otherwise did all he could to influence friends and acquaintances in favour of Church reform.

Then came the Disruption. Mr. Durran having given up his work in England owing to ill-health, after some years joined the class of Dr. Chalmers in Edinburgh as a student of the Free Church of Scotland. His attachment to and admiration of Chalmers were unique. He was never weary talking of him. Settled in Bower in 1851, his work was hard at first. The congregation had suffered much since the Disruption from the protracted illness of his predecessor, yet in a very short time it more than regained its former strength. He was, in every sense but the stipend, the minister of the parish of Bower. A gifted, popular, and earnest preacher, he loved to preach for preaching’s sake, and was “out of sorts” if idle even for a Sabbath. But he was more than a preacher. He was deeply interested in his people, and although his was a “scattered” parish, he knew them all, and went much among them. He took special interest in the young, and was over-attentive (if that is possible) to the poor, the sick, and the distressed. Rich and poor, young and old, spoke of him as “father.”

His first great sorrow was the death of his wife, after only six years of a happy married state. He was left with four children. Then there came in much later years the death, quite unlooked for, of his second son, a young man of high character and great promise, who had just finished his university course, and was about to begin the practice of medicine. Naturally reticent, Mr. Durran spoke little of such sorrows, but it was plain he felt them much. During all these years of work at Bower, Mr. Durran had an attached, intelligent, and pious people at his back, and many of them are now occupying positions of trust and influence in various parts of the world. He was ever keenly alive to all social questions. His parish suffered greatly from the “adding of farm to farm.” This, he held, had both desolated the land and dislocated society. No one spoke with greater indignation of what he called the “sin” of such a policy, and of the ruin which he saw that it involved. He, however, took no part of a public kind to reverse it, holding, as he did, that he was not specially sent to be a “judge or divider among men.” His business was to preach the Word of God, and in doing so he did not fail to expound those principles of justice, righteousness, and mercy which should regulate men’s relations with each other. As a result of his great interest in young men, there went many from this sparsely-peopled parish to prosecute their studies for the various learned professions. His influence for good in this direction was very great, and is a cherished memory to many. In this he was greatly aided by a worthy schoolmaster in his parish—Matthew Dunnet, and by David Stephen, a noted elder. At length the end came. He had prepared at the close of the week his discourse for Sabbath, but when the Sabbath came he could not leave his bed. When the officebearers were conducting the service in the church he passed away into the upper sanctuary. An appreciative minute of his work was engrossed in the records of the Free Presbytery of Caithness. On a cold winter day, the snow lying deep upon the ground, almost the whole parish and many others crowded round the bier, and in turn bore his body reverently to its last resting-place in the quaint old churchyard of Bower. Mr. Durran’s son is the well-known minister of Willesden.

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REV. JOHN DYMOCK, M.A., KEMNAY

(Died February 4, 1899)
Author: Rev. P. W. Minto, Cannes
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1899, Obituary, p.90


The Rev. John Dymock was born at Carnoustie on January 25, 1841. His father was the Rev. Thomas Dymock, who, after leaving Carnoustie, became the well-known and much-esteemed minister of the Free Middle Church, Perth. His grandfather was Dr. John Dymock, LL.D., rector of the High School, Glasgow, a distinguished scholar, and the author of various classical works. His grandfather on his mother’s side was Professor James Bentley, for a long period Professor of Oriental Languages in King’s College, Aberdeen. He was educated at the Perth Academy, and afterwards at the Edinburgh University, where he took the degree of M.A. His theological studies were pursued at the New College, and after being licensed he became assistant to the late Dr. Fairbairn of Newhaven. On August 27, 1869, he was ordained to the ministry at Kemnay, and there he remained till his death in the early part of the present year.

In forming an estimate of Mr. Dymock’s character, enthusiasm may be mentioned as a feature that marked his career from the beginning to the close. Whatever pursuit attracted him he went into it with his whole soul. There was in him a good deal of the hero worshipper. In his student days he was an ardent reader of Tennyson and Carlyle. When Carlyle came to Edinburgh to deliver his rectorial address, Mr. Dymock asked to be allowed to see him in private, and he had an interesting story to tell of the interview.

The love of literature, however, became subordinate to the higher objects of the Christian ministry. The writer of this notice, who happened to be appointed to preach the sermon at his ordination, had occasion to observe something of the consecrated spirit with which he entered on his life work. His devotion grew in depth and volume with the progress of years. At the time of the revival in connection with the labours of the American evangelists, Moody and Sankey, he spent some weeks in Edinburgh, and attended day after day the meetings held in the Free Church Assembly Hall. When he returned to Kemnay his people could not fail to be struck with the change in his preaching. He had no new gospel to present, but he delivered the message with a directness unknown before. From this time onward the salvation of souls became with him a passion. Whatever else he undertook, the spiritual good of his people was the main concern of his life. It held the first place in his pulpit ministrations, in his pastoral work, and in many a series of special meetings organized with a view to arouse the careless.

About two years after the period just referred to, symptoms of delicate health began to appear, and he found it needful to seek the shelter of a warmer climate. He was appointed by the Continental Committee to take charge of the station at Mentone during the season 1876-77, and, later, he spent another winter at Cannes. It seemed then that his course was about to come to a close. It pleased God, however, in a wonderful way to bless the means used, so that gradually the weakness in throat and chest passed away, and for the following twenty years he was able to go through a vast amount of work. During some of his frequent visits to London he was stirred to a deep pity by what he saw of the degraded state of those who had strayed from the paths of virtue. With characteristic ardour he threw himself into the Purity movement. He became associated with Mrs. Josephine Butler and other like-minded persons, whose courageous and self-denying efforts have done so much to awaken attention to the darker evils of society. The General Assembly appointed him Convener of the Committee on the State Regulation of Vice. In this work he spared no toil that he thought might advance the interests of what he felt to be a holy cause. Strength was freely given to a large correspondence and to long and wearisome journeys. Many, becoming involved in so much outside work, might have been tempted to neglect their own congregations. It was not so in his case. His efforts for the good of the people committed to his charge increased rather than diminished. Besides ordinary Sabbath and week-day services, and classes for the young, he gave in later years courses of missionary and historical lectures, illustrated by the magic-lantern. It is probable that such incessant labours told on his constitution. Last year he had warning of a possible breakdown, and he found it advisable to take in spring a couple of months’ rest. He went for a few weeks to the Riviera, and then to Rome. Greatly did he enjoy the tour; and returning to Kemnay on the sixth of May, he resumed his usual work, only feeling at times some loss of strength. In the beginning of the year there appeared alarming symptoms of a grave internal malady. The doctors told him that he would not work again; and in accordance with his usual decision of character, he at once communicated the intelligence to his people, letting them know that at the coming Assembly he would apply for a colleague and successor. His last sermons—in the morning on Phil. 3:7-9, and in the evening on three texts: Heb. 13:5, 6; Deut. 31:6-8; Joshua 1:5—were preached on the eighth of January, and that day month his remains were laid in the grave. The disease had made rapid progress, and it soon became evident that the end was near. He met death with unclouded faith. He said to one of his brothers, and again to his wife, that it had been his wish to die in harness. From his death-bed he sent to his people an affectionate farewell message, which was read to them when his funeral sermon was preached, as he had requested, by his co-presbyter, Mr. Stalker of Blairdaff.

In him the church has lost one of her most earnest ministers, and his family and friends a man of singular depth of affection. Combined with his enthusiasm, one was struck by his absolute sincerity, his truthfulness, his thoroughness. By those who really knew him he will be remembered as a man of ardent love and of strong will, simple in faith, and utterly humble. He has left a fine example of what may be accomplished by a life entirely consecrated to the service of the Master.

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REV. THOMAS DYMOCK, PERTH

(Died, February 4, 1888.)
Author: Rev. John Philip, Fordoun
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.115


The subject of this notice was the son of Dr. John Dymock, classical master in the High School, Glasgow. He was born at Kelso on 18th August 1804.

Educated at the High School, he graduated at the University of Glasgow. One of his college companions, and his most attached friend through life, was Dr. Roxburgh of St. John’s. Another intimate companion was a son of the late Dr. Dick, and a medical student, whose death formed a crisis in his spiritual history, and led him to abandon his intention of following the medical profession, and to turn his thoughts towards the Christian ministry. Accordingly he studied divinity at Glasgow, and was licensed to preach on 4th December 1833. Probably his mind was largely moulded under the ministry of Dr. Welsh, of whom he cherished a warm admiration.

His first sphere of labour was at Gilmerton, as missionary to Dr. Begg. Not long after, he was ordained as assistant in the Parish Church, Arbroath. And the following year (1838), he was inducted as minister of the Quoad Sacra Church in Carnoustie. There he approved himself as “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,” in building up a large and prosperous congregation, which, almost in a body, followed him, when in 1843, at the call of conscience and of duty, he bravely cast in his lot with the Free Protesting Church of Scotland. He continued to minister to the congregation of the Free Church in Carnoustie till 1845, when he received a cordial and unanimous call to become the colleague of Dr. W. A. Thomson, of the Free Middle Church, Perth.

In accepting that call, after considerable delay, he had literally to tear himself away from his beloved flock, but yet felt he was following the path of duty. Soon after his induction into his new charge, Dr. Thomson retired, and Mr. Dymock became sole pastor, his pastorate extending over the lengthened period of thirty six years.

It were not easy to sum up his life-work in Perth. With a heart in living touch with the Master, burning with love to Christ and love to souls, he was “instant in season and out of season,” “teaching publicly and from house to house.” He was most painstaking and conscientious in the preparation of his discourses, which for a long time he committed to memory, and then delivered with great fulness and freedom and fervour. He preached the good old gospel, as if “determined not to know any thing save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And his preaching was “in power and with the Holy Ghost.”

For some years, along with others, he conducted open-air services, which bore substantial fruit. He threw himself, heart and soul, into the great revival movement. He was no controversialist, but he showed a warm and practical sympathy with all evangelical workers and evangelistic work.

As a member of Presbytery, he won the confidence and esteem of his brethren, by his prudent counsels, and his Christian, conciliatory spirit.

As a pastor, he possessed rare gifts. He was like a father among his people. He could say, “I have you in my heart.” He had a tender solicitude and care for the young. He watched for souls. He was faithful in reproving sin. Yet in warning, he sought to win. He had a most sympathetic nature. He was a valued counsellor and friend, especially in time of trouble. Trained in the school of sorrow, he proved himself “a son of consolation” to many. His household visits were very frequent, much prized, and signally blessed. But while affectionately mindful of his own flock, who warmly reciprocated his affection, he was not sectarian, but ever cherished and displayed a catholic and patriotic spirit. Whatever concerned the public weal found in him a willing advocate and helper.

He was truly “a good man, full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith.” He was a model minister. He was “a man greatly beloved.” His life, without any claim to perfection, was remarkably consistent. The lustre of his piety shone in the privacy of the family, as under the public eye. His cheerful spirit would often break out in playful flashes of humour. Fidelity and affection were beautifully blended through all his family life. His home was indeed a happy one.

Altogether his ministry in Perth was a great success. His godly life was itself a power. Many were the tokens of his Master’s presence and approval. His people were his epistle. Many, at the great day, will arise and call him blessed.

For some years, after his strength began to decline, he availed himself of the aid of assistants, in all of whom he took a fatherly interest, while they in turn showed a singular attachment to him.

In 1881 he retired from active duty, and the Rev. D. W. Kennedy, with the utmost harmony, was chosen as his colleague, his relation with whom inspired great mutual regard, and continued to be most cordial to the end.

The later years of his life were happily spent in Edinburgh, in the bosom of his family and friends. His presence shed sunshine all around. His Christ-like meekness and gentleness made him great. Amid growing infirmities, he was often seen going “about his Father’s business,” visiting the sick in hospital and elsewhere, and “ready for every good work.”

In the month of November 1887, his jubilee was celebrated with every token of regard at the opening of the new and beautiful Free Middle Church, Perth. Never, perhaps, were more tender or touching tributes paid to any minister at such a time.

In his last illness, which continued for some days, he suffered much, but with unmurmuring submission and unwavering faith. Among his latest utterances, he was heard whispering, “His right hand is under my head.” And thus up-borne, he passed peacefully away on the evening of Saturday 4th February last, in the eighty-fourth year of his age, and was gathered in, like a shock of corn fully ripe, into the everlasting garner, beyond all the rude blasts and angry tempests of time.

“Thou faithful one, thy work is done,
Now enter into rest.”

The funeral took place in Perth on Thursday the 9th February. Solemn services were conducted in the Free Middle Church. And all along the line to the cemetery at Wellshill, and especially at the grave, the scene was deeply impressive.

A beloved son and daughter having predeceased him, Mr. Dymock has left a widow, three sons (two of them in the ministry of the Free Church, at Kemnay and New Aberdour, and the other a chartered accountant), and two daughters. Wide and warm is the sympathy felt for them under their sad bereavement.

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