GARDNER, JAMES FRANCIS
GARDNER, JAMES WARDROP
GORDON, D. CAMPBELL
GRANT, WILLIAM, Australia
GRANT, WILLIAM, Ayr
GRAY, WILLIAM ALEXANDER
GREIG, BENJAMIN F.
GUNN, ROBERT INNES
GUTHRIE, DAVID KELLY
REV. JAMES GAGE, B.D.
(Died October 27, 1892)
Author: Rev. John Burnett, B.D., Glasgow
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1893, Obituary, p.18
Mr. Gage, born at Craigo, near Montrose, in 1844, came in boyhood to Aberdeen, where, under the hospitable roof and genial influence of an uncle and aunt, he spent the whole of his student days.
His preliminary studies for the university were carried on at the Grammar School, under the late Rev. Dr. Barrack, a classical teacher of widespread and well-deserved fame.
He entered the University of Aberdeen in 1861, and throughout his arts course, by his characteristic industry and good ability, he took a high place in his various classes. In 1865 he graduated M.A.; and six or seven years later, when he had entered the ministry, his alma mater conferred on him the degree of B.D.
Long ere he had finished his university course one could see, from his sincere piety, quiet earnestness, and warm interest in spiritual work, that the bent of his mind was towards the holy ministry. It was, therefore, a satisfaction to him when, passing from the university, he entered the Free Church College at Aberdeen and began those studies that were the most congenial to his soul and formed the introduction to the work of his life. His teachers at the Hall were the late Dr. Lumsden and Mr. Sachs and the venerable Principal Brown, still spared to us; for all of whom Mr. Gage, in common with his fellow-students, entertained profound and affectionate veneration. His theological course was marked by the same assiduity and success which had distinguished his university career. In addition to his superior theological attainments, he manifested, as years passed, a deepening earnestness of spirit and a growing desire to spend his life in soul-winning. One means of fostering this feature of Mr. Gage was undoubtedly his minister—namely, Rev. Dr. McGilvray of Gilcomston Free Church, whose powerful and eloquent preaching was then a great force in Aberdeen, and could not fail to impress a mind so thoughtful and receptive as Mr. Gage’s.
Shortly after leaving the Hall he was invited to take charge of a Free Church station at Dyce. By God’s blessing his work there greatly prospered. Steadily, through his faithful and indefatigable labours, there was gathered in that difficult field an interesting congregation, which, on receiving sanction, very cordially called Mr. Gage to be their first minister; and there for the next fourteen years he continued to labour with unabated zeal and success. Under his superintendence, and largely through his efforts, an elegant church and manse were built, which, seen from the railway a little north of Dyce Station, form a conspicuous and beautiful feature of the landscape. Naturally Mr. Gage was deeply attached to this attractive spot, and to the people whom he had himself gathered and consolidated into a healthy congregation—a congregation by whom he was much beloved, and among whom he spent many of his happiest days.
In the midst of his manifold labours at Dyce, he was called to succeed the Rev. George Davidson (now of Edinburgh) as pastor of Great Hamilton Street Free Church, Glasgow, where he was settled in January 1884.
As is well known, this congregation belonged to the Reformed Presbyterian Church, which joined the Free Church in 1876. Indeed it was regarded as the leading charge of the denomination—a congregation possessing a long and honoured history, and associated with many illustrious names.
On the occasion of his induction to this charge, Mr. Gage had a very cordial reception; and during the remaining eight years of his life he laboured there “in season and out of season”—laboured with untiring diligence and fidelity. Though himself neither born nor bred a Reformed Presbyterian, he made it his business to attain an intimate acquaintance with the remarkable history of that body, and was thoroughly in touch with her best and most hallowed traditions.
Those familiar with the state of things in Glasgow now, are aware of how increasingly difficult it is to keep up to anything like their former strength old congregations situated in localities like Great Hamilton Street. Mr. Gage felt this, like other ministers in the city who have to endure as he had the strain and discouragement of a changing population or a receding tide. But by the divine blessing on his indefatigable work and wise management, the congregation was well sustained, alike in numbers, in vigour, and in activity. In fact, throughout his whole ministry, the church continued to be, not less than formerly, a busy hive of Christian enterprise. By his preaching, ever rich and full, and characterized by ripe thinking and careful preparation; by his assiduous visitation, greatly prized by all, especially by the sick, the poor, and the sorrowing; and by his active interest in all that concerned the well-being of his flock—he made his influence deeply felt, endeared himself to the people’s hearts, and has left behind him much solid and lasting work for Christ.
About a year ago Mr. Gage had an unfortunate accident, which, coupled with the pressure of his winter’s work, told on his health. Whilst thus enfeebled, he was seized, in February last, with influenza, which then made such havoc in the country. From this attack he never rallied to any extent. The summer was spent in various places searching for restoration of strength, but without avail. As autumn closed in it became all too evident to his friends, who had hoped against hope for his recovery, that God had decided it otherwise. Steadily his little remaining strength ebbed away, and he peacefully entered his eternal rest. A few days thereafter his remains were interred in the Nellfield Cemetery, Aberdeen, in presence of a great company of sorrowing friends; and no one who stood at the open grave that afternoon can forget the touching solemnity of the scene when the aged Principal Brown, himself in his ninetieth year, in accents most tender and beautiful, committed the dust of his old pupil to its final resting-place.
Mr. Gage has been taken in the prime of life, and his loss is widely felt, not only by his congregation, who were just getting fully to know his worth, but also by the Presbytery, where he was held in highest esteem for his geniality, his readiness to help, and his valuable services in various departments of the public work of the Church.
REV. JAMES GAILEY, ANNAN
(Died August 27, 1890)
Author: Frank Miller, Esq., Annan
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November, 1890, Obituary, p.341
By the death of the Rev. James Gailey the Church has lost a country minister of the finest type. With him has passed away a clergyman whose piety, literary taste, and business capacity were alike remarkable. Labouring for forty years in a part of the country where the impression produced by the Disruption was comparatively slight, he raised a small congregation into a position of importance, and made the Free Church respected by all who came within the sphere of his influence.
Mr. Gailey was a member of an Ulster family, well known in its various branches. He was born on 7th September 1817 in the neighbourhood of Stranorlar, County Donegal. Expressing in early youth a desire to become a minister, he received a training of the kind necessary to fit him for the profession selected. After a successful college career, he was licensed to preach in October 1838. Ordained in January 1839 at Strabane, he remained in that town till 1843, when Queenstown became the scene of his labours. In 1850 he was appointed minister of the Free Church at Annan, where he spent the rest of his life, declining several tempting invitations to other places.
The task of carrying on the work of the ministry at Annan was for some time a difficult one. The congregation—which had been organized by Mr. Gailey’s predecessor, the Rev. James Mackenzie, the first editor of this magazine—was small and by no means wealthy, whilst a debt of more than £1,300 burdened the church. But the zeal and ability of the young minister overcame all difficulties. The debt was soon completely extinguished; the membership increased rapidly. In course of time the congregation became highly prosperous, financial strength being gained, and every agency which had been started attaining satisfactory development.
Mr. Gailey’s power as a worker was never more severely tried than in 1861, when a spiritual awakening took place at Annan. Every day the Free Church was open for hours, and earnest men proclaimed the gospel to eager crowds. The calm judgment and good taste of Mr. Gailey proved invaluable in the guidance of a movement which, on the whole, had a distinct influence in deepening the spiritual life of the town. His interesting book entitled “Submission and its Reward,” a memoir of Alice Johnstone, published in 1863, contains an account of the Annan Revival.
The energy of Mr. Gailey did not decline with the advance of years. That the church buildings were inadequate for the requirements of a largely increased congregation had long been felt; and at length, in 1881, the deacons’ court resolved to provide additional accommodation. The church was remodelled, and a hall for Sunday school and other meetings was built—at a total cost of £1,600. To the tact and unfailing enthusiasm of the minister the complete success achieved must very largely be attributed. A striking proof of his personal popularity was afforded in the liberality of the response of the numerous friends outside the congregation to whom he appealed for aid at that time.
Unhappily Mr. Gailey’s anxiety in connection with the improvement of the church aggravated an affection of the heart to which he had become subject. His health not improving, he found it necessary to apply for help in his ministerial work, and eventually the Rev. W. S. Peebles was settled as his colleague and successor. The end came with startling suddenness. In the early part of Wednesday, 27th August, he enjoyed his accustomed walk, conversing cheerfully with the friends whom he met. After tea he complained of faintness, and retired to his room. Dr. Macbean, his medical attendant, was summoned, and in a few minutes he arrived, but life was then extinct. Three days later the remains of the revered clergyman were interred in the family burying-ground at Drumlegagh, County Tyrone.
The ability which Mr. Gailey displayed as a preacher was widely recognized. His exposition of divine truth was clear and logical, and a singular elegance characterized his style of composition. The majestic beauty of his face and figure, the grace and dignity of his manner, and the rich tones of his voice combined to make his discourses additionally attractive. His prayers were exceedingly fine. Short, heartfelt, exquisite in composition, instinct with devotional feeling, they seemed to the writer almost perfect.
To the discharge of the less public duties of his office Mr. Gailey devoted much attention. The sick and sorrowing found in him a true friend. Like the good parson of Chaucer—
“He ne left nought for no rain ne thunder,
In sicknesse and in mischief to visite
The ferrest in his parish, moche and lite.”
In relieving the poor he was most generous, and his delicacy and considerateness made it easy to accept bounties at his hand. He showed no ordinary interest in the young, not only instructing them at Sunday school and Bible class meetings, but using his influence to secure their temporal welfare. Many a young man owes the situation which he occupies to the exertions on his behalf of the late minister of the Free Church of Annan.
The members of the Lockerbie Presbytery unite with the congregation in lamenting the death of Mr. Gailey, and are sensible of the great loss they have sustained in his removal. The moderator, his valued friend, the Rev. Kenneth Moody-Stuart, has said:—
“His long experience gave weight to his opinions and counsels, and the gentleness of his character and obliging friendliness of his disposition rendered his advice in our Church court, or out of it, more effective than if it had been tendered by one of less gentle temper and genial manner. His presence in the Presbytery always imparted a dignity to our proceedings, while his cheerful buoyant spirit and happy rejoinders drove away any clouds that might occasionally threaten to gather through perplexed deliberations upon disputed questions.”
When relieved, by the appointment of a colleague, of the main responsibility in connection with the work of his own congregation, the devoted minister delighted to place his services at the disposal of his fellow-presbyters, and some of his last Sabbaths on earth were spent in officiating in neighbouring churches.
The company of Mr. Gailey was much courted, especially in the higher social circles. His geniality, sunny humour, width of sympathy, and knowledge of human nature, were remarked by all who enjoyed intercourse with him. As a friend he was warm-hearted and chivalrous almost to a fault. One of the most unselfish of men, he found his chief pleasure in helping others. His was a life truly rich in
” Little nameless unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.”
REV. ANGUS GALBRAITH
(Died April 25, 1909)
The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 27th April, 1909, p.6
The Rev. Angus Galbraith, Free Church minister at Lochalsh, and an ex-Moderator of the Free Church, died at Lochalsh on Sunday. Mr Galbraith had been in failing health for some time. He attended a meeting of the Synod of Glenelg about a fortnight ago, and there caught cold. He succumbed to an attack of congestion of the lungs.
By his death the Free Church loses a conspicuous minister. Mr Galbraith was one of the famous minority of the Free Church General Assembly of 1900 who voted against the proposal to unite with the United Presbyterian Church, which was approved by the Assembly of that year. To the fact that he exerted his influence to prevent the Union is attributed the refusal of many West and North Highland congregation to countenance the Union.
Mr Galbraith was a native of Kilberry, Argyllshire, where he was born over seventy years ago. As a young man he prepared himself for the teaching profession, and secured his diploma after a course of study at the Free Church Normal College, Glasgow. He followed the profession for some time, but decided to go into the ministry. He entered the University of Glasgow, and afterwards attended the Free Church College in that city, where he excelled as a student of Hebrew. When his course was ended he was declared the Cunningham scholar, and left as the first man of his year. In 1867, shortly after he received licence, he was ordained to the charge of Raasay, Skye. There he laboured for many years, exercising great influence over the whole island of Skye and the North-West Highlands. He received many calls to new spheres of labour, including Glasgow and Inverness, but these he persistently declined. Ultimately he accepted a call from Ferintosh, and from Ferintosh he was translated to Lochalsh.
Mr Galbraith was one of the most popular of the Northern Free Church ministers. He was highly evangelical in his teaching, and had a marked power of impressing his hearers by the forcible simplicity of his sermons. In all the controversies that sprung up in the Free Church he took a prominent part, always on the conservative side. At the Union negotiations which were abandoned in 1872, along with the Rev. Dr Kennedy of Dingwall, and the Rev. A. McColl, his predecessor at Lochalsh, and other prominent ministers of the north, he laboured assiduously in teaching the people on the questions at issue. He took up a similar attitude in connection with the Disestablishment movement. He regarded the establishment of religion as a great principle, and strongly opposed all the efforts made to separate the Church from the State. In the agitation against the Declaratory Act, which was passed into a standing law of the Free Church in 1892, he also took a prominent part. After the deaths of Dr Kennedy and the Rev. M. Macaskill, of Dingwall, he became one of the recognised leaders of the constitutional party in the Free Church. On more than one occasion he led the party in the General Assembly. His powers of debate were not, however, as manifest as were his preaching powers. Suffering from shyness, he kept aloof from Assembly debates except when forced into a position of prominence. In the local courts, however – Synods and Presbyteries – his counsel and wise judgement marked him as a man on whom the people could rely for guidance. Consistently with his opposition to the first Union negotiations and to the Disestablishment movement, he opposed the Union in 1900, because he held that it involved the practical abandonment of the principle of establishment, and because of alterations on the Formula which relaxed certain doctrines of the Confession of Faith. He will be remembered as the man who led the opposition in the Assembly of 1900 when the historic Union debate took place. The motion to approve of the Committee’s report in favour of union with the United Presbyterian Church was moved by Principal Rainy. Mr Galbraith took upon himself the responsibility of moving a direct negative. His amendment, which he stated was drawn up by himself, asked the Assembly to decline “to take further steps towards an incorporating union of the two Churches on the basis proposed.” In support of his amendment, which was seconded by Mr J. Hay Thorburn, an able statement was made by Mr Galbraith, though he knew he was leading a forlorn hope. The amendment received the support of twenty-nine ministers and laymen, and when the motion for union was declared carried , Mr Galbraith, in the name of his adherents, protested and dissented. Thereafter he was actively engaged in the proceedings that followed the Union, and in 1903, the year before the famous House of Lords judgement in favour of the dissenting minority was issued, he was called to preside over the General Assembly of the remnant Free Church.
By his death the Free Church loses one of the last of the old school theologians who left a lasting impression upon the Highlands. In private life he was kind, sympathetic, and tender. His hospitality was unstinted, and his home was always a place of warm fellowship. He brought his services to the help of all matters that affected the social and religions well-being of those round about him. He served on School Boards from 1872, and on Parochial Boards and Parish Councils. He was held in the utmost respect and esteem for his consistent life and transparent honesty. He is survived by a widow and one son, Dr. J. J. Galbraith.
REV. JAMES GALL
(Died February 7, 1895)
Author: J. B. Gillies
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, April, 1895, Obituary, p.94
Few men have served God in his kingdom so long, so faithfully, and so successfully as James Gall. His labours as a Christian instructor and leader began when he was a boy of twelve or thirteen, and continued till within a few weeks of his death in the eighty-seventh year of his age. He was brought into the vineyard as a labourer thus early by a notable leading of Providence. His father, who was the chief founder of the Sabbath-school system in Scotland and superintendent of a number of Sabbath schools in Edinburgh and Leith, was constantly on the look-out for likely young men as recruits for his teaching staff. He did not fail to observe the early promise of his own brave, bright boy, and, in course of his religious training, kept specially in view his preparation for usefulness in the Sabbath school. But his introduction to this service when he had hardly entered upon his teens would probably not have been thought of but for an emergency in one of the schools under his father’s care. The teacher of a mission class in the Horse Wynd called on Mr. Gall, one Sunday morning, to inform him that his scholars had mutinied and mobbed him, and that on no account would he go near them again. Mr. Gall said to his son, “James, do you think you could go?” He got a cheerful reply in the affirmative. The young teacher presented himself to the rebellious class in the evening, and asked them whether they would accept of him as their teacher. The lads, who were about his own age, were captivated by his frank and friendly manner, and—as Mr. Gall records in some reminiscences of his early life—before the evening was closed, he had “got them all into fellowship, and there could not have been a better behaved class.”
His success then and afterwards as a Sabbath-school teacher was owing not only to his tact and force of character, but to the fresh and interesting way in which he communicated instruction. His father had revolutionized the methods of religious teaching of the young, which in those days consisted in committing to memory and repeating Psalms, Paraphrases, and questions of the Shorter Catechism. In addition to this, Mr. Gall, senior, insisted on awakening the intelligence of Sabbath scholars, and followed up every reading or repetition of Scripture text or narrative with the inquiry, “What does that teach you?” His son bettered the instruction by the dramatic power which he threw into his lessons; and the staid teachers of Greenside Sabbath school were startled one night by a burst of cheering which followed the general exercise as conducted by Mr. Gall. He had pictured the Judgment of Solomon so vividly that the young people were in a fever of excitement and indignation at the cruelty of the false mother, and when they realized the happy dénouement gave vent to their feelings in a shrill “hurrah.”
Notwithstanding his remarkable gifts as a religious teacher, it was not Mr. Gall’s purpose as a youth to take up evangelism as his life-work. It was intended that he should join his father in the printing and publishing business. After leaving the High School he attended the University and also the Trustees’ Academy as a pupil under Sir William Allan. At this institution he obtained the second prize for life-class modelling. At the same time he served his apprenticeship as a printer and wood-engraver, and was then taken into partnership with his father.
In the business of Gall and Son he found scope for his ingenuity and versatility. One of his first publication novelties was a new Psalm Tune Book, produced by a modification of the stereotype process, at a tithe of the cost of the then standard Psalm Tune Book of R. A. Smith, printed from copperplate. He followed up this service to the psalmody of Scotland by introducing Joseph Mainzer with his “Singing for the Million,” and afterwards conducting classes for the training of precentors. He also brought out a cheap Hymn Tune Book for Sabbath schools and mission meetings, which sold in hundreds of thousands. The words and music of a number of the hymns were his own composition. Of other small publications we can only mention his “Easy Guide to the Constellations” and his tract “Instant Salvation,” of which more than half a million have been sold, and which has been greatly blessed to many. Among his larger works are his “Interpreting Concordance of the New Testament,” “The Stars and the Angels,” “Primeval Man Unveiled,” “The Evangelistic Baptism,” and “The Synagogue, not the Temple, the Germ and Model of the Christian Church.” This last work he issued through the press when he had passed his eightieth year. Through Lord Blantyre he sent a copy to Mr. Gladstone, whom he held in high esteem, and he received a hearty and grateful acknowledgment from the veteran statesman.
Although the publishing business was in many respects congenial, it took up so much of Mr. Gall’s time as to prevent him having leisure for other work which had more attraction for him, and so he returned, in 1850, to the less engrossing occupation of sculpture, his place in the firm being taken by his son-in-law, Mr. Robert Inglis.
It would occupy more space than is available even to note the many affairs in which Mr. Gall’s active mind found exercise at this period of his life. He contrived new world map projections which were adopted by various publishers and by the Government in the publications of the Challenger Expedition. For several years he was honorary secretary of the Royal Physical Society; and he received several medals from the Society of Arts for valuable contributions to their Transactions.
It was, however, in the sphere of Christian usefulness that Mr. Gall was most at home and most conspicuous as a pioneer. He took part in the Disruption controversy, both in the press and on the platform, and led out the Free Church section of Greenside Church to Lady Glenorchy’s. He was elected an elder of that congregation in 1843, and immediately set about the organizing of the congregational mission, ready for a building afterwards erected by Mr. William Whyte. When he joined the Free New North Church, in 1873, he organized the missions there, and gave as the nucleus of a building fund a sum of money which had been presented to him in acknowledgment of his services. Mr. Gall also organized the Canongate Christian Institute, for which handsome buildings were erected and furnished by Mr. White Millar. His services in the promotion of Sabbath-school work were sought for in all parts of the country. He delivered lectures and organized schools in Scotland, England, and Ireland; and in Edinburgh, chiefly through his instrumentality, the Edinburgh Sabbath-School Teachers’ Union was established.
But the Carrubbers Close Mission is the monument by which Mr. Gall will be had in lasting remembrance. He was convener of a committee of the Edinburgh Sabbath-School Teachers’ Union which in 1856 presented the result of a census they had taken, and from which it appeared that 8,000 children were growing up in Edinburgh without any religious instruction, representing a much larger adult population who were living lives of practical infidelity. Mr. Gall’s reflection upon this state of things was that not even in Edinburgh could a paid agency overtake the spiritual destitution which existed, and much less could the world be evangelized by a paid agency. No church or society being prepared to undertake a mission of voluntary agents on the plan proposed by Mr. Gall, he undertook the enterprise himself. In working it out he kept in view a principle his father had early given him for his guidance—namely, that when he had a clear apprehension of some good to be accomplished he should take the most direct road, untrammelled by traditional or conventional usages. To this Mr. Gall added another principle which his own experience had taught him—to give a free hand to Christian workers to strike out in as many directions as circumstances and their own proclivities might suggest; the only check in the case of the Carrubbers Close Mission being that nothing should be taught contrary to the doctrine of the Shorter Catechism. Operations were commenced in 1858. Whitefield Chapel, in Carrubbers Close, which up till that time had been the headquarters of an infidel club, was rented and occupied as a centre. From small beginnings the mission grew till its influence was felt through the whole city and throughout a large part of the country. Not a few ministers and Christian workers in all parts of the world date their serious impressions and their evangelistic baptism to the earnest nightly meetings of the Carrubbers Close Mission. After Whitefield Chapel was demolished, the meetings were held for three or four months in the Theatre Royal, when this building had been purchased by the Government, and before it was removed to provide a site for the new Post Office. The theatre was often crowded on the stage as well as in the auditorium; and in the Green Room was commenced the Edinburgh Daily Prayer Meeting. The mission was born and nurtured in prayer. After the demolition of the theatre, the headquarters of the mission were removed to the Free Assembly Hall, and finally to the handsome building in the High Street erected largely through the efforts of Mr. Moody.
The success of the mission was so remarkable that the Free Assembly of 1861, on the motion of Dr. Candlish, resolved to ordain Mr. Gall as pastor of the new mission congregation in the South Back of the Canongate. For ten years Mr. Gall was minister of this congregation, but he was never clear that this was his proper sphere. In 1871 he handed back to the Presbytery church and congregation fully equipped. With characteristic generosity he handed back also manse and stipend, reserving no allowance whatever for himself.
The sunset of his life was beautiful. For a few weeks before his death he was confined to bed, but retained his clearness of intellect to the last, and his interest in all that was taking place in the region of politics (he belonged to the advanced section), sociology, and above all in the progress of the Redeemer’s kingdom. While he was able, he wrote from his bed letters in the interests of truth and practical piety, and when this was no longer possible he witnessed for his Master in the family circle. He passed away peacefully at the last, through no painful trouble, but because exhausted nature gradually gave way. He was interred in the family burying ground in Grange Cemetery, in presence of a very large gathering of sincere mourners.
REV. THOMAS GARDINER, OLD ABERDEEN
(Died October 14, 1877)
Author: Rev. T. Smith, D.D.
The Free Church Monthly, January 1, 1878, p.16
Thomas Gardiner was born in Edinburgh in the year 1821. He was the only son of Mr. Thomas Gardiner, merchant. Mr. Gardiner never tired speaking of the singular piety of both his father and mother; and his appreciation of them was not the result of filial partiality, but was altogether in accordance with truth. It was the joy of their heart when he deliberately made choice of the ministry of the gospel as his life-work, with the distinct apprehension that the choice involved the renunciation of excellent prospects in a secular calling.
He passed through the classes of the university and those of the New College with much credit, and was known among his fellow-students as a young man of great earnestness, fervent piety, and deep humility and devotion. I have been told since his death of a little meeting of three or four students which was held in his father’s house, week by week, for many years.
He was licensed as a probationer in due course by the Free Presbytery of Edinburgh, and was occupied for a considerable length of time as probationers generally were before our home missions had attained the magnitude which happily they have now attained.
For a short time he acted as one of the classical masters of the Edinburgh Academy. I have heard — though never from him — that the late Dr. Candlish, whose son, now Dr. James Candlish, was one of his pupils, very often visited his class, and used to invite his friends to go with him and enjoy the treat of seeing Gardiner teach his class. This I can well believe, for his energy, the enthusiasm with which he threw himself into everything that he had to do, united with the precision with which he would teach the classics, were precisely the qualities which would draw forth the admiration of Dr. Candlish; and when he did admire, his admiration was unstinted.
For a time he had charge of one of the largest congregations in Scotland, and was assured of a unanimous election if he would allow himself to be nominated as colleague and successor to the minister for whom he was acting as substitute.
He was also elected by another congregation. But by this time he had resolved on missionary work, and on offering his services to the Foreign Missions Committee, his offer was cordially accepted; and on the 12th of April 1853 he was ordained to the ministry by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, Sir Henry Moncreiff officiating on the occasion.
He and Mrs. Gardiner, on their arrival in India, became my guests till they should be able to get a house for themselves; and their visit was protracted beyond the original intention of its duration by his having a pretty severe attack of the intermittent fever which so many sojourners in Bengal have to go through before the process of “acclimatization” is complete. This was a trial of his faith, for he longed to be at work.
For a long time his work was exclusively in the Institution, and all through his missionary career his main work was there. And noble work he did in it. His heart longed for the salvation of the souls with whom he was brought into contact. His whole teaching was an evangelical and evangelistic ministry. And it was not without fruit. Of the converts of the mission, a considerable proportion received their first impressions from his expositions of Christian truth in his class, and were moved by his loving exhortations to choose the good part. Those that were thus converted by his instrumentality he ever treated wdth singular tenderness, as of a mother rather than a father, or, according to a common expression of the country, as father and mother in one.
Outside of the Institution he took an active part in many good works. He was especially interested in what was called the Calcutta City Mission, to which he gave a great deal of his time and strength, and secured for himself the esteem and affection of his fellow-labourers — who were of all evangelical denominations — and the gratitude of many who were rescued by the mission from degradation and misery.
When, in 1858, I was obliged by severe illness to leave India, I handed over to Mr. Gardiner a work in which I had long been greatly interested — that of visiting some villages to the south of Calcutta, and spending every Sabbath-day in earnest dealings with the people. Into this toilsome but enjoyable work Mr. Gardiner threw himself with his usual enthusiasm; and I heard by letter from the beloved native Christian who accompanied him on these visits, how thoroughly he gained the confidence of the villagers.
When he returned to this land he unmurmuringly returned also virtually to the position of a probationer. After some time he was asked to officiate in the church of Old Aberdeen, the minister of which was laid aside by indisposition. After he had been there for about a year, the minister accepted a charge in the south of England, and Mr. Gardiner was unanimously chosen as his successor.
For more than fifteen years he laboured amongst them with unwearied zeal, and made full and noble proof of his ministry. Not only among the members of his own congregation, but by the whole community, he was regarded with mingled reverence and affection. In his preaching he was singularly faithful; and most conscientiously did he avoid offering to the Lord what cost him nothing. Mrs. Gardiner informs me that he left behind him one thousand and forty sermons, all fully written out in the course of his Aberdeen ministry, and this although his health was never very robust, and he was several times laid aside altogether for short periods. And these sermons were not specimens of “extemporaneous writing.” Every one of them was the product of careful study and earnest prayer. It is scarcely necessary to say that his pastoral diligence was unremitting. He gave himself — soul, body, and spirit — to his Lord, and to his Lord’s work in the congregation of which he had given him the oversight.
In his latest days he came more prominently before the Church than he had ever done before. He was appointed by his Presbytery convener of a committee to inquire into the case of Professor Smith. It were utterly out of place were I to indicate any opinion that I may have of the merits of that case. But I may say what those who took a different view of it from him are as ready as those who agreed with him to acknowledge, that he conducted it with an ability for which they were not prepared, and with a humility which it is very difficult for even a humble man to maintain in the conduct of controversy. Most earnestly did he pray for grace to do aright what he believed to have been given him of God to do. I never saw a man engaged in any controversy so resolutely strive to suppress human passion, and so faithfully watch over himself lest he should be tempted to desire victory instead of truth. Every one who witnessed his appearance at the bar of the Assembly as a dissentient in the case was impressed with the solemnity of his aspect; and I and a few other friends well knew whence that solemnity derived its origin.
In the month of October last, he and his six children, and a faithful servant who had been a member of his family all through his Aberdeen ministry, were seized with scarlet fever. On Friday, the 12th October, I received a telegram from his medical attendant, Dr. Gordon, who was also his brother-in-law and an elder in his congregation, that he was sinking fast, and that he was extremely desirous to see me. I reached Aberdeen about four o’clock on Saturday morning, and remained with him until three in the afternoon of that day. I believe that he had desired to see me in order to make some arrangements about his family, when he should be taken from their head. But if this were so, he had forgotten it all. He had but one thought — the love of Christ: but one feeling — the joy of his presence. I stated to a friend afterwards that he expressed neither faith nor hope. I know well that all through the time that I knew him he daily and hourly thought of himself as a forgiven sinner, and of Christ in the character of his Redeemer and Saviour. But now he made no reference to the character or origin of the relation between them, but only of the overwhelming blessedness of that relation. “Christ in me, and I in him,” was the one theme that had absorbed all his being. Nor did he think of the glory into which he was so soon to enter. Indeed he said to me, “I do not think I can gain much by going to heaven.” My reply was in substance that he had as yet only learned the alphabet of heaven’s language, and that he had still the whole language to learn. “Oh no,” he said, “that cannot be; no created nature could sustain greater joy than I am experiencing now.” He lived twenty-four hours after I left him, and on Sabbath, the 14th October, he passed into the upper sanctuary, in the portals of which he had so rejoiced.
REV. ALEXANDER GARDNER
(Died June 20, 1805)
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1895, Obituary, p.294
Alexander Gardner, youngest son of Mr. James Gardner, miller, Neilston, was a probationer of the Free Church. During the last six years he acted for considerable periods as assistant in several congregations, as at Logie (Fife), Kirriemuir (South), and Strathmiglo (South). While in charge of the latter congregation his health gave way. After a year’s rest he undertook the charge of the station at Sandwich, Shetland, thinking the change would be a benefit. But he had not been more than a fortnight in Shetland when he was seized by influenza. Almost immediately a complication of ailments set in and his system , which had been much run down, was quite unable to resist the attack. After an illness of little more than a fortnight, he passed away on the evening of Saturday, June 22. His body was taken home by the family and interred at Neilston.
REV. JAMES GARDNER, QUARFF AND BURRA
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, February 1, 1867, p.42
The Rev. James Gardner died at Kirkcaldy on the 23rd January 1867, in the seventy-second year of his age.
In early life he was deeply impressed with a sense of divine things, and felt a strong desire to enter into the office of the ministry. After the usual course of education in the University of Edinburgh, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy in the year 1821. He was employed as missionary-assistant to the late Dr. Gordon, Edinburgh; for a short time he afterwards became assistant to the Rev. George Marshall, minister of the parish of Bressa, in Shetland; and was ultimately ordained minister of the Government church of Quarff and Burra, in these islands, in August 1830. In that remote corner of the Church he discharged the duties of the ministry with fidelity and zeal, amidst difficulties which were not known in other more highly favoured localities.
He had a clear view of gospel truth, and, having felt the power of it on his own heart, he preached it with much earnestness, in a plain and simple style suited to the capacity of his hearers, and was also diligent in discharging the more private duties of the ministry amongst his people. He took a lively interest in the ten years’ conflict, and at the Disruption hesitated not to cast in his lot with those who renounced their connection with the Established Church, when they could no longer continue in it with a good conscience. After the Disruption he continued to labour for several years amongst those of his people who adhered to the Free Church. But having been necessitated to remove to Lerwick, as he could not find a residence nearer to them —some of them resided at Quarff, on the mainland, and others in the islands of Burra—he encountered much fatigue by sea and land in ministering to them. In these circumstances, he removed with his family to Kirkcaldy, and having, some time afterwards, resigned his charge, remained there till his death. He did not, however, resign the work of the ministry, but continued to preach whenever he found opportunity, and particularly in connection with the Free Church congregation of Inverteil, in which he acted as a member of session, and engaged in missionary work in the district.
REV. JAMES FRANCIS GARDNER, BOMBAY
(Died December 27, 1896)
Author: Rev. R. Macomish, M.A.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1897, Obituary, p.71
James Francis Gardner was born in the Free Church Mission House, Poona, on the sixth of May 1861. His father was then labouring as a missionary in that city, and the natives who came under his influence still speak of him with affectionate regard. The missionary impulse was communicated to his family, and when they sought a sphere of missionary activity, they naturally turned to the East. James Francis, the eldest son, was sent home at an early age, and received his education in the Queen Street Institution, Edinburgh, from which he passed to the Edinburgh University, and then to the New College.
His career as a student was one of distinction. At the university he graduated with honours in philosophy, and at the New College he gained the Cunningham Fellowship as the foremost student of his year. He then pursued his studies on the Continent; and, returning, was licensed by the Free Presbytery of Dalkeith, and ordained in Free St. George’s Church, Edinburgh, on the sixth of May 1888. In the autumn he sailed with Mrs. Gardner for India, and entered upon his duties in Wilson College, Bombay.
As a member of the college staff, Mr. Gardner had for his special subject history—a branch of study in which he himself delighted, but which was valued by him above all because it afforded so many opportunities of showing to the students how God had worked in the past. And in his hands it proved, indeed, “profitable for instruction in righteousness.”
Mr. Gardner brought to his work as a teacher the same qualities which had made him successful as a student. His whole strength was given to his duties. His intellectual acuteness, knowledge of his subject, and infinite capacity for taking pains both in the acquisition of knowledge and in the shaping of it for the use of others, soon gained him the confidence and admiration of his pupils. His exact scholarship was an object-lesson to them. The bright and keen interest he showed in the subjects he was expounding kindled enthusiasm in them, and his lucidity of exposition guided them over the difficulties of study in a foreign tongue.
In the teacher his students found they had also a friend—ever gentle, courteous, obliging, willing to give his time and strength to help them because he was genuinely interested in them. Indeed, nothing was more characteristic of Mr. Gardner than his willingness to sacrifice himself when appealed to for help or guidance. Nothing seemed trifling which conduced to the happiness of others; and the time thus given was not lost. Reflection was stirred as to the secret of this unselfishness, and the conception of a Christian character was formed and deepened in minds that perhaps knew little, at the time, of Christian teaching. This influence of the Christian character added strength to the testimony which the missionary constantly bore to Christ. Mr. Gardner did not allow the stress of study to lead to any “secularizing” of his work, but was justly proud of the name of missionary. In private, as in public, he found opportunity to speak of the Master whom he served. The daily Bible class was realized as a daily opportunity. At the beginning of the session, which it was not given him to finish, he was meditating afresh the best means of utilizing this class for the presentation of the truth.
Besides his work in the college, Mr. Gardner was throughout in close connection with the mission High School, and was for some time acting-principal. As with the students, so with the schoolboys— he earned first respect and then affection. In his first session he began to gather the senior boys to his house on Saturday afternoons for conversation and discussion, and the cordial relationship thus established was continued in many cases in after-life.
Beyond the limits of this school and college work Mr. Gardner made his influence felt as a preacher and lecturer. And the work he did as secretary of the Bombay Tract and Book Society has been gratefully recognized by that body.
More directly connected with the mission was his work as secretary in Bombay for the Ladies’ Society. The time and pains he gave to this, and the accuracy and thoroughness with which he carried out the business arrangements connected with it, could be fully appreciated only by those who were on the spot.
Latterly he had been occupying his leisure with literary tasks which both bore directly on the college work and gave him some scope for the exercise of his literary taste and judgment.
But a nature with activities so full and manifold is under temptation to overtask the bodily strength. When Mr. Gardner’s furlough came, he was sorely in need of it; and when he returned to India at the end of November 1896, his friends were disappointed to see that his looks did not indicate renewed strength. He himself was full of zeal for his work and of plans regarding it; but that work had barely begun when illness overtook him, and acting rapidly upon an enfeebled frame, brought to his friends the unexpected shock of his death. He passed away peacefully early on the morning of Sunday, the twenty-seventh of December; and his body was laid to rest in the land that he had loved.
Mr. Gardner’s death has called forth deep feeling, earnest expression of the love that was borne him, and wide testimony to his influence. Some of the testimony that has come from non-Christian sources is remarkable. A brother-missionary overheard a Hindu talking to a Mohammedan in the train, and saying, “We have also just lost Professor Gardner —a diamond among men.” And no finer tribute could be paid than that of The Indian Spectator, which is subjoined in full:—
“Of the many Christian missionaries that live and labour amongst us, it would be difficult to name one so widely respected and justly beloved as the gentle and unobtrusive spirit that passed away on Sunday last. It would be really impossible to overestimate the loss that Wilson College has sustained in the death of Mr. James F. Gardner, or to speak too highly of the good he has done, morally and otherwise, to the hundreds of students that came under his care. By habit and disposition Mr. Gardner seems to have been eminently fitted to be a teacher of youth; and no one brought to the performance of his duties a loftier ideal or a keener appreciation of the responsibility attaching to his high calling. Simple, patient, and unassuming, his appreciation was not confined to his students alone, but extended to a large and ever-increasing circle of friends and acquaintances. Few could come in contact with him without being struck with the eminently Christian bent of his mind and heart. He was ever easy of access, and full of kindly sympathy and forbearance. His single devotion to duty, and his desire to be of use to the people of the land, irrespective of creed or colour, made him extremely popular with Europeans and natives alike. For the passing hour his work in the Wilson College will perhaps be equally well done by others; but his place, as far as the wider and more enduring work of an educationist is concerned, will for long remain vacant. The real merit of his work lies not so much in what he did in the class-room as outside of it—the work of impressing upon the minds of his students ever higher and purer ideals of duty towards God and man. It would be out of place here, even if it were possible, to enumerate the cases in which his own example, more than his precept, inspired a higher sense of devotion to duty and kindled the desire for a more unselfish, patriotic, and philanthropic course of life. But this as to only a small portion of his devoted career; the rest stands behind—
‘That best portion of a good man’s life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.’
“There must have been many who received from him their daily living; many more students who received from him the means of education. All these will miss the Christian gentleman who did so much for them—to guide, to counsel, to console. Add to this the loss of the citizen in the prime of life, on the threshold of a useful career, and it will not be difficult to see what Bombay in general, and Wilson College in particular, has lost in the late Professor Gardner.”
To the Free Church Mission Mr. Gardner’s loss is a blow which will long be felt. His colleagues have lost a fellow-worker and a friend whose goodness and brightness, brotherly sympathy in all trial, co-operation in all good works, and freedom from all self-seeking, had bound him very closely to them. But he died looking for the dawn; and with him it is perfect day.
REV. J. W. GARDNER, POONA
(Died August 2, 1888)
Author: Rev. R. Stothert, Bombay
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November, 1888, Obituary, p.337
The Institution at Poona was a grand field for mission work while Mr. Gardner laboured there (1856-1872). Dr. Wilson used to say that good schoolmasters are more needed in India than professors; and the remark holds good to this day. Mr. Gardner was not only an ordained missionary, but an able and experienced teacher to begin with. In Poona he was the right man in the right place. Times have changed in Poona as elsewhere, but there is still a melancholy pleasure in looking back to the days when Mr. Gardner was in charge of the mission, and Mr. Baba-Palmanji was pastor of the native church.
Besides the work in the Institution, Mr. Gardner gave much time and attention to the Female Boarding-School. Several of the girls in whom he and Mrs. Gardner took a special interest have grown up to be useful Christian workers, or to fill respectable positions in society.
In a large cantonment there are many openings for Christian effort among soldiers and others, and of these Mr. Gardner was not slow to avail himself. There is a great gulf in India between military society and the Eurasians, and many who ought to know better are still found speaking of the Eurasian community as if it consisted of an inferior race of beings. As a matter of fact, the future welfare of India is as much bound up with the progress of this class of the population as of the natives themselves. Both socially and religiously, Mr. Gardner’s influence on the Eurasians of Poona was widely felt and fruitful of good. The great success which has attended the work of the Episcopal Methodists in India has been owing to the way in which Methodism has met the wants of this class. The spread of this movement throughout India has been a blessing to multitudes, and is certainly the most encouraging feature in the recent religious history of the country. But it should not be forgotten that much of the success of this movement is due to the prayers and labours of men like Mr. Gardner, who sowed the seed from which others have since reaped an abundant harvest. Above all, among the native Christians, Mr. Gardner’s unassuming gentleness and kindliness of manner, and his readiness at all times to comfort and help those in distress, made him to be recognized by all as a true missionary and a faithful follower of Christ.
In the American mission in Western India it is very common for the children of missionaries to take the place of their parents in mission work, thus making an apostolical succession of the most scriptural kind. In our India mission this hereditary connection is almost unknown. We have, however, in the case of Mr. Gardner’s family a signal exception to what is unhappily too much of a general law. Of Mr. Gardner’s three sons, two have been ordained as missionaries, one to Bombay, and the other to Aden. Of three daughters, one has already been for several years in charge of the Female Boarding-School in Bombay. Another daughter is the wife of a Presbyterian minister in Australia. The children of the mission-house in India, as well as the children of the manse in Scotland, have a strong claim on the interest and the prayers of all Christian people.
During his later years of enforced retirement from the foreign field, Mr. Gardner found a sphere of usefulness in Edinburgh, where he was for some years Convener of the District Mission Committee of Free St. Andrew’s. He also took an active interest in the cause of religious education. He died on the 2nd of August last. To many, besides the members of his own family, his death is an irreparable loss; because men in whom amiability is combined with such genuine Christian worth and integrity of character are hard to find.
REV. GEORGE GARIOCH, OLD MELDRUM
(Died May 12th, 1872)
Author: Rev. George Archibald, Udny
The Free Church Monthly Record, August 1, 1872, p.170
On the 17th May, were laid in their last resting-place in the cemetery at Old Meldrum, the remains of this much esteemed clergyman. He was the only son of Dr. Garioch of Garioch’s Ford, a medical gentleman of extensive practice and good social position in the district. After a successful career as a student, he graduated at King’s College and University, Aberdeen; and having, whilst afterwards studying for the Church, at the same time attended the medical classes, a practice then pretty common, he took the degree of M.D. at the University of London; but save as the friend and counsellor of the poor, he never sought to turn his attainments in this profession to any practical account. While yet young in years, on a vacancy occurring in his native parish, he was presented to the cure; and for the long period of fifty-six years he lived and laboured in it—twenty-six years as parish minister, and the remaining thirty as minister of the large Free Church congregation there.
Few men ever possessed more fully the love, the esteem, and confidence of his people —and he well deserved such. He was thoroughly devoted to their best interests, and knew no more solid pleasure nor higher reward than to be of service to them. He was the friend of temperance, the promoter of charitable institutions, of sanitary regulations, and whatever tended to the benefit, or even ornament, of his native place.
His natural gifts were varied and of a high order; and had literary fame been his ambition, he might have attained to no small eminence in it. His only published works were a volume of sermons in the early part of his ministry, and subsequently, a work in blank verse, “On the Association of Ideas.” He was a graceful writer, a fluent speaker, and an able defender of the truth. He was a Disruption minister, and owing to a forced settlement that took place in the Presbytery of Garioch, of which he was a member, he was providentially led to take a very active part in the controversies connected with it. It is no exaggeration to say that the soundness of his judgment, the weight of his moral character, and the confidence that was placed in him, tended much to cause the Free Church, which he dearly loved, to strike its roots so extensively, not only in Meldrum, but in the adjoining parishes.
As a preacher, Mr. Garioch was eminently evangelical, discriminating, and impressive. His one purpose was to win souls to Christ, and his motto, “Woe be to me if I preach not the gospel.” He was not without many proofs that his labours were not in vain in the Lord: not only were his ministrations largely attended and appreciated to the last, but there were numbers among his hearers who regarded him as their spiritual father, and to whom his memory will ever be fragrant. In the year 1867, commemorative services were held in his church in honour of his having attained his jubilee, when congratulatory addresses were read to him by his Presbytery and office-bearers; and his congregation embraced the occasion of presenting him with a finely-executed likeness of himself, in the shape of a medallion in marble, the work of an eminent artist. This medallion is placed in the entrance lobby of the church, where it will remain as a loving memorial of its first minister. When he felt himself no longer able for the full and satisfactory discharge of his pulpit and pastoral duties, he applied in the usual way to have a colleague associated with him. The choice of the congregation rested on the Rev. Alex. Cumming; and, after his translation to Forfar, on the Rev. John Paterson, the present incumbent, under whose ministry the large congregation remains united. How much Mr. Garioch did for his people will only be known on the Great Day; but no secret is betrayed in now mentioning that from the very first he was a large contributor to all the missionary and other schemes of the Church; gave the whole of what he was entitled to claim as “supplement” for the education of poor children; vacated his entire share of the equal dividend from the Sustentation Fund, in favour of his colleague so soon as he was appointed; and that he bequeathed by a deed, long before executed, his fine house, with large garden, green-house, and other premises, as a manse for the Free Church minister of Meldrum in all time coming. In addition to this, we understand that he has left £200 sterling to the Aged and Infirm Ministers’ Fund of the Free Church, £150 sterling to the Deacons’ Court of the Free Church, Meldrum, for the poor of the congregation and parish; and one or two other small bequests for like purposes.
He died in his seventy-ninth year; and although there was no active disease, yet, ere the end came, there were not wanting premonitions that it could not be distant. It was eminently calm and peaceful. At 5.30 p.m. on Sabbath, 12th May, he took part in family worship, when a portion of John 17 was read; and by twenty minutes past nine of the same evening, the spirit had joined the General Assembly and Church of the first-born in the upper sanctuary. His well-known form and appearance will long be remembered in Meldrum, and his name will go down to posterity as one of the most cherished of any that ever belonged to it. “When the ear heard him it blessed him, and when the eye saw him then it gave witness unto him.” His funeral was a public one, and during the time of it business was entirely suspended, and the people all turned out to witness it, mothers with their little ones lining the mournful procession the whole way. He has gone to his rest and reward; but though dead he still speaks, and says to all that remain— “Be ye also ready,” &c.
REV. JOHN GARSON, BIRSAY
(Died April 25, 1884)
Author: Rev. John R. Anderson, Harray
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February 2, 1885, Biographical Notices, p.52
The Rev. John Garson was born in the parish of Sandwick, Orkney, on the 25th November 1813. He received his early education in Stromness, and then, after some years of private tuition, entered the classes of Edinburgh University. At the close of his Arts curriculum he became a student in the Divinity Hall of the same city, and enjoyed the high privilege of sitting at the feet of Dr. Chalmers. Leaving the Divinity Hall, he returned to his native county deeply imbued with evangelical views, and was licensed in 1841 by the Cairston Presbytery, within whose bounds he at once began to labour as assistant to the Rev. Thomas Blyth, then minister of the united parishes of Birsay and Harray. In this capacity he from the first avowed his sympathy with the Non-intrusion party, whose views he was not slack to keep before the people and uphold—a course in which he had the full approval of Mr. Blyth, who at the time of the Disruption was prevented solely by severe illness from joining in the movement, and who died in 1844.
When in 1843 the crisis came, Mr. Garson immediately cast in his lot with the Free Church. Returning from Edinburgh after the Disruption had taken place, he found himself on the following Sabbath excluded from the parish church of Harray; whereupon he preached in the churchyard, and immediately thereafter hurried off to Birsay. On Mr. Garson’s arrival, the people, assembled within the church, finding that he was not to be allowed to conduct the service there, rose almost to a man, and gathered upon a grassy spot outside the walls of the old palace (a huge ruin adjoining the church, where Mr. Garson delivered a thrilling discourse. That discourse, the place of meeting, and the whole scene, are still fresh in the memories of many of the old inhabitants of Birsay. The writer has heard him narrate the events of that memorable Sabbath-day; and it is matter of regret that the experiences through which he passed at the Disruption time were not committed by him to writing, for they undoubtedly contained materials fitted to form a not uninteresting chapter in Mr. Brown’s collection of Disruption Annals.
Owing mainly, under God, to Mr. Garson’s influence and judicious guidance, the great majority of the people in each parish adhered to the Free Church, and were formed into congregations. Chiefly through his exertions also steps were immediately taken to provide places of worship for the two congregations, and by the close of the year each had its own church. He was called by the larger of the two—that of Birsay—and was ordained in January 1844. Within a short time he saw two schools and a manse built in the parish; and in the erection of these, as well as of the two churches, he spared neither his own exertions nor resources.
To the duties of the pastorate of Birsay he actively devoted himself with remarkable fidelity and success for the long period of thirty-eight years, when, owing to failing health, the result chiefly of a painful malady, he applied to the Assembly of 1882 and obtained leave for the appointment of a colleague and successor. In the autumn of the same year, acting on medical advice, he retired with his family to Edinburgh, where he died on the 25th April last. After going south, he continued to the end to take a tender interest in his old congregation, on which he had spent the strength of a whole life; and great was his joy at the speedy and harmonious settlement at Birsay of the Rev. John A. Selbie, as one in every way well fitted to take up the work which he himself had been called to lay down. During his last illness he directed his family to send a communion cup to the congregation of Birsay, “as a token of his loving remembrance cf them.”
In Mr. Garson’s hands the Birsay congregation became consolidated into one of the largest and most flourishing charges within the bounds, a position which it fully maintained down to the close of his ministry. As a proof of his continued success and influence among his people, it may be mentioned that some ten years ago the congregation having to face the arduous undertaking of the erection of a new church, threw themselves so heartily into the scheme that under his wise and energetic direction almost the whole sum necessary was raised by themselves, and a handsome and commodious church opened entirely free of debt.
He was an able and effective preacher, his discourses being delivered with the impressive fervour of one who had himself felt the power of the gospel. His prayers were singularly rich in spiritual unction. In his pastoral work he was assiduous and faithful; and in the homes of his much-attached flock his house-to-house visitations were greatly prized. Throughout the whole of his ministry the welfare of the young lay near his heart; as in the education of the rising generation he ever took a deep and active interest. As a member of society he warmly interested himself in all that concerned the public good; and by the community at large in whose midst he passed his active life he was held in the greatest respect. By his co- presbyters he was in the highest degree esteemed, alike for he personal character and for his ministerial worth.
As a minister of the Free Church, he continued always strong in his attachment to the Church of the Disruption, and his sense of the vital importance of those principles for which in 1843 she was enabled so faithfully to witness remained unabated. In all her expansion and prosperity in the past he rejoiced greatly, while for her future he cherished the fullest confidence. Whilst, however, attached supremely to his own Cnurch, he took a large-hearted, sympathetic interest in all the evangelical sections of the Church of Christ, hailing with delight the signs of spiritual life and progress wherever manifested; and he looked forward to the time not far distant when at least the leading sections of the Presbyterian Church would be re-united, and that on terms in full accord with the principles of ’43.
During the period of his retirement to Edinburgh, although he experienced from time to time a measure of relief, he remained all along an invalid and sufferer. That grace, however, which he had been privileged so long to preach to others he found all-sufficient in his own experience; and he was enabled to bear all he suffered with child-like sub-missiveness and trust, recognizing, as he did, the loving hand from which, and the loving, all wise purpose for which, the afflictive dispensation came.
Mr. Garson has left to mourn his loss a widow and a family of four sons and a daughter, to all of whom he was greatly endeared. He is also survived by an only brother, Dr. George Garson, who has for many years been a respected elder in Stromness congregation.
REV. DR. JOHN GEMMEL, FAIRLIE
(Died March 25, 1884)
Author: Rev. James Stark, Senior Minister, Free Wellpark Church, Greenock
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June 2, 1884, Biographical Notices, p.180
Dr. Gemmel belonged to a very respectable family in Port-Glasgow, his father having been for many years a well-known bookseller in that town. Receiving the usual education of the parish school, which at that time, however defective as regards English, was yet classical enough even in many country districts, he became afterwards a student in the University of Glasgow, and distinguished himself very specially in the language classes, in which he took high honours. And indeed in that department of literature he might justly be said to have continued a student all his life; for as a scholar he occupied a high place among his fellows, being thoroughly versed in the Shemitic languages generally, and particularly so in Hebrew, Chaldee, and Syriac. In an early part of his ministry he succeeded in deciphering an inscription on one of the stones of Nineveh, which it is understood had puzzled not a few Oriental scholars, and even Rawlinson himself, who had tried to make it out, and failed to do so. I remember well that he was not a little proud of this feat of scholarship; and who can blame him for a vanity which was all too natural?
After leaving the Hall, and having been licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow, he was employed for a year or two by the session of St. John’s, Glasgow, in the mission work of that parish, and at a time when efforts more vigorous than usual were being made for overtaking the spiritual destitution “of that great city, and thus preparing himself very effectively for the still more important work of the ministry to which he was to be soon called, in the good providence of God. So early as 1835 he was settled in Newtown Crommelin, Ireland, in the sister Presbyterian Church; and some two years thereafter, in the quoad sacra church at Fairlie, in the Presbytery of Greenock. There he continued to labour until the Disruption of 1843; and though the great majority of his congregation came out with him, yet the superior, like some few of our Scottish nobles elsewhere, refused to grant a site for a place in which to worship God. It is due to him to state, however, that some years afterwards he handsomely enough granted a site for a manse, having discovered meanwhile that the Free Church of Scotland was certain to be a permanent institution of the country. But as the matter stood, the congregation was constrained to meet for worship in a stable during a good many months, at the termination of which period the same generous lady who had given the stable—Miss Home of Fairlie Lodge—gave also a site for a church, in which divine service was thenceforth conducted. The young folks, I remember—for I preached oftener than once in the stable— sometimes joked with each other on the subject by asking when they met, “What stall was you in to-day?” as if it had been a cathedral—which indeed it was, in the highest sense of the expression—and as if the stall had been the seat of some church dignitary in the choir.
Dr. Gemmel was one of our most faithful and consistent men during the whole Ten Years’ Conflict, from its commencement to its close, and in common with not a few brethren in the Presbytery did not flinch when the hour of trial came; for however much they loved the Church of their fathers, they could not any longer remain in it when it consented, for a mess of pottage, to barter away, at the mere bidding of the civil power, that spiritual independence which belongs of right to every Church of Christ, and without which she cannot by any possibility discharge her spiritual duties, or be at all faithful to her living Head.
It may be properly enough mentioned here that twelve out of the sixteen ministers who composed the Presbytery of Greenock came out at the Disruption; and till the lamented death of Dr. Gemmel, six of these were still living—a much larger proportion than can be found anywhere else. But there were some in Greenock who manifestly did not imagine that there would be any disruption of the Church at all. A week or two before this event I had occasion to be in a bookseller’s shop in Cathcart Street, Greenock, when the bookseller asked me somewhat abruptly, “How many ministers are coming out?” I said that I could not tell. Whereupon he rejoined, “I wish to know, for I have made a wager of ten pounds that there will not be twelve ministers who will leave the Church.” Upon this I replied, “Well, you may be getting your ten pounds ready, at any rate, for you have happened to fix on the exact number that are coming out of the Presbytery of Greenock.” And as perhaps might have been expected, the people were just as earnest and enthusiastic as were the ministers, and began to contribute liberally to the Sustentation Fund long before it was actually needed. The late William Macfie of Langhouse, one of the noblest and most generous benefactors of the Church, was among the first to subscribe his name, and his annual contribution was a large one even then; but he added to it the words, “While able and willing.” Mr. Allan Fullerton, banker, happened to be second, and he too was most liberal in his benefactions; but he changed the phrase, and made it, “While able, always willing.” And these two men are really very fair examples of the great body of the people at that eventful period, who came out with their ministers, and with a bounteous and ungrudging liberality supported and upheld the Free Church of Scotland, and helped thus to place it on a firm basis which nothing can shake.
Dr. Gemmel was one of the most faithful ministers of the gospel, and during the many years of his unwearied labours in Fairlie he gave full proofs of his ministry. He was sound in all his views of divine truth, singularly diligent in his preparation for the pulpit, and so thoroughly conscientious in the discharge of his public duties that he would keep back nothing which he felt called upon to say, even though no small offence was thereby given to some of his hearers whom he valued the most. And his private character was always and in all respects such as becomes a minister of Christ,—of a kind and genial disposition, of unblemished reputation, and from my personal knowledge of him, I should say of the greatest spirituality of mind. I have a very vivid recollection of a conversation which I once had with him on the Song of Solomon. My idea was that it was very difficult for me, if not impossible, to make out clearly the right exegesis of the book, and consequently I had not lectured on it, as I had on almost all the books of the Bible. He admitted at once that for a considerable time he had felt the very same difficulty, but that shortly before he had so grasped the spiritual meaning of the Song as to have become filled with the deepest emotions of soul, and had actually wept for joy. I envied, and wondered, and admired; but I am much afraid that this was all. I could not follow.
Latterly he published lectures on the gospel in Isaiah, and discourses on the renewal of the soul, which show very clearly the knowledge and unction of the preacher. He wrote also a good many articles from time to time in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, and on subjects with which he was singularly well acquainted, such as “Lives of Celebrated Jewish Rabbis,” “The Jewish Synagogue,” “Assyria, and Her Monuments,” and other topics of a similar kind. Nor must we forget to say that he was the author of various poems, both didactic and devotional, one of the former occasioning no small stir among Hebrew scholars from its utter unsuitableness for versification, at least in ordinary hands, but yet so plastic and tractable in his that it received from more than one review the distinguished praise of having reached “a very high degree of merit.” It was entitled “The Tiberiad; or, The Art of Hebrew Accentuation: a Didactic Poem in Three Books;” and there is good ground for the belief that this poem was at least one of the reasons which induced his Alma Mater to confer on him the degree of D.D. in 1881 — an honour well deserved, and which, if it had come earlier, would have had for him a much higher value. Indeed, to the very last he was busily engaged in this favourite relaxation of his, and has left a long poem, nearly, but not altogether finished, on the “Resurrection of the Body.”
REV. ALEXANDER GENTLE, ALVES
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, May 1 1869, p.111
Among the losses which the Church has lately sustained, by the death of some of her more eminent ministers, we have to record, with profound regret, the removal from among us of this esteemed, beloved, and useful servant of Christ.
Mr. Gentle was born in Edinburgh in 1798, and was the son of a respectable family—his father being a Writer to the Signet in that city. He was educated at the High School of Edinburgh, and finished his studies at the University there. On his being licensed to preach the gospel, he became assistant to the Rev. Dr. Wilson in Burntisland, and remained in that situation till, as we believe, he was appointed to the pastoral charge of the congregation of the Established Church in Alves, in 1828. When he was in Burntisland, zealously discharging the duties of his office, he gave early proof of his high qualification for the ministry of the gospel, and of future excellence and usefulness in the Church: and a lady of high distinction having, on one occasion, heard him preach, was so impressed by his discourse that she took a deep and hearty interest in him, and resolved, if possible, to provide a parish church for him; which she did by inducing the Earl of Moray to present him to Alves.
Presented to Alves in 1828, he was ordained in 1829: and had, therefore, been but a few years there before the ” Ten Years’ Conflict” began, and which ended in the Disruption of 1843. From the commencement he took a zealous, decided, and active part in the great movement. Standing alone in the Presbytery of Elgin during that eventful period till 1838, when another faithful servant of the Lord was brought to his assistance, he fought faithfully against the great odds opposed to him in the Presbytery; and taking a lead among the faithful minority in the Synod of Moray, he maintained and contended resolutely and enthusiastically for the principles of non-intrusion and the spiritual independence of the Church. And when the civil courts had decided against the Church’s lawful and rightful claims, and Government and Parliament confirmed the decision, Mr. Gentle, as a thoroughly conscientious and upright servant of Christ, unhesitatingly and at once threw up his connection with the Erastianized Establishment, and cast in his lot with the faithful, self-sacrificing, and suffering band, who constituted themselves the Free Church of Scotland. As might be expected, a large congregation of the parishioners of Alves left the Establishment with him, consisting at first, in a great measure, of the poor and labouring classes; but it rapidly increased, and latterly comprised the greater part of the population of the parish—rich as well as poor.
As a preacher, Mr. Gentle held a high position among his brethren. His subjects were always thoroughly studied, carefully prepared, and delivered with impressive unction, earnestness, and clearness; and few could sit under him without having their attention irresistibly gained and fixed. In prayer he was specially powerful and impressive. Being heartily and deeply religious himself, as well as solemnly thoughtful, reverential, and devout, and invariably coming forth to all his services from his closet, where he had been wrestling with his God, and evidently received a renewed anointing with the “Fresh Oil;” it was generally felt, especially by his Christian audience, as if they were carried by his devotional exercises into the “inner sanctuary,” and close and hallowed communion with the Most High. His pastoral work was diligent, exemplary, and conscientious; and by his fatherly and friendly going in and out among his flock he endeared himself to them; and his counsel, advice, and instructions were sought and gratefully received and valued by all classes of them. In the local courts of the Church he held a prominent and distinguished place; and from long and great experience, his careful study and thorough knowledge of the laws and forms of the Church, and from his calm deliberate-ness and wise prudence in dealing with a subject and coming to a decision on it, he was generally regarded as an upright judge, a safe guide, and a most valuable member of the Presbytery and Synod to which he belonged.
In general, Mr. Gentle, apart from his ministerial character, was well known, to those who were intimate wdth him, to be a person of a social and genial disposition; and his varied knowledge and quiet humour’ always gave a zest to his conversation, and spread a happy cheerfulness in whatever company he happened to be. His general information, his practical wisdom, his extensive knowledge of men and things, and his readiness, without ostentation or show, to communicate what he knew, made him a most agreeable and desirable companion; and there was that about him in general that compelled all who fully knew him to love and admire him. Apparently to mere onlookers he appeared stern—and in the pulpit, the courts of the Church, and in private, he was unbendingly decided and resolute for truth and justice—yet he was truly frank and affable in his disposition and deportment, open to reason, and always ready to yield when his judgment was convinced. One thing he never lost sight of, in public or in private—”that he was a minister of Christ.” Consequently he carried a savour of Christ with him and about him wherever he was; and men could not but take knowledge of him that he belonged to Jesus, and was often with him. But although he carefully and thoroughly carried religion with him into every-day life, and into every company and place, he did not intrude it unnecessarily upon any one. He was, indeed, pious, but without ostentation; earnest, but not sour; zealous, but not officious; and faithful and gentle as was his name, and loving as his Master. He therefore stood high in the estimation of the community, of his flock, and of his brethren. And his death has caused a great blank in the Church to which he belonged, in the parish where he resided, in the congregation over which he so long and faithfully presided, and in the society in which he was wont to mix. He lived in faith—he laboured in love—he died in peace—and he is gone to be with Christ, which is far better. “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. JAMES GIBSON, KIRKPATRICK-DURHAM
(Died 5th October 1887)
Author: Rev. W. D. Thomson, M.A., Lochend and New Abbey
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February, 1888, Memorial Sketches, p.52
Mr. Gibson studied for the ministry in Edinburgh, and was licensed to preach the gospel by the Free Church Presbytery of that city.
From 1859 till the time of his death he ministered to the congregation of Kirkpatrick-Durham. At first he acted as assistant to the late Rev. Jamieson Willis; but his ministrations proved so acceptable to the people, that at their request he was ordained as his colleague and successor in 1861.
Soon he was left in sole charge of the congregation, and he continued his labours among them without any symptoms of failing health or energy until the morning of his death, which occurred at a friend’s house in Dumfries, where he had gone to attend a meeting of the Presbytery.
In the estimation of all who knew him intimately, Mr. Gibson occupied a high place as a Christian man. Probably every one who had opportunities of knowing him closely, and who was able to appreciate genuine goodness of disposition, was drawn to like him.
He was singularly earnest in his nature ; transparent, humble, serviceable, faithful to his sense of duty, and free from the spirit of ostentation; and while he displayed great seriousness of mind on all occasions, this, as sometimes appeared, was blended in him with a measure of pleasant humour and playfulness. He was one of those who hold all their convictions tenaciously, and who have loyalty and courage to stand by them under conditions of trial.
He belonged to the “Constitutional” party in the Church, and in matters of ecclesiastical principle, worship, etc., he conscientiously followed the lead of such men as the late Rev. Dr. Begg and the Rev. William Balfour of Holyrood, an old and much-admired friend of his. Latterly, Mr. Gibson was the only surviving representative of this party in the Presbytery of Dumfries; and to this position he adhered to the last—not, however, from any love of singularity, but from a strong feeling of duty. In consequence of this he sometimes found himself, as occasion arose, led to take up strong ground in debate against views held by brethren on matters affecting the principles and interests of the Church: but on all such occasions the spirit of high conscientiousness was conspicuous in him, along with Christian respect for those differing from him. For these and other reasons, no member of the Presbytery received or deserved more esteem and affection from his brethren than he did.
In doing the work of the ministry he proved himself in many ways to be a labourer not needing to be ashamed. All who knew felt he was a good and honest-minded man seeking to serve his divine Master. He was a man with a single purpose in his life. He loved the Free Church, and, according to his lights, sought its general interests. Still more did he seek the salvation of his people their spiritual upbuilding and comfort. And above all his aim was to glorify God.
Upon his preparation for pulpit ministrations it was his habit to bestow great care. His discourses all bore the stamp of “Covenant theology.” They abounded in doctrine and in scriptural allusions. They aimed at evangelical results in the hearers. And both they and his prayers owed much of their impressiveness to a singular earnestness and unction which marked the tones and modulation of his voice.
The work of pastoral visitation was performed by him with great aptitude and devotion, and was attended with much blessings Often his ministrations in private to the suffering and sorrowing were the first to be sought after in the district by persons and families not belonging to his own denomination. And the general respect in which he was held, and the value attached to such services, were testified to some years ago by a set of presentations made to him and subscribed for by the general community and neighbourhood.
Of course during so lengthened a ministry he was not without occasional trials and discouragements in his work. But many testimonies to spiritual benefits derived from his public and private ministrations were from time to time borne by those among whom he laboured.
His death is deeply lamented by his congregation and by many other friends who knew him as a man and Christian minister.
REV. ROBERT GIBSON, KIRKBEAN AND SOUTHWICK
(Died July 3, 1888)
Author: Rev. Robert MacKenna, M.A., Dumfries
Source: The Free Church Monthly, September, 1888, Obituary, p.272
Mr. Gibson was born at Leadhills, Lanarkshire, on the 17th October, 1819, and was brought up under the ministry of the Rev. Thomas Hastings, in whose congregation his father was an elder. On leaving school he became a student at Glasgow university, where he passed through the usual course of study required of candidates for the ministry. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow in 1842, and immediately thereafter laboured for a brief period in Manchester as assistant to the Rev. Dr. Munro. Leaving Manchester, he undertook charge of a mission station for a short time at Eaglesham. The site-refusing policy of the Duke of Buccleuch, so bitterly experienced in his native district, brought him at this period into connection with Disruption trials and conflicts, and helped to foster within him that warm attachment to the Free Church and her principles which he maintained through life. Towards the close of 1843 he undertook the oversight of the mission station of Kirkbean and Southwick, on the shores of the Solway in Kirkcudbrightshire; and on the station being raised to a settled charge he was ordained its first pastor on 17th October 1844. Here he prosecuted his ministry with untiring zeal and energy till 1882, when his health failing him, he took advantage of the Aged and Infirm Ministers’ Fund, and obtained a colleague and successor. Thenceforth relieved from duty, he took up his residence in Dumfries, where he lived in comparative retirement till his death on 3rd July last.
His ministry did not differ much from the general character of that of ministers in our rural districts. Some of these, availing themselves of the opportunities for study which the quiet of a country life affords, set about preparing themselves for filling in after years more important charges in the Church. The subject of this notice, however, was not one of this class. He found his sphere of labour in Kirkbean in 1844, and continued in it till his health failed him, not seeking a higher or wider field of usefulness, but ministering contentedly to his people, and serving heartily the Church in the sphere in which Providence had placed him.
In his ministrations he was strictly evangelical. He loved the old theology, and clung to it, unfolding its truths with a clearness and force that gained the ready attention and interest of his hearers. He had no sympathy with the crude speculations which in these days are sometimes substituted in room of the gospel, but the great doctrines of sin and of redemption, of regeneration and sanctification through the Spirit formed the staple elements of his preaching.
As a pastor he was diligent and unremitting in his attentions, responsive to every call of duty, and ready at all times to carry the message of consolation and instruction to the bedside of the sick and dying. He enjoyed the confidence and affection of his people, and was esteemed by all classes of the community amongst whom he laboured, in token of which he was presented with a handsome testimonial on the occasion of his retirement.
He was most happy in his family relations. He was twice married, but had no children. His widow survives him to mourn his loss, but has the satisfaction that, in his years of weakness and helplessness, she was enabled to minister to his wants, and to cheer and soothe him with her loving attentions.
REV. WILLIAM GIBSON, LOCHGOILHEAD
(Died September 9, 1899)
Author: Rev. Robert MacMorran, Dunoon
Source: The Free Church Monthly, March, 1900, Obituary, p.64
Mr. Gibson was born at Edinburgh in 1828. His father died when he was only nine years old, and thus he was mainly indebted for his early upbringing to his mother and sister, whose faith and devotion were always gratefully remembered as potent factors for good in his life. Having been admitted as a foundationer to George Heriot’s Hospital, he there received an excellent education, and had the offer of a bursary at the completion of his course wherewith to prosecute his studies at the University. This offer, however, he declined; and having chosen law for his profession, he entered the office of Mr. James Peddie, W.S.
Before leaving school, the Disruption controversy was often a subject of keen debate in Heriot’s Hospital, among scholars as well as teachers, and Mr. Gibson was invariably found on the side of non-intrusion and spiritual independence. So vital did he feel the issues at stake to be, and so deeply was his heart stirred by witnessing the historic march from St Andrews Church to Tanfield, that he resolved to abandon the law and study for the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland. Through Mr Peddie’s kindness he was enabled, while still in his apprenticeship, to attend the arts classes in the University and thereafter having taken the usual theological course in the New College, he received licence from the Presbytery of Edinburgh.
While a student at the New College and during his probationership, Mr. Gibson was much engaged in mission work in connection with Free St Mary’s, Edinburgh; and Linlithgow, Blairgowrie and Irvine – in all of which spheres he proved himself a faithful and zealous worker.
In 1858 Mr. Gibson was ordained minister of Abbotshall, Kirkcaldy, where his earnest evangelical preaching, faithful pastoral visitation, and warm interest in all that concerned his congregation and the community at large, soon bore fruit in an increased church attendance, improved finances, and many tokens of spiritual blessing. During his ministry there, and mainly through his indefatigable efforts, the present church was erected at a cost of nearly £3000. In 1878 Mr. Gibson was translated to Holderness Road Presbyterian Church, Hull, to which he was specially attracted by the large field which it seemed to present for evangelistic work. His ministry there, however, was of brief duration; for the climate was found to be prejudicial to his wife’s health, and he resigned his pastorate accordingly in 1881. Thereafter, in 1882, he was invited to take charge of the preaching station at Lochgoilhead which had existed for a quarter of a century without much progress being made. He and his devoted wife, with difficulties which would have daunted many, set themselves so energetically to work that Lochgoilhead was sanctioned as a full ministerial charge in 1883. Mr. Gibson was unanimously elected first minister of the charge and was inducted to the pastorate in due course. The present neat little church, which superseded the old wooden structure, and is the first object which strikes visitors on approaching the pier, and the substantial manse further down the loch, were both builtthrough Mr. Gibson’s unwearied efforts, and left by him free of debt. In 1894 on the ground of failing health, the assembly granted him a colleague, and shortly thereafter he removed to Musselburgh where his latter years were spent. While still occasionally taking a pulpit service, his work there was necessarily more private and limited. But he could not be idle and in Sabbath-school work, in Bands of Hope, in visiting Red House Home for destitute and orphan boys, etc, he rejoice to do what he could for his much-loved Lord.
The end came suddenly. While on a visit to Juniper Green he was seized with apoplexy and never regained consciousness. On September 9, he fell asleep in Jesus.
Mr. Gibson belonged to the old evangelical school, with which we associate such names as those of McCheyne and the Bonars, and to which is due not a little ofwhat is best in our Scottish piety. The great burden of his preaching was “Jesus Christ and him crucified” and few men could be more earnest, direct, or powerful in the appeals to their hearers to repent and believe in Him for salvation. To win souls for the master, in public or private, was his great ambition; and alike in town or scattered country districts, he spared not himself that he might bear to the perishing the glad tidings of eternal life thorugh Jesus, or comfort weary sad hearts with God’s sure words of truth.
Mr. Gibson was twice married and in each case his wife proved an invaluable helper in home mission, temperance, and other forms of Christian work. In the volume, Not Weary In Well-Doing, Mr. Gibson has recorded the “the Life and Work of Mrs Helen Lockhart Gillies”, who belonged to a highly esteemed family in Kirkcaldy. His second wife, a daughter of the Rev. William Reid, author of The Blood of Jesus, survives to mourn his loss, but finds her comfort in the thought that he is “with Christ which is far better.”
REV. FRANCIS GILLIES, EDINBURGH
The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, February 8, 1862
Surely, in these days, God is speaking with unwonted emphasis to our Church, in the severity and quick succession of her bereavements. Hardly a month had passed since our revered Principal Cunningham was taken from us, when, on the same day of the week, and about the same midnight hour, the Free Church was suddenly deprived of another of her foremost men. For such was the late Mr. Gillies in all the most sterling qualities of head and heart. That rank, indeed, we might not claim for him as a debater in Church Courts, or a speaker on our platforms, or even an eloquent preacher, in the usual sense of that term. But in respect of all the more solid and useful ministerial gifts, and the worth and weight of his Christian character, he was unquestionably a remarkable man, and one whose removal has left a blank in the Church which it will be difficult adequately to fill.
We do not propose attempting here anything like a biographical sketch of this esteemed minister. But having been associated with him for several years on terms of cordial ntimay as a member of the same presbytery both prior and and subsequent to the Disruption, we feel prompted by the warm regard we entertained for him to give some utterance, however brief and imperfect, to our impressions of him as a Christian man and a Christian minister.
Both of these he was in an eminent degree. His character as a man was distinguished by a rare completeness and harmony, and by thorough genuineness and transparency. The most obvious and prominent features of it were his uncompromising rectitude and firmness. His whole aspect and bearing strongly betokened this latter quality, which, combined with the former, gave that dignity and decision to his characeter whch could not but command respect. He was not the man to falter, once he discerned the path of duty, lead where it might. Neither was he the man to mistake that path through hasty and immature judgment. Though of an ardent and impulsive nature, he was blessed with the
counteractives of a large amount of caution and foresight, being not only a thorough man, but a thorough Scotchman. Such qualities, in union with his great acuteness, strong commonsense and good business like habits, made him eminently serviceable to the Presbytery of Dunkeld during the progress of the Lethendy Case. Though a junior member of that body he was the life and soul of the non-intrusion majority in that trying conflict in which they became involved with the Civil Courts. If we mistake not, he was the last survivor of the seven brethren of that Presbytery who in 1838 were rebuked at the bar of the Court of Session for refusing to obtemper the judgment of that Court requiring them to proceed with the trials of the vetoed presentee to Lethendy. On that occasion he was observed to lean forward and put his hand to his ear, as if anxious not to lose a word of that address so remarkable from the Bench and so honourable to the culprits at the bar. But the still higher distinction was his, that, when at the testing time of the Disruption, only three out of those seven brethren remained true to their principles that he was one of the three. It was in 1846 that he was translated from Rattray to Free St Stephen’s, Edinburgh, and if, as a member of our metropolitan Presbytery, he abstained from taking part in its discussions and exercising the talents that had distinguished him in the provincial court, this was owing partly perhaps to his increasing infirmity of deafness, but chiefly to his feeling that his services were less needed, here than there, and to the absorbing interests in the duties of his pastoral charge, to which his whole soul was devoted. Had opportunites been given to him, or accepted by him, of taking part in public meetings, we are confident, from our knowledge and experience of his gifts, that we would have taken his place as one of the most effective and popular of our platform orators.
It was in his pulpit gifts, however, that Mr. Gillies was especially pre-eminent. As a preacher, he was unique. Though, as we have said, he was not eloquent preacher, in the usual sense of that term, he was one of the most riveting and effective we ever listened to. He was not gifted with a brilliant poetic imagination, nor was his language. But if he lacked these elements of eloquence, he possessed far higher ones. And foremost of these was his intense, unmistakable earnestness. He spoke as one who was bent on winning souls for Christ, and who felt in his inmost soul the momentous import of his message. His sermons, though generally unwritten, and unpremeditated as to the language, were rich in massive, well-digested thought, and clear, full expositions of gospel truth. His style was marked by certain quaintness and originality which gave it a peculiar charm; and if he were not strictly an original thinker, in his hands familiar thoughts were most strikingly and originally put. Though not much given to illustration, he was gifted with considerable graphic power. There was something antique in the whole cast of his mind, which probably was in part the cause, and in part the effect, of his deep and enamoured study of the Puritan and the Old Scottish Divines, whose spirit and style he had so largely imbibed. By this peculiarity he was eminently qualified for the work through which, perhaps, he was best known to the Edinburgh public, —his weekly lectures on Bunyan, whose allegories he expounded with such spiritual unction and such vivid dramatic power, that his bearers might almost have fancied they were listening to the Dreamer himself, rather than to his interpreter. If the general style of his preaching was somewhat too exclusively doctrinal and experimental, this was largely compensated for by the “few words of practical application” with which he invariably wound up. These were indeed precious and weighty words; and we have never felt more edified or impressed than when listening to his faithful and searching appeals to the conscience, and to the impassioned fervour with which he pressed the Saviour on the acceptance of sinners. His extemporaneous diction had the advantage of great freshness and plastic force, and there was a terseness and epigrammatic point in his sentences peculiarly telling, of which the effect was enhanced by the abrupt and emphatic style of his utterance. There was something in the very look and manner in which he delivered his first sentence that irresistibly arrested the attention; and once he got his hold of the minds of his hearers, he kept it firm to the end. He had a singular and valuable faculty too of making you feel, in his closing appeals, as if you were isolated from the rest of the congregation, and he were speaking to you alone. So much, indeed, was this the case, that he was sometimes supposed to be intentionally preaching at individuals, when he neither had nor could have had the slightest idea of doing so.
His addresses at the communion table were perfect models of what that portion of Divine service ought to be, simple, devotional, and practical, and every way fitted to assist rather than hinder the private meditations of the communicants. But it was in his prayers that the heart of this man of God spoke out most fully. They were indeed the outpourings of a heart filled to overflowing with the spirit of prayer, and betokened a very close and habitual walk with God. In the comprehensiveness, the rich unction, and spiritual savour of his prayers, we have never heard any one who at all approached him, or who gave us so much the impression of a man who felt that he was conversing with his Father in heaven. We well remember when, on the first occasion of his meeting with Dr. Chalmers at Dunkeld, and after he had conducted the family evening devotions, the look of intense delight with which Dr. Chalmers shortly after exclaimed to us, “What a prayer! I never heard the like of it before.”
Such was Mr. Gillies in his public ministerial life. Of what he was in his private ministrations among his flock, and in his intercourse with his family and friends, we have scarcely left ourselves room to speak. In one word, he lived the Christianity he so fully and faithfully preached. In him the sterner attributes of character were beautifully blended with all the finer and gentler feelings of humanity. There never beat a tenderer heart than was hid beneath his somewhat curt and abrupt demeanour. He was ever ready to enter with kindliest and most intelligent sympathy into the interests of others,—to weep with those that wept, and to rejoice with those that rejoiced. He was the stanchest of friends,—ever to be counted on for weighty and judicious counsel in difficulty and soothing comfort in sorrow. His growing infirmity of deafness presented an obstacle to the free interchange of thoughts that must have been especially felt at the beds of the sick and the dying. But how many of his attached and now sorrowing people can gratefully testify that, despite this impediment, his private ministrations, in which he was so assiduous, were to them a privilege never to be forgotten. In as far as he was able to acquaint himself with the specialities of the individual case, he was most skilful in adapting his treatment to it. We have spoken of his prayers; and it was at the funeral, the sick-bed, and the family altar that one was most struck with the minuteness and the tenderness with which individual cases were commended to the Lord, showing how human as well as devout was the heart of him who prayed. Like his divine Master, he was unflinchingly faithful in reproving, but no less tender in comforting, and ready at all times for every good word and work.
But we must close these remarks. Imperfect though they be, we trust that they may give some idea of what a son, and husband, and father have in him been removed from his desolate household; what a pastor from his sorrowing flock; and what a servant from that bereaved Church of which he was so bright an ornament. They are a tribute from the heart, however unworthy of his rare and manifold excellencies,—from the heart of one who revered him as a father and loved him as a brother in Christ.
REV. JAMES GILLIES, KILBERRY AND SOUTH KNAPDALE
(Died July 6, 1875)
Author: Rev. Angus Stewart, Kilmartin
The Free Church Monthly October 1, 1875, p.255
James Gillies was born at Cladich, on Lochaweside, in the year 1827. When he was about thirteen years of age, the Lord made use of the death and death-bed counsels and warnings of his brother to awaken him to a true sense of his lost condition as a sinner; and soon thereafter he obtained peace in believing on Jesus, the only Saviour of sinners. Having “tasted that the Lord is gracious,” he became possessed of the desire — a desire which strengthened with his growth — to commend to others the Saviour, now so precious to himself. Having first given himself to the Lord, he resolved likewise to give his services to the Lord in the work of the ministry. The educational advantages of his early youth were very limited, and his family being able to do very little for him in acquiring the necessary education, he had great difficulties to surmount; but by dint of earnest, persevering efforts — first, by teaching in various parts of the country, afterwards, by labouring in connection with the Glasgow City Mission, and by competing for, and obtaining for many years in succession, one of the bursaries given annually by the Free Synod of Argyle (which have proved helpful to so many students) — he succeeded in respectably maintaining and educating himself. In the year 1860 he finished his theological course in Glasgow. During the course of that summer he was licensed. After spending upwards of two years as a probationer, he was, in 1863, ordained to the pastorate of Kilberry and South Knapdale. The charge was a difficult and laborious one, and all the more so, perhaps, as he was its first minister. There are two churches, in which he preached alternately, and which are eleven miles apart. Numerically, the congregation is not a large one; the people, however, are scattered over a range of twenty-two miles. In this wide district of the Lord’s vineyard, Mr. Gillies, for about twelve years, worked diligently and faithfully. In person he was not strong or robust; but he was willing, active, earnest, and zealous — willing “to spend and be spent” in the work of the Lord. With him the honour of his Master and the salvation of his people were paramount. To promote these, he laboured in season and out of season. He took special interest in the young, and his loving counsels and untiring zeal in their behalf will long be remembered. He was constant in visiting the sick and afflicted. While on the way to visit one of these, he arranged to hold a prayer-meeting on his way home; and his last illness, an affection of the lungs, was caused by his waiting to address that meeting in clothes drenched with rain. In the way of public duty, he was able to do little for nine or ten months. During the latter part of that time he suffered much, but with the utmost patience and resignation, resting, as he did, on the sure foundation laid in Zion. On the sixth day of July, he gently fell asleep in Jesus. He finished his course in the forty-eighth year of his age, and the twelfth year of his ministry, leaving behind him a widow and three children, and a much-attached flock, to mourn their loss. His removal is regretted not only by his friends and flock, but by all within the district, as, I have no doubt, it will be by all who had the privilege of knowing him. He was eminently a man of prayer; a leal Free Churchman, who held its principles intelligently and firmly, but without any narrowness or bigotry. As a preacher, he was evangelical and simple, earnest and faithful; as a friend, he was loving, kind, genial, generous, and true; as a man, he was singularly unselfish, upright, conscientious, gentle, yet firm, and, withal, a very Nathanael — “an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile.” “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”
REV. JOHN GILLISON, ROXBURGH FREE CHURCH, EDINBURGH
(Died December 17, 1873)
Author: Rev. J. Morgan, Viewforth, Edinburgh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, May 1, 1874, p.104
Mr. Gillison was born at Tinwald, Dumfriesshire, on 9th April 1827. His early training and education were in the direction of the ministry; and after the usual course of study at the University of Edinburgh and the New College, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Free Presbytery of Dumfries on the 17th of October 1855. His first term of service was in connection with the Free Tolbooth congregation in Edinburgh, under the late lamented Dr. Tweedie. For ten months he laboured in their mission district in the Lawn-market with much acceptance and success. He was wont to look back with much interest to this beginning of his ministry, as giving him experience and insight into the methods and claims of home-mission work, as well as qualifying him the better for the ordinary duties that he was afterwards called to discharge. He ever cherished a grateful regard, moreover, for Dr. Tweedie, and the many friends associated with him in that work, and greatly profited by that connection. From this he was called to Baldernock, in Dumbartonshire, and ordained there on 21st August 1856. For a period of sixteen years he laboured in that charge with singular faithfulness. In no common way has he left his mark on the entire community there. In his case it has been made manifest how valuable and how fruitful a quiet ministry in a rural district may become. It may lack the intensity, and in some cases the interest, of city life and work; and yet in such circumstances, and under just such influences, is the foundation being laid and the character formed of the youth and hope of our Church, who are continually drifting towards our great centres, and becoming the strength of our congregations there. Mr. Gillison was remarkably useful in this way. A whole generation has grown up in that neighbourhood who, under God, owe almost everything, both for time and eternity, to his influence over them in youthful days.
Mr. Gillison was in the habit of giving his holiday month annually to home-mission work, either in the mining or the fishing districts. He greatly enjoyed this work. He was often heard to say that this one month of his work was more apparently fruitful than all the rest of the year; and, indeed, there are many testimonies that in this department of ministerial effort, to which he so unreservedly devoted his strength, his labour was not in vain in the Lord.
Soon after the death of Mr. Simpson, Mr. Gillison was called to Roxburgh Free Church, in Edinburgh. He was inducted on 17th October 1872, and at once set to work with his accustomed vigour and earnestness. There was about him a generous ardour that to some looked like impatience. He was burdened to have everything in the best working order. There were numerous difficulties to contend with, and from the first he had set his heart on surmounting them. Indeed, it is much to be feared he fell a victim to his own supreme devotion to what he reckoned duty; for in the midst of persistent and unwearied visitation among the poor and neglected, he must have caught the infection, and was seized with smallpox of a most malignant type, which cut him off on the 17th of December, after only a few days’ illness.
His end was peace. In his last hours he enjoyed comfort of that gospel so often commended by him to others. When told the nature of his illness, and how very little hope there could be, he calmly accepted the issue. He would have liked a little more time, he remarked, to have preached Christ; but God’s will would be his. His wife and young family could not but lie a heavy burden on his heart at such a time; but he confidently commended them to the care of Heaven, and left them in his Father’s keeping.
It was a most deeply affecting scene that Friday afternoon when he was laid in the grave in the Grange Cemetery. Many testified they had hardly ever seen anything like it. Strong men were bowed and broken down, and tears of genuine affection and sympathy fell thick and fast on every side. The awful suddenness and sadness of the event made a profound impression on every one. Many of his old flock came far that day, and mingled their tears with the mourning congregation who had only enjoyed his ministry little more than a year. And yet the scene was like the man, worthy of him — very simple and very real. For, indeed, he was a singularly honest man. To those who did not know him, he might seem somewhat blunt and hard; but beneath there was a beautiful simplicity and transparent truthfulness. Many a sorrowing one will own how completely, he had won their affectionate regard; and fond memories of him will be cherished by not a few who only made the discovery, when unexpectedly called to lament his loss, how very tenderly they had learned to love him.
Mr. Gillison was in his forty-sixth year. He has left a widow and six young children. His brother, the Rev. Thomas Gillison, is minister at Fossaway, in Kinross-shire.
REV. THOMAS GILLISON, FOSSOWAY
(Died November 28, 1896)
Author: Rev. Wm. F. Goldie, Stirling
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1897, Obituary, p.71
The subject of this notice was born of worthy parents on August 3, 1816, at Amisfield, parish of Tinwald, Dumfriesshire. Educated first at the parish school and then at Dumfries Academy, he was an accurate, competent scholar. Starting life as ,a teacher, he was successively master of several country schools, and did his work with thoroughness. He matriculated in the University of Edinburgh in 1838 or 1839. Before his arts course was completed, it was evident that the non-intrusion conflict was to end in disruption, and with characteristic decision he ranged himself on the side of the Evangelical party. His divinity course was taken in the New College, Edinburgh, of which Dr. Chalmers was at the time principal; but between the close of his arts course and his licence by the Free Presbytery of Dumfries, in August 1847, he had been for two years tutor in an old English family in the Isle of Wight. Like all licentiates of that date, he had to undergo a year’s probation, and was not ordained minister of Fossoway until August 3, 1849, where he remained during the remainder of his life.
He took the deepest interest in the temporal and spiritual well-being—in the whole history, indeed—of each of the families of his congregation, and acted like the father of them. Fossoway was his Auburn and his world. In a touching tribute paid to his memory by members of his flock it is truly said—”One little event in the neighbourhood was to him of far more importance than almost any event anywhere else.” He never travelled far from home, seldom took a holiday, but year in and year out laboured most diligently and faithfully in his appointed sphere. And after physical infirmity came, when most men would have given in, his undaunted spirit, relying on his Master’s grace, carried him through his wonted work of preaching and visitation. He was an active and influential member of presbytery. Before the railway passed through the district, although he had to walk thirteen or fourteen miles to and from the seat of presbytery, he is not remembered as having been absent once, without a valid reason. He was one of the men who served the church at large by serving the portion of it assigned to him.
He was a man of vigorous practical intellect, was not inclined to speculation, and had no stock of unsolved problems lying in the back of his mind. With great simplicity and earnestness he believed the truths most certainly received amongst us. Truthful and straightforward, he had a great dislike of sly, crooked ways, and never could have been a diplomat. He had a strong and even severe sense of duty, and what he felt he ought to do he did, whatever the circumstances or whatever might be the probable results. Though naturally conservative, he was radical as to everything he believed to be false, or resting on a false basis; and hence his decided but quiet attitude towards the state churches of the day. Firm and unbending, he was a man of warm, unselfish, generous heart, much given to hospitality, and constant in his friendships. He was a Free Churchman to the backbone, and the strong Disruption mark was on him to the last. Theologically he was an Evangelical of the old school. Like the apostle, he desired to know nothing among his people save Christ and Him crucified, and unremittingly and uncompromisingly preached it. He condemned the sermon that did not at the least derive its colour and character from Christ’s atonement. As he advanced in years and bodily ailment, and domestic affliction came, he, like a true disciple, grew more mellow and gentle, and easy to be entreated. The old truths were preached as definitely as ever, but with more tenderness. His last illness was severe and prolonged, but he bore it with meekness and resignation to his Master’s will. He will be missed for many a day in the district where he was so influential a figure. He sleeps soundly and well, almost within stone-throw of his church and manse, on “the banks of the clear winding Devon.”
His wife, who died a number of years ago, was Annie, eldest daughter of the late Mr. Henry Todd, senior, W.S. Of a family of six, three sons and a daughter survive—one of the sons being a licentiate of the Free Church. James, a minister, died quite recently in Australia.
During Mr. Gillison’s ministry seven young men had given themselves to the gospel ministry—two of them being sons of his own—and this in a small congregation.
As Mr. Gillison was a south country man, it may be noted that many ministers of the various Scotch churches have come from the district of Dumfries and Galloway. Of the leaders of the Disruption church, the Rev. Drs. Gordon, Welsh, Brown of St. John’s, Glasgow, Nathaniel Paterson, author of The Manse Garden, Grierson of Errol, Duncan of Ruthwell, founder of the savings-banks, Hetherington, author of A Church History of Scotland, and others, were natives of that region.
REV. WILLIAM GILSTON, CARNOCK
(Died July 29, 1881)
Author: Rev. John W. Laurie, Tulliallan
Source: The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1882, Brief Biographies, p.108
At the Disruption there were eighteen ministerial members of the Presbytery of Dunfermline. Of these, seven, when the day of trial came, were found faithful, four honestly remained in possession of the privileges of the Establishment, seven submitted to the humiliation of denying their previously professed principles. Of the ministers of the Free Church Mr. Marshall of the North Church, Dunfermline, is left the only representative of his protesting brethren by the death of the Rev. William Gilston of Carnock. At the period of his death—on the 29th of July last—Mr. Gilston had entered the ninetieth year of his age, and all but completed the fifty-fourth of his ministry. He was born in Chapleton of Urr in 1792, where his father was a farmer; and appears to have entered the University of Edinburgh about the year 1808, where, among others, he had, as contemporaries and friends, the late Dr. Clark of St. Andrew’s Church, and Dr. Thomas Murray.
He seems to have taken a respectable place as a student; and there is a Hebrew exercise given in to Professor Murray during his short occupancy of the Hebrew chair on which the distinguished Orientalist has written, “This is the most beautiful specimen among the exercises delivered to me.”
During his course as a divinity student, Mr. Gilston spent some time in the Presbytery of Inverary as tutor in the family of Mr. McNeil of Drumdrishag, and was licensed by that Presbytery in the summer of 1818.
Though his friends mainly belonged to the Moderate party, Mr. Gilston appears, from the beginning of his experience as a preacher, quietly to have withdrawn from them. In those days a man’s Church politics were often of more account than his piety; and he used to tell how, through doubt of his Moderatism, he had been rejected by a patron who was otherwise favourably disposed towards him. When one reads the hearty expressions of interest in his success and welfare by Dr. Andrew Thomson, Dr. Muirhead of Cramond, Dr. Gordon, and Dr. James Henderson, it is not difficult to determine where Mr. Gilston’s sympathies were.
As a minister, Mr. Gilston was devoutly pious and grave, a faithful pastor, an earnest and vigorous preacher, exemplary in the discharge of all his public duties, and unfailingly willing in his readiness to assist in every good work. For four-and-thirty years he was Clerk of the Presbytery of Dunfermline; and in all matters connected with the welfare of the Free Church within the bounds he was unwearied in labour and invaluable in counsel.
He discharged all the duties of the pastorate until the summer of 1879, after which he had the assistance of a preacher. Occasionally during the last two years he occupied the pulpit, and closed his ministry by giving the exhortation at the close of the communion a few weeks before his death. He was in all respects a worthy successor of Row and Belfrage, of Hogg and Gillespie; and it is worthy of notice that Row and he were between them a century and eight years ministers of the parish.
At his jubilee in 1877, Mr. Gilston received a remarkable expression of the goodwill and esteem of his brethren and the public in a handsome testimonial and addresses presented at a meeting of the Presbytery and his congregation in his church at Carnock. His reply to the friends who presented the testimonial and addresses was remarkably happy. He stated how he “valued the privilege of being called to labour in a field where such men as Row and Hogg and Gillespie had laboured and endured hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ and suffered for the sake of the truth. In a spirit of thankfulness he referred to what befell himself when called to make a stand for the crown-rights of Christ, and, like some who had gone before him in the parish, suffered loss for the truth. He added, “I rejoice to bear testimony to the goodness of God, that there has been truly and literally an abundant fulfilment of what our Saviour said to his disciples when they had forsaken all and followed him, ‘that whosoever forsaketh houses and friends for the sake of Christ shall receive hundredfold.'”
His funeral sermon was preached by his old friend, the Rev. John James Bonar, St Andrew’s, Greenock, who, in a generous but faithful estimate of his character and work, among other things, said, “After long and intimate knowledge of your beloved pastor, I am free—I am constrained—to say this day that I could not name one more honourable, and intelligent, and sagacious, and pure, and devout, and blameless.”
Mr. Gilston has left to his congregation and Presbytery the memory of a long and most consistent life, steadfast firmness in the maintenance of principle, generous forbearance with the faults of others, and distinguished courtesy in his personal intercourse. It will be much to be regretted should it be found that his ministry closes the line of the evangelical succession in a parish so famous as Carnock.
REV. ROBERT GLADSTONE, KIRKCOLM
(Died May 24, 1888)
Author: Rev. John Jamieson, Cairnryan
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October, 1888, Obituary, p.309
Mr. Gladstone was born on the 21st February, 1821. His father was at the time tenant of a farm in the neighbourhood of Biggar. In his eighth year his father died, leaving one son and one surviving daughter. Their widowed mother removed to Leith, where many of her relatives and friends resided, and where they were prosperously engaged in mercantile pursuits. Young Gladstone had begun at an unusually early age to receive instruction, and this process was sedulously carried on for several years. He was destined to the career of a merchant, and was accordingly apprenticed in Edinburgh in his fourteenth year. Soon after this, however, a change took place in the motive and aim of his life. Providentially boarded in a Christian home, and coming under the power of the Word as he heard it preached, deep spiritual convictions were wrought in his heart, which issued not merely in his giving himself to the Lord, but in awakening the desire to study for the ministry.
This purpose he kept steadily in view, devoting all his spare hours to the study of Scripture, to the perusal of books on practical religion, and to the literary preparation necessary for entering college.
All through these preparatory years, and afterwards also, he was wisely counselled and warmly encouraged by Dr. Guthrie, under whose ministry he sat, and for whose memory he cherished a most tender and loving regard. Such a course as his could not be prosecuted without a struggle; but just when it was about to be crowned with success his efforts were for a season baffled. Before entering the Hall he had, at the request of Dr. Hanna, engaged in forming a congregation at Ellsridgehill, near Biggar— an undertaking which was followed with excellent results. But in his second year at the Divinity Hall, when he was advancing under the never-forgotten influence of Chalmers, he was arrested by severe hemorrhage from the lungs. This attack so completely prostrated him as to incur the loss of ten years. He was ordered by his medical advisers to Torquay, and was only able at intervals to finish his curriculum.
He was licensed in 1865 by the Presbytery of Lanark, and was sent to discharge official duties for six months to Gibraltar, but spent some additional time on the Continent. On his return he was occupied as occasion offered in various parts of the country, till, in 1875, he was ordained as colleague and successor to Rev. D. A. Agnew, Wigtown. From this charge he felt himself, after three years or so, constrained to withdraw. In June 1878 he received an enthusiastic and unanimous call to the Free Church at Kirkcolm, which he cordially accepted. Before the close of that month he was inducted to his new charge.
Mr. Gladstone found in Kirkcolm a sphere adapted to his physical powers and congenial to his mind. For the function of the ministry he was by natural ability, by attainments, and by divine grace eminently qualified. The long and trying delay, moreover, imposed by feeble health proved, in the wisdom of his heavenly Father, a meet preparation for the days of most welcome and delightful work with which he was ultimately privileged. Spiritually succoured himself in suffering and sorrow, he became the efficient instrument of spiritual succour to many similarly tried. His theology was out and out that of the Confession of Faith and the Shorter Catechism, which he had previously and directly found in the Bible.
Related to the ex-Premier (their grand-fathers were cousins), he exemplified no little of his persuasive eloquence and flow of idiomatic English. Not only public teaching, but also by kindly and faithful personal dealing, did he seek to win souls and from his Master he was not without reward. He was deeply persuaded of the scriptural nature of the distinctive principles of the Free Church of Scotland; yet no one was more ready to recognize good wherever it might be discovered, no one was so frank in holding intercourse and co-operate with all as he had opportunity. Refined, courteous in bearing, gentle and retiring in disposition, all felt his presence to be a source of cheerfulness and happiness. He bore with meekness and submission the increasing severity of an acute and oppressive malady. Up to his last hours his solicitude for people’s spiritual welfare revealed itself im a very touching manner. By them and by brethren of the Presbytery he was esteemed and beloved.
His end was peace, from day to day gently saying, with a placid look to those in conversation with him, that his trust was in his Saviour.
Throughout his pastoral labours at Kirkcolm he was nobly cheered and upheld by his wife, and by her devotedly ministered to in his last illness. She is now left a widow with a young son—her only child—comforted by Him who says: “Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let widows trust in me.”
REV. ANDREW GLEN, GLENBERVIE
The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, October 1, 1863, p.353
In Mr. Andrew Glen the Church has lost a most devoted, amiable, and useful minister. Though undistinguished by popular gifts, he was very highly esteemed both by the people among whom he laboured, and by his brethren in the ministry. Thoroughly versed in all the truths of Scripture, and well able to expound them in an interesting and practical way, he was a workman that needed not to be ashamed; and by his readiness to every good work, by the general kindliness, the guileless simplicity, and undeviating consistency of his character, he adorned and commended the gospel which he faithfully preached. At Lochwinnoch, his native place, he spent his early days, and received the ordinary elements of education. Having studied at the University of Glasgow, and obtained license as a preacher in the Church of Scotland, he acted for some time as assistant to the Rev. Dr. Keith of St. Cyrus, discharging at the same time the duties of tutor in the family of that well-known divine; and he retained throughout life the esteem and respect of those with whom he was thus brought into connection at the outset of his career as a preacher. He afterwards laboured for a considerable time as a home missionary in a district not far from the place of his birth; and having, at the Disruption, cast in his lot with the Free Church, he was called, shortly after that event, to the congregation of Glenbervie, in the same Presbytery (that of Fordoun), in which his much esteemed brother, Mr. James Glen, had for a number of years laboured as minister of Benholm. For some time past his health had been delicate, and he had frequently been prostrated in sickness, which he bore with exemplary patience. On the 4th August he rested from his labours, at the age of sixty-seven.
REV. JAMES GLEN, BENHOLM
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, February 1, 1867, p.41
The Rev. James Glen of Benholm, an aged and venerated minister, died on the night of the 10th December, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. Mr. Glen was ordained in 1826 as parish minister of Benholm. In this sphere his labours were abundant and indefatigable. Besides the earnest preaching of the gospel, in a style decidedly evangelical and eminently practical, he devoted himself from the first to the religious improvement of all classes, by means of Sabbath schools, prayer-meetings, and parochial visitations, at a time when these things were little known in the district. He thus won a high place in the esteem and affection of his like-minded neighbour, Dr. Keith of St. Cyrus, along with whom he, in 1843, unhesitatingly abandoned the emoluments of the Establishment for the sake of principles which he held dear. A large number of his people having joined the Free Church along with him, a commodious church was erected in the village of Johnshaven; and beside it, ultimately, a substantial manse was built, to which Mr. Glen, with his family, removed in 1850. Though latterly the infirmities of age overtook him, so that his natural force was considerably abated, his people manifested their attachment to him, and to the cause which he maintained, by the undiminished constancy with which they gathered round him from Sabbath to Sabbath. A good specimen of his preaching is found in a little volume entitled, “Comfort and Counsel for Seafaring People,” published in 1835, and reissued in 1847. He continued to the last in the loved labours of his office. On Sabbath, the 9th December, he preached as usual; and on Monday evening, after conducting family worship, he retired to bed; but the summons came to him ere another day had dawned.
REV. JAMES GOOLD, NEWTON-STEWART
(Died September 7, 1895)
Author: Rev. R. MacKenna, M.A., Dumfries
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1896, Obituary, p.18
Mr. Goold was born at Lanark in 1816. In his early youth he attended the ministrations of the Rev. Dr. Mason of Wishaw, the well-known writer on prophecy, to whose influence on his character he ever referred with grateful memory. From Lanark his parents removed to Campbeltown, where the remainder of his youth was spent. Descended from a Covenanting stock, and reared amidst the traditions of the martyrs, he inherited in no small measure the religious zeal and spirit of his ancestors, and it was therefore natural that his earliest ambition was to enter into the ministry of the gospel. Accordingly with a view to this, he entered the University of Glasgow, and afterwards attended the Divinity Hall of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, then presided over by that worthy and eminent man, Dr. Andrew Symington of Paisley. Amongst the friends of student days, with whom he maintained a life-long friendship, were Dr. John Inglis, the distinguished missionary in the South Sea Islands; the Rev. Professor Binnie, of the Free Church College, Aberdeen and the Rev. Dr. Easton, Darvel.
Shortly after receiving licence, Mr. Goold was ordained, in January 1843, to the pastoral charge of the Reformed Presbyterian congregation of Newton Stewart, and there he laboured, with untiring energy for more than half a century. Regarding himself not so much a minister of a particular denomination as a servant of Jesus Christ, and anxious to extend his usefulness beyond the bounds of his own congregation, he instituted, and carried on till within a few weeks of his death, services in the outlying parts of the district. How highly these services, often held at great personal inconvenience, were appreciated by those resident in these localities, whom distance placed beyond the ordinary ministrations of the sanctuary, was shown on more than one occasion by tangible expressions of their gratitude.
In the affairs of the town he took a deep and lively interest, and encouraged every movement that had for its object the moral and social improvement of the community. For the long period of forty-seven years he acted as secretary and treasurer to the local Auxiliary of the National Bible Society of Scotland and did much to excite throughout the district an interest in the cause of Bible circulation.
Loyal to the principles of his own church, he was a zealous advocate of the cause of union, and together with the other ministers and congregations of his own communion joined the Free Church in 1876. He was a member of several of the committees of the church, and took a deep interest in all its agencies, both at home and abroad.
In 1891, in consequence of failing health, he was granted an unordained assistant by the presbytery and in 1894 application was made to the General Assembly for a colleague and successor, and in September of the same year the Rev. W. H. Brown Douglas, B.A., was appointed to that office. On the celebration of his jubilee two years ago, Mr. Goold was presented with a purse of sovereigns and other gifts by his congregation and friends, the directors of the Bible Society availing themselves of the occasion to present him with a handsome copy of the Scriptures in appreciation of his services.
Mr. Goold was a man popular throughout the whole of Wigtownshire, and was held in the highest esteem by all who had the privilege of his acquaintance. Of a kind and genial disposition, he readily engaged the affections of others, and all who joyed his friendship felt him every way worthy of their confidence. Possessed of a high sense of honour, he had a profound contempt for all that was mean and unworthy, and nothing so roused his indignation as pretence and insincerity. Steeped in the Calvinistic theology of the church of his fathers he nevertheless kept in touch with the theological thought of the day, and tested all the theories and speculations of men by the touchstone of God’s word. As a preacher he was earnest and evangelical; he was not ashamed of the old truths of the gospel, and such doctrines as those of sin and redemption, the necessity of regeneration, and the sanctification of the Spirit, formed the staple substance of his preaching. His sermons were characterized by much freshness and vigour of thought and those published by him on several occasions bear ample testimony to his power as a preacher. In the discharge of his pastoral duties he acted on the belief that a visiting minister makes a church-going people, and in cases especially of sickness and bereavement his attention was unremitting. His visits were heartily welcomed not merely by his own people, but by those of every denomination, and the kind word he had for every one lightened many a burden of sorrow. In all respects he realized in a high degree the ideal of the Christian minister, and by his public services, as well as by his genuine and unobtrusive piety, he has left behind him a name that will long be cherished in grateful remembrance throughout the whole of Galloway. His remains were laid to rest in the cemetery of Newton-Stewart in the presence of a large company of mourners representative of all classes of the community, and we learn with satisfaction that a movement has just been set on foot to erect a public monument to his memory.
REV. WILLIAM HENRY GOOLD, D.D., EDINBURGH
(Died June 29, 1897)
Author: Rev. J. H. Thomson, Hightae, Lockerbie
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, September, 1897, Obituary, p.224
Dr. Goold was born in December 1815, and was the only son of Rev. Wm. Goold, minister for forty years to the Reformed Presbyterian congregation in Edinburgh. His father was a man of great worth and large Christian sympathies. He was fond of books, and had a large library, and was much beloved by his attached people. His mother was an intelligent, God-fearing woman. It was out of no ordinary Christian home that young Mr. Goold came. His inclinations early showed themselves for the Christian ministry. He was sent to the High School, then meeting in the building at the foot of Infirmary Street; and when it was left for the new building on the Calton Hill, he was one of the boys that marched in procession from the old school to the new. He was High School dux in 1831. His career at the university was of like distinction. Though he had enticements held out to him to leave the Reformed Presbyterian Church, he preferred to abide by the church in which he had been brought up, and he never repented of his choice. From the university he proceeded to the Theological Hall at Paisley of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, then presided over by Dr. Andrew Symington, a theologian of rare excellence—learned, wise, winning, fatherly, singularly holy, in himself a body of systematic and experimental divinity. Here he quickly, by his devotion to his studies, became a favourite pupil of his revered teacher; and in after days, while Dr. Symington lived, he was to him as a son to a much-loved father. While at the Hall, which met in autumn, he attended in winter the classes of Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Welsh, and used often to speak of how much he valued the prelections of those two great men. In 1830 he was licensed, and in October 1840 he was ordained as colleague and successor to his father.
From the beginning of his pastorate, Mr. Goold was a noble preacher—textual, instructive, earnest, and eloquent in a high degree. He early gave much of his leisure hours to literature, but it was mainly in the pages of the magazine of the denomination, The Scottish Presbyterian, and afterwards especially in The Reformed Presbyterian, that his papers appeared. So far back as May 1838 he began a series of four papers on the Church in Holland, and from that time there soon followed, in almost every number, articles and reviews on theology, church history, or church administration, until collectively they must have reached several goodly-sized octavo volumes. Though anonymous, these papers are easily distinguished by their clearness, brilliancy, and the interest he threw around every subject he took up. Indeed, he was to Reformed Presbyterians the chief attraction of the magazine during the forty-one years of its existence. In 1850 he began his edition of John Owen, and for at least five years it occupied his leisure hours. Its twenty-four volumes are a noble monument of his exact but unobtrusive learning, and wise, critical judgment.
In 1854, Dr. Goold, on the death of Dr. Andrew Symington, was chosen Professor of Biblical Literature and Church History in the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Hall. He entered on his new duties with great zeal, and for twenty-five years, until the union with the Free Church, he was the delight and admiration of his students. His lectures were learned yet eloquent, inspiring yet exact, and masterly in their grasp of the themes he took up. Dr. Goold was repeatedly asked to publish his lectures on the Sacrifices of the Mosaic Economy, or those on the Messianic Psalms, but he shrank from publication.
About 1860 he was appointed Eastern Secretary to the National Bible Society of Scotland. Early in his ministry he had taken a deep interest in the Edinburgh Continental Society, and had been its secretary. The society had been a precursor of the Continental schemes of the Scottish churches, so that the new office was congenial to him. The National Bible Society greatly enlarged the field of its operations and increased its contributions and its usefulness during the thirty-six years of his able and unwearied secretaryship.
In the ten years of negotiations for union between the Free, United, and Reformed Presbyterian Churches, Dr. Goold took a leading part. His pen can easily be traced in the section in the final report in 1873 on the “Matter of Doctrine,” and he was greatly grieved that, notwithstanding the admirable “Articles of Agreement,” the joint-union committee had to sist procedure. There were no difficulties in the way of negotiations for union with the Free Church. The Reformed Presbyterian Church had always held that while the church and state may enter into relations of mutual alliance, the nature and degree of such alliance must be determined by the moral character of the state, and by the peculiar condition of the church in respect to her unity, spirituality, and freedom. In the joint-union committee of the two churches, Dr. Robert Buchanan told how, with a deputation to London before the Disruption, he had, in the presence of Lord John Russell, stated the claims of the non-intrusionists for the spiritual independence of the church—the right of the Christian people to regulate their own spiritual affairs, choose their own pastors, and through their own office-bearers, chosen by themselves, to govern the church—when Lord John Russell said: “Gentlemen, we cannot give you that.” From that moment Dr. Buchanan said he was impressed with the views held by the Reformed Presbyterians in regard to the nature of the relations of mutual alliance between church and state; the necessity of asking what is the object of the state in seeking an alliance with the church: is it to enslave it, or to keep it free in spiritual things? To enter into an alliance without securing spiritual independence was unsafe, and even dangerous. The invitation by the Free Church to resume negotiations for union was cordially accepted by the Reformed Presbyterian Church. After a few pleasant meetings of the Union Committee, and the sending down of the proposals for union to sessions, and their acceptance of them, the union took place in May 1876. Dr. Goold’s speech on the day of union in the General Assembly was one of his best efforts, and recalled the fervid eloquence of his early years. In the following year he was chosen Moderator of the Free General Assembly, and in October 1890 the Martyrs’ congregation celebrated his jubilee. Last year the congregation gave him a colleague and successor in the Rev. John Davidson, A.M., and the new relation was a great satisfaction and comfort to him in his last days.
Dr. Goold was married to a daughter of the Rev. Prof. Wm. Symington, D.D., of Glasgow. The union was a singularly happy one. After more than twenty-five years of married life, Mrs. Goold died in October 1875. Her death had been preceded some weeks by that of a son, Alexander, and it was followed by the death of an elder son, Henry, a young man of great promise, who had been licensed a few weeks, and had been invited to be assistant to the Rev. James McGill of Bournemouth, once of Hightae. These bereavements told severely on Dr. Goold, and called forth the deep sympathy of his many friends. He leaves two sons and two daughters.
Dr. Goold long preserved his vigour. On his jubilee he was able to speak of “fifty years of service—service without an assistant, services without the interruption of a single Sabbath almost by reason of illness.” But for the last three or four years he had been suffering from a painful disease, the result of a chill caught while travelling on the Continent on the business of the National Bible Society. Until a year past he was able to take part in the work of his congregation. As the year rolled on, in spite of the best medical skill, his disease gained the mastery. His last desire was to have Psalm 103 read to him, as the grandest of psalms. Shortly after he fell into a sleep that in a day or so ended in death.
REV. CHARLES GORDON, ASSYNT
(Died September 26, 1873)
Author: Rev. Charles Mackenzie, Golspie
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, February 2, 1874, p.39
The Rev. Charles Gordon of Assynt was the son of the Rev. George Gordon of Loth. His maternal grandfather was the Rev. Thomas Mackay of Lairg, who was greatly distinguished in his day as an evangelical preacher, as was also his father, the Rev. John Mackay of Durness and Lairg. The ministerial connection of Mr. C. Gordon and his ancestors with the county of Sutherland extended over an unbroken period of one hundred and sixty-six years.
Mr. Gordon received the rudiments of his education at the Academy of Tain, and became early acquainted with the present minister of that burgh, the great Dr. Angus Macintosh, as he was then, and even still is, called in the north. Mr Gordon enjoyed much of that distinguished man’s friendship and affection, and often gratefully acknowledged how much he owed to him.
In the year 1825 Mr. Gordon was ordained minister of Assynt. and early won that respect and attachment of the people of his widely-scattered charge which he retained during his ministry of nearly half a century.
At the Disruption, in the face of peculiar temptations to pursue a different course, Mr. Gordon cast in his lot with the Free Church, leaving for conscience’ sake one of the best livings in Sutherlandshire. Few ministers at that trying time had to endure more hardships. For want of accommodation in the district, he had to remove his family to Tain, seventy miles from the scene of his labours, where they had to reside nearly three years. Only those who know the district of country he had to deal with, and the distances he had to travel in all weathers, can conceive the discomfort and difficulties of his position in those days.
Of late years, Mr. Gordon was in feeble health; yet he not only kept up to the last his ministry in the church at Torbreck, but regularly, throughout the whole thirty years since the Disruption, he preached every third Sabbath alternately at two outlying stations, the one being fourteen, and the other twenty miles from his home.
He was of a retiring disposition, and took little part in the business of Church courts, devoting himself to the quiet discharge of his pastoral duties. He has left a fragrant memory behind him; and will be long remembered, not only for his faithful pulpit ministrations, but for the remarkable unselfishness, humility, gentleness, and attractiveness of his character, which endeared him to all who came into contact with him, and which was in beautiful consistency with the gospel he preached.
Mr. Gordon died in the seventy-fifth year of his age, and the forty-ninth of his ministry. The sudden death in June last of his youngest son, the Rev. H.W. Mackay Gordon, of the English Presbyterian Church, Bolton, a young minister of the highest promise, was a blow from which he never recovered.
REV. D. CAMPBELL GORDON, ELGIN
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, February 1, 1867, p.42
The Rev. D. Campbell Gordon, minister of the South Free Church, Elgin, died at his residence, in Moss Street, on Tuesday the 20th November, after a brief illness. It is impossible adequately to express the deep feeling of regret and bitter sorrow which the death of this able, amiable, and estimable minister has awakened, not only among the members of his own now bereaved congregation, but throughout the community at large; for Mr. Gordon was “a man greatly beloved” by all who knew him, and were able to appreciate his sterling worth. As our readers may be aware, Mr. Gordon was a son of the late venerated Dr. Gordon of Edinburgh; and the mantle of the father had in no small measure fallen upon the son, the solemn tones of whose voice, and his reverent bearing, forcibly recalled to mind, during his brief ministry, the honoured master in Israel who, years before, had been taken to his rest. After having assisted Dr. Paterson of St. Andrew’s Church, Glasgow, for about two years, Mr. Gordon was called to the South Free Church, Elgin, in the spring of 1854. He was ordained in the month of June of that year, and on the Sabbath immediately succeeding the day of his ordination he was introduced to his congregation by his much loved and honoured friend and father, the late Principal Cunningham. He was thus taken away in the thirteenth year of his ministry, and died at the early age of forty-two. His work was done, and the Lord said unto him, “Come up hither.”
REV. HUGH GORDON, MONQUHITTER
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, August 1, 1866, p.18
We have this month to record the death of another of our Disruption ministers—one who has been suddenly struck down in the midst of his arduous and self-denying labours. The Rev. Hugh Gordon of Monquhitter died at Feuchar Cottage, his residence there, on the morning of Sabbath the 17th June. Many of those who were attending the last meeting of Assembly will remember seeing our brother present, and exhibiting no visible signs of decay. He had returned home much refreshed in spirit by the very interesting proceedings of that Assembly, and by his intercourse with friends at a distance; and, although he was not so strong for work as he had been in former years, he had resumed his labours amongst his people with all his wonted earnestness and devotedness. On the Tuesday before his death, he preached at Gamrie, on the occasion of moderating in a call to the Rev. John Rae to be minister of that congregation. On the Wednesday he paid a visit to a beloved co-presbyter, whom the Lord has for some time set aside from his duties by serious illness. And on the Thursday, on his way to his weekly prayer-meeting in the village of Cumineston, he was seized with the complaint which proved fatal to him—spasms of the heart. From the time when he was thus suddenly attacked, Mr. Gordon felt that his end was at hand. Although suffering great bodily pain, he could speak composedly and with believing confidence of his change. He knew that his work on earth was done, and that he was going home to be ever with the Lord. His last prayer was, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
Mr. Gordon was born at Anwoth in Kirkcudbright, of which parish his father was minister, in the year 1798. He was educated at the university of Edinburgh, and after being licensed to preach the gospel, he continued for about nine years as tutor in the family of General Sir Alexander Duff, having for his pupils the present Earl of Fife and the Hon. G. S. Duff. That family always kept up the closest intimacy with him, and cherished for him the greatest respect. He was ordained in 1829 minister of the parish of Monquhitter. As the “Ten Years’ Conflict” progressed, Mr. Gordon had no hesitation in allying himself to the evangelical party in the Church; and when the Disruption came he left the old church and manse without a lingering look behind. This was in his case one of the greatest trials of faith; for he had to labour in a comparatively poor district of the country, and had to encounter not a little social opposition. He succeeded, however, in organizing a Free Church at Monquhitter, and continued to be its devoted pastor for three-and-twenty years.
Mr. Gordon was greatly beloved by his own flock, and universally respected in the surrounding district. His sound judgment, courteous and gentlemanly bearing, sterling principle, uniform consistency, and high-toned piety, made him exercise a commanding influence for good wherever he was known—a far greater influence than he himself in his sincere modesty was aware of. During the last five or six years, he was much cheered by seeing more spiritual life than formerly among his people; and he threw himself very heartily, and with all the energy of youth, into the revival movement. He has left behind him a sorrowing widow, the daughter of Mr. Inglis, advocate, Edinburgh, who has been for many years his partner in life, but who is not left to sorrow as those who have no hope. His loss will be much felt in the presbytery of which he was a member. May the Lord raise up others who will not only hold “the blue banner” as firmly, but also preach the gospel as faithfully as Mr. Gordon did.
REV. WILLIAM GOVAN, LOVEDALE
(Died November 4, 1875)
Author: Mr Robert Young
The Free Church Monthly March 1, 1876, p.69
Mr. Govan was born at Abbey Parish of Paisley on 8th February 1801. While still a boy, his parents removed to Dumbarton, and at the grammar school of that town he received his education. For a few years he held a situation in the office of the town-clerk of Dumbarton, and had good prospects of a worldly kind. But, being fond of books and study, he resolved, along with his companion, the late Rev. Jonathan Anderson, to enter the University of Glasgow. At the close of his second session at college, he accepted the situation of classical teacher in the Burgh school of Dumbarton. This situation he held for ten years.
He resumed his studies at the University of Glasgow in 1834; and, although devoting much time to private teaching, he highly distinguished himself, especially in mathematics and natural philosophy. During his last session at the Divinity Hall, on the suggestion of his friend, Mr. Jonathan Anderson, he offered his services to the Glasgow Missionary Society, who had resolved to establish an educational institution at Lovedale. His offer was accepted, and he was appointed on 22nd April 1839. In the interval preceding his license, he prepared himself for his future position by special studies. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Glasgow on 16th June 1840, and ordained by the same body on 21st July; and, along with Mrs. Govan, sailed for Africa on the 19th September, arriving at Lovedale on 16th January 1841.
The Institution buildings, erected at a cost of about £1500, were not formally opened until the 21st July. In the interval Mr. Govan was engaged in the study of the Kaffir language, and in preparation otherwise for his important work. On the opening day, eleven natives and nine of European descent were admitted after examination — the Institution having been modelled to suit the sons of colonists as well as native youths. As might have been anticipated under Mr. Govan’s able tuition, the result at the close of the session in the following year was highly gratifying, all present expressing their satisfaction with the progress made by most of the pupils.
Two important events occurred soon after. When tidings of the Disruption reached Kaffraria, all the missionaries — Mr. Govan among the rest — cast in their lot with the Free Church. They continued, however, in connection with the Glasgow Missionary Society until 1814, when the entire mission was transferred to the General Assembly of the Free Church, and placed under the direction of its Committee on Foreign Missions.
The onward progress of the Institution was arrested by the war of 1846-47. On this, as on former occasions, the several stations of the mission were broken up. The Institution buildings were taken possession of by British troops and converted into a fort. And as the war raged in the very heart of the mission-field, the brethren of the mission removed temporarily into different parts of the colony, some of them at the risk of their lives, and all of them having lost the greater part of their property. Mr. Govan, who shared in these losses, thinking the war was to be a prolonged one, came to Scotland at his own expense, and resigned his connection with the mission.
For nearly three years thereafter he ministered with much acceptance to the congregation at Inchinnan. Peace, meanwhile, had been restored; and the Government having made a grant for the repair of the Institution buildings, besides the promise of pecuniary aid in the educational department, the missionaries anxiously desired the return of Mr. Govan. To the request thus made he at once responded; and, having taken an affectionate farewell of the congregation at Inchinnan, he and Mrs. Govan sailed for South Africa in October 1849, reaching Lovedale in the January following.
The Institution was again brought into working order; and in 1855, on the suggestion, and by the help of Sir George Grey, the Governor of Cape Colony, the industrial departments were added. To the increased anxieties and duties which this enlargement necessarily imposed upon him, Mr. Govan willingly bent his utmost energies.
The steady development of the Institution, as one of great importance in the colony, led the Committee, after a lengthened correspondence with Lovedale, to adopt resolutions for its future management which, in their judgment, would promote its extended usefulness no less in an educational than in a missionary point of view. In this judgment, however, Mr. Govan could not conscientiously concur, and therefore resolved to retire, feeling that he could not cordially or with satisfaction to himself carry out the new arrangements. The Committee failing to induce him to continue his services in other departments of the work, most reluctantly accepted his resignation. It is right to add that, although latterly a difference of judgment emerged, the relations existing between Mr. Govan and the Committee had been from first to last of the most amicable kind; and the Committee, in parting with him as one of their missionaries, recorded in the strongest terms the high estimation in which they had always held him.
Before leaving Lovedale, Mr. Govan was presented by his pupils and friends with an address, expressive of their “great admiration of the high Christian principle, sterling integrity, and unwearied devotedness” which so eminently characterized him. In further testimony of their appreciation of his services, he received a more substantial acknowledgment — the remainder of the subscription forming the nucleus of a “Govan Bursary.”
Soon after his return to this country, Mr. Govan settled in Dunoon; and his manner of life there will be best told by Mr. McMorran, the respected minister of our church there. Mr. McMorran writes: “Mr. and Mrs. Govan came to Dunoon in May 1871. The former took a lively interest in the Lord’s work here, as well as in educational matters, and, so far as his strength permitted, he was most willing to help myself and others. For a considerable period he taught a Bible class in my congregation, and superintended one of our district Sabbath schools. In the day school, as well as to more than one youth in their more private studies, he rendered valuable assistance. I need not say that Mr. Govan was held in high esteem by all who came in contact with him. Nor do I need to refer to the work in which he was so largely employed during the last year or more of his life — namely, the ‘Memorials’ of his friend and fellow-labourer, the Rev. James Laing of Burnshill. Mr. Govan was in church on the Sabbath week preceding his death; but for a considerable time previous it was evident he was breaking up.” After a long and laborious life, this devoted servant of Christ passed quietly away, leaving behind him a widow to mourn his loss, one who for well-nigh fifty years had proved a true helpmeet, and in Africa, as recently stated by the Hon. C. Brownlee, “obtained from the natives the name of Nobantu — that is, the mother of the people — by which name she is known to the present day.”
REV. DUNCAN GRAHAM, CAMPBELTOWN
(Died January 11, 1885)
Author: Rev. W. McIndoe, Paisley
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May 1, 1885, Biographical Notices, p.147
On the day of his death Mr. Graham’s decease was wholly unexpected. No one who saw him but would have augured for him prolonged service. It was known indeed to some that through recent exposure and perhaps neglect he had been suffering from cold and rheumatism. But after a month’s residence at Buxton he had returned to his work reinvigorated.
His last day was the anniversary of his induction. He discharged all his wonted duties, and was on his way to visit an invalid, when he was seen to reel; then he recovered himself, but almost immediately fell to the ground. Within a few minutes a physician was by his side; but the heart was still. Probably a blood-vessel had burst on the brain, and death occurred on the instant— before he fell. Thus, in his prime, his strength unweakened in the way, ready for any task, he passed from life to life, hardly tasting of death. Being unmarried, he shrank from the idea of needing attention in sickness; and he was not only exempted from that, but the Invisible alone was with him at his change. How great the shock was to the whole community, and how great lamentation was made for him, need not here be told; but a short sketch of his history will be acceptable to many.
He was born at Dunrostan, North Knapdale, on the 3rd day of November 1828. His parents were devout, and their influence on him was such that as a boy he showed a decided attachment to Christ and his kingdom, and there was no future crisis in his spiritual history, except that at a time of awakening in his native parish he resolved to give himself to the ministry of the Word. With this view he entered on his preparatory studies at school and college, which he pursued with marked diligence and success. After his first two sessions he supported himself by teaching, declining bursaries because of the conditions attached. Doubtless he will be remembered still by some at Penicuick not only for his application to his school duties but for his Christian courtesy and his love of good men.
As time went on he contracted such a liking for teaching, and attained such proficiency in the art, that he accepted the mastership of a public institution in Edinburgh. Here the emoluments were large, and he had the sure prospect of a useful career. This, along with a feeling that his gifts were not adapted for the pulpit, and a dominating modesty, led him to abandon his views to the ministry. But after a time appeals made to him from the Highlands, where the scarcity of preachers was great, led him to resign his position and preferments. Done for Christ, it was an act worthy of the men of ’43.
On being licensed he accepted a call to Kilbrandon, where, for the comforts he had sacrificed, he got a large and poor parish, no manse, and the equal dividend of the day. Yet there and in his later charge he laboured on with rare diligence and with an enviable buoyancy of spirit. Results he fondly hoped for, but duty was his watchword; and in both his charges he gave full proof of his ministry. In his first it told more, for he became practically the minister of the place; yet in Campbeltown, without aiming at it, he was fast gaining the hearts of the people and a commanding influence for good. A popular preacher he was not, but his sermons were often singularly instructive and tender. In pastoral work few excelled him. If he took anything from his pulpit he expended it here. The toil of visiting was no burden to him, and he went from house to house a true son of consolation. Men in difficulties leaned on him as an adviser, families welcomed him as a friend, the poor as a benefactor. Money he prized too highly to hoard it, and by spending he became rich though he kept himself poor. Curiously enough, though so earnest he loved and attracted the young, and in many a home circle his mirth and anecdotes will be long remembered. Being an intelligent observer of nature, his memory was stored with many interesting facts that were always at his command to amuse and instruct. Beyond his proper sphere he lent himself to every good object. Always a total abstainer, temperance found in him a warm advocate. A practical educationist, he rendered valued service at the School Board. His brethren found him a ready helper, and many a long journey he took for his Church’s sake. Accustomed to rise early, he had more time at his command than many suspected; and visitors were sometimes surprised by his rousing them at the dawn to watch the mists on the mountains of Mull from the windows of his country manse. He read widely, and his familiarity with German laid a great store of knowledge at his feet; while his mind thirsted for information from every source. Thus he was well equipped for his work, and though often strained for time to study he lost none of it in sloth or frivolity. His early piety budded and blossomed and bore fruit in a life of good works. The boy of fifteen was the man of fifty-seven, only matured. In some respects he was unique, and a memoir of him by a competent hand would be a gem in Christian biography. But there is little hope of this being had. Reminiscences of him are too widely scattered. He has left no notices of himself. He kept no diary—he had no time for that. But his record is on high; and what he was and what he did the day will declare.
REV. FINLAY GRAHAM, KINLOCHEWE
(Died July 13, 1899)
Author: Rev. R. Dingwall, Poolewe
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1899, Obituary, p.288
Mr. Graham was born at Heathfield, parish of Kilmuir-Easter, where his father was farm manager. He frequently spoke of all he owed to the early training he had from his godly father and mother—a couple widely known and much esteemed for their Christian zeal and consistent life.
Having finished his early education in a country school, Mr. Graham made choice of a mercantile career, and in this he was engaged for some years in Tain. It was on the occasion of the late Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall having been preaching in Gaelic at Tain from the text, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth,” etc., that he was arrested and convinced of his lost state as a sinner. Many days of deep heart-searching followed. He was much assisted by the Rev. Mr. Grant, Tain, whose counsel and guidance in Scripture study was much blessed to him. The late Rev. Mr. Cobban of Braemar at this time made his acquaintance, and was so much impressed with the experience and desires expressed that he advised him to study for the ministry. After a severe conflict with respect to his duty, he attended classes in the Tain Academy, preparatory for the arts classes. He began his university studies in St. Andrews in 1867, and in 1871 he began to study theology in the New College, Edinburgh.
During his student days he was engaged by the Ladies’ Association to teach in one of their Highland schools. He was appointed first to Little Lochbroom—a district from which but very few could attend services at church. Here he was very successful as a missionary teacher, where his consistent life, earnest endeavours, and faithful instruction won the hearts of children and parents. Many speak of him as what Paul exhorted Timothy to be— “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
He was afterwards appointed to Kinlochewe. This district was also far from the church, so that it fell on him to conduct meetings with the people, and teach a Sabbath school, besides his week-day school. His hands were full, but he was strong, ardent, and delighted in a work that was much appreciated by all around him. Here there was no place of worship but the schoolhouse, and this was not very comfortable for a congregation to meet in. Mr. Graham set about getting a church built; and while a student he collected money enough, chiefly in Edinburgh, by which a comfortable and neat church was erected.
He was licensed by the Presbytery of Lochcarron in July 1874, and in a few months after he was ordained by the Presbytery of Skye to Sleat, where he laboured for eleven years. His ministry in Sleat was fruitful of much good among all ages and classes.
The esteem in which he was held was specially seen in the deep sorrow shown on their learning that, after an earnest and prayerful consideration of his duty, he decided to accept a call from the Free Gaelic Church, Oban. Parting with his congregation in Sleat was a trying ordeal to minister and people.
The duties in Oban called forth all his strength, and heartily he gave it in whatsoever his hands found to do. His faithful preaching, pastoral labours, and devotion to the sick and poor soon secured the highest respect of all parties. In 1891 he was seized by an attack of influenza, which so undermined his health that he never really recovered his strength. It was then that the congregation of Kinlochewe besought him to return to them, his old friends, where he would be free, to a large extent, from the many burdens and worries incident to a town charge. His difficulty in deciding was great, for he hesitated to accept a call in his then state of health, and especially from a virgin congregation. Being persuaded of his duty, he was inducted as the first minister in Kinlochewe in 1892. The change benefited his health considerably; but there was no manse, nor a convenient house in the district that could be rented. He lost no time in securing a site, through the kindness of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch, and the difficulties of procuring funds having been overcome, a commodious and substantial manse was erected at Kinlochewe. Thus before he began his ministry he gave them a church, and at the close of his ministry a manse.
A special feature of his character was his great love for his work and for his people, whom he served with a rare devotion. Wherever there was trouble, he early found his way there. His people of the three charges in which he ministered have grateful recollections of his sympathy and unwearied devotedness to their best interests.
As a preacher, Mr. Graham studied to have a portion for different classes and characters, of which all congregations are composed. He gave a clear, forcible presentation of gospel truths: the prerogatives and glory of Christ, His sacrifice and intercession, the freeness and sufficiency of His grace were themes in which his soul delighted. He was fearless in rebuking sin and in warning of the consequences of a mis-spent life; and with fatherly tenderness he invited sinners to a waiting Saviour. His influence over the young was great. His large-heartedness and loving dealings with them attracted them to him and to the Master whom he served.
Mr. Graham was twice married. He is survived by his widow, who tenderly ministered to him as a loving companion, till the Master called him to the victor’s reward. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.” Mr. Graham left a son and three daughters.
His last message to his flock was: “Make Christ and salvation your first concern. Let it be your earnest prayer that you may get a man of God to be your minister, and that soon. Your loving pastor’s last message.”
REV. DUNCAN GRANT, FORRES
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, May 1, 1866, p.15
Mr. Grant, the venerable senior pastor of the Free Church of Forres, long occupied a distinguished position in the north of Scotland, besides being known and respected over the whole Church. Having studied at King’s College, Mr. Grant was licensed at a very early age, and almost immediately afterwards was ordained as minister to the congregation of the Gaelic Chapel, Aberdeen. There his abilities as a preacher attracted considerable attention, and soon secured a presentation, at the request of the people, to the parish of Alves, then recently vacant by the death of his uncle, Mr. Macbean. In 1827, the thirteenth year of his ministry, he was inducted to Forres, where he spent the last and greatest part of his long public career.
Although his eminent abilities, genial manners, and affectionate disposition secured a large circle of friends, it was chiefly as a preacher that he was known, and will now be remembered. His talents were of a very high order. An extensive acquaintance with literature, combined with a powerful memory, great originality of mind, and a rich imagination, rendered his preaching exceedingly attractive to all classes of hearers; whilst his acquaintance with the Scriptures, his sound views of divine truth, and deep religious experience, eminently fitted him for speaking a word in season to each. His ordinary discourses always bore the stamp of ability; but his action sermons, and those delivered on special occasions, will long be remembered as singularly able and effective. In any record of his life, however brief, his interest in the young cannot pass unnoticed. His annual sermons to children, prepared with the greatest care, and enriched with illustrations drawn at once from memory and imagination, were eagerly anticipated by old and young alike. Occasionally the sermon of one year assumed the form of a hymn in the next, and was greatly prized by the families that composed his flock. One of these annual discourses was expanded into a highly popular little volume, entitled “Advices to the Young,” and which, we believe, has been translated into several languages. Besides the hymns referred to, he produced several fugitive pieces of poetry, both grave and gay. Some of these were published; one, indeed, of exquisite beauty, is quoted by the celebrated Christopher North; most of them, however, were only known to his more immediate friends.
About fifteen years ago, Mr. Grant was laid aside from the active discharge of his duties by a severe nervous disorder, and in 1852 the Rev. A. Robertson was ordained as his colleague and successor; but, until within the last few months, his mind retained all its original vigour and clearness. His conversational powers continued a source of delight and instruction to his friends, who often wondered how, in the solitude of his study, he acquired such an extensive and accurate acquaintance with the proceedings of the Church and the world. Gradually becoming indifferent to the latter, he never lost his interest in the cause of Christ, which he had served during so many years.
In his views of divine truth, and in his principles of church polity, he belonged emphatically to the evangelical party, with many of the leaders of which he lived on terms of the most endearing friendship. His conduct was firm and decided throughout the struggle that preceded the Disruption, and when the final crisis came he abandoned the Establishment, although in doing so he sacrificed one of the best livings in the north of Scotland, besides many of his most valued friendships.
Having been ordained at the age of twenty-four, his ministry has extended over half a century. Only one now remains, the Rev. Mark Aitkin—and he old and well stricken in years—of those who constituted the first Free Presbytery of Forres.
REV. WILLIAM GRANT, M.A., D.D., SHOALHAVEN, N.S.W.
(Died August 9, 1897)
Author: Rev. John Burgess, M.A., Kiama, N.S.W.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1897, Obituary, p.273
On August 9, 1897, the Rev. Dr. Grant, the father of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales, passed away at his residence on the Shoalhaven River, at the advanced age of ninety-two. He was born at Nairn, near the country seat of the Grants, in the beginning of 1806. After the usual course in arts at King’s College, Aberdeen, he graduated in 1829. His divinity studies he prosecuted at Edinburgh under Chalmers and others, and was licensed by the Presbytery of Dornoch in 1834. After a short assistantship at Ardersier, he was on September 15,1836, ordained and inducted into the pastoral charge at Tenandry. The Ten Years’ Conflict had begun, and soon his presbytery—the Presbytery of Dunkeld—was in the very thick of the struggle, the story of which is well known both in and beyond Scotland. Mr. Grant was a member of the 1843 Assembly, and though ever a man of peace, placing principle first, he “went out” with Chalmers and others to form the Free Church. He and his congregation continued worshipping in their church till the end of the year—indeed they had hoped to retain it, as it was invested in the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge—but the keys had to be given up. They then met in a tent in a field near the Pass of Killiecrankie. About Christmas Mrs. Sandeman of Bonskeid was asked whether she would let them meet on her property. Her reply was,—
“You are welcome, beloved, tho’ cold be the blast,
And slight be the shelter which we can afford;
Though a tear dim the eye as we think of the past,
We welcome you here in the name of the Lord.”
When the new church was built for Mr. Grant and his congregation in the parish of Moulin in 1816, Mrs. Stewart Sandeman sold some of her plate to provide silver communion vessels, which were used for the first time on June 16, 1846, when 400 communicants joined in the celebration of the Lord’s supper. In 1847 Mr. Grant accepted a call to St. Stephen’s, Perth, and six years later was appointed by the Colonial Committee of the Free Church to New South Wales. Within a few months of his arrival he was settled in the Shoalhaven district as its first minister. Here he remained during the rest of his ministry, notwithstanding several attempts to remove him. From 1854 to 1891 he ministered to his flock, when he resigned owing to age and infirmity. During that period he had the honour of taking part in the union movement, which culminated so happily in 1865, as in the old land he had had the honour of taking part in the Disruption. Beloved and highly esteemed throughout the whole church, he was best known and most loved within his own parish. There the ability of his pulpit ministrations, his fidelity to all his pastoral duties, his generosity, his unaffected piety and consistent life endeared him to all. Ever seeking to be on friendly terms with his brethren, they were equally desirous of honouring him. As long ago as 1869—four years after the union—they honoured him by placing him in the chair of the General Assembly. On the occasion of his receiving the degree of D.D. from Queen’s University, Canada, and at his jubilee and diamond jubilee, great celebrations were held. His last official correspondence with his presbytery I take the liberty of quoting, as it unfolds the true man. It was his written reply to the Presbytery of Illawarra’s congratulations on his attaining the diamond jubilee of his ministry, September 15, 1895.
“This rare occasion awakens in me varied emotions. A humbling sense of unworthiness during the course of a long ministry, neglect in some things, weakness in many things, and great shortcoming in all, urge me to have recourse to our heavenly Father for pardon and for peace and for purity; and this is my daily exercise. The time, too, is short, and the change is near; the eldest of us must depart soon, and yet the youngest may go sooner, so uncertain is the stay here. My earnest prayer, therefore, for the select company now present is, that employed as they are in the house of God, moderators, ministers, elders, and deacons may have showers of blessing in their several charges, even the down-pouring of the Spirit, which would issue in a great revival in our church, and would lead to the improvement of the moral state of society throughout the land. Let this be the aim and prayerful effort of all connected with our grand Presbyterian Church in all these new countries. Oh let us thus wrestle for the down-pouring of the Spirit, and the result will not be doubtful—glory emanating to God, which should be the first and greatest thing.
“Moderator, fathers, and brethren, please accept my heartiest thanks for your good wishes and for all your kindness.”
Peace seemed to be his watchword and life motto, and among his last words were, “Peace, perfect peace. Bless the Lord, O my soul.”
Dr. Grant was married to a niece of his co-presbyter, Rev. Michael Stirling of Cargill, whose high character and ability are eulogized in Buchanan’s Ten Years’ Conflict, ch. 9. Mrs. Grant, who was a true helper of her husband in all his work, and who was a beautiful example of piety and charity, died some years ago. Dr. Grant is survived by two daughters and a son, who is secretary of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney.
REV. WILLIAM GRANT, AYR
(Died November 1, 1876)
Author: Rev. John Macfarlan, Greenock
The Free Church Monthly January 1, 1877, p.19
“William Grant, born at Kirkmichael, 6th September 1814. Son of Rev. Patrick Grant, minister of Kirkmichael, Presbytery of Abernethy. Licensed a probationer of the Church of Scotland, 30th November 1836, by the Presbytery of St. Andrews. Elected to the preaching station of Logiealmond, Perthshire, 19th March 1837.”
Such is the record, written with his own hand, of the early days of this much loved brother, who has lately passed away. It stops with the notice of the first field of his labours, Logiealmond; a place to which his heart often recurred. In November 1840 he became helper to Dr. Brown of St. John’s, Glasgow. By that good man he was regarded as a son; and his ministrations were much appreciated by the congregation, one of the largest and most influential in the city.
On the 23rd April 1843, a few weeks before the Disruption, Mr. Grant was ordained minister of the church at Wallacetown, Ayr; in which town he continued to labour in the Master’s work till his death. The congregation having gone out with him, worshipped for some time in a rough wooden tent, run up on the links near the sea. There he and his attached flock enjoyed seasons of great quickening; and he often loved to recur to those days, as amongst the most fruitful in his ministry. The church which the congregation built in the Sandgate was opened soon thereafter, by Dr. Brown of St. John’s. And some may still call to mind the remarkable coincidence between Mr. Grant’s closing text in the tent — “Lord, if thy presence go not with me, take us not up hence” — and Dr. Brown’s opening text in the new church: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” Surely it was a token from the Lord for good.
Personally, this dear brother was a remarkable example of the power of divine grace to sustain in the midst of trying bodily infirmities. Even at an early period in his life the strength of his limbs was impaired; yet such was the natural energy of his mind and the might of divine grace within him, that through thirty years of partial infirmity he not only endured but was able for all his work, made full proof of his ministry — visiting, preaching, instructing the young, taking part in the public affairs of the town, shrinking from no duty, but, on the contrary, entering into every work with a joyous and buoyant spirit, proving, surely, that “the joy of the Lord was his strength.”
Of late years, he gladly availed himself of the opportunity of visiting, during the winter months, one of the Continental stations, such as Cannes. There his ministrations were greatly appreciated; and he had opportunities of close spiritual fellowship with many, some of them of the highest rank, and became the instrument of much good. He was blessed in a godly and very helpful wife; and they had the prospect of being together at Cannes during the present winter. But such was not the Lord’s will.
He was seized with his last illness early in October, and, after a sore conflict, passed away, and was followed to the grave in Ayr cemetery by a large number of the citizens, all mourning that they should see his face no more.
In regard to his preaching, it was of the highest order — rich and Scriptural, and relished alike by the most highly cultivated and by the humble peasant. Only a few fragments have been published — one on “Spiritual Independence,” another “On the Right Discharge of Earthly Duties,” two short treatises on the sacraments, and also an interesting memoir of his elder sister, Mrs. Daniel Edward; but his ministry has left, in the hearts of many, a sweet savour behind, and a very grand example of fruitful and joyous cross-bearing.
REV. ALEXANDER GRAY, CRAIG, DUNSCORE
(Died October 24, 1897)
Auth0r: Rev. Thomas M. Mailer, Irongray, Dumfries
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, December, 1897, Obituary, p.295
Alexander Gray was born at Cromarty on April 23, 1854. There he received his early education. Leaving Cromarty, he went to Inverness, and attached himself to the Free High congregation. The ministry of Dr. Black was greatly blessed to him. He came under such powerful religious influences that the current of his life became entirely changed. Instead of following a business life, he resolved to become a minister of the gospel. And from the time of that resolution until he died his life was one great effort at self-improvement and a struggle with adverse circumstances.
He spent some time in Dublin, where he acted as a home missionary. From there he came to Glasgow, and engaged in similar work in connection with different congregations of that city. While thus engaged, he attended the Glasgow University, taking a most creditable position in all his classes, and qualifying as a graduate in classics and philosophy. From the university he passed into the Glasgow Free Church College, where he was at once recognized as a man of decided gifts. Among the men of his year who attended the Theological Society he will ever be remembered for his earnestness, eloquence, and skill in debate.
In the closing year of his curriculum at the college the seeds of his last illness were laid. He caught a chill, which settled on his chest, and finally developed into consumption. The strong frame with which he began his career as a student resisted long the fell attack of disease, but at last yielded to it.
Mr. Gray was licensed by the Glasgow Presbytery, and within six months was unanimously elected to the Craig (Dunscore) congregation. In his work there he was very successful. His people were strongly attached to him. They admired his true and consistent Christian character, and prized his faithful pulpit and pastoral ministrations. In season and out of season he endeavoured to awaken the careless, to edify believers, and to win all to Christ. No minister ever had a higher ideal of preaching. Mr. Gray always preached under great tension of mind and body, seeking messages for his people from God. He believed he received these. He endeavoured to understand all their contents, and then he preached as a man who could not but preach, because God had sent him.
Unfortunately, a dislocation of the spinal column hindered his work and influence as a pastor for several years. But his congregation was indulgent: they loved their minister, and knew how willing his spirit was and how weak was his flesh. Two years ago he lost his wife, from which blow he never rallied. Her love, and careful nursing, and tender sympathy had sustained and comforted him during many weary months of perfect helplessness and prostration.
A day or two before his death, Mr. Gray asked the writer to read to him the 23rd Psalm. He was a little afraid of suffering great pain, and said, “If only I had a peaceful end, I would be willing to go.” His desire was gratified; his end was peace.
Speaking of his personal relation to Christ in immediate prospect of eternity, he said, “I am resting in His love and faithfulness.”
He had a sore fight of afflictions. God made him pass through a furnace of them, and he came forth as gold. During his illness he never thought of himself. No murmur ever crossed his lips. His thoughts were all about his congregation’s kindness and sympathy and forbearance, the orphaned condition of his three little children, and the comfort of those who were about his sick-bed.
REV. DONALD GRAY, GAELIC CHURCH, SALTCOATS
(Died February 12, 1899)
Author: Rev. John Kennedy, Lenimore, Arran
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, August, 1899, Obituary, p.188
The subject of this short sketch was born about the year 1815 at Tobermory, Mull, where his father had the ferry connecting this island with the mainland— a mile and a half distant. He learned early to assist in this work, and started life as a sailor. He was exceptionally well made, very strong, and enjoyed perfect health, and proved a right able seaman. On one occasion, while a gale was blowing and it became necessary to reef a sail, he did so in peculiarly perilous circumstances, and received the captain’s commendation: “Well done, Gray; I believe you are the only man in the ship that could have done it.”
After this his parents went to live at Morven, where he acquired his fine command of classic Gaelic, and where he became warmly interested in the contendings which issued in the Disruption.
His favourite preacher and great friend at that date was Rev. Peter McBride of Rothesay, whose labours were much appreciated and blessed; and there is good ground for believing that it was under his ministry that Mr. Donald Gray first came to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. Thus united in a lasting bond of love, they journeyed a good deal together. Mr. McBride introduced him to Rev. Jonathan Anderson, Glasgow, whom he assisted as missionary for a time. In 1852 he was befriended by Mr. Parker and his sisters, of Assloss, near Kilmarnock, where for two summers he got mission work to do, and was very successful among the people. Here he attended the congregation of Rev. Mr. Landsborough, who admired him, and proved his firm friend for nearly fifty years.
Considering his meagre advantages, Mr. Gray succeeded most creditably at Glasgow University.
While a student, Mr. Gray succeeded in building a church at Torloisg, Mull, and he collected money sufficient to defray the cost. He also secured in Jura the site on which the present church was built.
After serving the church for a few years as a probationer, Mr. Gray was ordained at Saltcoats in 1878, and he found it a pleasant and profitable though also a somewhat arduous sphere—his charge being the only Gaelic one in Ayrshire. Here he did a great deal of excellent and painstaking work. Mr. Gray delighted to preach the gospel, and gave himself with all his might to that sacred work. He also visited diligently, and was a great favourite with children, who seemed to take kindly to him instinctively. None could more easily, happily, and helpfully make the thoughts of people pass from mundane matters to things unseen and eternal. Communion seasons at Saltcoats in the Gaelic Church were wont to be attended by great gatherings from the neighbourhood and from all Arran. Many of the older ministers — Mr. McNicol, Shiskan; Mr. Davidson and Dr. Cameron, Brodick; and Dr. Smeaton, Edinburgh, all now reunited above—used to be the principal assistants.
Though he felt quite fit for work, it was deemed desirable about two years ago, when he had spent nearly thirty years in honoured service, that he should have a colleague and successor, and in due course Rev. Charles Lamont was appointed. He selected as a quiet spot, in which to spend the evening of life, The Lodge, Lochranza, a retired and lovely retreat, in which he found himself much at home among his old and familiar friends. Almost every Sabbath he preached once or twice at Lenimore, and occasionally at Lochranza. He was full of hope as to a time of reviving being near for the people on whom his heart was so much set.
On Saturday, 4th February last, he attended Mr. Logan’s funeral at Corrie, and returned on Sabbath to preach a sermon in connection with the sad event. Those present on that day say he never spoke with greater liberty and unction, but especially in the evening, when his text was Isa. 40:1: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” He acknowledged after the service that “he had a fine breeze,” and could gladly have gone on until midnight. Some were as happy that evening as they expect ever to be in this world, for they thought the glory spoken of in the sermon filled the house and their own hearts as well. What a fitting close to an earnest ministerial life!—the last Sabbath on earth spent in active preparation for the rest that remaineth to the people of God. Mr. Gray stayed with kind friends, who succour many, and returned to his own home on Monday. He felt in his usual health till early on Thursday morning, when great weakness and some pain began to be felt around the region of the heart. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be near him. The doctor gave some hope, but thought the case critical. On Friday and Saturday a number of his old friends—and also youthful ones—visited and comforted him. He spoke fitting words and gave kindly counsels to all. He rallied once and again, and his attentive attendants were reassured. He confessed he had sometimes his doubts, but cast all his burdens on Christ. On Sabbath morning he grew weaker, and when asked where he would wish his remains to be buried, he answered, “At Lamlash, beside Dr. Cameron.” Thereafter, about eight o’clock, he bowed his head in prayer, and passed without a struggle into the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
On Wednesday morning a great concourse of people gathered at The Lodge, as a last tribute of respect to one so much admired and loved. As the long cortege of conveyances and walkers passed Corrie and Brodick, a great many ministers and old friends met and joined the funeral. At the grave Mr. Landsborough suitably and touchingly offered prayer.
Four aged sisters survive to mourn his loss. His funeral sermon was ably and appropriately preached by his co-presbyter, Rev. J. K. Cameron, Brodick, who also submitted to the presbytery a tribute to his memory, in which occur the following sentences:—”He was eminently a man of God, and much given to prayer. He had a passionate love for preaching. No man was more careful to speak a word for his Master in whatever company he found himself to be.”
REV. THOMAS GRAY, INVERURIE
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, March 2, 1868
There are men whom their friends always think of, on hearing the words “man of God”—”man beloved.” Such a man died on the 10th of last December—the Rev. Thomas Gray, Free Church minister of Inverurie. There are men whose names are not very familiar beyond their own special field of labour, yet where they are known, are mentioned with a certain solemn affectionateness. These are the men who leave a deep impress on their own locality. Such a man was Mr. Gray.
In his earlier years, Mr. Gray exercised with great success the popular gifts with which he was richly endowed. When a licentiate, before the Disruption, he attracted large audiences to the weekly lecture in Gilcomston Church, Aberdeen. Subsequently, however, he completely altered his pulpit style, and preached with increasing simplicity and earnestness. He was a remarkable preacher. He was remarkable for the quaint pithiness of his sayings. Not that he anywise strained after mere startling expressions, but that his best thoughts seemed spontaneously to fit themselves with barbed antitheses which caused them to stick fast in the memory. He was remarkable for the true aim with which he pierced at once to the vitals of the passage he preached from. His expositions were never unnatural; and yet where other men found only poetry, ethics, psychology, Mr. Gray found always living, saving truth.
He was remarkable for the solemnity of his preaching. He was a solemn preacher, not from any assumption of peculiar tones or language, but because he had always the great matters in hand, and because in his heart was a deep reverence of God, a deep concern for men’s souls, an habitual realizing of eternity. He spoke of sin as a man to whose own heart sin was the great fear and the great sorrow. He spoke of salvation as a man who had found it real and exceeding precious to himself, and whose own heart clung to every word of God’s promise. And he was remarkable for this, he was eclipsed by his own preaching. He made you think of something other than himself. If you went as a stranger into the church you saw a small, pale, dark man, singularly unassuming. After very impressive devotional exercises he began his discourse. As he went on expounding—emphatically expounding the Word—you felt as if, with all the liveliness and interest of the exposition, there were somehow gathering about you an atmosphere of awe—eternity seemed to be coming very near. Suddenly there was a barbed sentence shot into your heart. It was quietly spoken; you could hardly tell whether the slight alteration of tone were really his, or whether it was the hush of your own spirit that seemed to give the sentence a softer sound. You were set thinking, with a great, throbbing concern, about your own soul. And presently, in the same unexpected way, flew out another sentence that drove the arrow to the head—or perhaps it was a word of healing. Mr. Gray had a singular power of comforting. With a few apt syllables he gathered in upon the wounded soul wonderful riches of Christ’s tenderness and grace. Very few men, being so utterly free from sentimentalism, and so invariably governed by calm sound judgment, have been at the same time so melting, so alarming, so comforting in their preaching. His manner in the pulpit was notably quiet and calm. And yet can his people remember many a day when it was as if the preacher, pausing for a little ere he passed in for ever by the gate of heaven, with the Great Unseen opened to his view pleaded with men to flee from the wrath to come. And then that calm, quiet, reticent man, became the impassioned pleader with many tears and ungovernable emotion, beseeching men as if his heart were breaking with sorrow for them.
Mr. Gray was an invaluable pastor. A shrewd man wise in counsel, of ready sympathy, with a lively interest in all that concerned his flock, few ministers have been so much consulted by their people as he. He was a man of resolute will, of fearless integrity, of admirable tact, and exceedingly tender of heart. No man like him for the sick-room, with his gentle ways kindly affections, and deep spiritual experience. No man like him for private friendship. For though his large sympathy made him often a sorrowful man, yet was he nowise morose; on the contrary he was notably a genial man, with quite a child-like enjoyment of innocent mirth. He was a pure-minded man, turning hastily away from anything that approaches irreverence or evil speaking. He was a heavenly-minded—a very holy man. His presence in a house seemed always to make it brighter, purer, happier.
Mr. Gray’s ministry lasted for four-and-twenty years. Beginning with a handful of people, he has left behind him a large and prospering congregation. His illness was long and agonizing. But He who had been so much in his heart and in his thoughts before, was evidently near him then. Not all his intense suffering could repress his joy as he felt himself drawing near that better country, the thoughts of which had for so many years been his happiest thoughts. And as his end was at hand and his heart rejoicing—”Oh I am at the gate!” he said, “and I’ll go in—or if He wishes, I’ll come back and work for Him.” His confessions of unworthiness, his tenderness to others, his joyous anticipations of the future will be long remembered by those who were with him in his last days. We cannot write them here. Through great suffering he went to his rest refusing to say good-bye— “I will have no good-byes—it is to the land of the living we are going.” He has left his deep impress on the sphere of his own labours. And those that knew him feel that one has gone from them whose place in their heart they can hardly expect any other man ever to fill.
REV. WILLIAM ALEXANDER GRAY, ELGIN
(Died February 24, 1900)
Author: Rev. W. M. Falconer, M.A,, St. Paul’s, Edinburgh
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June, 1900, Obituary, p.140
By the death of the Rev. W. A. Gray the church has lost one of its most cultured and popular ministers. A man of strongly-marked individuality, refined in nature, well-versed in literature, a cultured enthusiast in music, possessing a rare felicity in literary style, and with a genius for preaching—a preacher with a wide outlook, but loyal to the core to the gospel of Christ—Mr. Gray filled a niche in the ministry peculiarly his own.
If “the child is father of the man,” some of the most attractive features in Mr. Gray’s character may be traced to the gracious influences amid which his childhood was passed in his father’s manse at Inverurie. To these influences he often referred.
From the northern district of Aberdeenshire there went up to the university about the same time a company of sons of the manse, all looking forward to the ministry, and all destined to make a name for themselves in their respective lines—all, too, intimate friends. There were, besides Mr. Gray, William Robertson Smith, son of the minister at Keig and Tough; William Robertson Nicol, son of the minister at Auchindoir; William Gray Elmslie, son of the minister at Insch; and Alexander Mackay, the martyr of Uganda, son of the minister at Rhynie.
At the New College Mr. Gray attracted a circle of warmly-attached friends. The charm of his unaffected geniality, his love of fellowship, his keen interest in literature, his quick eye for the beautiful in art, his refined musical taste, combined to make him not only popular, but the object of an admiring friendship. Before he had completed his divinity course he gave unmistakable evidence of the power that was in him as a preacher. His fellow-students followed him when it was announced that Gray was to preach. Some of them still remember the impression produced by a sermon on Ps. 23, and by another on Hosea 14, both of them rich in the fertility of imagination and beauty of diction which lent so great a charm to his preaching in maturer years.
Immediately on leaving the Hall, Mr. Gray served for a short time as assistant to Dr. Candlish, in St. George’s, Edinburgh, and then to Dr. Beith, Stirling. In 1869 he was ordained at Logiealmond. Succeeding Dr. James Candlish, and preceding Dr. John Watson, in that charge, Mr. Gray worthily filled his place in a succession of eminent ministers. “Ian Maclaren” has given this quiet Perthshire village a world-wide fame by his fascinating word-pictures of Drumtochty and its people; but at an earlier date it supplied the staging of a story which won some popular favour, The Children of Abbotsmuir Manse, by a sister of Mr. Gray’s.
From Logiealmond Mr. Gray was translated, in November 1874, to the Free South Church, Elgin. Both at Logiealmond and at Elgin his ministry received the stimulus of the great revival which accompanied the first visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey to Scotland. With that movement Mr. Gray was in fullest sympathy, and during the earlier years of his Elgin ministry had frequent special evangelistic efforts, in which he was assisted by such men as Mr. Bell, now of Manchester; Mr. Kennedy of Perth; Dr. Robertson Nicol, then of Dufftown; and the late Professor Henry Drummond. To the end of his ministry the congregational mission had his constant and watchful care.
The aesthetic in worship had a large place in his sympathies. It was not long before he provided the congregational mission with an elegant hall, and secured the tasteful renovation of his church; and the influence of his musical enthusiasm became apparent in the refined quality of the service of praise in his congregation. The organ in the Elgin South was the second erected in the Free Church. In the presbytery Mr. Gray promoted a union of church choirs within the bounds, through which, by local practices conducted by a specially-appointed teacher, and by an annual recital of sacred music rendered by the combined choirs, much was effected for the improvement of psalmody throughout the presbytery. As a member of the Assembly’s Praise Committee, and of the Association for the Improvement of Public Worship, Mr. Gray had an opportunity of impressing more widely on the church his ideas as to the reverence and beauty that befit the worship of God. Few ministers, probably, have bestowed so large an amount of care on the preparation of mind and heart for the worthy expression of a congregation’s feelings and desires in prayer. Volumes of manuscript, in which he compiled liturgical material and wrote out original prayers, for the culture of his own heart, bear witness to the patient industry with which he laboured to equip himself for this important, and often, in our Presbyterian service, too little premeditated, part of public worship.
But above all things Mr. Gray was a preacher. Into the preparation of his sermons he threw his whole strength. To the hearers they often appeared faultless in their beauty of form, their richness in apt illustration, and their fullness of well-balanced truth. But to the preacher they were generally disappointing, for his ideal kept ever far ahead. Those friends who were privileged to spend a day or two in his manse before a communion Sabbath, when the “action” sermon was in process of formation, realize how much hard thinking and exhausting labour were put into these sermons, which, when finished, generally had an easy grace which concealed the effort. Mr. Gray’s preaching was broad, in the sense that it touched life at many points; but his thinking was pivoted in the Cross, and no subject failed to open a way, always naturally, to the presentation of some of the great cardinal gospel truths. Two volumes of sermons—The Shadow of the Hand, published in 1885; and Laws and Landmarks of the Spiritual life, published later, by request, through the Wesleyan Book-Room—have made Mr. Gray’s quality as a preacher known to a wide circle of readers.
Among his people he was beloved. Delicate health interfered, to some extent, with the assiduous pastoral visitation which contributes so largely to ministerial usefulness; but his unfailing sympathy in times of trouble, and his reliableness as a friend and helper to all who sought his aid, together with the knowledge that he used up his strength unsparingly in the interests of the congregation, secured for him the warm devotion of his people.
His holidays were generally spent abroad. Switzerland had a charm for him; but latterly the summer recess was generally spent in Norway, to which he returned year after year, penetrating into unfrequented regions, and finding inexhaustible resources of interest in the scenery of the country, in the study of its language, its folklore and national music, and in the ways and manners of its people. He made many friends, some of them amongst the notables of the country, and became widely known in Norway. In Norwegian matters Mr. Gray became a recognized authority. At home he delighted audiences by lectures on Norway, and especially its music, illustrated by lime-light views, and by selections from the works of its musicians.
Mr. Gray married a daughter of the late Benjamin Bell, the eminent Edinburgh surgeon, and her watchful care of her husband, and tactful assistance in his work, deserve to be noted in any estimate of his ministry. He leaves a widow, and two sons and two daughters.
Latterly his ministry was interrupted by recurring attacks of nervous debility. During the winter of 1893 he supplied the station at Biarritz, whence he returned with hope of a renewal of work at home. It was evident, however, his strength had not been sufficiently restored. Arrangements for the appointment of a colleague and successor were in progress when, by an attack of influenza, the slender thread of life was cut, and the labourer entered on his rest. He died on the twenty-fourth of February last, at the comparatively early age of fifty-three. Mr. Gray leaves behind him the memory of a faithful pastor, an eminent preacher, a loving and loyal-hearted friend, one of whom his comrades say as they meet, “We shall not soon see his like again.”
REV. ALEXANDER GREGORY, M.A., ANSTRUTHER
(Died July 17, 1888)
Author: Rev. Neil Macleod, M.A., Newport, Fife
Source: The Free Church Monthly, November, 1888, Obituary, p.341
The unpretentious Edinburgh building known in the old days as Roxburgh Church is associated in the minds of multitudes with two circumstances. It was here that Dr. James Hamilton discharged a brief ministry before he went to Regent Square, London, about the beginning of 1812; and it was here, in the November of 1842, that the famous convocation of ministers from all parts of Scotland met, where, after anxious days of deliberation, the resolutions were adopted, the practical outcome of which was the formation of the Free Church six months afterwards.
In the summer of that 1812 there was ordained, as successor to Hamilton in Roxburgh Church, a youthful preacher of high promise.
Alexander Gregory was born at Lossiemouth in 1817. He was educated at Elgin Academy and King’s College, Aberdeen. He was a distinguished student, winning the highest bursary in his college. Having dedicated himself to the ministry, he went through the usual theological course, and in his last session (1840-41) had Chalmers as his teacher. In 1841 he was licensed; and when he was called to Roxburgh Church, he was introduced by Dr. R. S. Candlish, who, on different occasions, publicly showed the warm appreciation he had of him.
It was in troublous days that Mr. Gregory began his work. He had no hesitation as to what side he was to take in the conflict then being waged. Although one of the youngest of the outgoing ministers, no one had a more intelligent grasp of the principles involved in the controversy of the time; and the tract which he published on the matter in debate, entitled “Six Good Reasons,” not only showed his deep interest in the struggle, but was acknowledged to be a valuable contribution to the literature of the question, and it received a good measure of attention.
Mr. Gregory remained minister of Free Roxburgh Church for eight years, during which time a church and schools were built, the membership was doubled, and the congregation prospered.
In 1851 Mr. Gregory was induced to accept a call from Anstruther Free Church, and for the next thirty-two years he was sole pastor of the congregation there. At the outset, he had to undergo over again the weary task of seeing to the erection of suitable ecclesiastical buildings—church, and manse, and schools— the toil connected with which only those know who have had a similar experience. But he had more pleasant work than attending to the mere “outward things of the house of the Lord.” During the wave of revival that passed over the country in 1860, in few places of Scotland were there more marked manifestations of a genuine, wide-spread work of God than at Cellardyke, a village of 1,600 inhabitants, which formed part of the Anstruther charge. The survivors of those who were privileged to be associated with Mr. Gregory in his manifold labours during that period can testify to the ardent enthusiasm with which he threw his whole soul into the work; and can tell how, night after night, he presided wisely and lovingly over the inquirers’ meetings; and how, day after day, he went from house to house preaching the word of the kingdom, with solemn and affectionate earnestness. A generation has passed away since that remarkable era, but fruits and results remain to this hour, to the praise and glory of God.
Mr. Gregory was no stranger to severe affliction. He early lost his excellent wife, a daughter of the late William Stothert of Cargen; and his own health began to break down about the middle of his Anstruther ministry. He, however, bravely laboured on till 1883, when, compelled by physical infirmity, he retired from the field, generously leaving the whole emoluments of the charge for the junior colleague. During the past five years he resided at Corstorphine, preaching occasionally as strength permitted him.
On Sabbath 15th July Mr. Gregory preached at Kilmalcolm in the church of his son, Rev. Thomas Gregory, and baptized his own grandchild, who is named after him. It was the last public act of his life. He had preached with the old vigour; but that evening, feeling fatigued, he went early to his room, and while on his knees in prayer, was seized with apoplexy. He called for his son, spoke a moment or two, pressed his son’s hand in token of recognition, and then fell into unconsciousness from which he never recovered here. He expired on the Tuesday following.
Mr. Gregory was emphatically an able minister of the New Testament. He was a man of scholarly attainments and of literary ability, as is shown by his published writings but his great aim was to commend the gospel of the grace of God by unfolding in their fulness and variety the rich treasures of the divine Word. He was an earnest, painstaking student of that Word, and his fresh and powerful expositions of it never degenerated into commonplace. There were a remarkable appropriateness, directness, and fervour about his prayers in the sanctuary and the family which all who knew him must have observed. His whole manner of life gave weight to his public teaching. The people were highly favoured who had such a ministry as his. Strangers might think him somewhat reserved, but those who knew him knew how large-hearted and kindly he was. His loss will be deeply felt by all his brethren in the Free Presbytery of St. Andrews. Of keen and quick perception, of accurate and extensive information, and of cool, calm judgment he was a wise guide and counsellor. He has left a fragrant memory behind him, and a goodly example.
REV. BENJAMIN F. GREIG, KINFAUNS
(Died January 30, 1887)
Author: Robert Craigie Bell, W.S.
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May, 1887, Biographical Notice, p.145
Mr. Greig was a native of Larbert, having been born there on May 9, 1819. As his father was in humble circumstances, he had a hard struggle, first to attend the literary classes in the University of Edinburgh, and thereafter to prepare himself for the service of the Church of Christ.
As a youth, an old and dear friend of his writes me, he was singularly ”free from the blemishes and scrapes into which the young are apt to fall; an impure or untruthful word was never known to escape from his lips.”
When a student, metaphysics had the strongest attractions for him; but when he gave himself to the ministry, he did so with a devoted singleness of purpose—his one ambition being to be a devout and accomplished student of God’s Word and a successful minister of the gospel. To be all this, he felt much prayer was needed: of this he was not neglectful himself, and to this he sought to stir up others. During the short holidays he had at home he used, with two or three other students, to repair to the ruined halls of Torwood Castle, where, in the great solitude and silence of nature, earnest prayer was sent up to God. By his life, even as a youth, and without a word of argument, he so impressed his father as to constrain him to renounce an infidelity in which he had lived for years, and to become, as he truly was, a genuine Christian man.
Almost immediately after his student days were done, Mr. Greig was, by the unanimous and cordial voice of the Free Church congregation at Kinfauns, in the Carse of Gowrie, called to succeed the revered and beloved Dr. James Maclagan, afterwards Professor of Divinity in Aberdeen, who had been minister of Kinfauns for a quarter of a century, and whose memory, after the lapse of more than forty years, is still fragrant in the minds of the older people. Dr. Maclagan’s predecessor at Kinfauns was the saintly and cultured Dr. Robert Gordon, afterwards of the High Church, Edinburgh, who had shown very much kindness to Mr. Greig when a student in Edinburgh—his son, the Rev. Robert Gordon of Buccleuch Free Church, having formed a close friendship with Mr. Greig, which continued loving and steadfast to the last.
Mr. Greig was ordained at Kinfauns on 24th September 1846; and shortly thereafter he was united in marriage to the younger daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Glen, for many years missionary at Astrakhan, Russia, and translator of the Old Testament Scriptures into Persian. For the long period of nearly forty years he ministered to his beloved and loving people at Kinfauns—the only break being a visit he paid to Montreal in 1859, whither he had been sent for the benefit of his health by the Colonial Committee of our Church. He was there for four months, and his letters at the time gave abundant proof that he was far from considering that he was away for a holiday, throwing himself as he did with characteristic energy into the work—preaching on the Sabbath, holding prayer-meetings and classes for young people, and visiting as a pastor, in the most systematic way, the large congregation he had been sent to oversee.
A very close and intimate friendship and affection had subsisted for many years between the family of my grandfather, the late Mr. Laurence Craigie of Glendoick, and Dr. Maclagan and his family, and that friendship and affection were continued between them and Mr. Greig; and the memory of many happy days and many quiet Sundays in the Free Church at Kinfauns can never be forgotten by any of us.
As a preacher, Mr. Greig was clear, cultured, and pointed; and although perhaps sometimes not very attractive in his delivery, he never failed to command the attention of all who heard him, by the perspicacity of his arguments and by a certain sort of antique dignity of expression. At communion seasons especially he seemed to be lifted up, as it were, into a higher sphere, and many of his hearers have often spoken of the rich intellectual and spiritual feast which they had enjoyed as they listened to his glowing words regarding Him whose death they had met to commemorate.
Mr. Greig’s theology and preaching were of the good old type. He never sought, as some do, to tickle the ears and imaginations of those who heard him, but stood up as a messenger for his Heavenly Father, bound to deliver the whole gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He shunned not to warn the sinner of the evil of his ways, while in the most loving and tender manner beseeching him to come to the Saviour; forgetting not at the same time to strengthen and build up his Christian hearers in their most holy faith. The Day alone can declare the results of such a long and faithful ministry.
It was, however, as a loving pastor of his people that, in my opinion, Mr. Greig shone most pre-eminently. In his daily visits among them, and his Sabbath evening and Wednesday evening district services, he was most constant; and in the time of sorrow and trouble nothing could exceed the tenderness and loving-kindness of his whole tone and manner when he poured out his soul to God at the bedside of the dying, or in the presence of the bereaved and desolate mourners.
As an ecclesiastic, Mr. Greig was a true Conservative; and although, perhaps, in tbe opinion of some of us younger people, too much opposed to everything that was new, still no one could for a moment help being thoroughly convinced of the entire consistency of his whole thoughts and actings in such matters. As to these, and, indeed, as to all matters, he both thought and spoke strongly, but there was never the shadow of bitterness in his mind.
As clerk of the Presbytery of Perth, and of the Synod of Perth and Stirling, he was simply invaluable, from his excellent business habits, and from his long experience of the procedure of church courts.
The chief features of his character always appeared to me to be solidity, uprightness, and godly sincerity; and all his friends knew well that under a somewhat stern appearance there beat a very warm and tender heart. This was shown in no better way than in his great kindness to children, who, in return, were all much attached to him.
After a long and honoured ministry he has gone to his rest. He died in the sixty-eighth year of his age and forty-first of his ministry, leaving a widow and five children to mourn his loss. His eldest and only surviving son is the Rev. Charles E. Greig of the McAll Mission in Paris.
REV. CHRISTOPHER GREIG, ST NINIANS
The Free Church Magazine, May, 1844, p.142
Mr Greig was born in the parish of Leslie, in Fife. Its minister, in Mr Greig’s younger days, was a true specimen of the old Moderate race—a man of talent, information, and humour—beneath whom dwindled into empty form, and who drove off to some other communion all to whom vital godliness was really precious. Trained up in such a school, and brought much into contact with such a man, first, as schoolmate of his sons, and then as a student, it can hardly be supposed that Mr Greig’s early views of religion were very deep or very suitable. Often in after life, did he lament the encouragement in folly and in every thing but real piety, which he had got at the hand of this professed servant of Christ, and over the unhappy influence which it had upon him even after his own spirit was changed. But God, “who separated him from his mother’s womb, called him by his grace.” When passing through the Divinity Hall, solemn thought about his own spiritual state was awakened by deliberate consideration of the work for which he was training. The question, “For what is this training and intended?” led him to those solemn views about himself, which, under the Spirit’s teaching, issued in his “giving himself first to the Lord,” and then to the ministry of the word. This change, foundation of all that was really worthy in his after life, produced, as its immediate result, the utter abandonment of Moderatism, and his open avowal in a day when they found comparatively little favour, of those evangelical principles which he maintained and published, as God’s “glad tidings of good,” to the very last. Having thus received the unction from above which the schools of man cannot give and for the want of which all that they communicate cannot makeup, he entered, after a course at college not undistinguished, on the work of the ministry. From the first he was, as a preacher, admired and sought after: and he retained deservedly his popularity to the close of his forty-four years’ ministry. Three months after receiving license he was elected minister of the Chapel of Ease at Dunfermline, and was settled there in 1800. The writer of this notice has met many persons, residing twenty miles from Dunfermline who retain a savour of discourses which they heard from him on communion occasions forty years before. From Dunfermline he was removed to the second charge of Dysart. While there, there subsisted between him and his colleague, the venerable Dr Muirhead of Cramond, most thorough and unbroken cordiality. In circumstances in which agreement is rare and cordiality hardly known, they lived like brethren. One practice they followed, admirably calculated to keep down all rivalry and jealousy, and to produce mutual confidence and benefit – they met on Saturday night, to talk over their discourses for the Sabbath, and to pray for a blessing on the next day’s service. From Dysart, Mr Greig was moved to his native parish, Leslie; and from it brought, in 1824, to St Ninians, by the election of the people. Both at Dysart and Leslie, though not so elected, he was heartily welcomed, and his departure deeply regretted; so that in all his appointments, the principle was most certainly secured, that there should be a willing people as well as a willing pastor.
The characteristics of his pulpit appearances, which were so long and justly popular, were different from those which in many have produced pulpit eminence. It was not splendour of imagination, casting its glowing colours over the whole sermon, and captivating the ear if not sanctifying the heart; it was not eloquence and point or even elegance of statement and language, leading along the hearers in willing admiration; it was not depth of discussion, profound disquisition, or elaborateness of view, such as have often made the preacher courted and admired, though little profit might follow his ministrations;—but just as little was it the mere flash of a showy and superficial oratory. Mr Grieg was too well equipt in theologv, his intellect was of too vigorous a cast, to allow him to rest contented with mere superficialities. But,—
1. His discourses were of a peculiarly practical nature. His mind seemed to have little relish for anything but what could be made directly useful. At all events, in his dealings with man from the pulpit, his mind almost instinctively shrunk from everything that bore expressly on the condition and conduct of those whom he addressed. Not that he avoided any part of God’s truth; not that he neglected any doctrine, as if it were unprofitable, or unfit to be discussed; but that no part of God’s truth was regarded by him as speculative merely but all as truth operative and influential—truth to tell on the thoughts, purposes, and lives of men. So thoroughly interwoven was this with the whole cast of his thinking, that the application of the truth he handled ran like a thread of gold through the whole of his discourse; and the lessons at the close, to which many confine all their practical matter, were commonly both few and brief.
2. They were characterised by a marvellous knowledge of human nature. The most casual hearer could not fail to be struck with this. Mr Greig’s discourses overflowed with exhibitions of the working of men’s minds and principles, and of the fruits of these in their lives. His illustrations were but seldom draw from fancy’s flowery fields, or from the analogies and resemblances to be found in the appearances, changes or productions of the earth, or from the walks of science, or from the reminiscences of poetry or classic lore. It was man—living, sentient man, with his ten thousand susceptibilities and emotions—man in his multiplied relations and many-formed life—that furnished to him illustrations for every theme whatsoever, whether of doctrine or duty, —illustrations which he cast forth with a prodigality that bespoke the overflowing riches of the store whence they were derived. Most persons, who were in his company, have felt surprise at the most extensive knowledge of incidents in the personal history of thousands which he displayed; and the observer of but an hour might have set it down as frivolous and worthless; but most erroneous would such a conclusion have been. If the materials were base in themselves, yet, put into the crucible of Mr Greig’s mind, they came forth gold. What with others might have been mere gossip, with him, resolved into its elements and recompouuded, helped to furnish the truthful, fresh, and telling illustrations in which his preaching so greatly abounded.
This, which was perhaps the most distinguishing peculiarity of Mr Greig’s preaching, made it extremely interesting. It set the truth in the strongest light;—it made it often be felt to be, not an abstraction of mind, but a thing almost visible and tangible, clothed not with the pencillings of fancy, but with a living form; — at times, it invested it with a picturesqueness, which was likely to impress it permanently on the memory. This characteristic made his preaching also very instructive. It exhibited, at a glance, the practical bearing of the truth; it carried an appeal to the understanding and heart, which every man could feel and appreciate; and it oft winged the shaft of conviction or reproof, and sent it home with resistless power to the conscience. Men found the mirror held up in which they saw their own image. They felt the hand of a master searching them, yet searching them so as not to attract their wonder to himself, but to send their scrutinizing thoughts in upon themselves.
3. Mr Greig’s preaching was very particularly directed to showing what he believed to be the mind of God’s Spirit in the passages he handled. Many preachers hunt for meanings which their texts do not contain, and bring out of them doctrines which, though perhaps true, are not taught there. This way of accommodating Scripture found no favour with him. To him it seemed a plain rule, that whatever part of God’s message his messenger took up, his duty was to interpret and declare what God really means in it; and such was his habitual practice. This was sitting at Christ’s feet to be instructed himself, in order to convey his Lord’s instructions to others. It needs no remark to show, that such ministrations are much more likely to be owned and blessed than ministrations of a different sort, Mr Greig was thus most thoroughly a textual preacher, following generally the clauses of his text, and bringing out, in taking Scripture’s own natural method, a beauty, orderliness, and harmony in its statements, which to almost all hearers opened deeper views than they had previously taken, yet views which, in his hands, seemed simplicity itself.
4. His preaching was richly scriptural. This was, to a great extent, insured by the last-mentioned characteristic. The man who would know the mind of the Spirit, has no way so sure as that of comparing the utterances of the Spirit together, and bringing the light of one to shine on another; and the habit of doing so produces that intimate acquaintance with Scripture, which Luther described as forming the good theologian. And since Scripture contains all instructions needed by men in their various conditions, both outward and inward, scriptural preaching like Mr Greig’s must be rich—rich in its display of the workings of the human heart and in all the details of Christian experience—and rich, above all, in that about which a Christian minister should be most concerned, and which lends to preaching its greatest charm and chiefest value—the exhibition, namely, of the grace of God through Jesus Christ,—that grace which gives the sinner his only hope, which guides and cheers the believer through all the scenes of his pilgrimage, and the whole of his spiritual work, the topstone of which shall be brought forth with shoutings of “Grace, grace unto it.”
These were the chief elements which—combined with superior and sanctified talent, and with a mind which, if slower in its perception and conclusions than some, was yet comprehensive in its grasp and lucid in its views—gave to Mr Greig’s preaching the attractiveness which, springing from many varied excellences, continued to the very last.
The same characteristics were conspicuous in his devotional exercises. They did not soar, like those of some men, to the third heavens. They were, so to express it, peculiarly human in their tone—wide in their range of application to the circumstances of man—deep in their devotional spirit, and exhibiting that rare attainment, a thorough knowledge and mastery of the topics of devotion, which a man acquires only by much familiarity with the throne of grace. They spake of a mind which, not in public merely, but in many an hour when no human eye looked on, was busy communing with the Father of spirits. They were distinguished by a peculiarity which sprung from an abiding sense of dependence on Divine aid,—viz., that prayer was addressed with much frequency directly to the Holy Spirit. As a man, Mr Greig was most frank and accessible. There was a cheerful atmosphere about him, into which it was pleasant and healthful to come,—a warmth of heart, which attracted powerfully towards him, and which relieved many a one of all difficulty in telling him their circumstances, and asking his counsel, prayers, or aid. Sent to the school of varied affliction, smitten like his Lord by the tongue of calumny and reproach, not unacquainted with painful disease, and called to attend to the grave the remains of half his family, his trials had in no respect produced moroseness. If they mingled a shade of melancholy with his temperament, they but fitted him the better to enter into the feelings, to know the hearts, of the many sufferers around him,—they but fitted him the more to speak a word in season to him that is weary. As a pastor to watch over the flock, and fulfil many a duty from house to house, Mr Greig was most diligent and faithful. He was ready to answer every call. He grudged no toil or time to carry consolation to the afflicted, or the word of salvation to the sick and dying. His temperament qualified him remarkably for these duties. This specially endeared him to his flock, and made his pastoral visits be as acceptable to those who remained with the Establishment, as to those who quitted it with him. In Church courts, his deficiency in business talents and habits made him shun any prominent place. And in the struggles in which the Church has for many years been involved, his peculiarly practical turn of mind, and his deliberation in forming his conclusions, combined, it might be, with the caution of advancing years, made him less forward, perhaps less assured of his standing, so long as the debate lay in the region of abstract principle; while, on the other so soon as the period for action arrived, he waa ready with the foremost to take the practical step, and to follow out his views to their full practical consequences: and in the day that finally tried the professions of all, he proved his faithfulness by separat ing himself, without hesitation or misgiving, from an enslaved Church, when many of the loud talkers and noisy supporters of principles, which they either neverunderstood or never valued, shrunk back, abandoning principle for pelf. Yet if he made a sacrifice, which, contemplated with seeming steadiness in the distance, proved too severe for the faith or principle of many when it actually came near, seldom has manmore unequivocally experienced that even in this world there is an abundant reward for hearty and unhesitating following of Christ. Not for years had he been so thoroughly happy, as during the last eleven months. He felt that he had left many perplexities and troubles behind; and, like a man delivered from trammels, and rejoicing in the testimony of a good conscience, he went forth to the Lord’s work. Never did he shine more in the pulpit, never did he handle the Word of God with more ease and assurance, and more to the delight and profit of his hearers, and never did he meet with more numerous and gratifying tokens of affection and respect; so that, when he was so suddenly called to hisrest, he occupied a higher and more influential place, he stood higher in even the world’s esteem, than ever he had done before. In the very lowest view, what, did he lose, even of worldly good, by his faithfulness? His Master but proved his willingness to give up all for his sake, who gave up life for him, and then took him home to himself, hardly permitting him to taste ought of the worldly consequences. But, oh! how differently would his friends and people have looked upon the narrow house where his dust is laid, if in the hour of trial he had belied former professions and disappointed the hopes of the people of God. Grief they cannot but feel; but theirs is not the bitterness, the agony of spirit they must have felt over his grave, had it received the remains of a dishonoured traitor to his Lord, and not those of a willing and tried confessor.
As a man of piety, Mr Greig was known from the early period of his conversion, throughout the whole of an active, devoted, and consistent life. His piety was too deep-toned to be obtrusive, but too sincere to be long out of sight. His most casual note had commonly in it something which spoke the man of God, and showed the habitual bent of his spirit more decisively and satisfactorily than more studied compositions. Those who have repeatedly knelt with him at the family altar, know well that there, far more than even in public, his devout frame appeared. When the full tide of warm affection, unchecked by any of the restraints elsewhere laid on it, mingled with the hallowed feelings of a believing mind, he seemed to luxuriate in the exercise and utterance of devotional feeling. It was the confiding language of a child poured forth (to use the name which he specially delighted to apply to God) to his “Holy Father.” It was a foretaste of the joy of his Father’s house, as well as preparation for it.
In the closer circles of friendship and domestic life, Mr Greig was most amiable, and most tenderly and confidingly loved. Nearness did not dissipate the regard which might be felt for him at a distance. It only discovered attractions which were previously unseen. But while they who knew him best will mourn him most, he showed himself to all men full of the milk of human kindness, most anxious not to grieve or offend anyone, most gentle and modest, rather patiently bearing than repelling wrong,—“kind, tender-hearted, forgiving, even as God, for Christ’s sake had forgiven him.”
Mr Grieg had the belief that he should died suddenly, and had repeatedly expressed his wish that he might be spared the suffering and weariness of a sick-bed. God granted his wish. After little more than four hours’ illness, he departed in his seventieth year.
REV. HENRY GREY, D.D., EDINBURGH
The Home and Foreign Record of the Free Church of Scotland, February, 1859, p.168
The death of the Rev. Dr Henry Grey, of Edinburgh, took place at his residence on Thursday, the 13th ult. This venerable and highly-esteemed man was the oldest ordained minister of the Free Church, with the exception of Dr Burns of Kilsyth. His ordination took place in 1801. He was long well known as a most popular and accomplished minister in Edinburgh, and at one time took an active part in public questions. He was appointed Moderator of the Free Church a year after the Disruption. Mrs Grey was suddenly cut down a few weeks ago, and the shock of this event may probably have hastened his own end. His last illness was brief, and his mind was calm and composed. For some years Dr Grey had ceased to take an active part in public business, but he continued to preach to his people at one diet of worship almost to the last. He is, our readers are aware, succeeded by the Rev. Thos. Main, late of Kilmarnock, who has been assistant and successor for the last year.
The Home and Foreign Record of the Free Church of Scotland, March, 1859, p.191
The following just and eloquent tribute to the memory of this revered servant of God, now gone to his rest, by his colleague and successor, the Rev. Thomas Main, of Free St Mary’s, was delivered to the congregation on the Sabbath after Dr Grey’s funeral, when preaching from 2 Timothy 4:6-8. It appears by request.
You can well imagine that I have been led to the selection of this theme by that event that has deprived you of your beloved pastor, me of my venerated colleague, and the Church of Christ of one of its most aged and honoured ministers. I feel myself altogether disqualified from attempting to sketch, his history, delineate his character, or speak his praise; it was not my privilege to know him till he was far down the vale of years, and he was pursuing his career of public usefulness long before I ever saw the light. But it may be permitted me, on such a day as this, to offer the tribute of grateful affection to the memory of one with whom I was associated, for a brief season, in the work of the ministry, and who must ever be embalmed in my most sacred recollections.
Trained under the fostering care of a pious mother—called in early life to the saving knowledge of the truth by the power of the Spirit—Dr Grey devoted himself to the service of God in the gospel of His Son; and were I to single out the special work that was given him to do, I would say it was to raise the standard of evangelical religion, and commend the gospel of the grace of God to men of refined taste and cultivated mind. For this end God endowed him with no ordinary gifts—a clear perception, a fine taste, a delicacy and depth of feeling, a felicity of diction and a classic elegance of style, that were new in the service of the pulpit, and which secured a hearing for the gospel from those who might else have turned utterly away from it.
Planted by Providence in a rural charge (where his memory still lingers after the lapse of nearly half a century), his habits of study were formed, his character was ripened, and his pulpit ability acquired, which fitted him, in no ordinary measure, for the higher sphere of usefulness that lay before him in this city. Of that ministry, which gathered around it some of the choicest spirits, and which proved the means of conversion to not a few—of that ministry I shall say nothing more than this, that whenever the history of the revival of evangelical religion in this city shall come to be written, and record taken of the instrumentality employed in its promotion, the name of Henry Grey shall assuredly be enshrined with honour.
Some men shine in the pulpit but fail in the pastorate, while others permit the duties of the pastorate to invade the ministrations of the pulpit; in him they were happily blended and combined, so that while he walked among his people as the pastor instructing the ignorant, and comforting the afflicted, in which he greatly excelled, he never served God in the sanctuary with what cost him nought, but gave you the results of his accurate scholarship, his extensive reading and prayerful meditation, so that he shone in the pulpit with a peculiar lustre, and pleaded with persuasive power. No marvel that he gathered around him an attached and admiring congregation, who hung delighted on his lips; and it is precious to think that as his spirit passed within the vail, there were many there to greet him, as the seals of his ministry, while not a few survive, who understand what that Scripture meaneth, “Though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers.”
Like other men who are the pioneers in the march, he was in advance of his time, especially in his missionary spirit, which embraced the whole world in his arms, and in his catholicity of feeling, which embraced the whole brotherhood in his heart; and it was to him the source of no ordinary satisfaction to have survived to see these principles so largely recognised.
But to you who knew him so long and who loved him so well, it is superfluous to speak of these things, or to dwell on the unction and fervour that characterised his devotions, or expatiate on the gentleness of his character, which made him one of the most attractive specimens of genuine discipleship, which led one minister to say to me, “that he never knew a man so pervaded with the spirit of the gospel,” and another “that he knew of no one in whom the delineation in the thirteenth chapter of 1st Cor. was so fully realised as in him.”
It was in the day of his old age, when his eye was growing dim, and his natural strength was abated, that I was united with him in the work of the ministry, and I must be permitted to say, that in all his correspondence before, and in all his intercourse since, his whole bearing and spirit were of the most admirable character—nothing could exceed his kindness and consideration; I felt towards him all the veneration that was due to a father, and cherished all the confidence that was due to a friend; and to have lifted the burden from off those shoulders that had borne it so long, and ministered to his consolation in declining life, I feel to have been no ordinary privilege, while I shall ever recall with thankfulness the deep interest he felt in the morning expositions, and the comfort he expressed in leaving his flock in my hands.
Our connexion has been brought to a close at a far earlier period than I had ever imagined. I had indeed become reconciled to the thought that his pulpit ministration was done; but he was still with us—we had the benefit of his kindly counsel, and we were not forgotten in his fervent prayers, and we clung to the hope, that he might be spared to see that edifice reared which his anxiety for the future welfare of his flock led him some years ago to originate, towards which he contributed with such a princely munificence, and on which, even to his dying day, his heart was so largely set.
But there occurred an event that altered the whole aspect of things—”the desire of his eyes was taken away with a stroke ” (followed by the removal of a beloved grandson), and when the partner of his days was laid in the dust, even affection itself could scarcely desire that he should be left to linger long behind; for it seemed but a fitting thing, that those who in life had been so long united should not in death be very far divided, and so it was. After a very few weeks, and a very short illness, his spirit passed away to that better land, where they see eye to eye, and with the voice together they shall sing.
In your name as well as my own, I would express our affectionate sympathy with his bereaved family, to whom God has sent breach upon breach; our prayer is, that their Father’s God may be the God of his seed after him, and that instead of the fathers, he would take the children and make them princes in the earth. And to you who were favoured with such a ministry, what a responsibility is yours! If any one of you has survived unconverted, let this be the day of your espousals, so shall you also give in your account with joy; and let all of us be followers of those who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises.
REV. ALEXANDER GRIERSON, IRONGRAY
(Died May 5, 1880)
Author: Rev. A.D. Campbell, Lockerbie
Source: The Free Church Monthly, October 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.252
Mr. Grierson was born at Bankhead, Glencairn, on the 27th October 1817. His early education was obtained mainly at the Dumfries Academy, where he greatly distinguished himself, and laid the foundations of his future eminence as a classical and mathematical scholar. Proceeding to study at the Edinburgh University, he took a high position in all his classes, especially in his favourite mathematics. In the Theological Hall he enjoyed the prelections of Chalmers and Welsh, while in private he was privileged to enjoy the friendship and advice of the Rev. Dr. Gordon of the High Church. The last mentioned especially exercised a deep and lasting influence on the formation of Mr. Grierson’s mind and opinions. Under Dr. Gordon’s powerful preaching, he drank in the great doctrines and principles of evangelical religion; and when the Disruption occurred in 1843, he had no hesitation in casting in his lot with the Free Church. Licensed by the Presbytery of Penpont in 1844, he was soon afterwards ordained to the pastoral charge of the Free church of Irongray. From that time down to the period of his death Mr. Grierson was a man of mark in the south of Scotland. He was widely known as a ripe scholar, a brilliant conversationalist, a sound and widely read theologian, a ready and powerful debater, and one of the best preachers in the Free Church. His sermons were characterized by careful exegesis, by vigorous grasp of thought, by clear arrangement, by logical argumentation, and by earnest and eloquent appeals to the heart and conscience. He was a thorough Calvinist, and no one knew better than he how to bring out the relations of one doctrine to another, and the bearing of the whole system of divine truth on the hearts and lives of men. A Christian patriot in the highest sense, he took the greatest interest in all public questions, and did much, both by speech and pen, to guide public opinion in a right direction. While catholic in his Christian sympathies, and ready to co-operate with others in every good work, he was unswerving in his attachment to Free Church principles, and, along with the late venerated and beloved Dr. Julius Wood of Dumfries, did much to vindicate and commend these principles to the general community. He looked with the greatest alarm on the rise and progress of the rationalistic school of criticism in Scotland; and one of the last services he rendered to the cause of truth was an admirable letter (written on his death-bed) exposing the groundless speculations of the school. An earnest and devoted Christian, a diligent and faithful pastor, an enlightened educationist and philanthropist, and a bold and uncompromising champion for the truth of God, his death has created a great blank in the Free Church in the south of Scotland, and his presence will be missed and his memory cherished by many for a long time to come. “Help, Lord; for the godly man ceaseth, for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”
REV. JAMES GRIERSON, D.D., ERROL
(Died January 22, 1875)
Author: Rev. A. Moody Stuart, D.D.
The Free Church Monthly, April 1, 1875, p.94
In the death of Dr. Grierson of Errol the Free Church has lost one of its very oldest as well as one of its most esteemed and respected ministers. He was a contemporary and college companion of Edward Irving and Thomas Carlyle. Of both their mental characters, as he knew them in their youth, he spoke with great interest; but he then looked on Irving as decidedly the abler man. To these two youths meeting in his rooms it would be hard to find a stronger contrast than presented itself in their common friend. Instead of the abnormal that was so characteristic of both, his intellect, his taste, his whole man, was sensitively alive in all things, great or little, in the outward and the inward, in things social, moral, intellectual, and spiritual to whatever was fit and orderly, to what was regularly and consistently beautiful. While possessed of superior talents and quick perceptions, and moved by feelings more than commonly keen, there was an elevated evenness through his whole character and walk, through his cheerful temperament, through his lively and sunlit conversation, through his instructive, faithful, devout, and affectionate sermons, through his various published works, through the entire course and tenor of his life.
There were few men in the Church of Scotland for whom the great Disruption in 1843 involved a severer sacrifice. With the much that he forsook, the little that fell to his second lot, and taking everything into the account, we are ready to believe that there might not be even one. The broad and beautiful parish in the Carse of Gowrie, which he so admired, and of which he loved to think himself the laborious pastor; the large and most commanding church, overlooking the whole district, into the building of which he had thrown his utmost energies; the manse where all his children were born, and his fondly cherished garden; the ample parochial stipend; the love and respect from high and low around him, given to his high personal character, yet closely connected in the minds of many with his position as their parish minister; and not least, his own quiet and singularly balanced character, at the furthest distance from the impetuous and overflowing zeal which helped to tide some of his brethren through the dark crisis, — all these elements combining rendered his sacrifice peculiarly severe. Yet none bore it more meekly or more brightly at the time; and afterwards it was most edifying to see, not merely the patience, but the cheerfulness and joy with which, for his great Master’s sake, he endured the suffering to which he was subjected by being reduced with his wife and family to so narrow an income. The Lord gave him his reward. He lived universally esteemed and beloved; and died in the midst of his family, retaining his mental vigour to the last and rejoicing in the Redeemer whom he had trusted, loved and served so long.
The last scene was clothed with the grandeur and the beauty that encompassed the departure of the ancient patriarchs. About twenty-four hours before his death, anticipating that the end would be by suffocation, he shrunk from the coming struggle, and said, “O my dear children, this is a fearful struggle between life and death; but thanks to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is useless to ward off what is manifestly coming.
‘Death, like an armed man, shall rush
The hoary head of age to crush.’
Oh, that it would please the Lord to relieve me from this fearful struggle! but he knows what I need.” But as the end drew nearer, he was enabled to triumph gloriously over every fear, and said, “Death has no power nor fear now for me at all.” He often repeated verses of Scripture, commenting on them briefly. He asked the Fortieth Psalm to be read, and several times repeated the last words: “Make no tarrying, O my God.” He then desired his children, in a singularly composed and orderly manner, to read various psalms and portions of Scripture, which he named in succession; and directed them to conclude by singing the hymn “Safe in the arms of Jesus.” After they had sung it, as they could, he said, “I feel that I am safe there.” When he was told that it was drawing near the morning, he exclaimed, “Oh, let me go, for the day breaketh; I feel Jesus very near — by me. O dear Lord, let me go.” When the morning had begun to break, he said, “Now, dear children withdraw; I wish to be alone with Jesus.” And after a brief interval his soul left its earthen house to mingle with “the spirits of the just made perfect.”
Dr. Grierson was born at Ruthwell, 2nd July 1791; studied at Edinburgh; and was ordained minister of Errol in 1819. He married in 1822 Margaret Moncrieff, daughter of the late Dr. Moncrieff of Perth, who with two sons and three daughters still survives. He was elected Moderator of the Free Church Assembly in 1854; and died on the 22nd of January 1875.
REV. THOMAS GUN, M.A.
(Died March 8, 1886)
Author: Rev. Duncan McLaren, Dunning
Source: The Free Church Monthly, June 1, 1886, Biographical Notices, p.179
Mr. Gun was born (October 11, 1800) in the Manse of Latheron, Caithness-shire, of which parish his father was minister for the long period of forty-four years, having been ordained in the year 1775, and died in the year 1819. He studied at the University of Aberdeen, which he entered at the early age of twelve; and having obtained a bursary open to competition, he completed his curriculum in the Faculty of Arts, and graduated as M.A. with honours. He finished his divinity course at the University of Edinburgh, and was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Caithness on the 9th of July 1827. He was ordained minister of the Government church at Keiss in his native county in September 1829, and remained as minister of that church until the Disruption, when, preferring to adhere to the Church rather than to the State, he formed one in the great procession of ministers and elders, missionaries and preachers, professors and students, that marched from St. Andrew’s Church to Canonmills Hall on the 18th May 1843.
Having terminated his connection with the State Church, he was free to labour in any part of Scotland, and on the 9th of July 1844, he received a harmonious call from the Free Church congregation of Madderty. He was inducted there in the month of August following, and continued to labour amongst his attached people for upwards of thirty years. In consequence of failing health and advancing years, he retired from the active work of the ministry in October 1874, and resigned the charge of the congregation to the Rev. L.C.M. Wedderburn, who was chosen to be his assistant and successor. He removed to Hillhead, Glasgow, and there closed his pilgrimage in sweet and tranquil repose.
Mr. Gun was very careful in his preparations for the pulpit, beginning early in the week to gather materials for the discourses of the following Sabbath; and ordinarily on the morning of the sacred day, not later than seven o’clock, he was in his study, giving himself to prayer both for himself and his flock.
In household visitation he was exact from year to year, and maintained to the end the time honoured practice of family catechising. He instructed the young, also, in the Sabbath school, and derived important assistance from the earnest labours of his pious and devoted wife. In private he was known for the brightness of his manners, lighted up as they were by the twinkle of his eye, the radiant smile of his countenance, and his genuine humour, which not unfrequently broke out into harmless banter or stimulating sarcasm.
He was regular in his attendance on Church courts, and took a fair share of the work transacted in them, whether in the way of shaping overtures for the General Assembly, or of visiting congregations as a deputy to stir them up to a lively and energetic discharge of their duty. He loved the Free Church of Scotland; and believing as he did that she is the true Church of Scotland, and that Scotland’s best interests are bound up with her prosperity, he rejoiced in the signs of her progress, and on his dying bed was often cheered to think that in the clergyman whose ministry he attended in Glasgow (the Rev. Mr. Sloan), and in the clergyman who succeeded him in the country (the Rev. Mr. Wedderburn), were to be found specimens of the men over the length and breadth of the land whom the Lord was raising up to supply the places of the fathers of the Disruption, most of whom have entered the joy of the Lord whom they so lovingly and faithfully served upon earth. Mr. Gun has now, through the infinite mercy of the Father and the adorable merit of the great Redeemer, whose gospel he deemed it a privilege to preach, joined their number; and may we who are left behind be followers of them who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.
REV. ALEXANDER GUNN, CAITHNESS
(Died December 14, 1892)
Author: Rev. J. O. Connell, Thurso
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, March, 1893, Obituary, p.68
“Mr. Gunn of Watten,” for so he was familiarly called, died at the Free manse of Watten on the early morning of the 14th December 1892, after a brief illness.
He was born at the manse of Watten on the 24th May 1809, and was the eldest of a large family. From the beginning of the century his father had been minister of the parish. His father was one of the most evangelical preachers of his day, and during the reign of Moderatism drew to him at Watten the earnest and thoughtful people of the whole county.
Mr. Gunn’s mother was a daughter of the Rev. Mr. Arthur, Resolis, Ross-shire, and his wife was Miss Murdoch of Wick. From his parents he inherited qualities which conspicuously marked his character. Educated at first by tutors, under the supervision of his father, he was sent at a very early age to Edinburgh University. There he specially excelled in classics; and along with a younger brother studied medicine, the knowledge of which served him well in after years in parish work. Like others, he came under the spell of Dr. Chalmers. Never was he more attractive than when recalling his personal experiences of Chalmers.
For a short time Mr. Gunn was engaged as a missionary in Aberdeen, but was soon settled in 1837 as successor to his father at Watten. His brief work at Aberdeen has still human lips to tell of it with fervour and appreciation.
During the crisis which preceded the Disruption, Mr. Gunn stood firmly by the Evangelical party, and in the fulness of time took with him into the Church of Scotland Free almost the whole parish. From the principles of the Disruption he never swerved.
As an ecclesiastic, he was liberal and catholic in his views, while at the same time he showed no sympathy with what is now known as the “higher criticism.” As a preacher, his aptness and freshness of illustration and his force and power of pulpit utterance were marked. He was ”a man mighty in the Scriptures,” and well read in the old Scottish divines.
His aesthetic tastes and powers were varied. Let him but sound the flute or sing, and there was music; let him touch the canvas with brush or pencil, there was art.
Starting with a “fine clearance” by the loch of Watten, he made the Free Church manse and grounds a veritable oasis in the desert—”a garden of the Lord.” No more pleasant spot of its kind exists in Caithness. In wit and humour and sarcasm Mr. Gunn could more than hold his own. As a conversationalist, an antiquary, and deeply versed in folk-lore, he always made his story fresh and full of interest. He made it live again. His interest in the education of the young, his courageous and independent character, his kindliness and hospitality, but, above all, his influence for good amongst the whole people, make his death a loss not easy to repair.
Into his family life we do not enter further than to say, that if he was revered and loved it was there. In later years there was a wonderful mellowing of character. His temper, naturally somewhat hasty and impatient, became more easy and forbearing.
He who went about among the people for five and fifty years and more, with the dignified bearing of a country gentleman, yet beloved by all, closed his last days as he had lived the rest, with the twenty-third psalm upon his lips. On his jubilee, in 1887, the presbytery presented Mr. Gunn with an address, and his congregation gave him a substantial gift in gold.
He was clerk of presbytery for fifteen years from the Disruption. The terseness of his style and the comprehensive brevity of his minutes show a man of no ordinary business capacity and erudition. Now that his work is ended we can say that no one here, for long, has left a more fragrant savour behind for genuine Christian worth and educative influence, and this far beyond the parish of his birth.
Mr. Gunn leaves a family of three sons and four daughters. His wife died five years ago. The sons are merchants in the East. No longer shall visitors from across the seas say, “I must call upon Mr. Gunn of Watten.” He dwelt among his own people. He died on Prince Consort and Princess Alice Day—his name a household word. The Rev. William Guthrie Robertson is his successor.
REV. ROBERT INNES GUNN
(Died September 1879)
Author: Rev. Alexander Auld, Olrig
Source: The Free Church Monthly, March 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.69
The subject of this notice was the son of a respectable farmer in the parish of Latheron, Caithness. After studying at Edinburgh University, he was, about the year 1837, appointed parish teacher of Halkirk, where the excellent Mr. John Munro was then minister. We suppose that that ministry was the means of his being savingly impressed by the truth, and that then he conceived the intention of devoting himself to the work of the ministry. He used to tell of his having asked Mr. Munro’s advice as to this step. Mr. Munro’s answer was characteristic: “Serve the Lord! Surely every one should serve the Lord in every way he can!”
The ten years’ conflict was then raging. Mr. Gunn took the Non-intrusion side; and when the event of the Disruption came he had to pass through the ordeal of being ejected from his situation as parish teacher. Thus set free, he gave himself to preparation for the ministry, and he was licensed in 1847. About this time he passed through severe mental struggles in connection with his spiritual state and the near prospect of preaching to others. But “out of the eater came forth meat;” the tree shaken by the wind takes root the deeper. He then got a persuasion of the divinity of the Scriptures, and an experience of their power, that proved good furniture for the ministry.
After doing probationary work in various places, he came to Keiss in 1852, and continued a preacher there till 1861, when it became a sanctioned charge. Keiss is a village on the east coast of Caithness, with a populous outlying district. How the people there esteemed him was sufficiently shown by their making choice of him, on the first opportunity they had since the Disruption of having settled over them an ordained minister. The fruits of that ministry the great day only will decisively declare; but some characteristics of the man and his method were obvious and unmistakable. He was prayerful, careful in his preparations for the pulpit, and diligent in all the various ways open to a minister to advance the spiritual interests of his people. How much his heart was in seeing a real work of grace among the hearers of the Word was very observable in his conversation with his brethren. One with such purposes, leanings, and endeavours, when also he shed over all a gentle disposition, could not fail to gain a large place in the hearts of his people. That esteem was shared in by his brethren of the Presbytery, one of whom, in making public reference to his removal, said, “To know Robert Gunn was to love him; he was the very picture of Nathanael, a man of guileless disposition, who lived near God. He lived a quiet, laborious life, ever doing good, and preaching to his attached people the gospel which was the life and nourishment of his own soul.”
About the beginning of last year Mr. Gunn was affected with paralysis of a mild form, and he did comparatively little public work; but so strong was his desire to speak to his people that he would often venture to do so. Sentiments would drop from him during the period of his debility that indicated his own spiritual frame. Some of these linger in the memory of those who came in contact with him—”This room has often been to me the very gate of heaven”—” God has dealt so gently with me I can scarcely call this trouble.”
The end came suddenly. His wife, who was a faithful and attached partner, says: “A short time before he died he said to his assistant, ‘Oh, it’s a grand thing to have peace of conscience;'” and to her he said, “I wish I could tell the great enjoyment I have lying here.” She then observed an unusual paleness overspread his face, and while he stretched out his arms and drew her to him she said, “Robert, is God near—your own God?” He replied, “Yes.” She next asked if he would like his assistant to pray. He assented; and after prayer the breathing quietly ceased.
REV. DAVID KELLY GUTHRIE, LIBERTON
(Died September 6, 1896)
Author: Rev. George Dodds, B.D., Liberton
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1897, Obituary, p.20
Mr. Guthrie was a boy of six years when his father left Arbirlot to be inducted as minister of Greyfriars’, Edinburgh, in 1837, and as his home was ever after in the city, or near it, he may be considered an Edinburgh man. He was not old enough at the Disruption to realize the full significance of that movement in connection with which his name has occupied such a distinguished place; but he was old enough to feel and respond to the loyalty with which his family gave up their whole influence to the Free Church, and his interest and pride in the achievements of those days never abated during his whole life.
He had the advantage of the valuable education which was available at that time at the Edinburgh High School and afterwards at the University and New College. Amongst other distinctions of school and college life, that about which there lingers the most enduring value is that for the year 1853-54 his name stands in that list of students on whom has been conferred one of the highest honours the New College has it in its power to bestow—namely, the presidency of its missionary society. This fact speaks volumes for the esteem and regard which marked his relations with men from the very first, as well as for the spirituality that must even then have marked his character. When college days were over, Mr. Guthrie had the offer of several assistantships. Choosing to come into touch with the life of a great English city, he accepted an invitation to assist Mr. Duncan of Newcastle. This engagement proved to be only for a very short time, for on the resignation of Mr. Fairley of Liberton he was called to the pastorate of that congregation in 1856, when he was twenty-five years of age, a position he held for the remaining forty years of his life, thirty-four of which were years of active, devoted, single-eyed service in the cause of Christ. Again and again he might have had a larger sphere of labour, for calls came to him from various places, and his name was also frequently before congregational committees in cases of vacancy; but, for various reasons, he declined all such invitations, partly because he was indispensable to his father in his work, partly because he was being identified ever increasingly with philanthropic and Christian causes in Edinburgh, but most especially because, being a man of strong affections and averse to change, it would not have been easy for him to wrench himself away from a district and a people which he ever loved more and more. It may be mentioned that on the occasion of his refusing a call to Blackheath, London, his congregation presented him with a handsome testimonial and other gifts.
In Liberton parish, where he was indefatigable in labours of all kinds, being one of the earliest promoters of the temperance cause, and being deeply interested in education both before and after the advent of school boards, his name is and will yet be for long a household word. He was the friend of all his people, and in circumstances of sickness and bereavement all classes and denominations felt his ministrations to be peculiarly valuable. In the hour of trial his touch was so tender, his concern for a sufferer so real, that when one thinks of him now it is this side of him above and beyond all his other gifts that rises up in grateful memory. The many tributes of gratitude from those whom he had helped in such circumstances, which have been uttered by men and women both in humble and in high rank in letters of condolence to Mrs. Guthrie, are often singularly beautiful and touching. It will readily be acknowledged that this quality of sympathy pervaded and gave a character to his preaching. Endowed with a fine voice, gifted with a fine presence, possessed of a fine instinct for selecting and clearly stating those points of truth which brought the most vital side of the gospel to bear with greatest effect on the soul, he showed to those who knew both father and son many points of resemblance to that great man. In times of quickening, which by the grace of God visit all congregations under a healthy ministry, when he knew he was addressing the anxious, truth fell from his lips with extraordinary power.
On account of the nearness of Liberton parish to the city, and the combination of advantages of both town and country which it enjoys, it has been found a suitable place for the location of various public institutions, such as the Original Ragged Industrial School for Boys, the Convalescent and Children’s Homes in Gilmerton, and the Industrial Home at Alnwick Hill. Mr. Guthrie was one of the directors of each of these institutions, and gave himself ungrudgingly to maintaining and conducting religious services in each of them, and otherwise assisting those in charge. In the church’s committees he took his share of work, serving on several of them, but especially on the Colonial and Continental. His interest in the latter was fostered by his frequent visits to the churches abroad. It should be mentioned, as in these days the Miners’ Mission is much before the church, that in this Mr. Guthrie took more than ordinary interest, establishing a mission in the largest mining village in his own parish, for which he worked hard in its early days by open-air preaching and otherwise, and to which he contributed liberally to the end of his life. And yet in the midst of a busy life he managed to acquire a large knowledge of antiquities, and became Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and such knowledge of botany as made his companionship in wood or garden truly delightful.
He will be longest remembered as the joint-author of his father’s Memoirs; but next to that his name will be long and familiarly associated with the noble Waldensian community in Italy. While failing health compelled him to drop from his hands one by one the many interests with which he had occupied himself, to the last his enthusiasm on behalf of that church in the “valleys ” was undiminished. For thirteen years he edited its magazine, A Voice from Italy, the last issue of which before his death, had passed through his careful hands. Three times he visited the “valleys” as deputy from the Free Church, first in 1865, in company with his father and others, on the occasion of the entry of the Waldensian Church into its freedom from state control and interference, and lastly in 1889, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the “Glorieuse Rentrée.” In 1866 he accompanied the Waldensian deputy on a tour through some of the principal towns in Britain, addressing meetings for the purpose of raising money to aid this small and poor Presbyterian Church in its worthy and daring attempt to evangelize Italy. The issue of this was the founding of the Waldensian Missions Aid Society in London and Edinburgh, with various auxiliaries elsewhere. Before this he had written a series of articles in The Sunday Magazine to spread more widely a knowledge of the Waldensian Church which were considered so valuable that they were reissued in abridged form in 1877, when a ladies committee was added to the society. His last, and perhaps his greatest, effort on behalf of this church was the share he took, from 1877 to 1880, at the request of Dr. Blaikie, and along with him and Dr. Robertson of New Greyfriars’, in raising a fund which amounted to £13,000—a memorial of the first Pan-Presbyterian Council—to augment the stipend of twenty-two Waldensian pastors. No wonder that the Waldensian Synod, along with all friends of Italian evangelization, mourn his loss now as that of a true friend and generous coadjutor.
God gives to His church some men whose nature it is to feel the claims of causes which are obscure and apt to be overlooked. Irish missions, Italian evangelization, the spiritual needs of a Scotch colony in France—for whom he provided the salary of a pastor for some years—these are not the great spheres of Christian activity where the worker is in the eye of the world. But into such things Mr Guthrie flung the energies of his life, working with all humility and zeal where there could not be much acknowledgment, and where the left hand cannot know what the right hand does.
It ought to be put on record, if only as an illustration of his humility, that he was the best of colleagues. It is a perpetual memory to the present writer how generously he acted on all occasions in that relationship, how he suppressed himself and made way for his junior colleague assuming that place in the congregation which he had occupied so long, and also how in all conceivable ways he sought to strengthen the bond between the new pastor and the people. One feels that any ministry in his old congregation which was not carried on in the spirit of his would put the emphasis in the wrong place. Truly such a man, “being dead, yet speaketh,” for no shadow rests upon his memory, and his removal from those who knew him is a loss they will no easily forget.
For almost eleven years he was the victim of a malady of the nervous system which slowly undermined his strength, but he was spared to his family until the first Sabbath of September, when he passed away peacefully and almost painlessly to his rest.
Mr. Guthrie married in 1862 a daughter of the late Mr. William Kirk of Keady, M.P. for Newry, who proved herself an admirable helpmeet in the warm interest she took in the congregation and district, and a most devoted and loving wife, cheering and sustaining her husband through the later trying years of his life. Their family consists of two daughters and four sons, the eldest of whom is a doctor in Tunbridge Wells, and the second preached his first sermon as pastor of Red Bluff Presbyterian Church, California, on the very Sabbath on which his father was called away to “the general assembly and church of the firstborn which are written in heaven.”
DR. THOMAS GUTHRIE, EDINBURGH
(Died February 25,1873)
Author: Rev. R.S. Candlish, D.D., Edinburgh
The Free Church Monthly Record, April 1, 1873, p.81
(Addressed to Dr. Guthrie’s late Congregation)
I ask you, beloved brethren, to listen to these sentences which I am about to read, and which are not mine but another’s:—”Thank God, my tongue has been unloosed!” “All reserve is gone—I can speak out now.” “Oh, most Mighty and most Merciful, pity me, once a great sinner, and now a great sufferer.” ” Blessed Jesus, what would I now do but for thee!” “I am a father, and I know what a father’s heart is. My love to my children is no more to God’s infinite love as a Father than one drop of water to that boundless ocean out there.” “Death is mining away here, slowly but surely, in the dark.” ” I often thought, and even hoped, in past years, that God would have granted me a translation like Chalmers or Andrew Thomson. But it would appear now this is not to be the way of it.” “Oh, the power yet in that arm”—the right arm stretched out with force while in bed—”I doubt it presents the prospect of a long fight. And if so, Lord help me to turn my flying hours to better purpose than ever my preaching ones have been.” “The days have come in which I have no pleasure in them.” “Vanitas vanitatum! I would at this moment gladly give all my money and all my fame for that poor body’s”—(a smiling country-woman tripping by)—”vigour and cheerfulness.” “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” “I have often seen death-beds. I have often described them; but I had no conception till now of what hard work dying really is!” “Had I known this years ago, as I know it now, I would have felt far more for others in similar circumstances than I ever did.” “Ah! my dear children, you see I am now just as helpless in your arms as you ever were in mine.” Of telegraphic messages about him, he said,— “I bless God for the telegraph; because these will serve as calls to God’s people to mind me in their prayers.” Of the Queen’s inquiry—”It is very kind.” Of a young attendant —”Affection is very sweet; and it is all one from whatever quarter it comes—whether from this Highland lassie or from a peeress—just as to a thirsty man cold water is equally grateful from a spring on the hill-side as from a richly ornamented fountain.” Parting with a humble servant—”God bless you, my friend.” ” I would be most willing that any man who ever wrote or spoke against me should come in at that door, and I would shake hands with him.”
These are fresh and racy death-bed utterances; true to the nature of the man who, to the last, retained his genial originality; the man who, with genuine courtesy and his wonted humour, apologized for the trouble he was giving, referring to Charles the Second’s begging his courtiers to excuse him for being such an unconscionable time in dying; the man who, child-like as he always was, chose “bairns’ hymns,” as he called them, for his solace in his weakness—”Oh, that will be joyful! ” “There is a happy land”—relishing them as he relished that one of Cowper’s, “There is a fountain filled with blood;” and preferring them to all other uninspired songs of praise. Here I would fain stop, and leave the last words of a singularly true and gifted man to tell with their own proper weight, free from the intrusion of more commonplace remarks. I cannot, in fact, in the view of such an affecting chamber of sickness, find it in my heart to deal in the ordinary topics of consolation and edification for which death furnishes occasion. I am in no mood for moralizing or sermonizing over my beloved brother’s grave. Nor can I attempt to compose a funeral oration or éloge upon the life and character, the rare endowments and accomplishments, the manifold good works and services, of him who is gone. This is not the place, this is not the time for eulogy. I am not the man competent to such a theme. His praise is in all the Churches, and through all society in many lands. I am here simply to express my own feelings and yours under the pressure of a heavy grief. How I admired and loved Thomas Guthrie, and how he reciprocated my affection during all the years, some five-and-thirty, of our close familiarity and most intimate and cordial friendship; how genuine and trustworthy a friend I ever found him; what experience I have often had of his noble generosity; how very pleasant he has been to me, I dare not trust myself to say. Friend and brother, comrade in the fight, companion in tribulation, farewell! But not for ever. May my soul, when my hour comes, be with thine!
A great man truly in Israel has fallen. Men of talents, men of abilities, men of learning, are not uncommon. Men powerful in thought and speech are often raised up. But genius, real poetic genius like Guthrie’s, comes but once in many generations. We shall not look upon his like soon, if ever. Nor was it genius alone that distinguished him. The warm heart was his and the ready hand; the heart to feel, the hand to work. No sentimental dreamer or mooning idealist was he. His pity was ever active. Tears he had, but also far more than tears, for all who needed sympathy and help. His graphic pictures of the scenes of misery he witnessed were inspired by no idle dreamy philanthropy after the fashion of Sterne or Rousseau, but by a human love for all human beings intensely real and vigorously energetic. His self-denying labours among the families of the Cowgate, where he shrunk from no drudgery for himself, and shunned no contact with poverty and vice in others; his noble zeal in every good and holy cause; his rising, almost alone at first, to the full height of one of his best enterprises—the rescuing of children from sin and sorrow, from ignorance and crime; —these, and many other like memorials of his wide, comprehensive, practical benevolence, will not soon pass from the grateful memories of his countrymen. The fruits of his evangelical ministrations and that powerful preaching of the Word which captivated so many thousand ears and hearts, the Day will declare. The blank which his removal makes in our own Church, the Church of our fathers, the Free Church of Scotland, is one that can scarcely soon, if ever, be supplied. It will be felt for years to come. In fact, the Church does not seem to me what it was, now that Guthrie is away. He was a power, unique in himself, and rising in his uniqueness above other powers. He did not indeed venture much on the uncongenial domain, to him, of ecclesiastical polemics, or the wear and tear of ordinary Church administration; leaving that to others whose superiority in their department he was always the first to acknowledge. But in his own sphere, and in his own way, he was to us, and to the principles on which we acted, a tower of strength. His eloquence alone—so expressive of himself—so thoroughly inspired by his personal idiosyncrasy—so full always of genial humour—so apt to flash into darts of wit—and yet withal so profoundly emotional and ready for passionate or affectionate appeals; that gift or endowment alone made Guthrie an invaluable boon to our Church in the times of her Ten Years’ Conflict, and afterwards. But the Guthrie monument, so far as our Free Church is concerned, is in our thousand manses, a monument which he himself reared, and in the rearing of which he may be truly said to have sacrificed his health and strength. But endangered health and diminished strength did not quench the ardour of his burning soul. Laid aside from enforced professional labour, in pulpit or in parish, Guthrie was still the man for men, holding himself always open to all calls and appeals in the line of Christian and catholic benevolence. To our own Church he was to the last loyal and loving. No one more so. But he grew, as I would desire to grow, more and more from year to year in sympathy with all who love Jesus and hold the truth as it is in him. May the Lord, in his own good time, answer his many prayers for the repairing of all breaches in Zion and send to the divided and distracted Christian family all over the world that peace and living unity on which his large heart was set.
I cannot close this brief and sadly defective tribute to the memory of the first of preachers in our day without an appeal to the congregation with which Dr. Guthrie’s name will be always associated. Your best monument to him, your best testimony of your love to him, is your continuing to be a strong and united flock under the pastor whom you, greatly to Dr. Guthrie’s satisfaction, called, and who is labouring among you so faithfully and assiduously. I can imagine scarcely any sadder slur on Dr. Guthrie’s reputation, any slight, shall I say, that he would himself have felt more deeply, than the risk of this church and congregation suffering serious damage from his removal. He would fain have had the Lord’s dealings with him made an occasion of revival among his flock. Why should not his death be made an occasion of revival now? Why should not this Sabbath’s valedictory services in honour of a servant of the Lord taken from us be the means of awakening a new and fresh interest in the field which he loved to cultivate, and in the ministry of a successor fully bent, with what help he can command, on carrying out the work to the uttermost? This house filled, I say, not as Dr. Guthrie filled it, but as he would fain have had it filled, not with the great and gay, but with the humble and homely dwellers in the neighbourhood, would be, as I take it, the best possible tribute, on your part, to the name of him who used to preach here. With this closing thought, which I take the liberty of urging upon you, I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified; beseeching you and all to consider, not Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas—not pastors, preachers, ministers—not us, O friends, who pass away, but Him who is the end of our conversation, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.