LAIRD, ALEXANDER OSWALD
LAWSON, ROBERT W.
REV. DR. BENJAMIN LAING, COLMONELL
The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, December 1, 1862
Dr. Laing was born at Dunse in July 1793. His father was the Rev. Robert Laing, a minister at Dunse, of the General Associate or Anti-Burgher Synod, and was held in high esteem by the leading men of the Secession at that time.
The son early devoted himself to the ministry, pursuing his theological studies under Professor Bruce of Whitburn. He was a proficient in the study of the original languages of the Scriptures, and thus was competent in after times to teach others. In the year 1821, he was ordained minister of the Original Secession Congregation at Arbroath. In 1830 he was translated to Colmonell. When the Union took place between the majority of the Original Secession Synod and the Free Church in 1852, he was fully prepared to accompany his brethren; and in January 1853, he was inducted minister of the Free Church, Colmonell, by the Presbytery of Ayr.
As a friend, Dr. Laing was genial and accessible, had a fund of anecdote, and was full of information. He had a clear discernment of the truth as it is in Jesus, and was trained to value highly the theology of the reformers. He was marked not only by a keen intellect, but also by quick and tender feeling. His preaching was distinguished by sound and comprehensive views of divine truth. He was an edifying preacher, and at times gave expression to his thoughts with peculiar pathos and tenderness. He had much of public spirit, and his lectures and addresses were highly appreciated in the district around. He had decided literary tastes, and published several small volumes on subjects which were congenial to him. He had a marked liking for historical research, and was well acquainted with the grounds of the ecclesiastical divisions in Scotland.
Dr. Laing was greatly interested in the Ten Years’ Conflict which preceded the Disruption. He threw his whole soul into it, and did not hesitate to declare his convictions. In his advanced years, he modified and changed some of his opinions; and specially, those peculiar views regarding terms of communion and covenant obligation in which he had been taught. He saw and bewailed the divisions of Zion. He clearly perceived that to give undue prominence to those lesser points in which Presbyterians differ, tends to narrow the mind; makes even Christian men look on each other with suspicion and doubt, and leads to the violation of the law of love. He had noble aspirations and ardent longings after a greater manifestation of the spirit of Christ, and a wider communion of saints, though, perhaps, he exposed with too much keenness the weak points of those with whom he differed.
It is now more than a year since he felt indisposed, and began to break down. On the first Sabbath of February this year, he preached from the text, “We all do fade as a leaf.” He spoke with peculiar impressiveness. The text was premonitory of his own hastening decay, as he then preached for the last time. He was confined to the house only for a few days, and was enabled at the last to declare plainly the ground of his hope and the blessedness of his peace.
REV. JAMES LAING, M.A., STONEHOUSE
(Died July 7, 1893)
Author: Rev. George Wallace, D.D., Hamilton
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, October, 1893, Obituary, p.237
The Rev. James Laing, M.A., was educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he took a highly-distinguished place among his fellow-students. After completing his theological course at the Aberdeen Hall, he was settled in Lesmahagow in the year 1856. His ministry of fifteen years there was very successful. He entered on his work with the enthusiasm of one who felt that he had a divine call to “preach the Word,” and to be instant “in season and out of season.” He was a very popular preacher, and his popularity brought heavy demands upon him from the surrounding district, with which he strove to comply up to and even beyond his strength. He threw himself heartily into evangelistic work, holding district meetings throughout the wide parish, and often preaching in the open air. He was indefatigable in pastoral visitation, sparing himself no labour, riding or walking long distances in all weathers. He took a special interest in the youthful portion of his flock, and his efforts for their good were much blessed and highly appreciated. There are not a few, who have continued till now walking in the way of life, to whom he was the “Evangelist” guiding them to the wicket-gate. A call having come from the West Church, Glasgow, he was induced to leave the people by whom he was greatly beloved. As the event proved, the step was a mistake, for he never rooted in Glasgow. His next removal was to a district of London, where difficulties unforeseen and almost insuperable presented themselves. For five years he struggled on, hoping that these might pass away. But as there seemed no prospect of relief, he closed with a call from Stonehouse in 1878. There he spent the remainder of his days in earnest, persevering labour for Christ. Latterly his trials were many and severe. He had to endure a great fight of afflictions —in his own repeated illnesses, in the long illness and early death of a son, a youth of bright promise, cut off on the threshold of the work of the ministry, and in the illness and death of his wife. As these strokes fell upon him, all who knew him felt deeply for him, and admired the patience and courage with which he bore them. His cheerful, sunny disposition was wonderful in the circumstances. The gentle playfulness and kindly humour characteristic of the man never left him; and although, as one who had learned in the hard school of affliction, he became more grave, yet to the end he retained the heart of the child along with the sanctified wisdom of the grown man. Most men similarly placed would have sought relief by getting either an assistant or a colleague, but he struggled on, as if determined to die in harness. Had he been a little more indulgent to himself his life might have been lengthened. But preaching was his ruling passion, and he would have said, “Unless I am permitted to preach, life is not worth living;” so he bravely struggled till the end came. And as a suitable close to a ministry whose chief theme had been “Christ crucified,” his last sermon was the “action sermon” leading up to the Lord’s Supper, in which believers “show the Lord’s death until he come.”
He was a workman well equipped for his work, who by reading and study kept himself abreast of the age. He belonged to a class of ministers to whom the Church owes much; who are content to do their own work in their own quiet corner, diligently cultivating the garden that God has assigned to them. He wrought “ever in the great Taskmaster’s eye”—rather let it be said, ever under the loving Redeemer’s eye. He watched for souls, and he was, especially in the first half of his ministerial life, a successful soul-winner. Now “he rests from his labours, and his works do follow him.”
REV. JOHN LAING
FORMERLY OF LIVINGSTONE, LATTERLY LIBRARIAN IN NEW COLLEGE
(Died April 3, 1880)
Author: Rev. Patrick Muirhead, Kippen
Source: The Free Church Monthly, February 1, 1881, Biographical Notices, p.43
Mr. Laing was born in 1809. He spent his boyhood at Leuchold, a singularly picturesque spot within the grounds of Dalmeny Park, then occupied by his father, who for many years was factor to the late Earl of Rosebery. In early life he met with an accident involving the loss, after a painful operation, of one of his eyes. In this, as in many other cases, the Lord made what in itself seemed only evil to be in the issue productive of the greatest good. There is every reason to believe that, during that period of much suffering and protracted confinement, he was first led to serious thought about the salvation of his soul, and that, brought to the cross, he was then led to give his heart to Christ; and from that time he began to feel the inward call to devote himself to the work of the ministry.
Mr. Laing was ordained by the Presbytery of Linlithgow as assistant and successor to the minister of Livingstone. The position was a very desirable one,—a parish of moderate dimensions, a kindly people, a pleasant situation within easy reach of Edinburgh; the manse, which, indeed, he never came to occupy, all that could be desired—such a charge, in short, as any one who desired the office of a country minister of the Church of Scotland might have envied. But he had not been long there when the question had to be faced, whether to remain quietly in possession of the benefice, or to cast in his lot with those who were contending for the sole authority of the Lord Jesus Christ as King and Head of the Church, and so to be prepared to give up all present and prospective advantages which he might have hoped to enjoy as a parish minister. Mr. Laing never had any hesitation as to the course he should follow; indeed, it was characteristic of the man that, while very far from being rash in his conclusions, when once it was made dear to him where truth lay, and what was duty, he was immovable as a rock. So when the day came, with all his heart he signed the Deed of Demission, and for some years afterwards he continued to be minister of the Free Church of Livingstone. His health, however, began to fail, and removal to a warmer climate having been thought desirable, he was enabled to do some good service to the Church both at Gibraltar and Malta. He used to look back with much pleasure to his ministry among the military in those stations. Ultimately he came to feel the effort of preaching to be quite beyond his strength, and found it necessary to retire altogether from the active work of the ministry.
Most opportunely another sphere congenial to his tastes, and for which he was singularly fitted, was then opened for him. The office of librarian in the New College being vacant, he was asked to undertake the duty, which he gladly accepted: he continued in charge of the library during the remainder of his life. Very many who are now ministers of the Church will gratefully remember the never-failing kindness and courtesy with which he discharged his duties as librarian, and will bear testimony to the good work he did for the Church in that capacity, how ready he always was to make his vast knowledge of theological books available for their use, and how valuable in many cases was his advice, so pleasantly and cheerfully given. Devoting himself con amore to his work, he became a sort of living storehouse of bibliographical learning, and it is satisfactory to know that the fruits of his study in that department will not be lost. Mr. Laing was also an excellent theologian. Naturally gifted with a logical mind and a large amount of shrewdness and common sense, and having a profound reverence for the Word of God, he was led to form eminently sound and scriptural views of divine truth. In the various controversies which have existed in the Church he felt it to be his duty to endeavour to come to a clear understanding of the matters in dispute; and having once made up his mind, though naturally of a singularly modest, almost timid disposition, he took his ground and stood by it resolutely, as shown by his votes in the General Assembly, in which for a number of years he represented the Presbytery of Skye and Uist.
Mr. Laing was an admirable friend. His conversation, so genial, so full of good sense and practical wisdom, seasoned too, as it often was, by an infusion of quiet, kindly humour, made him to his intimate friends a most delightful companion. The writer of this notice has no more pleasant recollections of early college days than those in connection with evenings spent along with Mr. Laing in company of a much-loved mutual friend, now also gone to his rest, Patrick Macdougall, one of Mr. Laing’s oldest friends.
One so modest and retiring does not willingly speak much of his personal religious experience, but his intimate friends knew well on what foundation his hopes were resting, and the closing scenes of his life were quite in accordance. His family had the unspeakable comfort of seeing him sustained by simple faith in his Redeemer, till calmly and gently he departed on the 3rd of April last. His remains rest in the Grange Cemetery, by the side of those of his beloved wife. He leaves two daughters to mourn his loss.
REV. ALEXANDER OSWALD LAIRD, ST. JOHN’S, DUNDEE
(Died May 20, 1891)
Author: Rev. A. Henderson, D.D., Crieff
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, August, 1891, Obituary, p.246
The death of Mr. Laird reduces the rapidly-diminishing roll of Disruption ministers. He was a son of the manse, being born in 1808; his father having been minister of Portmoak. When twenty-two years of age he was licensed by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, and three years afterwards was ordained at Ardoch, in the Presbytery of Auchterarder, where he laboured till 1839, when he was translated to Abbotshall. These six years he was in the Presbytery of Auchterarder he loyally bore his part in the conflict of which it was the scene, never swerving from his allegiance to the Church’s rightful claim of spiritual independence. In his later years he delighted in recalling the incidents of that eventful period.
All his ministry he was distinguished for his careful preparation and evangelical earnestness in the pulpit. Enthusiastically loyal to the gospel, he so preached it as to make all who heard him see his love for it. His ministrations by the sick-bed and in homes visited by sorrow were ever most acceptable. He was tenderly sympathetic and gentle, and yet always radiant with kindliest and most genial courtesy; full of life and good-humour, and endowed with bright conversational gifts.
Through all his long years and many bereavements and sorrows he carried a cheerful heart and countenance, which made his presence ever welcome. He was the friendliest and most brotherly of ministers.
In 1848 he went from Abbotshall to St. John’s, Dundee, of which he was minister thereafter for the long period of forty-three years, first as sole pastor and then as senior colleague. When he retired, on occasion of his jubilee, in 1883 from Dundee, the brethren of the Presbytery presented him with an address of warmest recognition of what he had been among them, and expressive of their “regret to part with one whose character and actions had done so much to promote good-will and harmony both within and without the Church.”
In his later days, though unable to preach, he was to the very end an intensely eager worshipper. He joyed to go to the house of God. There was no more lively or more interested hearer of the Word. The Wednesday evening preceding his death, he was as was his wont in all weathers, at the weekly prayer meeting, and closed it with a prayer marked by unusual devout and felicitous expression of faith and desire. He has left a pleasant memory of an exceptionally bright and useful life, and a singular testimony to the gladness of one who had suffered the loss of all for Christ’s sake and the gospel’s. After the celebration of his jubilee he retired from the active duties of the ministry in St. John’s, Dundee, and made his home in Crieff, renewing his connection with the neighbourhood of his first ministry. Not only his widow and five daughters and their families, but many others, will long miss his presence and happy companionship, while joining in many thanksgivings that he was so long spared and so largely honoured in the Master’s service.
REV. JOHN LAIRD, D.D., CUPAR, FIFE
(Died April 19, 1896)
Author: Rev. Norman L. Walker, D.D.
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, June, 1896, Obituary, p.146
The last of the pre-Disruption ministers in Fife has now passed away. Dr. Laird, indeed, was not ordained within the bounds of the synod. He was settled first as minister-assistant at Arbroath. From thence he was translated to Inverkeillor, of which parish he was the incumbent when the crisis of 1843 arrived, and afterwards he was called to Montrose, where in Free St. George’s he laboured for six years. But for well-nigh three-and-forty years —from 1853 to 1896—he lived in Cupar, and it is with that town that his name will always be chiefly associated. His predecessor in this last charge was Dr. Cairns, one of the prominent men whom the Free Church was fortunate enough to secure for the Colonies, and whose reputation, before his departure from home, was so high that it is something to say for his successor that he most worthily filled his place.
Dr. Laird belonged to a Levitical family. He was himself a son of the manse, his father—another Dr. Laird—having been minister, first of the Parish of Portmoak, and afterwards of the Free Church established there. Two of his brothers, Mr. A. O. Laird of Dundee and Mr. Henry Laird of Leslie, were among the men who signed the Deed of Demission in 1843. Two of his sisters married ministers, Mr. Spiers of Kinglassie and Mr. Swinton of Portmoak, while he is still represented in the ministry of the Free Church by a son, the Rev. David Laird of Durris.
The career of Dr. Laird has been one on which his friends can look back with peculiar satisfaction. No man ever served his church more loyally, or was enabled to do a greater amount of useful work for her in the various spheres which he was called to fill. His popularity as a preacher was immediate. What tended to that was the strength of his convictions, the elasticity of his spirit, and the brightness of his manners. These qualities he never lost. He was required to pass through trials which would have weighed down most men, and he felt them far more deeply and keenly than those around him realized, but he seemed always cheerful and showed a vitality of mind and body which appeared to promise that he might be spared to welcome in the coming century.
That the evangelical party were in the right during the Ten Years’ Conflict was what Dr. Laird had not the shadow of a doubt about, and when the crisis came, no man left the Establishment under a clearer or more imperative sense of duty, and no minister addressed himself with greater enthusiasm to the building of new walls in place of those which had been broken down. In Inverkeillor, when he “came out,” he had his own difficulties to face. There was no house which he could occupy when he left the manse, so that he had to send his family away while he himself lived in lodgings, and the prospects of securing sites for new buildings were not bright. But he had laboured too faithfully among the people not to meet such rewards as they had to give. A very large proportion of them left the Establishment along with him, and these supported him heartily. One example of their devotion he was often in the habit of mentioning with pride. To provide some shelter for the congregation it was necessary to have an erection of some sort, and a joiner undertook to meet the want. Beginning on Monday morning, he had a wooden church capable of seating 500 ready for service on the succeeding Sabbath!
In Montrose the reputation of Dr. Laird as a preacher increased. A very large congregation waited there on his ministry, and he was greatly missed in that town when he accepted the call to Cupar.
What place he came to fill in that new sphere was shown when his funeral day arrived. The whole town was stirred. Into the large Free Church, where the preliminary service was held, a mourning company gathered in the middle of the day which nearly filled the building. At the head of the procession to the grave were the magistrates and town council, and these were followed by a large body of ministers and others, many of whom had come from a distance; while all the way to the churchyard the streets were lined by crowds of onlookers who came to see the last of one who had been the best known and most honoured resident in the district.
It would scarcely be possible to use terms of exaggeration in describing the respect and affection with which Dr. Laird was regarded by his brethren of the presbytery and the synod. Almost to the last he made a point of attending all their meetings, and although for some years he took little active part in the proceedings of the subordinate church courts, he was always ready with his sympathy and counsel. Nor will this be soon forgotten by those who had occasion to consult him—that he was so kindly and unaffected in his intercourse even with the youngest among us. The time came when his position in the church was publicly recognised. In 1889 he was raised to the chair of the General Assembly, and in the same year he had conferred upon him by the University of St. Andrews, the distinction of Doctor of Divinity. But these honours and his long services made no difference in his relations with his brethren. With one and all he continued to meet on a footing of the kindest equality, and the last man ordained in the Presbytery was made as welcome in his study as the oldest of his contemporaries. His youthfulness of feeling, indeed, and his unaffected vivacity were among the most attractive features in his character.
The ordination of Dr. Laird took place in 1835 so that at the time of his death he was in the sixty second year of his ministry. In 1881 the Rev. J.T. Ferguson was associated with him as his colleague and the two worked together as father and son in the gospel. Unfortunately Mr. Ferguson’s health has not of late been perfect, so that a greater burden than usual was laid on the senior minister. But that did not precipitate his death. He was wonderfully strong for his great age (he was born in 1811), and might in ordinary circumstances have lived for years to come, but he was cut off by a complaint for which, it was seen in the end, there could be no cure, and, after a period of suffering, he was taken to his rest.
On the occasion of his jubilee a just summary of his position as a minister was given by Dr Rainy. He was unwavering in his belief at once in the old gospel which he had been preaching for half a century, and in the truth and importance of his principles for which the Church of Scotland had contended before 1843, but he did hold that no light had come to us in any connection since then or that the church should be for ever “anchored over the Disruption.” And his whole attitude accordingly was thus sketched by Dr. Rainy:
“Among his people, in the church at large and in the community, the years of his life had built up for him this good degree, that his heart’s sincerity in the truth he taught and the work he loved was owned by every man. … While he stood fast in the truth, he had evinced an open mind to welcome fresh lessons, and he had shown a generous confidence in the efforts and aspirations of younger men.”
REV. WILLIAM LAUDER, STRACHUR
(Died October 14, 1885)
Author: Rev. D. McNicol, Dunoon
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1885, Biographical Notices, p.370
Mr. Lauder was born at Ballahulish on the 2nd day of March 1807, and was thus in his seventy-ninth year. Early impressed with the reality and importance of divine things, under the influence of the training and example of a godly father, he resolved to devote himself to the ministry of the gospel. He received the elements of a sound education in the Fort William School, and thence passed to the University of Glasgow. He studied theology in Edinburgh under Dr. Chalmers, of whose lectures he often spoke with the highest admiration. His first charge was the mission of Invergary, to which he was inducted in 1840. He joined the Non-intrusion party in the Church, and at the Disruption gave up his connection with the Establishment, although the most tempting offers were made to induce him to remain.
In the beginning of 1844 he received and accepted a call from the Free congregation of Strachur, where he was settled, and laboured for the long period of nearly forty-two years. His associates in the Presbytery of Dunoon and Inveraray when he became a member of it were Dr. McKay, Dunoon, Messrs. P. McBryde and R. Craig of Rothesay, and Mr. A. McBryde of North Bute. Messrs. McKenzie, Lochgilphead, and McKay, Kilmun, also became members of the Presbytery soon after the Disruption. All these have gone before him. His removal leaves to the Synod of Argyle but one solitary member who is a Disruption minister. May he be long spared. His settlement in Strachur was an event of marked significance in the history of the parish, as he was the free choice of the people, and as the preaching of the gospel was rarely heard in it before his time. His ministry was a laborious and successful one. He encountered considerable difficulties and much opposition at its commencement, but lived to see the most formidable pass away. The heritors of the principal estates which formed the parish were at first hostile to the Free Church; but such was the influence of his character that in a few years they came to regard the cause which he represented with favour, and gave a site for manse and church in a most convenient place, although they at first were site refusers. His people all through his ministry revered and loved him; and some who were his hearers in the early years of it, but are now far away from the place of their birth, will learn the tidings of his death with deep sorrow.
His last illness was protracted. In January 1882, after his winter communion, he visited a worthy member of his congregation who had been unable to attend the services, and remarked that he was thirty-eight years in Strachur, and that his last communion season was to him the most precious which he experienced during that long time. He visited and catechised his people that spring as usual, and when this work was over he was suddenly seized with a vomiting of blood one afternoon while sitting in the manse. This greatly weakened him, and he never again regained his former strength. He was able to preach occasionally till the 1st of January this year. From that time he gradually grew weaker till the end came. While his whole life and ministry were marked with a beautiful consistency which had an influence even upon worldly men, the close exhibited very clearly the power of the gospel, and the comfort which it can give in the severest bodily trials. He preached most forcibly and faithfully to all who had the privilege of visiting him from his chamber of sickness. He made no secret of the strong and firm hope he had, for he could not conceal it. “I long to join the redeemed, but I must not be impatient,” was a sentence that often came from his lips.
He was lovely in his life, as his many friends will freely testify; and in his last days this loveliness shone forth with greater clearness even than it did before. He was one of the most unselfish of men. His aim in life was not himself, but the good of others in subordination to the glory of his Lord. He was a faithful, painstaking preacher, a most lucid expounder of Scripture, a wise counsellor, a loving pastor, a true and steadfast friend.
REV. WILLIAM LAUGHTON, D.D., GREENOCK
(Died November 7, 1897)
Author: Rev. Charles Watson, D.D., Largs
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, January, 1898, Obituary, p.18
William Laughton was born in London in 1812. His father, Captain Laughton, who was of an Orkney family, commanded a ship which traded between England and the West Indies, where he died of yellow fever in 1813, a good man and a good sailor, not without adventures in those war times His wife, a woman of singular wisdom and Christian excellence, was the direct descendant of Fife people who had the honour of suffering much as Covenanters. On the death of her husband, Mrs. Laughton returned to Scotland with her two children, William and Jane, who was three years his senior. This brother and his sister, who was a truly admirable person, never parted from each other till she died in 1887, each meanwhile helping the other according to their admirable but very different natures. Mrs. Laughton and her children lived in comfortable circumstances much in Fife, but chiefly in Edinburgh, where William Laughton received his earlier education. It was much to his advantage that for two or three years before he went to college he was boarded with Mr. Jamieson, the Secession minister of East Linton, an able, learned, and judicious man, righteous and solid. He gained no marked distinction either at school or college. But he satisfied his teachers and his own conscience, and thus laid the secure foundation of an accurate scholarship, which enabled him ever afterwards to appreciate for himself the value or worthlessness of much that so many have to take on the credit of the learning of others. Latin, Greek, German, French, and afterwards Hebrew, with a wide range of English literature, were all well known to him; and on many scientific and a great many historical subjects he would impart more accurate information than could have been given him by any except by the great authorities. He was a hard student, but he did not despise the open air. With an intense love of nature, he in these early days, and for many a long year afterwards, spent such time as was given him for rest in exploring and climbing wherever scenery or historical association attracted him. His figure, slight and keen, and in aspect almost ascetic, seemed incapable of fatigue, as younger relatives knew whom he made his companions, exciting their envy by excelling them when they thought to be his equals, catching larger trout, and slinging stones farther into the sea than they could. It is surely not beside the mark to speak of these things, for, though trifling indeed, they help to show what manner of man he was, and to explain the closeness of the affectionate regard which those who knew him best ever felt for him. During his four sessions in the divinity hall of Edinburgh University he enjoyed many advantages. First among these was the wonderfully stimulating influence of Dr. Chalmers’ personality, the enthusiasm for truth of so strong a soul as his carrying with it an incomparable force. Another was William Laughton’s intimate association with such men as McCheyne, the Bonars, Alexander Somerville, Walter Wood, Henry Moncreiff, and others, who with him were members of that exegetical society which met very early every Saturday morning for the loving study of the Bible. Besides, his mother was still with him (she did not die till 1837), the beneficent reign of whose wisdom and force of character extended not only over her children but over all the families connected with her. What the result was on William Laughton of these four years may best be gathered from a letter written by Dr. Chalmers to Dr. Watson of Burntisland, who, being by marriage Mrs. Laughton’s nearest relative, had ever taken a very warm interest in her son’s career:—
“Burntisland, July 12, 1836
“My Dear Sir,—It is seldom that I am called on for an opinion which I can give with as much confidence and satisfaction as I do at present, when assuring you of the high sense I entertain both of the principles and the powers of Mr. William Laughton. He ranked high among my students; and while I believe his views of Christian doctrine to be such that his preaching, in the substance of it, will be most salutary and acceptable to all classes, I at the same time know his taste and literature to be such that I expect his preaching, in the style of it, will be at once intelligible and impressive to the humblest, and attractive to the most cultivated of his hearers. The union of high scholarship with sound orthodoxy is, in my view of it, a very precious combination; and I think that Mr. Laughton has realized it, so as to be at once qualified for recommending evangelical truth to those of superior education, and of dealing out the bread of life to the multitude.
“And it is my hope that, over and above the excellence of his pulpit ministrations, he will study to advance the cause of Christian usefulness by the assiduity of his household ministrations also. His Christian worth will incline him, I trust, to be a daily visitor in the habitations of the common people; whilst his amiable and gentlemanly manners will ensure him a welcome reception in the families of the upper classes.
“In short, there are few of whom I entertain such sanguine expectations of their doing admirably in all the departments of clerical duty, and more especially in the place now vacant, as I think him a person all whose tastes and habitudes are precisely suited to the society of an agricultural parish.—
“Ever believe me, my dear sir, yours most respectfully and cordially, Thomas Chalmers.”
The agricultural parish to which Dr. Chalmers alluded was probably Markinch, whither, in 1837, William Laughton went as assistant to Dr. Seiveright, having, however, before he went there, acted as missionary in the parish of St. Mary’s, Edinburgh, under the Rev. Henry Gray. He always spoke of it as a valuable part of his early training, that he enjoyed for two years constant intercourse with Dr. Seiveright, a scholar, deeply religious, and as a preacher original and impressive, holding a high position among his brethren, who appointed him in 1847 Moderator of the Free Church.
When, in 1837-38, Dr. Chalmers’ church extension efforts in Glasgow were at their height, a similar movement was set on foot in Greenock, the first result of which was that a church was built in the heart of a very densely populated, unhealthy, and degraded district of this town. To it a quoad sacra parish was assigned, and the name of St. Thomas given. This church was opened in 1839 by Professor S. McGill, and the pastoral charge of it offered to James Hamilton, afterwards so well known and beloved as the minister of Regent Square Church in London. When he declined it, William Laughton accepted it, and was ordained as the minister of it in July 1839. The work he then undertook—most genuine mission work — was at first exceedingly hard and trying, especially as it was not till 1842 that he received the help of an ordained eldership. But by degrees a congregation was gathered which, both in numbers and variety of composition, fulfilled the hopes which Dr. Chalmers had expressed. In 1843 the office-bearers, the members, and adherents of it followed their minister in a body into the Free Church, carrying with them their buildings, which were too heavily bonded to be desired as a possession by any save themselves. As years went on, and the district in which the old church stood became greatly changed, the congregation determined to buy and improve a large and handsome building in Blackhall Street, which, having fallen from its position as a chapel of ease, was for sale; and this new St. Thomas’s was opened by Dr. Candlish in 1857. The old district, however, was not deserted. It is in it, though in a new building, called the North Free Church, that the Rev. David Boyd, ordained in 1864, has continued to labour with much successful diligence.
It is quite impossible here adequately to describe the labours Dr. Laughton undertook and carried out during the forty-nine years of his residence in Greenock. With diligent labour he never ceased carefully to prepare fresh and weighty matter for the pulpit and the prayer-meeting, and to visit his people in their health and in their sickness with a sympathetic friendship which gained for him in a remarkable degree their personal affection. But his sphere was far wider than his congregation. He was the servant of the whole community of Greenock, devoting himself especially to the educational interests of the town. He had much to do with the day and Sabbath schools set on foot by his friend Mr. Thomas Fairrie, and with the Trust that good man founded for their support. He was a director of the Greenock Academy, and a member of the first School Board. He had much to do with the establishment of four new Free Church charges in Greenock and its neighbourhood, and in the benevolent societies connected with the town he took a deep interest. His sympathies and ready help were with all good men, and with all of good they tried to do. He attached great importance to the courts of the church, attending with care to the business brought before them, and exerting, by the sweetness of his disposition and his acknowledged wisdom, a happy influence on their debates. It marked the height to which he thus rose in general estimation, that in 1881 he was chosen as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church, and in the same year received the honorary degree of D.D. from the University of Edinburgh. Dr. Laughton was far, indeed, from thinking lightly of these distinctions, but much more did he value the abundant testimonies which convinced him that towards the highest aims of his life he had not laboured in vain, that he had undoubtedly been the means of bringing many into the kingdom of God, and of building them up on their most holy faith, and that he was surrounded with the respect, the gratitude, the affection, not only of his own people, but of very many others who had no church connection with him. The strength of this feeling was abundantly shown by the enthusiasm with which his jubilee was celebrated, and the munificence of the gifts then presented to him.
It would be interesting to notice some of the interludes of Dr. Laughton’s work in Greenock, such as his excursions to the Continent, his residence and church work in Rome for two winters, and his planting there a branch of the Free Church, which now flourishes under the ministry of Dr. Gordon Gray. But this branch also of the activity and usefulness of his life must be left untold, as well as of his pleasant relations with the succession of interesting men, who, as his assistants, helped him during the latter years of his ministry. Nor is there space to speak of his precious books, and what he did with them.
When Dr. Laughton was approaching old age, but before any of the ordinary infirmities of age had in the least disabled him, he and his sister both began to lose their sight through cataract, and before long both of them became almost quite blind—he being at the same time very deaf. These privations were borne by him with a cheerful patience that was most touching; but as they seriously impeded his active work, he thought it right, in 1886, to retire from it, and a colleague was appointed in 1887. That year was the saddest—indeed, it may almost be said to have been the only sad one—of his life. He was blind and deaf. The work in which he delighted was ended, and his sister—the faithful and much-cared-for companion of so many years—died. Difficulties also arose about his colleague and the congregation which disturbed him much. But patience had with him really its perfect work, and in 1888 he was cheered by the ordination of his second colleague, the Rev. W. Lewis Robertson, who ever since was to him as a son with his father, and fully satisfied all his hopes for the good of his beloved people.
Meanwhile he had taken up his abode in Edinburgh, living with friends who truly appreciated him, and were unwearied in their loving care of him. And in 1895 his sight was restored by so skilful an operation that thenceforth he saw even small print with perfect clearness.
All through his life it had been his habit to store his memory with many psalms and hymns and portions of the Bible, so that even when he could not see to read he was able, without any help, to conduct the full services of public worship. In October 1887, when a vacancy was created in St. Thomas’s, he returned to Greenock, and for nine months took full charge of the congregation, preaching once at least every Sabbath, having good reason to believe that the well-being of the congregation would thus be promoted. Even in later years he preached often and in many places.
The closing years of Dr. Laughton’s life were thus singularly peaceful and happy. He seemed almost to renew his youth; his bodily strength was but little abated; his health was good; he had left behind him the terrible headaches which used often to afflict him; his mind was as fresh and clear as it had ever been in his best days; he visited and was visited by many friends; he had read to him, and latterly read himself, the best books that appeared; and though he could seldom hear the words of a preacher, he was able to take part every week in the public worship of God.
The end was quite unexpected. But a more peaceful close to his long life of Christian service could not have been desired by those who loved him. Dr. Laughton had been unwell for a few days in the first week of November, and, carefully attended by Dr. Heron Watson, was considered better on Sunday. About nine o’clock in the evening he listened with his usual bright interest to an account given him by a friend of a service from which she had just returned. She left his room for a few minutes, and on coming back found that he had gently passed away.
In trying to draw the character of Dr. Laughton, it is difficult to avoid the appearance of saying more than is true. We know that in the sight of God there is not a just man upon earth who sinneth not, but the deacons’ court of St. Thomas’s do not hesitate to express the impression made on them by a ministry of more than half a century, when they ask us to mark in their late pastor a perfect man. Many will think this an affectionate exaggeration. May it then be permitted to one whose intimate association with Dr. Laughton extends over a long lifetime to say that he can recall no occasion in which William Laughton said or did a sinful or even a foolish thing. No weaker tribute than this can justly be paid to his memory by those whom he helped towards what of good is in them by the example he gave of lofty aspiration, unvarying and ever consistent. He did not reach those great heights to which when men attain it is customary to call them great. He was wanting in the greatness of creative genius, of poetic inspiration, of fervid eloquence. What brilliancy he had was that of a perfectly transparent crystal, through which anything can be seen as it really is, while itself is scarcely visible. And it was this clearness in his apprehension and transmission of truth which made his ministry so acceptable to all who are impatient of vagueness and indecision, and which doubtless influenced many in the Free Church twice to nominate him to professorships, which were, however, with his full approval, given to others. Yet it is probable that it was in such a sphere that he would have found his highest usefulness. For it belonged to the clear transparency of his mind that it seemed never to be led or misled by passion, nor hindered in its upward tenor by prejudice.
He was cautious, but not timid, and was thus able to meet and examine with calmness any opinion, whatever its first aspect might be. So it was that, though by early education, and probably by nature, he was strongly conservative, he grew by conviction to be in most things a pronounced liberal, rejoicing in every fresh discovery of the impregnable security of all that is really true. Hence the youthful freshness of his mind, which up to the last day of his eighty-five years gave a singular charm to his conversation.
A certain shyness and reserve, a true humility and modesty, forbade him to speak about himself, and, above all, of his spiritual experiences. He was glad to obey the command of his Master, to shut the door of his closet in which he held communion with God. But none who knew him failed to see whence came the influence which purified his life throughout from all bitterness and wrath, and anger and clamour, and evil-speaking, and filled it with thoughtful kindness to all, good or bad, who came within its sphere. He was able to give help to many, for he was not a poor man, and he managed his affairs with discretion; but more valuable than all his purse could do were the consideration, the judgment, the delicacy with which his help was given.
To those who saw Dr. Laughton from a distance he appeared chiefly as a singularly judicious, prudent, and wise man, much valued in the councils of the church. They remember the remarkable dignity and impartiality with which, as Moderator, he presided over the General Assembly, when keen feeling threatened to destroy more than the calmness of debate; and with what tact and judgment he for some years filled the somewhat difficult post of Convener of the College Committee. They saw that in boldness and decision he was never wanting, but that, in his wisdom, he ever added patience, recognizing difficulty and deficiency of evidence, and neither speaking nor acting till he got light, when there was time to wait for it or reason to expect it. But his congregation and those who knew him well were aware that, beside the balanced judgments of his clear intellect, there ruled and reigned an all-powerful enthusiasm, not only for the noble, the generous, and the true, but for the personal living Christ Himself, whom he adored, not only because he saw that in Him were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, but because he knew Him to be his only Saviour and ever-present Friend. He did not speak much about this, for his faith did not expend itself in luxuriant leafage. But how abundant and rich were its fruits—so rich and abundant that men could not but take knowledge of him that the sources of his spiritual life were certainly hid with Christ in God!
REV. ROBERT W. LAWSON, AIRDRIE
(Died March 11, 1895)
Author: Rev. J. Dewar, Motherwell
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, June, 1895, Obituary, p.143
Round the men who took part in the ever-memorable Disruption there falls a peculiar glory, while those who followed them are in danger of being less esteemed. The subject of the present brief sketch missed by a few years the event which made so many men illustrious, and yet he as truly belongs to that same band of heroes as if he had been numbered among them. Born in 1819, and ordained in 1845, he passed through all that troubled time, and, declining to enter the Establishment, he may be said to have made as large a sacrifice as many who came out, for in the absence of her noblest and best ministers there were many worldly inducements for those who were willing to accept her service.
Mr. Lawson was very young when he was called to succeed the Rev. Mr. Stirrat of the Free High Church in Airdrie, and he seems to have gained the affections of his people in a marked degree. There was no false glitter which soon lost its power to please, but faithful devotion to all the duties of the ministry maintained his hold upon his people. From the first, and all through his long-continued ministry, he excelled in the pulpit. He was ever fresh in his selection of topics, and singularly successful and pleasing in his illustration of divine truth. Few are able to adapt the ordinary and simple things of daily life as emblems and illustrations of things divine without seeming to degrade their theme; but Mr. Lawson, while using the homeliest illustrations, contrived to make them worthy of his subject. Perhaps his direct earnestness and his fidelity to the great cause he pled made this possible, for his hearers were always deeply impressed with the thought that the preacher himself was impressed.
At communion times he reached his highest level. The action sermon was always about “the Lord of the hill, and what he had done for poor pilgrims.” It served as a grand preparation for the table; but when seated there, the communion deepened to tenderness. Few of those who were privileged to sit at that hallowed board will forget the sense of the divine presence and the loving insight into holy things.
It was his habit to lecture through one of the books of Scripture, and this he did with rare success. Twenty years after, the memory of the delight which his hearers felt is still fresh, and men thank God for the light which was cast upon the sacred page.
He was ever welcome in other congregations at communion times, and so his influence was widened far beyond the bounds of his own congregation. Indeed those times were often very taxing, because of the many engagements he tried to overtake. Preaching may be said to have been his passion, and he was wont to declare that he never felt happier than when in the pulpit.
He was singularly faithful to his pastoral duties. All classes of his people were regularly visited. With systematic care he went over his congregation, and many were the passing calls he made. All this visiting brought him into close contact with his people, and made him a greater power as he dealt with sorrow and sin in the pulpit. Some men are meddlesome, and their visiting fails to accomplish much good; but he had a marked ability to sympathize with and assist without involving himself too deeply in private affairs. In sick-visiting he was full of tenderness, and many were the friends he made as he linked himself with their seasons of deepest trial.
He was too busy to take any active part in local affairs, but one who maintains the spirituality of his people does much indirectly to influence things outside his own sphere. The young people of his day enjoyed an evangelical ministry, and were carefully trained in the Sabbath school and Bible class; and these have gone forth into the different departments of public duties with a high sense of principle. It is not given to most ministers to influence so many young people as was the lot of Mr. Lawson, and his careful and faithful training are seen and felt by not a few who now occupy places of great influence in affairs both secular and sacred.
Six years ago he was compelled to ask the Assembly for a colleague and successor. His general health was good, but weakness of memory interfered with his usefulness. On several occasions he has occupied the pulpit since; but gradually the mental powers became weaker, and for some time past he was completely laid aside from active work. But it was not until the Friday before his death that grave symptoms presented themselves. He was not long kept in suffering, for on the following Monday, and in presence of all the members of his family, he passed peacefully and without pain to the rest that remaineth. Had he lived till December of this year, he would have reached his jubilee; but much as his many friends would then have wished to do him honour, it has happened to him better, for he has gone to a greater reward, where glorified powers will be fully employed.
Many friends, some from considerable distance, gathered to lay his remains to rest in the beautiful cemetery at Hamilton, the town where his useful life began; and his widow with two sons and two daughters are left to mourn his removal.
REV. ALEX. LEITCH, STIRLING
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, June 1, 1868
Mr. Leitch was born in Glasgow, in February 1803. He entered the university of that city when only ten years old, and, after going through a regular course of study there in classics and philosophy, took the degree of Master of Arts. In 1823 he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Glasgow. After this He taught for some time a school in Broughty Ferry. Having been brought up under the ministry of the Rev. Dr. Muir of St. James’s, Glasgow, he preached his first sermon in that church; and he was afterwards Dr. Muir’s regular Sabbath assistant at one of the half-yearly communions each year, from his ordination till the Disruption.
Mr. Leitch was ordained minister at Gartmore, by the Presbytery of Dunblane, in 1825. In 1832 he was translated to the third charge of Stirling. Such was his popularity as a preacher before that period, that not only was he greatly esteemed at Gartmore, but during a vacancy in the pastorate in the parish of Gargunnock, he was the successor desired by a large number of the parishioners, though the patron gave the appointment to another. As minister of the third charge of Stirling, he preached once each Sabbath in the East and West Churches; but when the North Church was built, in 1842, the two charges were uncollegiated, and Mr. Leitch became minister of the West Church. Leaving this church at the Disruption, he gathered together a congregation which at first met in the Guildhall, and afterwards continued to assemble in the South Church, which had been procured by purchase. This latter building was several times altered in order to make it more suitable for public worship, and the latest improvements had just been completed the week before the last Sabbath on which its pastor officiated in it.
As a minister in Stirling, during the long period of thirty-five years, Mr. Leitch will be affectionately remembered. His ordinary pastoral visitations, and his visits to the bedsides of the. sick and the dying, were assiduous and persevering, and were both tenderly and heartily rendered. He was a faithful and constant pastor and teacher. He desired to be found in the midst of his work when the Master came and called for him. On Thursday evening, 9th April, he addressed a meeting of children belonging to the Ragged School and the Poor-house in the Union Hall. On Friday he was confined to bed with his last illness; and yet on Saturday he rose, against the strong remonstrances of his family, and proceeded to fulfil engagements he had made for that day and the following Sabbath and Monday, at Maryhill and in Glasgow. At the former place, after conducting two table services during the communion there, his illness increased, and unfitted him for preaching in the evening. On Monday he returned to Stirling, to lie down on that bed from which he was to rise no more.
His loss will be greatly felt. His frank and affable manners and genuine kindness of heart, and godly life—attracting towards him a wide esteem and love—endeared him especially to his brethren. But the amiable traits in his character were best seen in the bosom of his own family, which was a home to many. He was a most loving father, and cherished the highest interests of those most nearly related to him in his deepest affections, and regarded his own children as the objects of a daily care and watchfulness, and set an example in this respect which is worthy of all imitation.
REV. ALEXANDER LESLIE, BON-ACCORD, ABERDEEN
(Died May 11, 1878)
Author: Rev. John Laird, Cupar, Fife
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December 2, 1878, Biographical Notice, p.287
Although some months have elapsed since Mr. Leslie’s death, it is most undesirable that such a devoted minister of our Church should be taken away without any notice of him appearing in the Record.
Alexander Leslie was born at Aberdeen on the 10th day of June 1816. He was the third of a large family; to all of whom he proved an affectionate brother, and to some of whom he acted the part of a loving father. He was educated at the grammar-school of his native city; and throughout his course was a distinguished scholar, occupying at the close of his curriculum the honourable position of Dux of the school. In October 1831, at the age of fifteen, he entered Marischal College, and gained a high place in the bursary competition. Throughout the whole course of his studies at the university, he maintained the position he had taken at the grammar-school, and carried off prizes in nearly all his classes.
In the year 1840 Mr. Leslie was licensed by the Presbytery of Aberdeen, and shortly after was appointed lecturer in John Knox’s quoad sacra Church in that city. He continued to discharge the duties of this lectureship with much acceptance till near the end of the year 1842, when he received a unanimous call to be minister of Ladyloan congregation, in the town of Arbroath. Being a member of the Presbytery of Arbroath at that time, and having been on terms of closest intimacy with Mr. Leslie ever since, up to the period of his lamented death, I can bear testimony in the strongest terms as to his ministerial work. He came among us in trying times, and was welcomed by the Evangelical party as a great acquisition to our cause. When he first came under serious impressions we never heard him say; but it was apparent to all that he entered on his ministerial work a young man of deep piety, resolved to spend and be spent in the Master’s service. He did not take any prominent place in Church courts; but he was perfectly decided in his views, and when the crisis came in 1843 he attended the Assembly and signed the Deed of Demission, casting in his lot with the Free Church of Scotland.
For some time after the Disruption he retained the quoad sacra church. As it was erected almost entirely by the subscriptions of persons who had quitted the Establishment, it was considered that the congregation— which, with the exception, I think, of one family, adhered to the Free Church:—had a moral right to the building. After a time, however, they were obliged to surrender it. Neither minister nor people were in any way discouraged, but at once set about erecting a new church larger than the former; and in 1845 they removed into what is now the Ladyloan Free Church — an unbroken congregation, not a hoof, it may be said, being left behind. The congregation continued to increase, till not a sitting could be got in the large church.
Mr. Leslie’s preaching was of a high order. He was most conscientious in his preparation for the pulpit: his sermons were thoroughly evangelical, often eloquent, and always delivered with great warmth and fervour. It may be truly said that he knew nothing among his people but Jesus Christ and him crucified. At first he delivered all his discourses without the use of his manuscript; and although he latterly made free use of it, he still continued the spoken style, and delivered with as much force and fervour as ever, frequently breaking off with very solemn and pointed appeals. His preaching was much relished, not only by his own congregation, but by all the congregations where he was in the habit of assisting at communion seasons.
After a ministry of more than twenty-seven years in Arbroath, Mr. Leslie was translated to Bon-Accord, Aberdeen. The same success attended him as before. The congregation grew rapidly, so that the church had to be enlarged; and to the close every available space was occupied by attentive and deeply impressed hearers.
Having once a year assisted Mr. Leslie, and having had him assisting me, on communion occasions, during the whole of his ministry, both in Arbroath and Aberdeen, I can testify how earnest he was in seeking to win souls to the Saviour. His prayers at family worship on such seasons were very striking. He pleaded for his people with intense earnestness, going over all the different classes most particularly—the elders, deacons, communicants, Sabbath-school teachers, parents, young men and young women, and little children. His prayers were truly wrestlings with the Lord that some souls might be brought to the Saviour by every sermon. His success both in Arbroath and Aberdeen was such as might be expected as the fruit of such faith and prayer. His prayer-meetings from week to week numbered between two and three hundred; and that not for a season only, but year after year all the time of his ministry in Arbroath. His Bible-class, too, on Sabbath evenings was equally successful; and many decided Christians can date their first serious impressions to his earnest pleadings with the young people of his congregation. He has been called home after a highly honoured and successful ministry.
The closing scenes corresponded with his previous life. He dispensed the communion on the 7th of April last, and on the following Sabbath preached from the text, “Our conversation is in heaven.” It proved to be his last sermon. He had been suffering for some time from a spasmodic affection of the heart; and during the course of the week the complaint became seriously aggravated. He was calm and peaceful, and gave expression to his faith and hope in such passages as these: “I know whom I have believed,” &c. ; “Though I walk through the valley,” &c.; “The Lord hath made with me, long ago, an everlasting covenant,” &c. When asked not to speak, “We must speak, or the very stones would cry out.” He requested a last message to be conveyed to both the congregations of which he had been minister, in these terms: “Tell my dear people to receive Christ, and cleave to him. Tell them that the truths I was enabled to preach about the Lord Jesus Christ are my only support; and I would have each and all to welcome Christ as the only and all-sufficient Saviour.” On the 11th of May he fell asleep in Jesus, leaving a memory that will long be fragrant, not only in Aberdeen and Arbroath, but in other portions of the vineyard. In his death many of us have lost a brother beloved, and our Church has lost one of her most devoted and successful ministers.
REV. WILLIAM LESLIE, MACDUFF
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, May 1, 1867, p.114
This much respected minister of our Church died, after a week’s illness, on the 21st March. He was born in the parish of Turriff, Aberdeenshire, in the year 1809— his aged father, who still survives him at Pananich, Ballater, holding at that time a farm in Turriff. He was educated partly in his native parish, and partly at the Grammar School of Banff. At an early age he proceeded to Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he graduated before he was eighteen. After leaving college, he was engaged for some years as teacher of Pirie’s School in Banff. While residing in Banff, under the ministry of the late Rev. Mr. Grant, he thoroughly imbibed evangelical principles, and we believe was the first to conduct a weekly prayer-meeting in that town in connection with the Established Church. From Banff Mr. Leslie was transferred to the charge of the parish school of Longside, where, as opportunity afforded him, he prosecuted his theological studies, repairing in the winter to the Divinity Hall at Aberdeen.
Shortly before the Disruption, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Deer; and having not a moment’s hesitation in attaching himself to the Free Church, he had to sacrifice his earthly all in relinquishing the school at Longside. It was soon seen that Mr. Leslie would prove an able and devoted minister wherever his lot might be cast. His services were accordingly secured by the Presbytery of Turriff, and he began to labour with great zeal and acceptance in Macduff, where he was ordained in September 1843. In the course of a short time after his settlement there, a commodious church was built, a full staff of office-bearers was organized, schools were planted, and all the apparatus of a well-equipped congregation was provided. The congregation from year to year continued to increase, until, some eight years ago, it was found needful to enlarge the church by two or three hundred sittings. At the same time new schools were built of a very superior kind, which have always been in a most flourishing state, and have proved a great blessing to the district.
Mr. Leslie’s labours in his own Presbytery, and in many other parts of the country, were most indefatigable. He threw himself very heartily into the revival work of six or seven years ago, recognising in it generally the answer to his prayers, and, in so far as Macduff was concerned, others seeing it to be the fruit of his faithful ministrations. At sacramental seasons Mr. Leslie’s services were in great request by his brethren. He excelled also in preaching to the young, being often asked to go from home for that purpose. Wherever he went he carried with him a savour of personal godliness, and was much beloved for his kindly and genial disposition in the manses of his brethren. His preaching was characterized by clearness of doctrinal statement, great simplicity of style, fervency of spirit, and that unction which constitutes the chief element in pulpit power. He had many seals of his ministry to which he could point, even here and now; and doubtless he will have many more as the Lord gathers the wheat into the everlasting garner.
Mr. Leslie has been removed from us in the midst of his usefulness, and with no abatement of his untiring energy. Last summer he was engaged in Home Mission work at Oakley, near Dunfermline; and we understand that he had consented to go forth as a deputy this season again. But his work on earth was done. About a week before he died he was seized with inflammation of the lungs, which, acting on a frame never very robust, and not a little depressed by recent exertions of a peculiarly fatiguing kind, proved fatal to him. On his death-bed he showed unmistakably how the faith of Jesus, in its simplicity, can sustain and cheer the spirit. God’s word, with which his mind was richly stored, was his comfort in his affliction; and his last end was emphatically peace.
It was a trying day to his co-presbyters, and many other ministers who were attending his funeral, when, on reaching Macduff, they learned that his widow had also breathed her last that very morning. Mr. Leslie’s remains were consigned to the grave on the Tuesday, and Mrs. Leslie’s on the Saturday of the same week. They have left behind them an affectionate daughter to mourn her great loss, and, we are sure, to share in the sympathies and prayers of those who have known the once happy, but now desolate, manse of Macduff.
REV. GEORGE LEWIS
(Died January 27, 1879)
Author: David Couper, D.D., Burntisland
Source: The Free Church Monthly, May 1, 1879, Biographical Notices, p.120
George Lewis was born at Glasgow in May 1803. In that city he received the earlier part of his education, and for a session or two he attended the university there. But like many more, he was drawn to St. Andrews by the attractive power of Dr. Chalmers, by whom (in 1823) he had been admitted to the communion in St. John’s Church. The truth seems to have early taken hold upon his heart; and it is certain that during his life he owed much to the teaching and the personal influence of his distinguished pastor. He was accompanied to St. Andrews by his brother James, and in no long time “the two Lewis’s,” as they were familiarly called, became noted among the students for their talents, their evangelical principles, and their exemplary conduct. Of the younger brother an obituary notice has already appeared in the Record; and it is the career of George that must now be traced. He, as well as James, followed Dr. Chalmers to Edinburgh, and his divinity course was completed in the metropolitan university. From the teaching and training of the illustrious professor he derived great and lasting benefit; and it may be safely said that he left college better fitted than most young men of his day for a life of Christian usefulness.
In June 1828 he received license from the Presbytery of Glasgow, but some years elapsed ere he entered on the work of the ministry. One cause of the delay demands special notice. In 1830 Mr. Lewis became persuaded that there was much wanted for Scotland a newspaper which should bring Christian principles into the business and politics of the world, diffuse religious intelligence, and give full reports of the proceedings of the more important Church courts, and of the meetings of philanthropic and religious societies. He set to work with characteristic energy, obtained subscriptions to the amount of £1000, and succeeded in starting, under the title of the Scottish Guardian, a newspaper which did excellent service in its day. It commenced on January 17, 1832, under the editorship of Mr. Lewis, a post for which he was well qualified by his fluency in writing, his versatility of gifts, his ardent love of truth, his fearlessness in giving expression to his convictions, and his warm sympathy with whatever seemed fitted to promote religious, moral, and social progress. It was the first Scottish paper that gave full reports of the proceedings of the General Assembly, and other ecclesiastical and religious meetings, and it soon became virtually the organ of the Evangelical party in the Established Church. It was read with great avidity, and highly appreciated by great numbers throughout the country. The writer well remembers how eagerly it was looked for week after week. He has before him letters from Dr. Chalmers and Dr. McCrie expressing high approbation of the manner in which it was conducted. Mr. Lewis’s connection with this paper terminated on September 15, 1835.
In May 1836 he was transferred to another and still more appropriate sphere, having been appointed assistant to Dr. William Thomson of the Middle Church, Perth. On February 27 he became colleague to Dr. Thomson, the Rev. Andrew Gray officiating at his ordination. He was now in the very prime of life, and into the work of the ministry he threw all his energy and enthusiasm. In Perth his influence was great, especially among the young. His classes were remarkable for the numbers that attended them, and for the earnest, skilful, and attractive manner in which they were conducted. A large number owed to him, under God, their first serious impressions, and it is believed that at this day not a few in Perth and elsewhere cherish his memory with lively gratitude on account of the benefit which they derived from his classes as well as from his preaching.
In June 1839 he was translated to St. David’s Church, Dundee, where his energies and varied gifts found a still wider field than in his previous charge. Here his ardour and activity were as conspicuous as before, and his labours among the young were not less diligently prosecuted. He succeeded in getting an admirable school erected in his own parish, and persuaded several of his brethren to do the same in theirs. He also gave proof of his zeal for the welfare of the community, and of his ability for grappling with economical and social problems, by the publication of a series of tracts entitled, “The Tavern Bill of Dundee,” “The Fever Bill of Dundee,” “The School and Church Bill of Dundee,” “The Pauper Bill of Dundee.”
But the Ten Years’ Conflict was now approaching its issue, and it was not for a man like Mr. Lewis to stand aloof from it: no one ever thought of him as a trimmer or a turn-coat. Besides taking his part manfully in the Church courts and in public meetings, he did excellent service by addressing to his people, through the press, a series of tracts on the Church question, in which lucid statement, a firm staple of argument, and graphic illustration were happily combined. When the day of trial came he shook off without hesitation the shackles of State control, and devoted himself to the service of his Master in connection with the Free Church, into which he was followed by a goodly congregation, for whom accommodation was found in an old mill in Tay Street.
Not long after the Disruption he was deputed to visit the United States and Canada, in order to diffuse information on the principles and position of the Free Church, and to stimulate the liberality of American Christians on behalf of her building fund. Of his extensive tour through those regions he published (in 1845) a copious and most readable account, entitled, “Impressions of America.” On his return, he found his congregation much better accommodated than when he left them, the Free Church of St. David’s having been erected and opened in his absence.
His connection with Dundee was much shorter than his friends expected or desired. In the course of a few years after his return from America he began to feel that it would be expedient for him to be translated to a smaller charge. There was no failure of health or of mental vigour, and he had continued to labour with the same acceptance as before; but he became impressed with the conviction that he had done his best in the midst of a large and busy population, and he despaired of making any further progress in such a sphere. It was also his desire to be more useful than hitherto in the field of authorship, and for this end he sought the comparative leisure of a small country charge. This he found at Ormiston, in the Presbytery of Dalkeith, to which he was translated in October 1849. The step thus taken was regarded by many as an error of judgment, but none who knew Mr. Lewis could dream of ascribing it to indolence or selfishness.
The life of Mr. Lewis at Ormiston was more secluded than it had previously been, but it was not idly spent. In the discharge of his pulpit and pastoral duties, he laboured to bring divine truth to bear not only on the hearts and consciences, but on the personal habits and manners of his people. Besides attending to the education of his family, he wrote and published several important works. “The Bible, the Missal, and the Breviary,” in two volumes, appeared in 1853. This work was followed by another in 1854, “The Doctrines of the Bible in the Facts of the Bible.” Another, entitled “The Silence of Scripture,” which had partly appeared before in the North British Review, was published in 1860. It may be convenient to say here that Mr. Lewis at different times sent forth tracts on a variety of subjects, and that he was the author of an article in the North British Review on the state of Scottish towns, and of another in the same Review, bearing the title of “Romanism and Civilization.” Altogether, his authorship was multifarious and extensive. Its prominent aim was usefulness. It is characterized generally by a lucid and nervous style, by fresh, independent, and often original thinking; by fertility and vividness of illustration; by a healthy infusion of evangelical principles; and by the earnestness of a mind that had the highest ends in view.
Mr. Lewis left Ormiston in September 1865; and from that date his services were given most willingly wherever he resided with his family. In the autumn of 1874, after a residence of some years in Stirling, he settled in Edinburgh.
“During the following winter”—I quote from the account of a near relative—”he had a very dangerous illness, from which his recovery was unexpected and indeed surprising. To himself it was a great trial, as he believed himself to be dying, and rejoiced in the prospect of going to his Saviour. For two or three years he rallied considerably, but his memory was greatly impaired, and there were many indications that the former illness had left his constitution so enfeebled that it must ere long give way. Mental exertion became more and more an effort, but he was always delighted to be read to; and the progress of Christian missions in all lands, and the union of Churches in promoting them, never failed to interest him. His love of the simple reading of the Scriptures, especially of the Psalms and the Gospel of John, increased as his mind became less interested in the events passing around him. Latterly he longed to be released from his frail body, but it was always qualified with, ‘If it be the Lord’s will.’ After a severe illness of about a month, which ended in a day and night of total unconsciousness, he so gently fell asleep in Jesus that those who watched beside him could hardly tell when the ransomed spirit returned to God who gave it.” The day of his death was the 27th January; and on the 31st he was interred in the Grange Cemetery.
Mr. Lewis married Miss Mary Ann E. Miller, who survives him, along with four daughters, two of whom are married. In his domestic relations he was singularly happy.
The foregoing notice, imperfect as it is, affords evidence of the sincerity and depth of Mr. Lewis’s personal religion. He loved his Saviour, and was zealous for the promotion of his kingdom. He loved his Bible, studied it with great care, and laboured to illustrate and enforce its truths not only in the pulpit but through the press. In the common intercourse of life he was noted for his kindliness, his generosity, his readiness to forgive and forget injuries, and his transparent honesty. Flattery was abhorrent to his nature—he could not stoop either to give or to receive it. He had special dislike to taking up an evil report, and his frequent admonition to his children was, “If you hear evil of any one, never repeat it; if you hear good, be sure and tell it.”
As a preacher, Mr. Lewis did not always do justice to his great powers. In his happier moods he was singularly interesting and effective both as to matter and delivery; but occasionally he gave rather free scope to his faculty of extemporizing. At one period his favourite author in divinity was John Bunyan. Prior to the Disruption he sometimes modelled his sermons on those of Bunyan. This was owing to his profound sense of the value and effectiveness of the parabolic style in preaching.
Mr. Lewis was gifted with a mind of great activity and great perspicacity, keenly alive to the relations of truth and to the analogies subsisting between God’s word and works, but not invariably proof against a crotchet. Taken all in all, he was no ordinary man. As a preacher and pastor, a wise and devoted friend of the young, a public writer, a philanthropist, a diligent worker in many a field of Christian usefulness, and a loving servant of the Master on whom all his confidence was fixed, he deserves to be held in loving remembrance by the Church, and by the many who profited by his self-denying labours.
REV. WALTER R. LITTLE, LETHENDY
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, December 1, 1864, p.690
Walter Little, as he was fondly and familiarly called by his friends, has been for nearly five months in his grave, and yet no notice of him has appeared in these pages. We hasten now to repair the omission which arose from no want of respect, but from a circumstance to which we need not further refer. Mr. Little was born at Brawn Muir near Ecclefechen, Dumfries-shire, but was for the most part brought up and educated at Clarencefield in the same county. He entered the University of Edinburgh in November 1845, and the Divinity Hall of the New College in November 1849. If he did not take a prominent position, it was from no want of natural ability, diligence, or solid acquirements as a student, but from a certain diffidence and shrinking modesty that kept him back from an arena where he was well fitted to shine. His more intimate friends entertained the opinion confirmed by his after ministrations, that he was one of the best students of his years.
Licensed by the Free Presbytery of Lockerby in July 1853, he immediately began the work of preaching— labouring successively at Kirkmichael, and at Whamphray in the same presbytery, and at Newabbey in the neighbouring Presbytery of Dumfries. In each of these spheres—especially at Newabbey—he proved himself an able and popular preacher, and won the esteem and affection of the people. In August 1857 he was ordained as minister of Lethendy, in the Presbytery of Dunkeld, a sphere that was very much to his taste. The next year (1858), while engaged in evangelistic labour in the town of Forfar, visiting assiduously and preaching with great energy and unction, he overworked himself and brought on a copious expectoration of blood. Although it was then believed that there was nothing radically wrong, he never attained his former vigour, and his labours were ever after more or less broken in upon. Two years ago he with his wife and children repaired to the south of France, and took up his residence chiefly in the town of Pau. The change was of no permanent advantage, and ten days after reaching Glenarch House, Dalkeith, the residence of his brother-in-law, he was suddenly seized with an expectoration of blood, and died 22nd June 1864. Committing his wife and children (to whom he was deeply attached,) to the widow’s husband and the orphan’s father, he finished his course with joy.
His friend and class-fellow, Mr. Goldie of Tullibody, was called to preach his funeral sermon. The tears and sobs of the people on that day showed how deeply they felt their loss. The sermon preached from 1 Samuel 25:1, has been published by request, under the title, “Death of the Good;” and we make the following brief extracts from it as to the character of the deceased :—
“Our departed friend—yours and mine—was emphatically a man of a kindly nature. No one introduced to him for the first time, and especially no old friend meeting him after a period of separation, could fail to be struck with the kindly gleam of his eye, the tenderness of his voice, and the cordial grasp of his hand. Some men lose upon acquaintance, he always gained. The nearer you got to him the more did the true heartiness of his character come out. You were always sure of him. He had none of the little tricks and policies of civility that lead to painful suspicions of the persons who practise them. He was transparently sincere. I remember well (after he became a preacher) how the warmth of his heart showed itself by strong attachment to the people among whom he was labouring. This was specially the case in regard to this congregation. I can never forget the full-heartedness and the kindling eye with which he spoke of the people of Lethendy. He was yours, and you were his. You were, after his settlement here, the great theme of his quiet, confiding conversation; and I felt that, if no minister had such a congregation, no congregation had a more loving and devoted minister. …
“His kindliness never degenerated into effeminacy. Some natures are strong but harsh, his was strong and gentle. He stood like a rock where principle was involved. Intellectually vigorous, he took a firm but kindly grasp of every subject with which he dealt. There was a certain sincere and stately, but withal, practical march about his mind. Had he lived—I am only stating the opinion of those who knew him best— his talents would have secured him a more prominent and influential place in the Church. You all had better opportunities for forming a judgment of his powers as a preacher than I possibly could have. You can all testify to the ability and impressiveness of his pulpit services. It was preaching quite above the average of what is usually heard in country pulpits. Many of you, I doubt not, will have cause to bless God through all eternity that ever you heard his earnest voice.
“His excellent qualities, his superior abilities, were all sanctified. He was truly a man of God. I cannot tell when he underwent the great change. I cannot tell if there was a distinctly marked and remembered crisis. He kept, as many others do that great secret of his soul to himself. It is a secret too awful to be lightly touched upon. …
“I cannot personally speak of his death-bed scene. But I have learned that, though death came suddenly at last, it found him prepared. He not only died in peace, but rejoicing in the Lord. I have said today that the manifestations of a death-bed, apart from the life, are not sure tests of a man’s spiritual state. But our friend, dying as he had lived, there can be no doubt that he is now before the throne. He was favoured above many saints with an unclouded and abundant entrance.
REV. WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE, KIRRIEMUIR
(Died March 8, 1897)
Author: Rev. James Matthew, B.D., Haddington
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, July, 1897, Obituary, p.172
A long and faithful ministry was ended by the death of the Rev. William Livingstone, on March 8, 1897.
Mr. Livingstone was a native of Dundee, born in 1819. He was trained in a pious home, and at the age of twenty-two he entered the University of St. Andrews with a view to studying for the ministry. That was only a short time before the Disruption, and he was from the beginning in thorough sympathy with those who formed the Free Church. He had previously served his apprenticeship as an engineer, but was impressed with strong religious convictions under the ministry of Rev. W. C. Burns, who occupied the pulpit of McCheyne during the absence of the latter in Palestine on the mission of inquiry to the Jews.
During his university course he engaged with great interest in religious work, and was highly esteemed among his fellow-students. During the summer of 1844, before entering the New College, he was engaged in preaching and other work in Newtyle, laying there the foundations of the first Free Church congregation in that parish.
He passed from the university to the divinity hall, and was one of those students who entered on their training for the ministry of the Free Church under the first theological faculty of the New College, then a building in George Street. Chalmers, Welsh, Cunningham, and Duncan were then the professors in theology, and he often recalled the delight with which he had enjoyed the prelections of such princes in Israel. He read widely on the subjects of study, far beyond what was required for the work of the classes; and he continued his studies all along, so that he was really one of the most intelligent and accomplished theologians in the ministry.
He was licensed by the Presbytery of Dundee on July 12, 1848, and thereafter took charge for six months of the Free Church congregation at Uphall, leaving it for Kirriemuir, where he was ordained to the ministry of the South Free Church on August 16, 1849. He succeeded in the ministry of the South Free Church, Kirriemuir, to that of the Rev. Daniel Cormack, an associate of McCheyne, McDonald, the Bonars, and such like; and he proved himself worthy of such succession. He was imbued with the theology and the spirit of the Puritans, and had often a quaintness in his teaching that reminded one of Rutherford and others. He entered on his ministry with great zeal and earnestness, carried on his pastoral visitation with great profit, and added services in outlying districts to the ordinary work of the Sabbath as well as of the week-day. He carried on all the work of the ministry with hardly a break until failing health made it advisable to secure a colleague minister, who was ordained in 1895. After this Mr. Livingstone retired to Edinburgh, where he resided till his death, on March 8, 1897.
It need hardly be said that Mr. Livingstone was a most conscientious worker, doing all under a deep sense of responsibility. His visitation of the sick was most sympathetic and helpful, and was highly valued; his preaching was rich and full, searching and edifying, faithful and memorable—marked by a fullness of scriptural teaching, and a rare spiritual aroma; while his remarkable gift of prayer was noted by every one. During his long ministry in Kirriemuir many of his people left for other places, there being for a time a considerable decrease of the population. But when in Dundee or elsewhere he was called on to preach, his former hearers were always glad to wait on his preaching again. He gave special heed, moreover, to any of the young people in his congregation who might be aiming at any special work; and young men have gone forth from under his care and his counsel to fill important positions in the ministry of the Free Church and otherwise, the names of some of these being in high repute to-day.
Besides attending to all the work of the congregation, composed of both town and country population, Mr. Livingstone interested himself in the affairs and welfare of the community as a whole, being, for instance, chairman of the Parochial Board for some years, and also a member of the School Board. And although he never sought to be marked in the supreme court of the church—I only know of his speaking on one occasion in the General Assembly and that on a matter within the bounds of his own presbytery—he nevertheless took an intelligent and lively interest in, and had decided views on, all the important public questions that concerned the church. Altogether, as a faithful minister, and a Christian man, and a spiritual power, he held unsurpassed place, and Kirriemuir felt itself the poorer by his removal.
Mr. Livingstone was twice married. The three children of the first marriage had all predeceased him, one daughter in childhood, the elder daughter and an only son after they had grown up. The whole of the early household was thus taken away, the son being the last to go. His second wife predeceased him only some ten days. His own end came somewhat unexpectedly. He attended the South Morningside Free Church during his time in Edinburgh. He felt unwell, and had to leave the church before service had finished on Sabbath March 7. No alarm was taken at first, but he soon became worse, and died next day. Now he rests from his labours. He shall have many as a crown of rejoicing. And “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
REV. JOHN LOGAN, LESLIE, FIFE
(Died July 30 1891)
Author: Rev. Dr. McEwan, Edinburgh
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, October, 1894, Obituary, p.241
Mr. Logan was born at Irvine in Ayrshire on the 4th December 1824; but not long thereafter his parents removed to Kilmarnock. He had the misfortune to lose his mother when in early boyhood, and remembered little of her. But it was otherwise with his father. That father, from all accounts, was a very remarkable man. He was of the Covenanter type; a man of sterling integrity and devoted piety —a Puritan of the old school. Although only a humble mechanic, he was a student, a reader of books, and had accumulated a library, both as to number and character, very uncommon in those days for a working-man.
As John was the only son who survived the period of infancy, it can be imagined with what care such a father would train the naturally grave, intelligent boy intrusted to his care. He was so well educated that at a comparatively early age he was apprenticed in an office to learn the craft of compositor. We cannot tell how long he continued in this office, but we hear of him as having left Kilmarnock and engaged as a journalist in the town of Ayr, where he continued till he began his undergraduate course in the University of Edinburgh.
He seems to have been one of those who are taught to fear the Lord from their youth; but from the peculiar way in which he often spoke to me of the late Dr. Main’s ministry in Kilmarnock, I drew the inference that if he was not the instrument of his conversion, he had been the means of leading him to devote his life to the ministry of the gospel.
It was during those years spent in the compositor’s and journalist’s offices that Mr. Logan acquired those habits of almost painfully minute accuracy, not only in all that he wrote, but in his whole work, which characterized him through life. It was also during his spare time in these years that he was preparing for a university education.
He entered the University of Edinburgh in the session of 1847, when about twenty-three years of age. On coming to Edinburgh he at once found employment as a teacher in the well-known seminary at Newington, then under the head-mastership of Mr. Forrester, and there he continued both during his university course and that of the Free Church divinity hall.
In the summer of 1855 he was licensed to preach the gospel, and ere the year closed he was elected and called to the pastorate of the Free church of Leslie in Fife. He there succeeded the Rev. Patrick Robertson, now of Portobello. There his life-work was done. Before his health gave way, he had all but completed a continuous ministry of thirty-five years. In the second year of his ministry he married Helen, a daughter of the late Alexander Stephen, ship-builder, Dundee, who proved to him a true helpmate, a very model of a minister’s wife, and a tower of strength to him in his work in Leslie.
The Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, when a vacancy occurred, elected him as their clerk, and for the long period of fifteen years he discharged the duties of that office with an accuracy and efficiency which gave entire satisfaction to all the brethren of that important presbytery. It would be an education to all aspiring clerks carefully to scan the records of the Free Presbytery of Kirkcaldy during these fifteen years. He took no prominent part either in public affairs or in ecclesiastical debates. I suppose he never once opened his lips in the General Assembly; but yet no man was better acquainted than he with all that was going on both in church and state, and no man had more decided convictions than he on all such matters. He was essentially a reader and a student. He spent all his energies for the benefit of his much-loved congregation at Leslie. He provided for them with much careful labour from week to week the very finest of the wheat; and that love for them was reciprocated by his people, who cherished for him an unchanging, affection and respect. And that ministry was not in vain in the Lord. He had many tokens granted to him in the course of his ministry by the great Master that he was not labouring in vain. He had the happiness above most ministers all through his ministry of being associated with a noble band of elders—men of God devoted to the cause of the Redeemer. I do not wonder to learn that he often thanked God for his office-bearers.
The disease connected with the brain which ultimately was the cause of death began to manifest itself some year or two before he finally gave up work and obtained the services of a colleague. Since then he has lived at the Grange, Edinburgh, when as a near neighbour and old friend I saw much of him. But, alas! the old fire was fast decaying, and but one ending was expected. About the middle of July he went with his beloved wife to Harrogate to try the effect of change and the baths. But in the course of a week he was suddenly struck down, and after lingering in a state of unconsciousness for some ten days he passed away to his rest and re ward. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
REV. JOHN LISTER, B.A., ST. GEORGE’S, MONTROSE
(Died May 27, 1899)
Author: Rev. George Anderson, St. Cyrus
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, November, 1899, Obituary, p.264
Mr. John Lister was born in the year of Waterloo, 1815. He was a native of Leslie, in Fifeshire. He received his early education at the parish school of Leslie, taught by Mr. Black, uncle of the late Rev. Mr. Black of Dunnikier, a famous classical scholar and noted teacher, a fine specimen of the old parochial masters, who did so much in their day to maintain Scottish education at a high level. Mr. Lister was accustomed to speak in terms of strong admiration of the ability and attainments of his old master, and to acknowledge his indebtedness to him for thoroughly grounding him in the elements of knowledge, and inspiring him with a love of learning. From the parish school he passed to the University of St. Andrews, which was near enough to his home to admit of his walking thither to join his classes, in days when there were no railways and means of locomotion were few. His books and belongings were sent by carrier, whose agency was also made available for conveying from time to time the home box with its goodly supplies, which formed a comforting addition to the commissariat of the struggling student.
Having finished his arts course, he entered the Divinity Hall, presided over then by Principal Haldane, whom he held in great respect. He had as contemporaries and college friends Mr. Isdale of Glasgow, Dr. Andrew Gardener of the United Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh, and Dr. Addis of Morningside, with whom he kept up a close and happy intimacy to the last, and all of whom, with himself, have passed away.
After finishing his theological studies, he was licensed by the Established Presbytery of Kirkcaldy; but seeing no chance of preferment—for a while at least —he took to teaching, as was then common by licensed men, for which his scholarship and his firmness of character gave him a special fitness. He became classical master in Merchiston Academy, of which Mr. John Chalmers, brother of Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers, was principal. He was a great favourite with his boys at Merchiston, from whom he received several valuable presentations. He remained in Merchiston till after the Disruption, and continued to teach, while his services as a preacher were in great demand at that period of crisis in the church, when there were so many pulpits to fill. He was sent far and near to minister to congregations on the Sabbath, and returned to Edinburgh on Monday morning to resume his classes. His life was a very busy one at that time, and he did not spare himself, that he might serve the church. He came in contact with Dr. Chalmers, through his connection with his brother, and felt the stimulus of that great man’s fervour and genius. His sympathies had always been with the evangelical party, and without hesitation he joined the Free Church, and heartily threw himself into its work. He might easily have obtained a vacant parish church, of which there were so many, if he had been willing to put preferment before principle, but he resisted the temptation. And it ought to be remembered that the sacrifice he and his like-minded fellow-probationers made in those Disruption days was almost as great as that of the seceding ministers. The Disruption was to Mr. Lister, as it was to many, like a new birth—vitalizing all his energies, and giving them a new consecration in the ministry of Christ. His preaching was characterized by great earnestness and warmth, and was intensely evangelical.
After labouring for a time at South Shields, and gathering a congregation for himself, he was appointed its first minister in 1847. From there he went to Kennoway in Fife, where he was minister for several years, till he was called to St. George’s, Montrose. At South Shields and Kennoway, and for a time after he came to Montrose, his sermons were spoken, not read. They were written out with great care and fullness, and their preparation and committal to memory must have cost him a world of labour. He had a high ideal of what the pulpit required, and he grudged no effort in equipping himself for his Sabbath duties. In the days of his strength he was a popular minister, and was often seen in neighbouring pulpits, where he was always welcome.
He laboured in St. George’s for thirty years, till advancing age compelled him to retire in 1886. On leaving Montrose he was presented, at a large meeting, the provost being in the chair, by friends both in and beyond the town, with a cheque amounting to upwards of £120, along with other gifts, in appreciation of his character and worth. His knowledge of books made his services valuable in connection with the town library, in which he took great interest. Mr. Lister was one of the best classical scholars in the church, and as a proof of the lasting bent and freshness of his mind, it may be mentioned that during his stay in Glasgow, after he left Montrose, he and one or two others of like proclivities met once or twice a week at his house and read together the Greek poets.
His jubilee was reached in December 2, 1897, on which occasion he received the congratulations of the presbytery, and was presented with an illuminated address testifying to his faithful ministry and his exemplary life, and to the respect and love with which he was regarded by all his brethren. There was none more ready than Lister to help his brethren, and they found him a steadfast friend and most genial companion.
He died at Montrose, to which he had returned some two years before, finding nowhere so congenial a home as in the old town where he had lived so many years, and where he had made so many friends. The Lord had been kind to him. The years of his retirement had been very happy years to him, during which he had been able, as opportunity offered, to render some active service; and even after he returned to Montrose he appeared several times in his old pulpit, and nothing gave him greater pleasure than to visit the sick and poor of his old flock, whom he comforted and helped with his purse as well as with his prayers. His last illness was short, and his end very peaceful. He passed away in the unwavering hope of Christ, which he had ever cherished, and committing all to Him whom he had sought all his life to invite others to make their trust. Mr. Lister was twice married. He has left a widow, by whom he was greatly cared for and helped in his declining years, and three daughters, to whom he was much endeared, whose early studies he did much to foster, and who share in his accomplishments. His son Alexander, who at the time of his death was acting as an engineer in the service of the American Government, died in New York of a painful illness the day before his father died. David, the youngest son, who is remembered as a bright and happy youth, has died since at Vycksburgh, in the Orange Free State, of wasting pneumonia. These successive strokes, following so closely on each other, have made Mr. Lister’s loss more keenly felt by his sorrowing family, and have evoked much sympathy on their behalf.
REV. JOSEPH LOGAN, KINGSTON, GLASGOW
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, October 1, 1866, p.18
The Rev. Joseph Logan, late of Free Kingston, Glasgow, was born at Lesmahagow in January 1832. His father was the Rev. William Logan, Sanquhar, whose death we recorded three years ago. At school he gave evidence of superior ability, and at College and Divinity Hall had his share of the honours that fall to talent, energy, and application. It was very entertaining to listen to his recital of the emulations, heats, labours, and adventures of an extended acquaintanceship among the students—some of whom are now at the ends of the earth, and some, like himself, in a premature grave. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Penpont, and continued for about five years a probationer, preaching chiefly in stations. Having been heard in or about Glasgow, he was called to Kingston, then vacant, and ordained in August 1862.
His sermons, in so far as literature and thinking were concerned, were excelled by few of the ministers of our Church. In a Bible class he would discuss a subject extemporaneously in a most fluent, graphic, and popular manner; but he would never attempt to preach without reading. Every man has his gift. We cannot but think, however, that the style of his ministrations had somewhat to do with his want of success (for the congregation was not greatly increased). At any rate, though they were liked by the more intelligent people, they did not seem to be attractive to the class in the district.
He was never very robust in body; and at vacation time, during his four years in the city, was always pretty well exhausted. An attack of liver complaint carried him off last July, at the age of thirty-four.
REV. WILLIAM LOGAN, A.M., LANGTON
(Died June 23, 1880)
Author: Rev. Robert Naismith, Chirnside
Source: The Free Church Monthly, December 1, 1880, Biographical Notices, p.301
William Logan was born in the manse connected with the Original Seceder Church, Lesmahagow. His father, the respected minister of that church, was one of the party who united with the Established Church in 1840, and came out with the Free Church in 1843. He was afterwards, and till his death, minister of the Free Church, Sanquhar. William Logan began his education in the parish school of his native village, where he was both beloved and admired by his fellow-pupils, of whom the writer was one. He graduated in the University of Glasgow, and afterwards studied in the Free Church College, Edinburgh, under Dr. Chalmers and other eminent professors. During his probationary course he laboured some time at Makerstoun, and was, on the 22nd of February 1849, while yet very young, ordained Free Church minister of Langton, near Dunse, as successor to the Rev. Dr. Brown. During his thirty-one years’ labours in this place, he proved a diligent student and minister of the Word, and at the same time a generous helper of the poor. He held very comprehensive and elevated views of gospel truth, as is manifest in the small volume of his published sermons. He did much good work, which might have been much more influential for good but for the existence of painful and complicated disease, under which, however, he laboured on with great submission and Christian hope.
Although thirty-one years a minister of the gospel, he was cut off by death at a comparatively early age. His congregation, though a small one, had an important connection with the support of the Free Church. It included in its membership, at different times, the late Marquis of Breadalbane; his sister, the late Lady Elizabeth Pringle of Langton House; and their relative, the late Lady Hannah Tharp, who bequeathed a munificent sum to the Free Church schemes.
Mr. Logan had an extensive ministerial connection with the Free Church, his father, brother, and several uncles having been ministers of that Church.
He died in the house of his widowed mother in Cambuslang on the 23rd of June 1880; and his body was interred beside kindred dust, in the Southern Necropolis, Glasgow.
WILLIAM LOGAN, SANQUHAR
The Record of the Free Church of Scotland, March 2, 1863
The third name in our obituary is that of the Rev. William Logan of Sanquhar. Mr. Logan’s public life as a servant of Christ is told in a word. He held the principles of the Erskines and Fishers—the pioneers of the Third Reformation in the Church of Scotland—practical declension from her sound creed demanding, as he thought, separation and protest, and the returning ascendency of constitutional evangelism inviting and requiring union with the mother Church. This union lasted only four years, the assertion of ecclesiastical supremacy by the State causing the Disruption of 1818. His principles thus never varied, and in the midst of many difficulties and temptations, he was enabled ever cheerfully to act in accordance with his faith.
His name will long be held in affectionate remembrance in Lesmahagow and Sanquhar, the spheres between which his lengthened ministry was nearly equally divided. The parish of Lesmahagow had long been under the blight of a Moderate ministry, and a most important end was served by the formation of a Secession Church there, and the presence of a living minister of Christ. There was something of a wrench in his passing from the scenes of his early ministry. Yet when the will of Providence was plain, he brought his mind to it; and in the new sphere of his ministry he manifested the same assiduity, in season and out of season, in the house and by the way, in the house of God and by the bed of death, to commend the gospel of the grace of God. His enjoyment of the work of the ministry was great and unaffected; and when the times of refreshing came two or three years ago, gladness reached its height in his nature, as night after night brought new triumphs of His grace. He was reminded of this on his death-bed. “Yes,” said he, “that was the time.”
Mr. Logan has left not one enemy, it is believed, and he has left many friends. To his sons and his brethren in the ministry, he has left a rich example of earnest preaching, pastoral watchfulness, gentle disposition, full affections, patient endurance, and laborious working—working whose reward is in heaven, and whose record is on high.
Mr. Logan was born in 1798. He was ordained, from among several calls, in Lesmahagow in 1820. He was chosen to the Parish Church after a ministry there of twenty years, the election being nullified by the patron. From Lesmahagow he was translated to Sanquhar in 1844, where he has finished the ministry he received of the Lord.
REV. JOHN LONGMUIR, LL.D.
(Died May 7, 1883)
Author: Rev. William Innes, Skene
Source: The Free Church Monthly, July 2, 1883, Brief Biographies, p.212
Born in 1803 at Cowie, near Stonehaven, Dr. Longmuir doubtless got turn and tone to a naturally vigorous and poetic mind from the historic and romantic surroundings of Dunnottar Castle, within two miles of his birth-place.
Leaving the Grammar School in Aberdeen, he took a bursary at Marischal College; and during the summer vacations did excellent service in his native place as a pioneer of Sabbath-school work. He was a born teacher, possessing both the power of acquiring and the gift of imparting knowledge, and awakening fresh interest by his “intellectual method” of questioning his pupils in the very schoolroom where “Rabbi Duncan” of the New College had previously taught. Graduating in arts he studied divinity, and after teaching some years in Stonehaven and in Forres Academy, he was appointed in 1837 “Sabbath Evening Lecturer” in Trinity Church, Aberdeen. Here he enjoyed considerable popularity; his commanding presence, his deep musical voice, his wide and varied information, and his enthusiastic Liberalism making him a welcome public speaker on all social questions.
In 1840 he was ordained pastor of a quoad sacra (afterwards the Mariners’) church; and being in full sympathy with the Evangelical party, came out with all his congregation at the Disruption, as did the Aberdeen ministers to a man.
Drawn early to the study of natural science, which afterwards brought him into contact with Hugh Miller, Sir David Brewster, and other such men, he lectured for two sessions to the students of the Free Church College, Aberdeen. At the request of King’s College Senatus he rendered similar service to the University, which, at the fusion of thecolleges, honoured him with the degree of LL.D.
Dr. Longmuir’s devotion to his sea-faring flock was deep and unwearied; sparing neither time, talent, nor his slender income to forward their temporal and eternal welfare. His annual “sermon to the outward bound” was never once in forty years omitted. Touching proof of reciprocal attachment was not wanting—some remitting their seat-rents long after their removal, others in foreign lands, regularly at communion seasons, sending sums of money to their old pastor for distribution among the poor. Nor did his active connection with the congregation cease till 1881, when the Rev. A. Murray Scott was appointed his colleague and successor.
The literary labours of Dr. Longmuir are numerous and varied, including ”The College,” a poem advocating university reforms, some of which he lived to see; “Guide to Dunnottar Castle,” in its ninth edition; “Bible Lays;” “Ocean Lays;” “Speyside Guide;” an edition of “Helenore, or the Fortunate Shepherdess,” by Alexander Ross, schoolmaster at Lochlee; two editions of “Jamieson’s Scottish Dictionary;” an edition of “Walker’s Rhyming Dictionary,” etc.
All round Dr. Longmuir was a Liberal—a friend of everything favouring the public weal. Specially dear to him was the temperance movement, of which indeed he may be regarded as one of the founders; his consistency and zeal costing him many a friendship, especially in clerical circles, at a time when the abstinence principle was either coldly ignored or warmly denounced.
In character Dr. Longmuir was very simple, his faults appearing on the surface to all, his virtues fully unfolding only to those who gave him their appreciation and confidence. Conscious of his superior powers, he desired the approbation of his fellow-men, and keenly felt where it was unjustly withheld. Yet he was a guileless, generous, kindly man; young-hearted to the last; a sincere lover of that Lord whom in life he sought to honour and on whose love in death he leaned.
It may be said the very variety of his gifts prevented excellence in any one of them; but while some, by concentration of power, achieve success in one direction, the world at times gets many-sided men able to influence it through a variety of channels. Our gifted friend, we venture to think, was never duly appreciated. Doubtless, in such cases, a little more considerate sympathy would wonderfully remove misunderstandings and sweeten life’s relationships here; but
“We’ll know each other better
When the mists have cleared away.”
Dr. Longmuir had reached his eightieth year, and is survived by his wife, an English lady, and (by a former marriage) two sons and a daughter, one of the former being a well known artist, the other a banker in Melbourne.
REV. ARCHIBALD LORIMER, COCKENZIE
(Died December 23, 1869)
Author: Rev. Dr. Macfarlane, Dalkeith
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, April 1, 1870, p.81
Another of our Pre-Disruption ministers has passed away. The Rev. Archibald Lorimer of Cockenzie died at Edinburgh—to which he had gone for the benefit of his health and for medical aid—on the 23rd December 1869; and amid the deep sorrow of his co-presbyters, and of many clerical and other friends, was committed to the grave on the 28th, in the Grange Cemetery, the burial-place of so many of the most honoured ministers and elders of our Church.
Mr. Lorimer was born in the parish of Glencairn, Dumfries-shire, in April 1808. He was educated in the University of Edinburgh, where he held a good position; and during his theological curriculum was a distinguished and favourite student of Dr. Chalmers’. For some years he was head-master of what was at that time a large and flourishing educational institution — Steele’s Hospital, Tranent —and there exercised no small influence for good, upon the general character, and especially upon the youth of a neighbourhood of which he afterwards had the pastoral superintendence. He was licensed to preach the gospel by the Established Presbytery of Haddington in 1836, and ordained by the same Presbytery to the charge of Cockenzie, to which he was unanimously called, in October 1838. This was one of the Church Extension churches, in the erection of which Dr. Chalmers took so deep an interest. He was present, and took part in Mr. Lorimer’s ordination. Ever afterwards, Dr. Chalmers spoke of the congregation at Cockenzie as a happy illustration of the success of the Church Extension Scheme, and of their pastor as a model minister. When, at the memorable Disruption (1843), Mr. Lorimer quitted the Establishment, his doing so made no difference in regard to the numbers of his flock. The event only gave a new impulse to the spiritual progress of both minister and people.
The distinguishing feature in Mr. Lorimer’s character was that of simplicity and godly sincerity. He was a true man. Yet with all that was sterling and genuine in the sentiments of the heart, he was not wanting in the qualities of a clear and solid understanding. He had both individuality and power. Hence his public ministrations were not only earnest, impressive, and devout, but vigorous, discriminating, and instructive. As a pastor, he was genial, sympathizing, and greatly beloved by his people, from whom he never sought or wished to be separated.
Nor was his ministry without good and abundant fruit. It pleased God from time to time to visit with seasons of special revival the congregation and the surrounding district. Mr. Lorimer manifested no little discretion as well as zeal, in turning to the best account these plenteous and refreshing rains. He presided over many of the meetings held at those times, endeavouring wisely to regulate and restrain whatever might tend to obstruct the scriptural character of the work, so that the greatest amount of spiritual benefit and blessing might ensue. With this view he laboured with unabated assiduity. For many successive years did he not only conduct twice throughout the day the usual services of the Sabbath, but also of the evening prayer-meeting, which, being generally crowded, involved scarcely less preparation and fatigue than an additional diet of public worship.
Interested, too, in the social welfare of his flock and in the education of the young, he induced a large number of the fishermen of his congregation to join the “Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society,” of which he latterly became the agent for the village; and many a bereaved family has in consequence obtained seasonable relief in their time of need. From the high estimate formed of his character, and of his devotedness to the best interests of the locality, William Brown, Esq., one of our merchant princes—although not himself a member of the Free Church—appropriated the sum of not less than £2000 for the erection of a school; so that Mr. Lorimer, before the close of his ministry, had his long-cherished wish more than realized, by seeing the completion of a handsome educational institution, well appointed with a teacher, and eminently successful.
Such labours, combined with the anxieties and responsibilities that pressed upon a spirit sensitive and conscientious in no small degree, told upon a frame not naturally very robust, and brought the day of his service to a close. But in the evening time it was light. During some months he was entirely laid aside from public work. When he realized the certainty that the end had come, he was made to feel, by a passing cloud, how lonely the dark valley must be without the conscious presence of Him “who hath abolished death.” But in answer to the earnest prayer, “Thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth,” the light did shine forth. Amid the breathlessness and exhaustion of his expiring moments, he hailed with exultation the happy prospect before him. “I am resting,” he said, “on the Rock—
“‘Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.'”
DR. JOHN GORDON LORIMER, GLASGOW
The Free Church of Scotland Monthly Record, November 2 1868, p.256
Dr. Lorimer of Glasgow died, after a very brief illness, on the morning of Friday the 9th ult. Many of our readers, we are sure, have seen the announcement with unfeigned regret. Among his brethren and friends we have good reason to know the feeling is peculiarly deep and strong. He was one who will be greatly missed and long remembered.
He was born at Haddington in 1804, studied at Edinburgh and St. Andrews, and in 1829 became minister of Torryburn in Fife. In 1832, when Dr. Welsh was removed from Glasgow to a Chair in Edinburgh, Mr. Lorimer was appointed his successor in the charge of St. David’s. The appointment evinced a high degree of confidence in his talents and character, which the event fully justified. He has continued ever since to minister to the same congregation, first in the Establishment and afterwards in the Free Church. It has always included members, not only of high Christian character, but of thoughtful and cultivated minds. Dr. Lorimer retained their confidence and love undiminished to the end. Besides his pastoral work, he was distinguished by the lively and warm-hearted interest which he constantly evinced in the progress of the good cause in his own and other Churches, at home and abroad. This manifested itself in the quiet but extremely useful and acceptable part which he took in the business of Church courts; in the stores of knowledge he accumulated with respect to the state and progress of Churches; in the hopeful outlook he constantly kept on every social influence that might affect the great interest; and in the acquaintanceships and friendships which he cherished with representative men at home and abroad. To the same cause, very much, his various publications were due. They were all, we believe, suggested by, and they bore upon, practical interests. Most of them bore the stamp of his ample and accurate conversancy with facts. His “History of the Reformed Church of France” is, perhaps, the work which best exhibits his powers and acquirements. Still more plentifully did he place at the disposal of his friends in private the stores of knowledge with which his reading and his extensive acquaintanceships furnished him. We have not left among us another such representative of the department which the Germans distinguish as Ecclesiastical Statistic.
Dr. Lorimer’s weight in the Church depended rather on the combination of gifts and qualities than on the predominance of one. His abilities, which were excellent, and carefully cultivated, enabled him to maintain a high standard in all his performances. His cordial and constant recognition of the great rule and the great aim gave the requisite unity to his life’s work. His lively appreciation of the religious, and, indeed, of all the movements of his time, kept his mind fresh and open. And the intellectual side of his character was completed by a large share of quiet good sense, as unostentatious as his other gifts, but equally practical and valuable.
But his friends will cherish with peculiar love the recollection of his admirable moral qualities. These gave, we believe, the chief weight and the especial charm to his influence. Great sincerity and directness of character, unfailing geniality and kindliness, a happy cheerfulness which looked ever to the bright and hopeful side—these existed in him, in admirable union with his keen interest in the public cause and his decided views of public duty. Strangers can hardly understand how wholesome and how fresh the influence was which, on these accounts, his mere presence and utterance unconsciously exerted. He carried along with him an atmosphere of good-will and of wise cheerfulness, which preached many a sermon not to be expressed by any other form of eloquence. In times of excitement, of trouble, and of perplexity, it was a rest and a refreshment to meet him. A kindlier feeling towards men, a larger trust in human nature, a more hopeful feeling about human affairs, stole over one from the mere contagion of his company. It is only now that he is gone that the felt blank reveals how peculiar and grateful the influence was, and how difficult it would be to point to another instance of the same happy combination.
Dr. Lorimer owed much of this, doubtless, to a happy natural disposition; but much of it was due also to the fact that his mind lay open habitually to a sunshine from on high. He rested on the Saviour whom he preached. This sustained him in times of trouble, and enabled him to walk on confidingly and thankfully when mere constitutional cheerfulness would have been soured or overborne. It was so, we believe, throughout his life; and it was so in the dark valley. Earlier than the members of his family, he anticipated what the end would be. He spoke of it with perfect calmness, committed his family to the Lord’s care, and left as his message to his flock the testimony that he died in the faith of the truth he had preached so long.
REV. PRINCIPAL JAMES LUMSDEN, D.D.
(Died October 17, 1875)
Author: Rev. D. Couper, D.D., Burntisland
The Free Church Monthly December 1, 1875, p.301
“Though I have never heard Mr. Lumsden preach, I have had much experience of him as a student; and, besides, have been credibly informed of his doings as a parish missionary.
“I judge him to be one who has such a staple of enduring worth, of sound judgment, of scriptural theology, and .assiduous in the labours of Christian
usefulness, that he will surely and rapidly grow in the estimation of any people among whom he is settled. He is a person of great ability and of sound principle; and, I feel quite assured, will never disappoint the wishes or the expectations of those who, intent on Christ’s blessing to themselves and their families, are desirous, for that end, of having an able and upright and conscientious clergyman appointed to the care of their souls.”
Such was the estimate formed by Dr. Chalmers at an early period of the subject of this notice. It is contained in a letter to a private friend, of date September 10, 1836; and how amply it has been borne out is well known to the Church at large.
James Lumsden was born at Dysart, on the 26th of January 1810. After receiving a good sound education in the Burgh School of his native town, he entered the University of St. Andrews in November 1823. In that university he went through the ordinary curriculum of arts, distinguishing himself as a laborious and successful student, and decidedly outstripping most of his fellows, especially in the mathematical department. His first theological session was also spent in St. Andrews, and during the remaining three he prosecuted his studies in Edinburgh, having been attracted thither, like so many others at that period, by the fame of Dr. Chalmers. By assiduous application to the work of the several classes, and by the thoroughness and variety of his private readings, he laid the foundation of that profound theological knowledge for which he soon became remarkable. His prime favourites were Owen and Edwards, and, though not disposed to call any man master, he never swerved from those views of evangelical truth which, during his university course, commended themselves to his understanding and his heart.
After being licensed by the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, he became assistant, in March 1833, to the Rev. John Bonar of Larbert, and thereafter, town missionary in Dunfermline, where for a year or two he laboured with characteristic activity and ardour. In 1836 he was ordained minister of the quoad sacra church of Inverbrothock, in the Presbytery of Arbroath; and in 1838 was translated to the parish of Barry, in the same Presbytery. While attentive to the public and private duties of the ministry, he threw himself heart and soul into the Ten Years’ Conflict, and rendered effective service in the Church courts, on the platform, and through the press. A great proportion of his people followed him at the Disruption; and, under his unwearied care, the Free Church of Barry was probably as well equipped as any country charge in Scotland. Appointed in 1856 to the chair of Systematic Theology in the Free Church College at Aberdeen, of which he afterwards became Principal, he transferred to his professional work the same energy and faithfulness, the same self-denying activity and zeal, which he had evinced in his former spheres of labour. He was the warm friend as well as the wise instructor of his students, sparing no pains in training them for the work of the ministry, and continuing to assist them by his counsel and his influence after their college course was finished. He had the satisfaction, before he died, of seeing the full equipment of the institution over which he presided with so much efficiency, a result mainly due to his untiring energy and zeal.
It is impossible within the compass of a short notice to do anything like justice to his labours for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, apart from his more immediate sphere of duty. He was ready to lend a helping hand to any good work; and in Aberdeen and the adjacent region his services to the Free Church were altogether invaluable. He laboured strenuously and successfully in promoting Home Mission work; and in the Church courts, his aptitude for business, his practical sagacity, and thorough honesty of purpose, combined to give him an influence which was widely felt, and which was never wielded for selfish or unworthy ends. Notwithstanding a certain ruggedness and occasional sternness of manner, he was singularly successful in drawing young men around him, and securing their confidence and affection. During his ministry at Barry, certain young Swedes came to the neighbourhood to study agriculture. He soon became their friend and counsellor; and in this way were formed his relations with a country which he repeatedly visited, and in many parts of which his name became a household word. He acquired such a mastery of the Swedish language as to be able to preach in it; and by oral communication, by a multifarious correspondence, and by the circulation of religious literature, he did much for the dissemination of evangelical truth among a people in whose welfare he was profoundly interested, and by many of whom he was regarded as a wise counsellor and a faithful friend. From the King of Sweden he received the honour of knight- hood, a distinction of which he did not avail himself at home, never having sought permission to make public use of it.
He took a warm interest in the Lebanon Schools, which he visited along with Dr. Duff; and the position which they now occupy in connection with the missions of the Free Church is very much owing to his instrumentality. In the Education, the Colonial, and the Continental Committees his services were manifold and of signal value.
He received from the University of St. Andrews the degree of D.D.; and it is understood that, had he been spared to the Church, he would have been appointed to the Moderatorship of next General Assembly.
For some years his robust constitution had been a good deal shattered by the multiplicity of his labours; but he may be said to have died in harness. On the 12th of October he took part, with his wonted clearness and vigour, in the proceedings of the Free Synod of Aberdeen; but on that day his strength was prostrated by a sudden attack of illness, and on Sabbath the 17th he was taken to his rest, having enjoyed, amidst the decay of nature, the helpful and comforting presence of the Master whom he had so long and so laboriously served.
The outstanding characteristics of his mind were vigour and acuteness; and his character was in thorough keeping with his intellect. A foe to everything like display and sentimentalism, he was in reality what he appeared to be. Guile and hypocrisy he abhorred, and was not slow to reprobate. More remarkable for the sterner than for the gentler virtues, he had yet in his nature a fund of tenderness of which those who really knew him had abundant proof. A truer and kinder friend could not easily be found — such was his unselfishness, his generosity, his readiness to do a good turn whenever he had the opportunity. His personal Christianity was embodied in the labours of his life. These furnish a testimony more effective than any formal eulogy to the strength of his faith and the sincerity of his devotedness to Christ.
Having enjoyed his friendship for considerably more than half a century, without the occurrence of a single jar, the writer of this notice may be forgiven for adding:
REV. JOHN LYON, BROUGHTY-FERRY
(Died March 31, 1889)
Author: Rev. Dr. Baxter, Blairgowrie
Source: The Free Church Monthly, August, 1889, Biographical Notices, p.246
Mr. Lyon was born at Drumachloidhe, parish of Rothesay, Bute, on 25th December 1806.
When residing in his native place, at a time of special revival, the Lord sought him out, revealed to him his sins and condemnation, and led him to find rest and refuge under the canopy of the Redeemer’s mediation and righteousness. Ultimately he was led to enrol himself as a student in the college at Glasgow, but without any fixed and steadfast resolution to prosecute his studies for the ministry. He appears, however, to have been an able and persevering student, and carried off some prizes. At length he and the late Rev. William Arnot of the Free High Church, Edinburgh, were licensed on the same day, by the Presbytery of Glasgow, to preach the everlasting gospel.
For a short time he acted as a city missionary in Glasgow, and then he was sent to Banton, in the parish of Kilsyth, where a congregation was being formed, soon to be constituted into a quoad sacra church in that district. Previous to his ordination he took a very deep interest in the revival at Kilsyth in 1839, and preached with great earnestness and power. It is mentioned in the Memoir of Rev. William Burns that on that occasion the congregation of Rev. John Lyon had a special visitation of grace. He was ordained at Banton on the 13th February 1810, and continued in that charge till the Disruption.
He was inducted into the charge of the congregation at Broughty-Ferry on the 22nd February 1844, and continued to be the minister of this congregation for forty-five years. Latterly he found in the Rev. George Elmslie Troup an able and very valuable coadjutor in the ministry.
As a minister, Mr. Lyon “spoke because he believed,” and felt that he could not but “speak what he had seen and heard.” His intellectual abilities were of a high order, and his style was clear, forcible, and logical. He was acknowledged to be a talented and interesting preacher, able and accurate in unfolding the truths of God’s Word. His sermons announced themselves at once to be the productions of a solid and vigorous understanding, a well-disciplined and well-balanced mind, and being clothed in language easily understood, found their way, through the Spirit of God, into the hearts and consciences of his hearers, and got a permanent place in their memories. He had the faculty of making the rays of God’s Word converge into a focus of burning power. He was skilled in knowing when and where to make an impression. He looked up for the aid of the Spirit of God, and often there was great pathos in presenting and applying the truth. While he adhered to the doctrines of Calvinism as laid down in the Confession of Faith, and stated them without reserve when they came in his way, yet there was no one who offered Christ more freely and more fully to every one than he was accustomed to do. He besought all whom he could find to accept of Christ without money and without price. He had no difficulty in saying to the blind, Look; and to the deaf, Hear; and to the dead, Live: because the Master who sent him to preach the gospel spoke by him, and could “command things that are not as though they were.” “The hand of the Lord was with him.” He did not serve the Lord with what cost him nothing, but made preparation for the pulpit with great care, and so constructed his lectures and sermons, and so arranged the heads and particulars, that the lines of thought could be clearly seen. When he commenced his labours at Broughty-Ferry, the congregation was small, and there was not a little to awaken anxiety regarding the future. A large congregation, however, was speedily gathered, and has been maintained to the last in all its vigour and strength. The preaching to which they listened soon began to mould their moral and spiritual tastes, shape their modes of thought, and exercise a captivating influence over them; and gather them around the preacher with the expectation of hearing something fresh Sabbath after Sabbath.
In carrying out the ends of the ministry, he watched with care over the best interests of all classes among his people. He was a great blessing to the lambs of the flock in the Sabbath school. He called into exercise the mental activities of the grown-up youth in his Bible-class, and communicated a large amount of instruction in the things of God. He felt the deepest sympathy for those who were in circumstances of trial and affliction, and in the homes where death had entered his eyes were frequently suffused with tears as he wept with those who wept. As a friend he was affectionate, as a counsellor he was distinguished for calm and solid judgment, clear discernment, and abundant kindliness. He was modest, unassuming, and unobtrusive; but when he opened his mouth at any of the various meetings he was called to attend, he uttered short and pithy sayings which were not soon forgotten. He was loyal to his convictions of duty, and strenuously upheld the principles of the Free Church of Scotland.
He was a power for good not only in his own congregation, but in the community where he dwelt. He threw himself into every philanthropic, benevolent, and Christian enterprise which promised to advance the cause of Christ and promote the temporal and spiritual welfare of those around him. The large gathering in the funeral procession and around it, the solemnity depicted on every countenance, told unmistakably that a profound sense of loss had been created by the decease of one so much loved and admired, and whose mortal remains were being borne to the tomb, where they were to rest till the resurrection of the just.
He has left behind him a sorrowing widow and a grown-up family of sons and daughters, for whom the deepest sympathy is felt in their bereavement. He has passed away at the age of eighty-two. During a lengthened illness his spiritual character was mellowed and ripened, and to one inquiring about his health and happiness he wrote, “I am daily feasted at the King’s table.” “Mark the perfect, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace ” (Ps. 37:37). His memory will be long cherished, not only by his family and flock, but by many among whom he went preaching the glad tidings of salvation.